Posts Tagged 'Baltic'

Oxidative stress and antioxidant defense responses in Acartia copepods in relation to environmental factors

On a daily basis, planktonic organisms migrate vertically and thus experience widely varying conditions in their physico-chemical environment. In the Gulf of Finland, these changes are larger than values predicted by climate change scenarios predicted for the next century (up to 0.5 units in pH and 5°C in temperature). In this work, we are interested in how temporal variations in physico-chemical characteristics of the water column on a daily and weekly scale influence oxidative stress level and antioxidant responses in the planktonic copepod of the genus Acartia. Responses were determined from samples collected during a two-week field survey in the western Gulf of Finland, Baltic Sea. Our results showed that GST (Glutathione-S-transferase) enzyme activity increased in the surface waters between Weeks I and II, indicating antioxidant defense mechanism activation. This is most likely due to elevating temperature, pH, and dissolved oxygen observed between these two weeks. During Week II also GSSG (oxidized glutathione) was detected, indicating that copepods responded to stressor(s) in the environment. Our results suggest that Acartia copepods seem fairly tolerant to weekly fluctuations in environmental conditions in coastal and estuarine areas, in terms of antioxidant defense and oxidative stress. This could be directly connected to a very efficient glutathione cycling system acting as antioxidant defense system for neutralizing ROS and avoiding elevated levels of LPX.

Continue reading ‘Oxidative stress and antioxidant defense responses in Acartia copepods in relation to environmental factors’

Shallow water carbonate sediments of the Galapagos archipelago: ecologically sensitive biofacies in a transitional oceanographic environment

Shallow water carbonate producing organisms are directly controlled by their local oceanography. As a result, long-term environmental signals—stemming from the breakdown of calcareous organisms—can be read from time-averaged carbonate sediments. To better understand these complex biophysical interactions, it is important to study carbonate development within oceanographic transition zones and environments affected by disturbances, such as the El Niño—Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This dissertation represents the first investigation into modern shallow water, soft sediment, carbonate environments of the Galápagos Archipelago, eastern tropical Pacific (ETP). This region is notable for straddling an oceanographic transition zone from tropical oligotrophic to temperate eutrophic—caused by high nutrient and low pH upwelling—and for being directly impacted by ENSO. A top-down approach is followed, which analyzes the biogenic structure of Galápagos sediments and their connection to local and regional oceanography and climate, and then explores how these findings relate to benthic foraminifera—sensitive environmental indicators contained within the sediments. Sediment point counting and statistical models revealed that while these carbonate environments span a biogenic and oceanographic transition comparable to similar settings in the ETP, the proximity of the Galápagos to the ENSO region directly influences its sedimentary structure and distribution. Point counting also revealed a near-absence of benthic foraminifera, which is unusual for ETP, and tropical shallow water carbonates in general. Statistically comparing foraminiferal species composition and diversity to dominant oceanographic parameters revealed the low abundances and distribution of these testate (shelled) single-celled protists to be negatively influenced by the combination of repeated Holocene ENSO events, and the effects of protracted exposure to high nutrient and low pH waters of the southern archipelago. Ultimately, the results of this study may serve as a template for investigating the interaction of carbonates and oceanography within similar atypical tropical assemblages in the fossil record.

Continue reading ‘Shallow water carbonate sediments of the Galapagos archipelago: ecologically sensitive biofacies in a transitional oceanographic environment’

Phytoplankton do not produce carbon‐rich organic matter in high CO2 oceans

The ocean is a substantial sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) released as a result of human activities. Over the coming decades the dissolved inorganic C concentration in the surface ocean is predicted to increase, which is expected to have a direct influence on the efficiency of C utilization (consumption and production) by phytoplankton during photosynthesis. Here, we evaluated the generality of C‐rich organic matter production by examining the elemental C:N ratio of organic matter produced under conditions of varying pCO2. The data used in this analysis were obtained from a series of pelagic in situ pCO2 perturbation studies that were performed in the diverse ocean regions and involved natural phytoplankton assemblages. The C:N ratio of the resulting particulate and dissolved organic matter did not differ across the range of pCO2 conditions tested. In particular, the ratio for particulate organic C and N was found to be 6.58 ± 0.05, close to the theoretical value of 6.6.

Continue reading ‘Phytoplankton do not produce carbon‐rich organic matter in high CO2 oceans’

Bivalve shell formation in a naturally CO2-enriched habitat: unraveling the resilience mechanisms from elemental signatures

Research highlights:

  1. Mya arenaria juveniles from Kiel Fjord can partially alleviate the impact of high pCO2
  2. Changes in the calcifying fluid chemistry can be inferred from shell elemental signatures
  3. Cl/Cashell reflects the import of HCO3– in the calcifying fluid
  4. U/Cashell indicates the pH in the calcifying fluid
  5. Our work provides new evidence of how marine bivalves respond to high pCO2

Abstract
Marine bivalves inhabiting naturally pCO2-enriched habitats can likely tolerate high levels of acidification. Consequently, elucidating the mechanisms behind such resilience can help to predict the fate of this economically and ecologically important group under near-future scenarios of CO2-driven ocean acidification. Here, we assess the effects of four environmentally realistic pCO2 levels (900, 1500, 2900 and 6600 μatm) on the shell production rate of Mya arenaria juveniles originating from a periodically pCO2-enriched habitat (Kiel Fjord, Western Baltic Sea). We find a significant decline in the rate of shell growth as pCO2 increases, but also observe unchanged shell formation rates at moderate pCO2 levels of 1500 and 2900 μatm, the latter illustrating the capacity of the juveniles to partially mitigate the impact of high pCO2. Using recently developed geochemical tracers we show that M. arenaria exposed to a natural pCO2 gradient from 900 to 2900 μatm can likely concentrate HCO3 in the calcifying fluid through the exchange of HCO3–/Cl– and simultaneously maintain the pH homeostasis through active removal of protons, thereby being able to sustain the rate of shell formation to a certain extent. However, with increasing pCO2 beyond natural maximum the bivalves may have limited capacity to compensate for changes in the calcifying fluid chemistry, showing significant shell growth reduction. Findings of the present study may pave the way for elucidating the underlying mechanisms by which marine bivalves acclimate and adapt to high seawater pCO2.

Continue reading ‘Bivalve shell formation in a naturally CO2-enriched habitat: unraveling the resilience mechanisms from elemental signatures’

Calcification in a marginal sea – influence of seawater [Ca2+] and carbonate chemistry on bivalve shell formation (update)

In estuarine coastal systems such as the Baltic Sea, mussels suffer from low salinity which limits their distribution. Anthropogenic climate change is expected to cause further desalination which will lead to local extinctions of mussels in the low saline areas. It is commonly accepted that mussel distribution is limited by osmotic stress. However, along the salinity gradient, environmental conditions for biomineralization are successively becoming more adverse as a result of reduced [Ca2+] and dissolved inorganic carbon (CT) availability. In larvae, calcification is an essential process starting during early development with formation of the prodissoconch I (PD I) shell, which is completed under optimal conditions within 2 days.

Experimental manipulations of seawater [Ca2+] start to impair PD I formation in Mytilus larvae at concentrations below 3 mM, which corresponds to conditions present in the Baltic at salinities below 8 g kg−1. In addition, lowering dissolved inorganic carbon to critical concentrations (< 1 mM) similarly affected PD I size, which was well correlated with calculated ΩAragonite and [Ca2+] [HCO3] ∕ [H+]in all treatments. Comparing results for larvae from the western Baltic with a population from the central Baltic revealed a significantly higher tolerance of PD I formation to lowered [Ca2+] and [Ca2+] [HCO3−] ∕ [H+][H+] in the low saline adapted population. This may result from genetic adaptation to the more adverse environmental conditions prevailing in the low saline areas of the Baltic.

The combined effects of lowered [Ca2+] and adverse carbonate chemistry represent major limiting factors for bivalve calcification and can thereby contribute to distribution limits of mussels in the Baltic Sea.

Continue reading ‘Calcification in a marginal sea – influence of seawater [Ca2+] and carbonate chemistry on bivalve shell formation (update)’

Effect of temperature rise and ocean acidification on growth of calcifying tubeworm shells (Spirorbis spirorbis): an in situ benthocosm approach (update)

The calcareous tubeworm Spirorbis spirorbis is a widespread serpulid species in the Baltic Sea, where it commonly grows as an epibiont on brown macroalgae (genus Fucus). It lives within a Mg-calcite shell and could be affected by ocean acidification and temperature rise induced by the predicted future atmospheric CO2 increase. However, Spirorbis tubes grow in a chemically modified boundary layer around the algae, which may mitigate acidification. In order to investigate how increasing temperature and rising pCO2 may influence S. spirorbisshell growth we carried out four seasonal experiments in the Kiel Outdoor Benthocosms at elevated pCO2 and temperature conditions. Compared to laboratory batch culture experiments the benthocosm approach provides a better representation of natural conditions for physical and biological ecosystem parameters, including seasonal variations. We find that growth rates of S. spirorbis are significantly controlled by ontogenetic and seasonal effects. The length of the newly grown tube is inversely related to the initial diameter of the shell. Our study showed no significant difference of the growth rates between ambient atmospheric and elevated (1100 ppm) pCO2 conditions. No influence of daily average CaCO3 saturation state on the growth rates of S. spirorbis was observed. We found, however, net growth of the shells even in temporarily undersaturated bulk solutions, under conditions that concurrently favoured selective shell surface dissolution. The results suggest an overall resistance of S. spirorbis growth to acidification levels predicted for the year 2100 in the Baltic Sea. In contrast, S. spirorbis did not survive at mean seasonal temperatures exceeding 24 °C during the summer experiments. In the autumn experiments at ambient pCO2, the growth rates of juvenile S. spirorbis were higher under elevated temperature conditions. The results reveal that S. spirorbis may prefer moderately warmer conditions during their early life stages but will suffer from an excessive temperature increase and from increasing shell corrosion as a consequence of progressing ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Effect of temperature rise and ocean acidification on growth of calcifying tubeworm shells (Spirorbis spirorbis): an in situ benthocosm approach (update)’

Early development of the threespine stickleback in relation to water pH

Ocean acidification is a growing environmental problem, and there is a need to investigate how the decreasing pH will affect marine organisms. Here we studied the effects of lowered pH on the growth and development of the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) eggs. Adult fish, collected from the natural environment, were allowed to mate in aquaria and the newly produced eggs were incubated in an experiment. Eggs and larvae from ambient conditions (produced in the laboratory) were reared at three different pH concentrations (control: pH 7.8; and reduced pH treatments: pH 7.5 and 7.0) for 21 days in the laboratory. Dissolved oxygen concentration (8.1 ± 0.1 mg l−1) and temperature (18.6 ± 0.02°C) were monitored regularly. Then, egg diameter, larval length, weight and survival were measured. There was no relationship between egg diameter and pH or oxygen, but a negative relationship was found with temperature. Survival of larvae was not affected by pH or temperature, whereas dissolved oxygen concentration had a positive effect on number of survivors. The pH did not have a significant effect on the final larval length on day 21, but interacted significantly with dissolved oxygen. Higher temperatures were found to have a positive effect on the final larval length and weight. Larval weight, on the other hand, was not related to pH nor oxygen. Coastal zones are characterized by pH levels that fluctuate due to natural processes, such as upwelling and river runoff. Our results suggest that the threespine stickleback larvae are well adapted to the different pHs tested, and egg development will likely not be affected by decreasing pH, but even slight temperature and oxygen changes can have a great impact on the threespine stickleback development.

Continue reading ‘Early development of the threespine stickleback in relation to water pH’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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