Posts Tagged 'Baltic'

Variable metabolic responses of Skagerrak invertebrates to low O2 and high CO2 scenarios

Coastal hypoxia is a problem that is predicted to increase rapidly in the future. At the same time we are facing rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which are increasing the pCO2 and acidity of coastal waters. These two drivers are well studied in isolation however; the coupling of low O2 and pH is likely to provide a more significant respiratory challenge for slow moving and sessile invertebrates than is currently predicted. The Gullmar Fjord in Sweden is home to a range of habitats such as sand and mud flats, seagrass beds, exposed and protected shorelines, and rocky bottoms. Moreover, it has a history of both natural and anthropogenically enhanced hypoxia as well as North Sea upwelling, where salty water reaches the surface towards the end of summer and early autumn. A total of 11 species (Crustacean, Chordate, Echinoderm and Mollusc) of these ecosystems were exposed to four different treatments (high/low oxygen and low/high CO2; varying pCO2 of 450 and 1300 ppm and O2 concentrations of 2–3.5 and 9–10 mg L−1) and respiration measured after 3 and 6 days, respectively. This allows us to evaluate respiration responses of species of contrasting habitats and life-history strategies to single and multiple stressors. Results show that the responses of the respiration were highly species specific as we observed both synergetic as well as antagonistic responses, and neither phylum nor habitat explained trends in respiratory responses. Management plans should avoid the generalized assumption that combined stressors will results in multiplicative effects and focus attention on alleviating hypoxia in the region.
Continue reading ‘Variable metabolic responses of Skagerrak invertebrates to low O2 and high CO2 scenarios’

Intense pCO2 and [O2] oscillations in a mussel-seagrass habitat: implications for calcification

Numerous studies have been conducted on the effect of ocean acidification on calcifiers inhabiting nearshore benthic habitats, such as the blue mussel Mytilus edulis. The majority of these experiments was performed under stable CO2 partial pressure (pCO2), carbonate chemistry and oxygen (O2) levels, reflecting present or expected future open ocean conditions. Consequently, levels and variations occurring in coastal habitats, due to biotic and abiotic processes, were mostly neglected, even though these variations largely override global long-term trends. To highlight this hiatus and guide future research, state-of-the-art technologies were deployed to obtain high-resolution time series of pCO2 and [O2] on a mussel patch within a Zostera marina seagrass bed, in Kiel Bay (western Baltic Sea) in August and September 2013. Combining the in situ data with results of discrete sample measurements, a full seawater carbonate chemistry was derived using statistical models. An average pCO2 more than 50 % (~ 640 µatm) higher than current atmospheric levels was found right above the mussel patch. Diel amplitudes of pCO2 were large: 765 ± 310 (mean ± SD). Corrosive conditions for calcium carbonates (Ωarag and Ωcalc < 1) centered on sunrise were found, but the investigated habitat never experienced hypoxia throughout the study period. It is estimated that mussels experience conditions limiting calcification for 12–15 h per day, based on a regional calcium carbonate concentration physiological threshold. Our findings call for more extensive experiments on the impact of fluctuating corrosive conditions on mussels. We also stress the complexity of the interpretation of carbonate chemistry time series data in such dynamic coastal environments.
Continue reading ‘Intense pCO2 and [O2] oscillations in a mussel-seagrass habitat: implications for calcification’

Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)

Ocean acidification resulting from the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) by the ocean is considered a major threat to marine ecosystems. Here we examined the effects of ocean acidification on microbial community dynamics in the eastern Baltic Sea during the summer of 2012 when inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus were strongly depleted. Large-volume in situ mesocosms were employed to mimic present, future and far future CO2 scenarios. All six groups of phytoplankton enumerated by flow cytometry ( <  20 µm cell diameter) showed distinct trends in net growth and abundance with CO2 enrichment. The picoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups Pico-I and Pico-II displayed enhanced abundances, whilst Pico-III, Synechococcus and the nanoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups were negatively affected by elevated fugacity of CO2 (fCO2). Specifically, the numerically dominant eukaryote, Pico-I, demonstrated increases in gross growth rate with increasing fCO2 sufficient to double its abundance. The dynamics of the prokaryote community closely followed trends in total algal biomass despite differential effects of fCO2 on algal groups. Similarly, viral abundances corresponded to prokaryotic host population dynamics. Viral lysis and grazing were both important in controlling microbial abundances. Overall our results point to a shift, with increasing fCO2, towards a more regenerative system with production dominated by small picoeukaryotic phytoplankton.

Continue reading ‘Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)’

Seasonal variations of Fucus vesiculosus fertility under ocean acidification and warming in the western Baltic Sea

Ocean warming and acidification may substantially affect the reproduction of keystone species such as Fucus vesiculosus (Phaeophyceae). In four consecutive benthic mesocosm experiments, we compared the reproductive biology and quantified the temporal development of Baltic Sea Fucus fertility under the single and combined impact of elevated seawater temperature and pCO2 (1100 ppm). In an additional experiment, we investigated the impact of temperature (0–25°C) on the maturation of North Sea F. vesiculosus receptacles. A marked seasonal reproductive cycle of F. vesiculosus became apparent in the course of 1 year. The first appearance of receptacles on vegetative apices and the further development of immature receptacles of F. vesiculosus in autumn were unaffected by warming or elevated pCO2. During winter, elevated pCO2 in both ambient and warmed temperatures increased the proportion of mature receptacles significantly. In spring, warming and, to a lesser extent, elevated pCO2 accelerated the maturation of receptacles and advanced the release of gametes by up to 2 weeks. Likewise, in the laboratory, maturation and gamete release were accelerated at 15–25°C relative to colder temperatures. In summary, elevated pCO2 and/or warming do not influence receptacle appearance in autumn, but do accelerate the maturation process during spring, resulting in earlier gamete release. Temperature and, to a much lesser extent, pCO2 affect the temporal development of Fucus fertility. Thus, rising temperatures will mainly shift or disturb the phenology of F. vesiculosus in spring and summer, which may alter and/or hamper its ecological functions in shallow coastal ecosystems of the Baltic Sea.

Continue reading ‘Seasonal variations of Fucus vesiculosus fertility under ocean acidification and warming in the western Baltic Sea’

Macroalgae may mitigate ocean acidification effects on mussel calcification by increasing pH and its fluctuations

Ocean acidification (OA) is generally assumed to negatively impact calcification rates of marine organisms. At a local scale however, biological activity of macrophytes may generate pH fluctuations with rates of change that are orders of magnitude larger than the long-term trend predicted for the open ocean. These fluctuations may in turn impact benthic calcifiers in the vicinity. Combining laboratory, mesocosm and field studies, such interactions between OA, the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus, the sea grass Zostera marina and the blue mussel Mytilus edulis were investigated at spatial scales from decimetres to 100s of meters in the western Baltic. Macrophytes increased the overall mean pH of the habitat by up to 0.3 units relative to macrophyte-free, but otherwise similar, habitats and imposed diurnal pH fluctuations with amplitudes ranging from 0.3 to more than 1 pH unit. These amplitudes and their impact on mussel calcification tended to increase with increasing macrophyte biomass to bulk water ratio. At the laboratory and mesocosm scales, biogenic pH fluctuations allowed mussels to maintain calcification even under acidified conditions by shifting most of their calcification activity into the daytime when biogenic fluctuations caused by macrophyte activity offered temporal refuge from OA stress. In natural habitats with a low biomass to water body ratio, the impact of biogenic pH fluctuations on mean calcification rates of M. edulis was less pronounced. Thus, in dense algae or seagrass habitats, macrophytes may mitigate OA impact on mussel calcification by raising mean pH and providing temporal refuge from acidification stress.

Continue reading ‘Macroalgae may mitigate ocean acidification effects on mussel calcification by increasing pH and its fluctuations’

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

The calcareous tubeworm Spirorbis spirorbis is a wide-spread 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. spirorbis shell 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. spirorbiswas observed. We found, however, net growth of the shells even in temporarily undersaturated bulk solutions, under conditions that concurrently favored 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 ocean acidification and elevated temperature on growth of calcifying tubeworm shells (Spirorbis spirorbis): an in-situ benthocosm approach’

Organic matter export to the seafloor in the Baltic Sea: Drivers of change and future projections

The impact of environmental change and anthropogenic stressors on coastal marine systems will strongly depend on changes in the magnitude and composition of organic matter exported from the water column to the seafloor. Knowledge of vertical export in the Baltic Sea is synthesised to illustrate how organic matter deposition will respond to climate warming, climate-related changes in freshwater runoff, and ocean acidification. Pelagic heterotrophic processes are suggested to become more important in a future warmer climate, with negative feedbacks to organic matter deposition to the seafloor. This is an important step towards improved oxygen conditions in the near-bottom layer that will reduce the release of inorganic nutrients from the sediment and hence counteract further eutrophication. The evaluation of these processes in ecosystem models, validated by field observations, will significantly advance the understanding of the system’s response to environmental change and will improve the use of such models in management of coastal areas.

Continue reading ‘Organic matter export to the seafloor in the Baltic Sea: Drivers of change and future projections’


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