Posts Tagged 'biological response'

Homarus gammarus (Crustacea: Decapoda) larvae under an ocean acidification scenario: responses across different levels of biological organization

The present study evaluated the effects of exposure to different target pCO2 levels: control (C: 370μatm, pH = 8.15) and ocean acidification (OA: 710μatm, pH = 7.85) on development and biochemical responses related with oxidative stress and energy metabolism during the crustacean Homarus gammarus (L.) larval development, integrating different levels of biological organization. After hatching in the laboratory, larvae from the same female brood were exposed to the described conditions from hatching until reaching Stage III (last larval stage – 11 days). H. gammarus larvae demonstrated some susceptibility when addressing the predicted pCO2 levels for 2100. Further analysis at the biochemical and physiological level highlighted the occurrence of oxidative stress in the OA scenario (Superoxide Dismutase reduction and higher DNA damage) that was followed by developmental effects, increased inter-moult period from SII to SIII and reduced growth. The extended exposure to these conditions may affect organisms’ key life-cycle functions such as physiological resistance, growth, sexual maturation, or reproduction with implications in their future fitness and population dynamics.

Continue reading ‘Homarus gammarus (Crustacea: Decapoda) larvae under an ocean acidification scenario: responses across different levels of biological organization’

In vivo pH measurement at the site of calcification in an octocoral

Calcareous octocorals are ecologically important calcifiers, but little is known about their biomineralization physiology, relative to scleractinian corals. Many marine calcifiers promote calcification by up-regulating pH at calcification sites against the surrounding seawater. Here, we investigated pH in the red octocoral Corallium rubrum which forms sclerites and an axial skeleton. To achieve this, we cultured microcolonies on coverslips facilitating microscopy of calcification sites of sclerites and axial skeleton. Initially we conducted extensive characterisation of the structural arrangement of biominerals and calcifying cells in context with other tissues, and then measured pH by live tissue imaging. Our results reveal that developing sclerites are enveloped by two scleroblasts and an extracellular calcifying medium of pH 7.97 ± 0.15. Similarly, axial skeleton crystals are surrounded by cells and a calcifying medium of pH 7.89 ± 0.09. In both cases, calcifying media are more alkaline compared to calcifying cells and fluids in gastrovascular canals, but importantly they are not pH up-regulated with respect to the surrounding seawater, contrary to what is observed in scleractinians. This points to a potential vulnerability of this species to decrease in seawater pH and is consistent with reports that red coral calcification is sensitive to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘In vivo pH measurement at the site of calcification in an octocoral’

Impacts of ocean acidification on sensory function in marine organisms

Ocean acidification has been identified as a major contributor to ocean ecosystem decline, impacting the calcification, survival, and behavior of marine organisms. Numerous studies have observed altered sensory perception of chemical, auditory, and visual cues after exposure to elevated CO2. Sensory systems enable the observation of the external environment and therefore play a critical role in survival, communication, and behavior of marine organisms. This review seeks to (1) summarize the current knowledge of sensory impairment caused by ocean acidification, (2) discuss potential mechanisms behind this disruption, and (3) analyze the expected taxa differences in sensitivities to elevated CO2 conditions. Although a lack of standardized methodology makes cross-study comparisons challenging, trends and biases arise from this synthesis including a substantial focus on vertebrates, larvae or juveniles, the reef ecosystem, and chemosensory perception. Future studies must broaden the scope of the field by diversifying the taxa and ecosystems studied, incorporating ontogenetic comparisons, and focusing on cryptic sensory systems such as electroreception, magnetic sense, and the lateral line system. A discussion of possible mechanisms reveals GABAA receptor reversal as the conspicuous physiological mechanism. However, the potential remains for alternative disruption through structure or cue changes. Finally, a taxonomic comparison of physiological complexity reveals few trends in sensory sensitivities to lowered pH, but we hypothesize potential correlations relating to habitat, life history or relative use of sensory systems. Elevated CO2, in concordance with other global and local stressors, has the potential to drastically shift community composition and structure. Therefore research addressing the extent of sensory impairment, the underlying mechanisms, and the differences between taxa is vital for improved predictions of organismal response to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of ocean acidification on sensory function in marine organisms’

Using mineralogy and higher-level taxonomy as indicators of species sensitivity to pH: a case-study of Puget Sound

Information on ecosystem sensitivity to global change can help guide management decisions. Here, we characterize the sensitivity of the Puget Sound ecosystem to ocean acidification by estimating, at a number of taxonomic levels, the direct sensitivity of its species. We compare sensitivity estimates based on species mineralogy and on published literature from laboratory experiments and field studies. We generated information on the former by building a database of species in Puget Sound with mineralogy estimates for all CaCO3-forming species. For the latter, we relied on a recently developed database and meta-analysis on temperate species responses to increased CO2. In general, species sensitivity estimates based on the published literature suggest that calcifying species are more sensitive to increased CO2 than non-calcifying species. However, this generalization is incomplete, as non-calcifying species also show direct sensitivity to high CO2 conditions. We did not find a strong link between mineral solubility and the sensitivity of species survival to changes in carbonate chemistry, suggesting that, at coarse scales, mineralogy plays a lesser role to other physiological sensitivities. Summarizing species sensitivity at the family level resulted in higher sensitivity scalar scores than at the class level, suggesting that grouping results at the class level may overestimate species sensitivity. This result raises caution about the use of broad generalizations on species response to ocean acidification, particularly when developing summary information for specific locations. While we have much to learn about species response to ocean acidification and how to generalize ecosystem response, this study on Puget Sound suggests that detailed information on species performance under elevated carbon dioxide conditions, summarized at the lowest taxonomic level possible, is more valuable than information on species mineralogy.

Continue reading ‘Using mineralogy and higher-level taxonomy as indicators of species sensitivity to pH: a case-study of Puget Sound’

Dissolution of abiogenic and biogenic calcium carbonate under ocean acidification conditions

Under ocean acidification conditions, the chemistry of the seawater will change including a decrease in pH, a decrease in carbonate ion concentration and a decrease in the calcium carbonate saturation state of the water (Ω). This has implications for solid marine calcium carbonates including calcifying organisms and carbonate sediments. The dissolution kinetics of marine carbonates are poorly understood, therefore modelling of the future ocean under ocean acidification scenarios is hampered. The goal of this research was to provide an increased understanding of the kinetics of marine carbonate dissolution, including dependence of the dissolution rate of calcium carbonate mineral phases (calcite, calcite-aragonite, low Mg-calcite) on conditions relevant to ocean acidification, and then to apply this to biogenic samples (Pāua, kina and oyster). The effects of saturation state (Ω), surface area, and temperature were studied. Two methods were refined and used to collect and analyze the dissolution data – a pH-stat method and a pH free-drift method, with manipulation of the carbonate chemistry by addition of NaHCO3 and HCl. A LabVIEW® based program was developed for instrument control and automation and for data acquisition. The empirical equation R = k(1-Ω)n, was used to determine the reaction rates (R), the rate constants (k) and the reaction orders (n) for the each of the mineral phases and shellfish species.

Continue reading ‘Dissolution of abiogenic and biogenic calcium carbonate under ocean acidification conditions’

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’

Divergent responses in growth and nutritional quality of coastal macroalgae to the combination of increased pCO2 and nutrients


  • Growth rates and tissue quality of two common macroalgal species were assessed under conditions of high pCO2 and nutrient loading under monoculture and biculture.
  • Ephemeral macroalgae exhibited significant increases in growth under high pCO2 and high nutrients.
  • Growth rates of perennial macroalgae were unaffected by environmental treatments.
  • Tissue quality of both species increased via decreases in C:N when nutrients were increased.
  • Biculture appears to impact resource acquisition of perennial macroalgae as evidence of higher tissue C:N when compared to monoculture tissue.


Coastal ecosystems are subjected to global and local environmental stressors, including increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) (and subsequent ocean acidification) and nutrient loading. Here, we tested how two common macroalgal species in the Northwest Atlantic (Ulva spp. and Fucus vesiculosus Linneaus) respond to the combination of increased CO2 and nutrient loading. We utilized two levels of pCO2 with two levels of nutrients in a full factorial design, testing the growth rates and tissue quality of Ulva and Fucus grown for 21 days in monoculture and biculture. We found that the opportunistic, fast-growing Ulva exhibited increased growth rates under high pCO2 and high nutrients, with growth rates increasing three-fold above Ulva grown in ambient pCO2 and ambient nutrients. By contrast, Fucus growth rates were not impacted by either environmental factor. Both species exhibited a decline in carbon to nitrogen ratios (C:N) with elevated nutrients, but pCO2 concentration did not alter tissue quality in either species. Species grown in biculture exhibited similar growth rates to those in monoculture conditions, but Fucus C:N increased significantly when grown with Ulva, indicating an effect of the presence of Ulva on Fucus. Our results suggest that the combination of ocean acidification and nutrients will enhance abundance of opportunistic algal species in coastal systems and will likely drive macroalgal community shifts, based on species-specific responses to future conditions.

Continue reading ‘Divergent responses in growth and nutritional quality of coastal macroalgae to the combination of increased pCO2 and nutrients’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book