Posts Tagged 'biological response'

Ocean acidification reduces hardness and stiffness of the Portuguese oyster shell with impaired microstructure: a hierarchical analysis

The rapidly intensifying process of ocean acidification (OA) due to anthropogenic CO2 is not only depleting carbonate ions necessary for calcification but also causing acidosis and disrupting internal pH homeostasis in several marine organisms. These negative consequences of OA on marine calcifiers, i.e. oyster species, have been very well documented in recent studies; however, the consequences of reduced or impaired calcification on the end-product, shells or skeletons, still remain one of the major research gaps. Shells produced by marine organisms under OA are expected to show signs of dissolution, disorganized microstructure and reduced mechanical properties. To bridge this knowledge gap and to test the above hypothesis, we investigated the effect of OA on juvenile shells of the commercially important oyster species, Magallana angulata, at ecologically and climatically relevant OA levels (using pH 8.1, 7.8, 7.5, 7.2). In lower pH conditions, a drop of shell hardness and stiffness was revealed by nanoindentation tests, while an evident porous internal microstructure was detected by scanning electron microscopy. Crystallographic orientation, on the other hand, showed no significant difference with decreasing pH using electron back-scattered diffraction (EBSD). These results indicate the porous internal microstructure may be the cause of the reduction in shell hardness and stiffness. The overall decrease of shell density observed from micro-computed tomography analysis indicates the porous internal microstructure may run through the shell, thus inevitably limiting the effectiveness of the shell’s defensive function. This study shows the potential deterioration of oyster shells induced by OA, especially in their early life stage. This knowledge is critical to estimate the survival and production of edible oysters in the future ocean.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification reduces hardness and stiffness of the Portuguese oyster shell with impaired microstructure: a hierarchical analysis’

Impact of carbonate saturation on large Caribbean benthic foraminifera assemblages

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and its dissolution in seawater have reduced ocean pH and carbonate ion concentrations, with potential implications on calcifying organisms. To assess the response of large Caribbean benthic foraminifera to low carbonate saturation conditions, we analyzed benthic foraminifers’ abundance and relative distribution in surface sediments in proximity to low-carbonate-saturation submarine springs and at adjacent control sites. Our results show that the total abundance of large benthic foraminifera was significantly lower at the low-pH submarine springs than at control sites, although responses were species specific. The relative abundance of high-magnesium, porcelaneous foraminifera was higher than that of hyaline foraminifera at the low-pH springs due to the abundant Archaias angulatus, a chlorophyte-bearing foraminifer, which secretes a large and robust test that is more resilient to dissolution at low-calcite saturation. The different assemblages found at the submarine springs indicate that calcareous symbiont-barren foraminifera are more sensitive to the effects of ocean acidification than agglutinated and symbiont-bearing foraminifera, suggesting that future ocean acidification will likely impact natural benthic foraminifera populations.

Continue reading ‘Impact of carbonate saturation on large Caribbean benthic foraminifera assemblages’

Adult Antarctic krill proves resilient in a simulated high CO2 ocean

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) have a keystone role in the Southern Ocean, as the primary prey of Antarctic predators. Decreases in krill abundance could result in a major ecological regime shift, but there is limited information on how climate change may affect krill. Increasing anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are causing ocean acidification, as absorption of atmospheric CO2 in seawater alters ocean chemistry. Ocean acidification increases mortality and negatively affects physiological functioning in some marine invertebrates, and is predicted to occur most rapidly at high latitudes. Here we show that, in the laboratory, adult krill are able to survive, grow, store fat, mature, and maintain respiration rates when exposed to near-future ocean acidification (1000–2000 μatm pCO2) for one year. Despite differences in seawater pCO2 incubation conditions, adult krill are able to actively maintain the acid-base balance of their body fluids in near-future pCO2, which enhances their resilience to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Adult Antarctic krill proves resilient in a simulated high CO2 ocean’

Repeat bleaching of a central Pacific coral reef over the past six decades (1960–2016)

The oceans are warming and coral reefs are bleaching with increased frequency and severity, fueling concerns for their survival through this century. Yet in the central equatorial Pacific, some of the world’s most productive reefs regularly experience extreme heat associated with El Niño. Here we use skeletal signatures preserved in long-lived corals on Jarvis Island to evaluate the coral community response to multiple successive heatwaves since 1960. By tracking skeletal stress band formation through the 2015-16 El Nino, which killed 95% of Jarvis corals, we validate their utility as proxies of bleaching severity and show that 2015-16 was not the first catastrophic bleaching event on Jarvis. Since 1960, eight severe (>30% bleaching) and two moderate (<30% bleaching) events occurred, each coinciding with El Niño. While the frequency and severity of bleaching on Jarvis did not increase over this time period, 2015–16 was unprecedented in magnitude. The trajectory of recovery of this historically resilient ecosystem will provide critical insights into the potential for coral reef resilience in a warming world.

Continue reading ‘Repeat bleaching of a central Pacific coral reef over the past six decades (1960–2016)’

Condition of pteropod shells near a volcanic CO2 vent region

Highlights

 • in situ shell dissolution and change in shell biomass were the predominant features observed in the live pteropods collected within and nearby CO2 vent regions.

• Low pteropod biomass shells (collected nearby the CO2 vents) were more fragile and therefore more prone to fracture than the more robust, high biomass shells (collected in the control stations).

• In the Gulf of Naples, intermittent shifts away from optimum Ωar values can significantly affect pteropod calcification despite waters remaining oversaturated.

Abstract

Natural gradients of pH in the ocean are useful analogues for studying the projected impacts of Ocean Acidification (OA) on marine ecosystems. Here we document the in situ impact of submarine CO2 volcanic emissions (CO2 vents) on live shelled-pteropods (planktonic gastropods) species Creseis conica in the Gulf of Naples (Tyrrhenian Sea, Mediterranean). Since the currents inside the Gulf will likely drive those pelagic calcifying organisms into and out of the CO2 vent zones, we assume that pteropods will be occasionally exposed to the vents during their life cycle. Shell degradation and biomass were investigated in the stations located within and nearby the CO2 vent emission in relation to the variability of sea water carbonate chemistry. A relative decrease in shell biomass (22%), increase in incidence of shell fractures (38%) and extent of dissolution were observed in Creseis conica collected in the Gulf of Naples compared to those from the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea (control stations). These results suggest that discontinuous but recurrent exposure to highly variable carbonate chemistry could consistently affect the characteristic of the pteropod shells.

Continue reading ‘Condition of pteropod shells near a volcanic CO2 vent region’

Copper exposure and seawater acidification interaction: Antagonistic effects on biomarkers in the zooxanthellate scleractinian coral Mussismilia harttii

Highlights

• 76% of the interactions between reduced seawater pH and increasing copper concentrations were antagonistic, and only 24% of these interactions were additive or synergistic;

• The combination of seawater acidification and increasing copper concentrations had no significant deleterious effects in the photosynthetic metabolism of endosymbionts (Symbiodinium spp.) or Ca-ATPase activity;

• Low copper concentrations had a consistent positive effect on Ca-ATPase activity in corals facing reduced seawater pH conditions;

• Potential deleterious effects on the acid-base balance of corals, associated with changes in carbonic anhydrase activity, were intensified by the combination of stressors;

• Toxic effects of copper in future ocean acidification scenarios can be less severe than previously suggested.

Abstract

Coral reefs are threatened by global and local impacts, such as ocean acidification (OA) and metal contamination. Toxicity of metals, such as copper (Cu), is expected to be enhanced with OA. However, the interaction between these environmental stressors is still poorly evaluated. In the present study, the interactive effects of seawater acidification and increasing Cu concentrations were evaluated in a zooxanthellate scleractinian coral (Mussismilia harttii), using biochemical biomarkers involved in the coral calcification process and the photosynthetic metabolism of endosymbionts. Corals were kept under control conditions (no seawater acidification and no Cu addition in seawater) or exposed to combined treatments of reduced seawater pH (8.1, 7.8, 7.5 and 7.2) and environmentally relevant concentrations of dissolved Cu (measured: 1.0, 1.6, 2.3 and 3.2 µg/L) in a mesocosm system. After 15- and 35-days exposure, corals were analyzed for photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm), chlorophyll a content, Ca-ATPase and carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity. Results showed that 76% of the interactions between reduced seawater pH and increasing Cu concentrations were antagonistic. Only 24% of these interactions were additive or synergistic. In general, the combination of stressors had no significant deleterious effects in the photosynthetic metabolism of endosymbionts or Ca-ATPase activity. In fact, the lowest dissolved Cu concentration tested had a consistent positive effect on Ca-ATPase activity in corals facing any of the reduced seawater pH conditions tested. In turn, potentially deleterious effects on acid-base balance in M. harttii, associated with changes in CA activity, were intensified by the combination of stressors. Findings reported here indicate that Cu toxicity in future OA scenarios can be less severe than previously suggested in this coral holobiont.

Continue reading ‘Copper exposure and seawater acidification interaction: Antagonistic effects on biomarkers in the zooxanthellate scleractinian coral Mussismilia harttii’

Effects of light intensity on the photosynthetic responses of Sargassum fusiforme seedlings to future CO2 rising

Mariculture of the economically important seaweed will likely be affected by the combined conditions of ocean acidification that resulting from increasing CO2 rising and decreased light levels, especially under high culture intensity and high biomass accumulation. To examine this coupling effect on the photosynthetic performance of Sargassum fusiforme seedlings, we cultured seedlings of this alga under different light and CO2 levels. Under low light conditions, elevated CO2 significantly decreased the photosynthesis of S. fusiforme seedlings, including a decreased photosynthetic electron transport rate. Seedlings grown under the low light intensity exhibited higher photosynthetic rates and compensation irradiance, and displayed higher photosynthetic pigment contents and light absorption than seedlings grown under high light intensity, providing strong evidence of photosynthetic acclimation to low light. However, the captured light and energy were insufficient to support photosynthesis in acidified seawater regardless of increased dissolved inorganic carbon, resulting in declined carbohydrate and biomass accumulation. This indicated that S. fusiforme photosynthesis was more sensitive to acidified seawater in its early growth stage, and strongly affected by light intensity. Future research should evaluate the practical manipulation of biomass accumulation and mariculture densities during the early culture period at the CO2 level predicted for the end of the century.

Continue reading ‘Effects of light intensity on the photosynthetic responses of Sargassum fusiforme seedlings to future CO2 rising’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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