Posts Tagged 'biological response'



A future 1.2 °C increase in ocean temperature alters the quality of mangrove habitats for marine plants and animals

Highlights
• Mangrove habitats are more resilient to climate change than other habitats.

• Climate change might have positive effects on mangrove-root species communities.

• Using mesocosms we show that an increase of 1.2 °C leads to community homogenisation.

• Warming also led to diversity loss and flattening of mangrove root epibiont communities.

• Juvenile fish altered their use of mangrove habitats under warming and acidification.

Abstract
Global climate stressors, like ocean warming and acidification, contribute to the erosion of structural complexity in marine foundation habitats by promoting the growth of low-relief turf, increasing grazing pressure on structurally complex marine vegetation, and by directly affecting the growth and survival of foundation species. Because mangrove roots are woody and their epibionts are used to ever-changing conditions in highly variable environments, mangrove habitats may be more resilient to global change stressors than other marine foundation species. Using a large-scale mesocosm experiment, we examined how ocean warming and acidification, under a reduced carbon emission scenario, affect the composition and structural complexity of mangrove epibiont communities and the use of mangrove habitat by juvenile fishes. We demonstrate that even a modest increase in seawater temperature of 1.2 °C leads to the homogenisation and flattening of mangrove root epibiont communities. Warming led to a 24% increase in the overall cover of algal epibionts on roots but the diversity of the epibiont species decreased by 33%. Epibiont structural complexity decreased owing to the shorter stature of weedy algal turfs which prospered under elevated temperature. Juvenile fishes showed alterations in mangrove habitat use with ocean warming and acidification, but these were independent of changes to the root epibiont community. We reveal that the quality of apparently resilient mangrove habitats and their perceived value as habitat for associated fauna are still vulnerable under a globally reduced carbon emission scenario.

Continue reading ‘A future 1.2 °C increase in ocean temperature alters the quality of mangrove habitats for marine plants and animals’

Paleobiological traits that determined Scleractinian coral survival and proliferation during the late Paleocene and early Eocene hyperthermals

Coral reefs are particularly sensitive to environmental disturbances, such as rapid shifts in temperature or carbonate saturation. Work on modern reefs has suggested that some corals will fare better than others in times of stress and that their life history traits might correlate with species survival. These same traits can be applied to fossil taxa to assess whether life history traits correspond with coral survival through past intervals of stress similar to future climate predictions. This study aims to identify whether ecological selection (based on physiology, behavior, habitat, etc.) plays a role in the long‐term survival of corals during the late Paleocene and early Eocene. The late Paleocene‐early Eocene interval is associated with multiple hyperthermal events that correspond to rises in atmospheric pCO2 and sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and increases in weathering and turbidity. Coral reefs are rare during the late Paleocene and early Eocene, but despite the lack of reef habitat, corals do not experience an extinction at the generic level and there is little extinction at the species level. In fact, generic and species richness increases throughout the late Paleocene and early Eocene. We show that corals with certain traits (coloniality, carnivorous, or suspension feeding diet, hermaphroditic brooding reproduction, living in clastic settings) are more likely to survive climate change in the early Eocene. These findings have important implications for modern coral ecology and allow us to make more nuanced predictions about which taxa will have higher extinction risk in present‐day climate change.

Continue reading ‘Paleobiological traits that determined Scleractinian coral survival and proliferation during the late Paleocene and early Eocene hyperthermals’

Meta‐analysis reveals enhanced growth of marine harmful algae from temperate regions with warming and elevated CO2 levels

Elevated pCO2 and warming may promote algal growth and toxin production, and thereby possibly support the proliferation and toxicity of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Here, we tested whether empirical data support this hypothesis using a meta‐analytic approach and investigated the responses of growth rate and toxin content or toxicity of numerous marine and estuarine HAB species to elevated pCO2 and warming. Most of the available data on HAB responses towards the two tested climate change variables concern dinoflagellates, as many members of this phytoplankton group are known to cause HAB outbreaks. Toxin content and toxicity did not reveal a consistent response towards both tested climate change variables, while growth rate increased consistently with elevated pCO2. Warming also led to higher growth rates, but only for species isolated at higher latitudes. The observed gradient in temperature growth responses shows the potential for enhanced development of HABs at higher latitudes. Increases in growth rates with more CO2 may present an additional competitive advantage for HAB species, particularly as CO2 was not shown to enhance growth rate of other non‐HAB phytoplankton species. However, this may also be related to the difference in representation of dinoflagellate and diatom species in the respective HAB and non‐HAB phytoplankton groups. Since the proliferation of HAB species may strongly depend on their growth rates, our results warn for a greater potential of dinoflagellate HAB development in future coastal waters, particularly in temperate regions.

Continue reading ‘Meta‐analysis reveals enhanced growth of marine harmful algae from temperate regions with warming and elevated CO2 levels’

How calorie-rich food could help marine calcifiers in a CO2-rich future

Increasing carbon emissions not only enrich oceans with CO2 but also make them more acidic. This acidifying process has caused considerable concern because laboratory studies show that ocean acidification impairs calcification (or shell building) and survival of calcifiers by the end of this century. Whether this impairment in shell building also occurs in natural communities remains largely unexplored, but requires re-examination because of the recent counterintuitive finding that populations of calcifiers can be boosted by CO2 enrichment. Using natural CO2 vents, we found that ocean acidification resulted in the production of thicker, more crystalline and more mechanically resilient shells of a herbivorous gastropod, which was associated with the consumption of energy-enriched food (i.e. algae). This discovery suggests that boosted energy transfer may not only compensate for the energetic burden of ocean acidification but also enable calcifiers to build energetically costly shells that are robust to acidified conditions. We unlock a possible mechanism underlying the persistence of calcifiers in acidifying oceans.

Continue reading ‘How calorie-rich food could help marine calcifiers in a CO2-rich future’

Comparison of larval development in domesticated and naturalized stocks of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas exposed to high pCO2 conditions

Ocean acidification (OA) has had significant negative effects on oyster populations on the west coast of North America over the past decade. Many studies have focused on the physiological challenges experienced by young oyster larvae in high pCO2/low pH seawater with reduced aragonite saturation state (Ωarag), which is characteristic of OA. Relatively few, by contrast, have evaluated these impacts upon fitness traits across multiple larval stages and between discrete oyster populations. In this study, we conducted 2 replicated experiments, in 2015 and 2016, using larvae from naturalized ‘wild’ and selectively bred stocks of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas from the US Pacific Northwest and reared them in ambient (~400 µatm) or high (~1600 µatm) pCO2 seawater from fertilization through final metamorphosis to juvenile ‘spat.’ In each year, high pCO2 seawater inhibited early larval development and affected the timing, but not the magnitude, of mortality during this stage. The effects of acidified seawater on metamorphosis of pediveligers to spat were variable between years, with no effect of seawater pCO2 in the first experiment but a ~42% reduction in spat in the second. Despite this variability, larvae from selectively bred oysters produced, on average, more (+ 55 and 37%) and larger (+ 5 and 23%) spat in ambient and high pCO2 seawater, respectively. These findings highlight the variable and stage-specific sensitivity of larval oysters to acidified seawater and the influence that genetic factors have in determining the larval performance of C. gigas exposed to high pCO2 seawater.

Continue reading ‘Comparison of larval development in domesticated and naturalized stocks of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas exposed to high pCO2 conditions’

Sensitivity of planktic foraminiferal test bulk density to ocean acidification

The anthropogenic CO2 accumulating in the ocean is lowering seawater carbonate ion concentration and may reduce calcification rates of marine calcareous organisms. Several proxies based on test weights of planktic foraminifera have been used to evaluate the impact of ocean acidification on these organisms. Unfortunately, because of the absence of a method to evaluate the bulk density of a test, the impact of seawater carbonate chemistry on test calcification is still not fully understood. In this study, we measured bulk densities of living Globigerina bulloides (planktic foraminifera) tests with an X-ray micro-computed tomography (XMCT) scanner and compared them with ambient seawater characteristics. Results demonstrated that test bulk densities were controlled by ambient seawater carbonate ion concentrations and that changes of test bulk densities were accompanied by changes in micron to submicron scale porosity of internal ultrastructure. These results suggest that alteration of the bulk density of foraminiferal tests due to acidification of ambient seawater can be directly observed by XMCT scanning. A useful metric of calcification intensity would therefore be physical measurements of test densities with XMCT.

Continue reading ‘Sensitivity of planktic foraminiferal test bulk density to ocean acidification’

Testing the adaptive potential of yellowtail kingfish to ocean warming and acidification

Estimating the heritability and genotype by environment (GxE) interactions of performance-related traits (e.g., growth, survival, reproduction) under future ocean conditions is necessary for inferring the adaptive potential of marine species to climate change. To date, no studies have used quantitative genetics techniques to test the adaptive potential of large pelagic fishes to the combined effects of elevated water temperature and ocean acidification. We used an experimental approach to test for heritability and GxE interactions in morphological traits of juvenile yellowtail kingfish, Seriola lalandi, under current-day and predicted future ocean conditions. We also tracked the fate of genetic diversity among treatments over the experimental period to test for selection favoring some genotypes over others under elevated temperature and CO2. Specifically, we reared kingfish to 21 days post hatching (dph) in a fully crossed 2 × 2 experimental design comprising current-day average summer temperature (21°C) and seawater pCO2 (500 μatm CO2) and elevated temperature (25°C) and seawater pCO2 (1,000 μatm CO2). We sampled larvae and juveniles at 1, 11, and 21 dph and identified family of origin of each fish (1,942 in total) by DNA parentage analysis. The animal model was used to estimate heritability of morphological traits and test for GxE interactions among the experimental treatments at 21 dph. Elevated temperature, but not elevated CO2 affected all morphological traits. Weight, length and other morphological traits in juvenile yellowtail kingfish exhibited low but significant heritability under current day and elevated temperature. However, there were no measurable GxE interactions in morphological traits between the two temperature treatments at 21 dph. Similarly, there was no detectable change in any of the measures of genetic diversity over the duration of the experiment. Nonetheless, one family exhibited differential survivorship between temperatures, declining in relative abundance between 1 and 21 dph at 21°C, but increasing in relative abundance between 1 and 21 dph at 25°C. This suggests that this family line could perform better under future warming than in current-day conditions. Our results provide the first preliminary evidence of the adaptive potential of a large pelagic fisheries species to future ocean conditions.

Continue reading ‘Testing the adaptive potential of yellowtail kingfish to ocean warming and acidification’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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