Posts Tagged 'BRcommunity'

Direct and indirect impacts of ocean acidification and warming on algae-herbivore interactions in intertidal habitats


  • Ocean acidification (OA) and warming (OW) alter algae-herbivore interactions
  • OA and OW modify biochemical composition of the kelp Lessonia spicata.
  • Changes in kelp biochemical composition affect snail’s feeding behaviour.
  • OW and OA conditions increased snail’s metabolic stress.
  • Nutritional quality of food plays a key role on grazers’ physiological energetics.


Anthropogenically induced global climate change has caused profound impacts in the world ocean. Climate change related stressors, like ocean acidification (OA) and warming (OW) can affect physiological performance of marine species. However, studies evaluating the impacts of these stressors on algae-herbivore interactions have been much more scarce. We approached this issue by assessing the combined impacts of OA and OW on the physiological energetics of the herbivorous snail Tegula atra, and whether this snail is affected indirectly by changes in biochemical composition of the kelp Lessonia spicata, in response to OA and OW. Our results show that OA and OW induce changes in kelp biochemical composition and palatability (organic matter, phenolic content), which in turn affect snails’ feeding behaviour and energy balance. Nutritional quality of food plays a key role on grazers’ physiological energetics and can define the stability of trophic interactions in rapidly changing environments such as intertidal communities.

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Influence of seagrass on juvenile Pacific oyster growth in two US west coast estuaries with different environmental gradients

Ocean acidification threatens many marine organisms, including oysters. Seagrass habitat has been suggested as a potential refuge for oysters because it may ameliorate stressful carbonate chemistry and augment food availability. We conducted an in situ study to investigate whether eelgrass Zostera marina habitat affects the growth of juvenile Pacific oysters Crassostrea gigas and influences local carbonate chemistry or food quantity at sites where we expected contrasting conditions in two US west coast estuaries. Juvenile oysters were out-planted in typical intertidal on-bottom (just above sediment) and off-bottom (45 cm above sediment) culture positions and in adjacent eelgrass and unvegetated habitats from June to September 2019. Water quality was measured with sondes for 24 h periods each month, and discrete water samples were collected in conjuncture. Results show that eelgrass habitat did not alter average local carbonate chemistry (pH, pCO2, Ωcalcite), but consistently reduced available food (relative chlorophyll a). Eelgrass habitat had little to no effect on the shell or tissue growth of juvenile oysters but may have influenced their energy allocation; oysters displayed a 16% higher ratio of shell to tissue growth in eelgrass compared to unvegetated habitat when cultured on-bottom. At the seascape scale, average site-level pH was negatively correlated with shell to tissue growth but not with shell growth alone. Overall, these findings suggest that juvenile oysters may display a compensatory response and allocate more energy to shell than tissue growth under stressful conditions like acidic water and/or altered food supply due to reduced immersion or eelgrass presence.

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Fermentative iron reduction buffers acidification and promotes microbial metabolism in marine sediments

Microbial iron reduction is a crucial process in natural ecosystems, contributing to the cycling of elements and supporting the biological activities of organisms. However, the significance of fermentative iron reduction in marine environments and microbial metabolism remains understudied compared with iron reduction coupled with respiration. The main objective of our study was to investigate the influence of fermentative iron reduction on microbial populations and marine sediment. Our findings revealed a robust iron-reducing activity in the enriched marine sediment, demonstrating a maximum ferrihydrite-reducing rate of 0.063 mmol/h. Remarkably, ferrihydrite reduction exhibited an intriguing pH-buffering effect through the release of OH+ and Fe2+ ions, distinct from fermentation alone. This effect resulted in substantial improvements in glucose consumption (71.4%), bacterial growth (48.1%), and metabolite production (80.8%). To further validate the acidification-buffering and metabolism-promoting effects of ferrihydrite reduction, we conducted iron-reducing experiments using a pure strain, Clostridium pasteurianum DMS525. The observed pH-buffering effect resulted from microbial iron reduction in marine sediment and has potential environmental implications by reducing CO2 emissions, mitigating acidification, and preserving the delicate balance of marine ecosystems.

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Predicting the impacts of climate change on New Zealand’s seaweed-based ecosystems

The impacts of global climate change are threatening the health and integrity of New Zealand’s seaweed ecosystems that provide crucial ecological, economic, and cultural benefits. Important species that comprise these ecosystems include canopy forming large brown algae (fucoids and kelp), and understorey species. Here we review current knowledge of the measured impacts of climate change stressors on New Zealand seaweeds. Ocean warming has driven increasing frequencies, durations, and intensities of marine heatwaves globally and in New Zealand. Significant negative impacts resulting from heatwaves have already been observed on New Zealand’s canopy forming brown algae (giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera and bull kelp Durvillaea spp.). We predict that ongoing ocean warming and associated marine heatwaves will alter the distributional range and basic physiology of many seaweed species, with poleward range shifts for many species. Increased extreme weather events causes accelerated erosion of sediments into the marine environment and re-suspension of these sediments, termed coastal darkening, which has reduced the growth rates and available vertical space on rocky reefs in New Zealand and is predicted to worsen in the future. Furthermore, ocean acidification will reduce the growth and recruitment of coralline algae, this may reduce the settlement success of many marine invertebrate larvae. Mechanistic underpinnings of the effects of multiple drivers occurring in combination is poorly described. Finally, local stressors, such as overfishing, will likely interact with global change in these ecosystems. Thus, we predict very different futures for New Zealand seaweed ecosystems depending on whether they are managed appropriately or not. Given recent increases in sea surface temperatures and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events in some regions of New Zealand, predicting the impacts of climate change on seaweeds and the important communities they support is becoming increasingly important for conserving resilient seaweed ecosystems in the future.

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Microbial communities inhabiting shallow hydrothermal vents as sentinels of acidification processes

Introduction: Shallow hydrothermal vents are considered natural laboratories to study the effects of acidification on biota, due to the consistent CO2 emissions with a consequent decrease in the local pH.

Methods: Here the microbial communities of water and sediment samples from Levante Bay (Vulcano Island) with different pH and redox conditions were explored by Next Generation Sequencing techniques. The taxonomic structure was elucidated and compared with previous studies from the same area in the last decades.

Results and discussion: The results revealed substantial shifts in the taxonomic structure of both bacterial and archaeal communities, with special relevance in the sediment samples, where the effects of external parameters probably act for a long time. The study demonstrates that microbial communities could be used as indicators of acidification processes, by shaping the entire biogeochemical balance of the ecosystem in response to stress factors. The study contributes to understanding how much these communities can tell us about future changes in marine ecosystems.

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From individual to ecosystem: multi-stressor effects of acidification and warming on the physiological responses of coastal marine invertebrates

Climate change is directly impacting the services humans derive from the sea at an accelerated rate. Ocean warming and acidification (i.e., a decrease in ocean pH) are leading to modifications in population sizes and ecosystem functioning. The observed shifts in these higher order processes are a direct result of individuals’ responses (i.e., physiology, including metabolism, growth, calcification, and survival) occurring within communities. Natural variation in past environmental exposure experienced by individuals may lead to greater population resilience, or it may push individuals past physiological thresholds leading to increased sensitivity and vulnerability to climate change. Thus, we need to determine how individual-level physiological responses to climate change scale up to influence marine ecosystems. Rocky intertidal habitats are an ideal study system for evaluating the relationships between individual physiological responses, ecosystem functioning, and climate change. Tide pools possess unique thermal and pH environments and can be monitored under natural conditions or manipulated with field-experiments over daily and seasonal time scales, creating natural “experimental mesocosms”. In addition, many species within rocky intertidal habitats are exposed to environmental conditions close to their tolerance limits, increasing their potential vulnerability to climate change. In Chapter 1, by utilizing the unique thermal environments of tide pools, I showed that across small spatial scales (pools), thermal history influences thermal sensitivity of marine invertebrates for short-term time intervals (1-week and 1-day) and that this relationship differs seasonally and between species with differing traits, including mobility. This suggests that variability in thermal responses among individuals may allow for a natural buffer at a population level in response to climate change. Multiple stressors may affect individuals independently or interactively, amplifying or mitigating effects. Thus, to determine the impacts of climate change, in Chapter 2, I used a 6-month long field manipulation of ocean warming and acidification in tide pools. I examined the combined effects of warming and acidification on the shell structure (shell thickness and corrosion) and functional properties (shell strength) of the ecologically critical species, the Pacific blue mussel (Mytilus trossulus). Acidification led to thinner, weaker, and more corroded shells whereas combined warming and acidification resulted in an increase in shell strength. My results suggest that to some degree, warming may mitigate the negative impacts of acidification on this mollusk species. Lastly, in Chapter 3, I characterize how warming and acidification, individually and interactively, impact net ecosystem calcification and the individual and population-level mechanisms driving impacts on net ecosystem calcification. Net ecosystem calcification tended to increase during the day and decrease at night; however, addition of CO2 during the hottest months led to decreased net ecosystem calcification and increased dissolution during both day and night. I found that individual mussel metabolic rates increased significantly in the presence of elevated CO2 and increased daily maximum of pool temperatures. Through this individual-level pathway, pH and temperature had a strong impact on the metabolic rates of individuals ultimately resulting in changes in net ecosystem calcification. On the other hand, greater mussel abundance was associated with increased net ecosystem calcification. Yet, with the addition of CO2, calcification decreased even in pools with the highest abundance of mussels, indicating that there are other pathways by which changes in pH can drive alterations in net ecosystem calcification. My dissertation reveals how species’ traits and natural thermal variation from short-term to seasonal time scales influence metabolic sensitivity to future warming among individuals (Ch. 1), independent climate stressors can negatively impact shellfish in situ, whereas the combined interactive effects between multiple stressors can lead to mitigation of the negative impacts of a single stressor alone (Ch. 2), and that ecosystem-level consequences of climate change are mediated by the abundance of dominant calcifiers and that this effect is dependent on the magnitude of acidification and warming (Ch. 3).

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Seasonal production dynamics of high latitude seaweeds in a changing ocean: implications for bottom-up effects on temperate coastal food webs

As the oceans absorb excess heat and CO2 from the atmosphere, marine primary producers face significant changes to their abiotic environments and their biotic interactions with other species. Understanding the bottom-up consequences of these effects on marine food webs is essential to informing adaptive management plans that can sustain ecosystem and cultural services. In response to this need, this dissertation provides an in-depth consideration of the effects of global change on foundational macroalgal (seaweed) species in a poorly studied, yet highly productive region of our world’s oceans. To explore how seaweeds within seasonally dynamic giant kelp forest ecosystems will respond to ocean warming and acidification, I employ a variety of methods: year-round environmental monitoring using an in situ sensor array, monthly subtidal community surveys, and a series of manipulative experiments. I find that a complementary phenology of macroalgal production currently characterizes these communities, providing complex habitat and a nutritionally diverse energy supply to support higher trophic levels throughout the year. I also find that future ocean warming and acidification will lead to substantial shifts in the phenology, quantity and quality of macroalgal production in these systems. My results suggest that the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera may be relatively resilient to the effects of global change in future winter and summer seasons at high latitudes. In contrast, the calcifying coralline algae Bossiella orbigniana and Crusticorallina spp. and the understory kelps Hedophyllum nigripes and Neoagarum fimbriatum will experience a suite of negative impacts, especially in future winter conditions. The resulting indirect effects on macroalgal-supported coastal food webs will be profound, with projected reductions in habitat and seasonal food supply on rocky reefs. Coming at a time of heightened interest in seaweed production potential at high latitudes, this dissertation provides a comprehensive evaluation of the future of these foundational organisms in a changing environment.

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Genomic signatures suggesting adaptation to ocean acidification in a coral holobiont from volcanic CO2 seeps

Ocean acidification, caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions, is predicted to have major consequences for reef-building corals, jeopardizing the scaffolding of the most biodiverse marine habitats. However, whether corals can adapt to ocean acidification and how remains unclear. We addressed these questions by re-examining transcriptome and genome data of Acropora millepora coral holobionts from volcanic CO2 seeps with end-of-century pH levels. We show that adaptation to ocean acidification is a wholistic process involving the three main compartments of the coral holobiont. We identified 441 coral host candidate adaptive genes involved in calcification, response to acidification, and symbiosis; population genetic differentiation in dinoflagellate photosymbionts; and consistent transcriptional microbiome activity despite microbial community shifts. Coral holobionts from natural analogues to future ocean conditions harbor beneficial genetic variants with far-reaching rapid adaptation potential. In the face of climate change, these populations require immediate conservation strategies as they could become key to coral reef survival.

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Seagrass Thalassia hemprichii and associated bacteria co-response to the synergistic stress of ocean warming and ocean acidification

Seagrass meadows play vital ecological roles in the marine ecosystem. Global climate change poses considerable threats to seagrass survival. However, it is unclear how seagrass and its associated bacteria will respond under future complex climate change scenarios. This study explored the effects of ocean warming (+2 °C) and ocean acidification (−0.4 units) on seagrass physiological indexes and bacterial communities (sediment and rhizosphere bacteria) of the seagrass Thalassia hemprichii during an experimental exposure of 30 days. Results demonstrated that the synergistic effect of ocean warming and ocean acidification differed from that of one single factor on seagrass and the associated bacterial community. The seagrass showed a weak resistance to ocean warming and ocean acidification, which manifested through the increase in the activity of typical oxidoreductase enzymes. Moreover, the synergistic effect of ocean warming and ocean acidification caused a significant decrease in seagrass’s chlorophyll content. Although the bacterial community diversity exhibited higher resistance to ocean warming and ocean acidification, further bacterial functional analysis revealed the synergistic effect of ocean warming and ocean acidification led to significant increases in SOX-related genes abundance which potentially supported the seagrass in resisting climate stress by producing sulfates and oxidizing hydrogen sulfide. More stable bacterial communities were detected in the seagrass rhizosphere under combined ocean warming and ocean acidification. While for one single environmental stress, simpler networks were detected in the rhizosphere. In addition, the observed significant correlations between several modules of the bacterial community and the physiological indexes of the seagrass indicate the possible intimate interaction between seagrass and bacteria under ocean warming and ocean acidification. This study extends our understanding regarding the role of seagrass associated bacterial communities and sheds light on both the prediction and preservation of the seagrass meadow ecosystems in response to global climate change.

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Feeding in mixoplankton enhances phototrophy increasing bloom-induced pH changes with ocean acidification

Plankton phototrophy consumes CO2, increasing seawater pH, while heterotrophy does the converse. Elevation of pH (>8.5) during coastal blooms becomes increasingly deleterious for plankton. Mixoplankton, which can be important bloom-formers, engage in both photoautotrophy and phagoheterotrophy; in theory, this activity could create a relatively stable pH environment for plankton growth. Using a systems biology modelling approach, we explored whether different mixoplankton functional groups could modulate the environmental pH compared to the extreme activities of phototrophic phytoplankton and heterotrophic zooplankton. Activities by most mixoplankton groups do not stabilize seawater pH. Through access to additional nutrient streams from internal recycling with phagotrophy, mixoplankton phototrophy is enhanced, elevating pH; this is especially so for constitutive and plastidic specialist non-constitutive mixoplankton. Mixoplankton blooms can exceed the size of phytoplankton blooms; the synergisms of mixoplankton physiology, accessing nutrition via phagotrophy as well as from inorganic sources, enhance or augment primary production rather than depressing it. Ocean acidification will thus enable larger coastal mixoplankton blooms to form before basification becomes detrimental. The dynamics of such bloom developments will depend on whether the mixoplankton are consuming heterotrophs and/or phototrophs and how the plankton community succession evolves.

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Benthic foraminiferal response to the Aptian−Albian carbon cycle perturbation in the Atlantic Ocean

A planktic foraminiferal mass extinction, coeval with the major carbon cycle perturbation of Oceanic Anoxic Event (OAE) 1b, occurred at the Aptian−Albian boundary interval (AABI). However, the scarcity of high-resolution records across the AABI hampers an assessment of the impacts of OAE 1b on deep-water benthic foraminiferal assemblages. Here we present high-resolution benthic foraminiferal census counts at Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Site 511 (southern South Atlantic Ocean) and Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Site 1049 (western subtropical North Atlantic Ocean) over the AABI. Our records at these bathyal sites provide conclusive evidence that there was no benthic foraminiferal extinction at the Aptian−Albian boundary, although marked reorganizations of relative abundances occurred. During the latest Aptian, cyclic increases in the abundance of infaunal species at both sites point to repeated pulses of reduced bottom water oxygenation and increased organic carbon flux to the ocean floor. Additionally, agglutinated and weakly calcified benthic foraminiferal species were relatively abundant during the latest Aptian, suggesting deep-water carbonate ion depletion in the Atlantic Ocean, although we did not identify signs of carbonate dissolution at these relatively shallow sites. At Site 511, abundances of infaunal foraminifera increased in tandem with the negative carbonate carbon isotope (δ13Ccarb) excursion of the Kilian sub-event within OAE 1b, suggesting decreased bottom water ventilation and increased organic carbon flux to the ocean floor during the sub-event. Bottom water ventilation and carbonate ion saturation improved during the earliest Albian in the Atlantic Ocean, followed by high-amplitude oscillations, as suggested by abundance trends of heavily calcified epifaunal foraminifera at Sites 511 and 1049.

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Acclimation to various temperature and pCO2 levels does not impact the competitive ability of two strains of Skeletonema marinoi in natural communities subjected to different pCO2 treatments

Understanding the long-term response of key marine phytoplankton species to ongoing global changes is pivotal in determining how oceanic community composition will respond over the coming decades. To better understand the impact of ocean acidification and warming, we acclimated two strains of Skeletonema marinoi isolated from natural communities to three pCO2 (400 atm, 600 atm and 1000 atm) for 8 months and five temperature conditions (7°C, 10°C, 13°C, 16°C and 19°C) for 11 months. These strains were then tested in natural microbial communities, exposed to three pCO2 treatments (400 atm, 600 atm and 1000 atm). DNA metabarcoding of the 16S and 18S gene for prokaryotes and eukaryotes respectively was used to show differences in abundance and diversity between the three CO2 treatments. We found there were no significant differences in acclimated S. marinoi concentrations between the three pCO2 treatments, most likely due to the high variability these strains experience in their natural environment. There were significant compositional differences between the pCO2 treatments for prokaryotes suggesting that indirect changes to phytoplankton-bacteria interactions could be a possible driver of bacterial community composition. Yet, there were no differences for eukaryotic community composition, with all treatments dominated by diatoms (but not the acclimated S. marinoi) resulting in similar biodiversity. Furthermore, strain-specific differences in community composition suggests interactions between prokaryotic and eukaryotic taxa could play a role in determining future community composition.

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Ocean acidification altered microbial functional potential in the Arctic Ocean

Ocean acidification (OA) has considerably changed the metabolism and structure of plankton communities in the ocean. Evaluation of the response of the marine bacterioplankton community to OA is critical for understanding the future direction of bacterioplankton-mediated biogeochemical processes in the ocean. Understanding the diversity of functional genes is important for linking the microbial community to ecological and biogeochemical processes. However, the influence of OA on the functional diversity of bacterioplankton remains unclear. Using high-throughput functional gene microarray technology (GeoChip 4), we investigated the functional gene structure and diversity of bacterioplankton under three different pCO2 levels (control: 175 μatm, medium: 675 μatm, and high: 1085 μatm) in a large Arctic Ocean mesocosm experiment. We observed a higher evenness of microbial functional genes under elevated pCO2 compared with under low pCO2. OA induced a more stable community as evaluated by decreased dissimilarity of functional gene structure with increased pCO2. Molecular ecological networks under elevated pCO2 became more complex and stable, supporting the central ecological tenet that complexity begets stability. In particular, increased average abundances were found under elevated pCO2 for many genes involved in key metabolic processes, including carbon degradation, methane oxidization, nitrogen fixation, dissimilatory nitrite/nitrate reduction, and sulfide reduction processes. Altogether, these results indicate a significant influence of OA on the metabolism potential of bacterioplankton in the Arctic Ocean. Consequently, our study suggests that biogeochemical cycling mediated by these microbes may be altered by the OA in the future.

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Microbial dynamics in shallow CO2 seeps system off Panarea Island (Italy)

Shallow-water hydrothermal vents are extreme environments characterized by high temperatures, low pH, and high CO2 concentrations; therefore, they are considered as suitable laboratories for studying the effect of global changes on marine microbes. We hypothesized a direct effect of vents on prokaryotic community structure and functioning in the Panarea Island’s hydrothermal system. Sampling was conducted along a 9-station transect characterized by three active emission points. The water column was stratified with a thermocline at 25 m depth and a deep chlorophyll maximum between 50 and 100 m. Prokaryotic abundance ranged from 0.2 to 1.5 × 109 cells L−1, prokaryotic carbon production from 2.4 to 75.4 ng C L−1 h−1, and exoenzymatic activities degrading proteins, phosphorylated compounds, and polysaccharides were on the order of 4–28, 2–31 and 0.2–4.16 nM h−1, respectively. While microbial abundance and production were shaped by the water column’s physical structure, alkaline phosphatase and beta-glucosidase activities seemed to be enhanced by hydrothermal fluids. The 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing analysis identified a surface, a deep, and a vent-influenced microbial community. In terms of relative abundance members of the SAR11 group dominated the water column, alongside Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus in surface and bottom samples, respectively. Vent-influenced stations were characterized by the presence of Thiomicrorhabdus, a sulfur-oxidizer chemolithoautotroph. Overall, this study provides insights on the coupling between microbial community structure and the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients in low-pH conditions (CO2 and H2S-based), thus addressing some of the opened questions about the response of microbes to acidification.

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A glimpse into the climate, seasonality, hydrological cycle, carbonate chemistry and marine ecosystem shift of the pre-Petm and the Petm using Ncar Cesm1.2

The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, ~56 my ago, 170,000y event) is characterized by a negative δ13C excursion into the atmosphere. This event caused global temperature to increase by about 5-6 °C, followed by climate responses such as marine acidification, ocean stratification, shoaling of calcite compensation depth (CCD), stronger hydrological cycle, and significant changes in marine ecosystems. It is one of the very few analogies of today’s global warming climate and thus is valuable to study. It still holds much potential for research, including using the state-of-the-art model CESM1.2. Proxy records are limited due to the nature of geological preservation and tectonic evolution. Modeling and simulations can provide insights to supplement the limited proxy records research.  Here, we explore the seasonality, hydrological cycles, and controlling factors of their changes from pre-PETM to the PETM in the first paper; the ability of CESM1.2 to simulate carbonate chemistry, changes in lysocline and CCD in the Atlantic Ocean in the second paper; and the shift of phytoplankton functional groups, using the same preferendum to capture first-hand reactions to environmental changes, from pre-industrial pCO2 to pre-PETM in the third paper. All papers use CESM1.2 simulation results with or without BEC. Our results show that from pre-PETM to PETM, seasonality increases in mid-latitude continental interiors and decreases in high and low latitudes, along with globally enhanced moisture transfer in hydrological cycles. The main controlling factors of these areas are snow-albedo effect, soil moisture, and precipitation. CESM1.2 and ocean Biogeochemical (BGC) Elemental Cycling (BEC) can simulate the changes of carbonate chemistry of the Atlantic Ocean, with certain modifications in the code base and without the need of extra models. There are noticeable and significant changes in chlorophyll, nutrient and NPP from PETM in pre-industrial pCO2 and pre-PETM, but distinct variations from pre-industrial and PETM in pre-industrial pCO2 simulations.  Proxy record scarcity is the main limitation of the studies on PETM and should be used with care. In the meantime, machine learning is encouraged for multi-disciplinary research of complicated topics such as carbon chemistry and phytoplankton functional group preferendum and ecosystem dynamics.

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Characteristics of meiofaunal community in the subtidal zone near Hupo, anticipating ocean acidification in the East Sea of Korea

This study aimed to investigate the meiofauna community characteristics in coastal waters highly affected by ocean acidification. Therefore, the meiofauna communities in the coastal waters of Hupo in Uljin-gun, a county bordering the East Sea of Korea, were monitored over five years. During the study period, the mean abundance of total meiofauna communities expressed in population density was 614.4 individuals (Inds.)/10 cm2, similar to the reported meiofauna abundance in the subtidal zone in the Yellow Sea of Korea, an area with sandy sedimentary facies. The most dominant taxa were nematodes (65–70%) and harpacticoids (7–20%); these two taxa accounted for approximately 80% of the total meiofauna abundance. Among the stations studied, station (St.) 10 showed the lowest seawater pH value, and in 2011, when the measured pH was the lowest at 7.82, St. 10 showed the lowest abundance values for total meiofauna and harpacticoids in the 5-year period. To examine the effect of ocean acidification on meiofauna communities at the species level, species of nematodes, the most dominant taxon, were analyzed. The results indicated that the number of nematode species at St. 10 in 2009, when the pH value was low, was 8, which was very low compared to that in the other years of the study period. According to the feeding type, epistrate feeders (2A) accounted for a remarkably high proportion at St. 10, which showed a low pH. This study provides various data on meiobenthic community characteristics to understand the effects of ocean acidification on coastal ecosystems.

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Future ocean conditions induce necrosis, microbial dysbiosis and nutrient cycling imbalance in the reef sponge Stylissa flabelliformis

Oceans are rapidly warming and acidifying in the context of climate change, threatening sensitive marine biota including coral reef sponges. Ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA) can impact host health and associated microbiome, but few studies have investigated these effects, which are generally studied in isolation, on a specific component of the holobiont. Here we present a comprehensive view of the consequences of simultaneous OW and OA for the tropical sponge Stylissa flabelliformis. We found no interactive effect on the host health or microbiome. Furthermore, OA (pH 7.6 versus pH 8.0) had no impact, while OW (31.5 °C versus 28.5 °C) caused tissue necrosis, as well as dysbiosis and shifts in microbial functions in healthy tissue of necrotic sponges. Major taxonomic shifts included a complete loss of archaea, reduced proportions of Gammaproteobacteria and elevated relative abundances of Alphaproteobacteria. OW weakened sponge-microbe interactions, with a reduced capacity for nutrient exchange and phagocytosis evasion, indicating lower representations of stable symbionts. The potential for microbially-driven nitrogen and sulphur cycling was reduced, as was amino acid metabolism. Crucially, the dysbiosis annihilated the potential for ammonia detoxification, possibly leading to accumulation of toxic ammonia, nutrient imbalance, and host tissue necrosis. Putative defence against reactive oxygen species was greater at 31.5 °C, perhaps as microorganisms capable of resisting temperature-driven oxidative stress were favoured. We conclude that healthy symbiosis in S. flabelliformis is unlikely to be disrupted by future OA but will be deeply impacted by temperatures predicted for 2100 under a “business-as-usual” carbon emission scenario.

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Variations in the Southern Ocean carbonate production, preservation, and hydrography for the past 41, 500 years: evidence from coccolith and CaCO3 records

Changes in ocean alkalinity affect atmospheric pCO2 (i.e., higher alkalinity lowers atmospheric pCO2). Ocean alkalinity is partly determined by sedimentary burial of carbonates, which is primarily controlled by carbonate flux and the degree of deep ocean carbonate saturation. In this study, we investigate the factors determining the coccolith burial in subantarctic sediments and the surface ocean changes in the subtropical South Indian Ocean. The downcore coccolith records from the subantarctic region (SK200/22a) of the Indian sector of the Southern Ocean display low coccolith concentration during the glacial period. A possible explanation for this is, 1) the low glacial production of coccolithophores due to the competition from diatoms and 2) dilution by biogenic silica in the glacial sediments. Additionally, reduced carbonate burial owing to the low carbonate saturation of the deep-water accounts for the decline in glacial coccolith concentration. This also explains the low coccolith dissolution index and enrichment of the large dissolution-resistant coccolith species, Coccolithus pelagicus subsp. braarudii in the glacial sediments. The low carbonate saturation is attributed to, 1) the replacement of carbonate saturated, North Atlantic Deep Waters by the undersaturated southern sourced water masses and 2) increased storage of dissolved CO2 in the deep glacial Southern Ocean. Our study suggests that changes in coccolith production and the deep ocean carbonate saturation determine their burial in subantarctic sediments for the last 41,500 years. Other than these changes, the study region also records the changes in the Agulhas Return Current via variation in the proportion of tropical-subtropical coccolith assemblage.

Continue reading ‘Variations in the Southern Ocean carbonate production, preservation, and hydrography for the past 41, 500 years: evidence from coccolith and CaCO3 records’

The impacts of ocean acidification, warming and their interactive effects on coral prokaryotic symbionts

Reef-building corals, the foundation of tropical coral reefs, are vulnerable to climate change e.g. ocean acidification and elevated seawater temperature. Coral microbiome plays a key role in host acclimatization and maintenance of the coral holobiont’s homeostasis under different environmental conditions, however, the response patterns of coral prokaryotic symbionts to ocean acidification and/or warming are rarely known at the metatranscriptional level, particularly the knowledge of interactive and persistent effects is limited. Using branching Acropora valida and massive Galaxea fascicularis as models in a lab system simulating extreme ocean acidification (pH 7.7) and/or warming (32 °C) in the future, we investigated the changes of in situ active prokaryotic symbionts community and gene expression of corals under/after (6/9 d) acidification (A), warming (H) and acidification–warming (AH) by metatranscriptome analysis with pH8.1, 26 °C as the control.

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Risk assessment of a coastal ecosystem from SW Spain exposed to CO2 enrichment conditions

The Weight-of-Evidence (WOE) approach uses multiple lines of evidence to analyze the adverse effects associated with CO2 enrichment in two stations from the Gulf of Cádiz (Spain) with different contamination degrees. Sediment contamination and metal (loid) mobility, toxicity, ecological integrity, and bioaccumulation from the samples exposed to different acidification scenarios (pH gradient from 8.0 to 6.0) were used in the WOE. The experiments were conducted under laboratory conditions using a CO2-bubbling system. Different integration approaches such as multivariate analyses were used to evaluate the results. The results indicated that the adverse biological effects under pH 6.5 were related to the mobility of dissolved elements (As, Fe, Cu, Ni, and Zn). Furthermore, the pH reduction was correlated to the increase of bioaccumulation of As, Cr, Cu, Fe, and Ni in the tissues of mussels at pH 7.0. The noncontaminated sediment showed environmental degradation related to the acidification at pH values of 7.0; whereas the sediment moderately contaminated showed both environmental risks, caused by acidification and the presence and the increase of the bioavailability of contaminants. The WOE approach supposes an effective tool to identify and distinguish the causes of adverse effects related to the enrichment of CO2 in marine environments.

Continue reading ‘Risk assessment of a coastal ecosystem from SW Spain exposed to CO2 enrichment conditions’

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