Posts Tagged 'BRcommunity'

Large-scale interventions may delay decline of the Great Barrier Reef

On the iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR), the cumulative impacts of tropical cyclones, marine heatwaves and regular outbreaks of coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (CoTS) have severely depleted coral cover. Climate change will further exacerbate this situation over the coming decades unless effective interventions are implemented. Evaluating the efficacy of alternative interventions in a complex system experiencing major cumulative impacts can only be achieved through a systems modelling approach. We have evaluated combinations of interventions using a coral reef meta-community model. The model consisted of a dynamic network of 3753 reefs supporting communities of corals and CoTS connected through ocean larval dispersal, and exposed to changing regimes of tropical cyclones, flood plumes, marine heatwaves and ocean acidification. Interventions included reducing flood plume impacts, expanding control of CoTS populations, stabilizing coral rubble, managing solar radiation and introducing heat-tolerant coral strains. Without intervention, all climate scenarios resulted in precipitous declines in GBR coral cover over the next 50 years. The most effective strategies in delaying decline were combinations that protected coral from both predation (CoTS control) and thermal stress (solar radiation management) deployed at large scale. Successful implementation could expand opportunities for climate action, natural adaptation and socioeconomic adjustment by at least one to two decades.

Continue reading ‘Large-scale interventions may delay decline of the Great Barrier Reef’

The Bouraké semi-enclosed lagoon (New Caledonia). A natural laboratory to study the life-long adaptation of a coral reef ecosystem to climate change-like conditions

According to current experimental evidence, coral reefs could disappear within the century if CO2 emissions remain unabated. However, recent discoveries of diverse and high cover reefs that already thrive under extreme conditions seem to contradict these projections. Volcanic CO2 vents, semi-enclosed lagoons and mangrove estuaries are unique study sites where one or more ecologically relevant parameters for life in the oceans are close or even worse than currently projected for the year 2100. These natural analogues of future conditions hold new hope for the future of coral reefs and provide unique natural laboratories to explore how reef species could keep pace with climate change. To achieve this, it is essential to characterize their environment as a whole, and accurately consider all possible environmental factors that may differ from what is expected in the future and that may possibly alter the ecosystem response.

In this study, we focus on the semi-enclosed lagoon of Bouraké (New Caledonia, SW Pacific Ocean) where a healthy reef ecosystem thrives in warm, acidified and deoxygenated water. We used a multi-scale approach to characterize the main physical-chemical parameters and mapped the benthic community composition (i.e., corals, sponges, and macroalgae). The data revealed that most physical and chemical parameters are regulated by the tide, strongly fluctuate 3 to 4 times a day, and are entirely predictable. The seawater pH and dissolved oxygen decrease during falling tide and reach extreme low values at low tide (7.2 pHT and 1.9 mg O2 L−1 at Bouraké, vs 7.9 pHT and 5.5 mg O2 L−1 at reference reefs). Dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH fluctuates according to the tide of up to 4.91 mg O2 L−1, 6.50 °C, and 0.69 pHT units on a single day. Furthermore, the concentration of most of the chemical parameters was one- to 5-times higher at the Bouraké lagoon, particularly for organic and inorganic carbon and nitrogen, but also for some nutrients, notably silicates. Surprisingly, despite extreme environmental conditions and altered seawater chemical composition, our results reveal a diverse and high cover community of macroalgae, sponges and corals accounting for 28, 11 and 66 species, respectively. Both environmental variability and nutrient imbalance might contribute to their survival under such extreme environmental conditions. We describe the natural dynamics of the Bouraké ecosystem and its relevance as a natural laboratory to investigate the benthic organism’s adaptive responses to multiple stressors like future climate change conditions.

Continue reading ‘The Bouraké semi-enclosed lagoon (New Caledonia). A natural laboratory to study the life-long adaptation of a coral reef ecosystem to climate change-like conditions’

Tidal action and macroalgal photosynthetic activity prevent coastal acidification in an eutrophic system within a semi-desert region


  • Macroalgal photosynthesis (MP) controls daily pH variability during low tide.
  • Environmental factors control pH variability at seasonal scale.
  • Ulva lactuca photosynthetic activity increased the pH of seawater.
  • Macrotidal action and MP prevent coastal acidification in an eutrophic system.


Nutrient input drive macroalgal blooms and increases in photosynthetic activity in coastal ecosystems. An intense macroalgal photosynthetic activity can increase the surrounding pH and it could prevent the acidification that often follows an eutrophication process. We tested this hypothesis with field sampling and experiments in a macrotidal (up to 9 m in amplitude) coastal system within a semi-desert region with contrasting eutrophic conditions and Ulva lactuca blooms in the northern Argentinean Patagonia (San Antonio Bay). Our results indicate that daily pH variability during low tide could be controlled by the photosynthetic activity of Ulva lactuca under eutrophic conditions. At seasonal scale, the pH variations were related to environmental features, particularly seawater temperature. Both environmental (i.e. high solar radiation, negligible freshwater inputs and, large tidal action) and anthropogenic nutrient inputs into the studied area promote the Ulva lactuca blooms, which in turn increases the surrounding pH in well oxygenated seawater through the intense photosynthetic activity. Our study shows that eutrophication instead of being a driver of acidification, could contribute to its prevention in well oxygenated marine coastal systems located within semi-desert regions.

Continue reading ‘Tidal action and macroalgal photosynthetic activity prevent coastal acidification in an eutrophic system within a semi-desert region’

Climate change impacts on pollutants mobilization and interactive effects of climate change and pollutants on toxicity and bioaccumulation of pollutants in estuarine and marine biota and linkage to seafood security


  • Climate change would enhance the mobilization of pollutants.
  • Toxicity of pollutants to aquatic biota can increase with increasing climate change stressors.
  • Combined effects of climate change and pollutants can enhance bioaccumulation of pollutants in seafood organisms.


This article provides an overview of the impacts of climate change stressors (temperature, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, and hypoxia) on estuarine and marine biota (algae, crustaceans, molluscs, corals, and fish). It also assessed possible/likely interactive impacts (combined impacts of climate change stressors and pollutants) on pollutants mobilization, pollutants toxicity (effects on growth, reproduction, mortality) and pollutants bioaccumulation in estuarine and marine biota. An increase in temperature and extreme events may enhance the release, degradation, transportation, and mobilization of both hydrophobic and hydrophilic pollutants in the estuarine and marine environments. Based on the available pollutants’ toxicity trend data and information it reveals that the toxicity of several high-risk pollutants may increase with increasing levels of climate change stressors. It is likely that the interactive effects of climate change and pollutants may enhance the bioaccumulation of pollutants in seafood organisms. There is a paucity of literature relating to realistic interactive effects of climate change and pollutants. Therefore, future research should be directed towards the combined effects of climate change stressors and pollutants on estuarine and marine bota. A sustainable solution for pollution control caused by both greenhouse gas emissions (that cause climate change) and chemical pollutants would be required to safeguard the estuarine and marine biota.

Continue reading ‘Climate change impacts on pollutants mobilization and interactive effects of climate change and pollutants on toxicity and bioaccumulation of pollutants in estuarine and marine biota and linkage to seafood security’

Elevated CO2 influences competition for growth, photosynthetic performance and biochemical composition in Neopyropia yezoensis and Ulva prolifera


  • The growth of Neopyropia yezoensis was significantly inhibited by Ulva prolifera.
  • Elevated CO2 enhanced the resistance of N. yezoensis to the effect of U. prolifera.
  • Elevated CO2 increased the competitive ability of U. prolifera.


The occurrence of various marine macroalgae in the same niche will inevitably lead to interspecific competition due to similar environmental requirements. With the increasing global atmospheric CO2 concentration, the resulting ocean acidification can potentially influence competition among macroalgae in the future. Neopyropia yezoensis (Rhodophyta, formerly Pyropia yezoensis) and the epiphytic alga Ulva prolifera (Chlorophyta) were selected for investigating competition among macroalgae grown under different CO2 conditions. The results showed that when cultured with U. proliferaN. yezoensis‘ growth rate was significantly inhibited along with a sharp decrease in net photosynthetic rate. Although CO2 decreased the growth rate of N. yezoensis, it enhanced the resistance of the alga to the allelopathic effect of U. prolifera. While no difference was found between U. prolifera grown in monoculture and biculture, strong competitive ability was observed. CO2 could enhance this ability with higher net photosynthetic rate. However, CO2 significantly inhibited the carotenoid synthesis in both plants. This inhibition in N. yezoensis was more pronounced in the presence of U. prolifera. Biculture promoted the accumulation of soluble protein in N. yezoensis while it inhibited the process in U. prolifera. In addition, it enhanced the inhibitory effect of acidification on soluble carbohydrates of both plants. Elevated CO2 levels alleviated the competition between N. yezoensis and U. prolifera, but the latter can become the more competitive epiphytic alga which can impact the future of nori culture.

Continue reading ‘Elevated CO2 influences competition for growth, photosynthetic performance and biochemical composition in Neopyropia yezoensis and Ulva prolifera’

Elevated pCO2 reinforces preference among intertidal algae in both a specialist and generalist herbivore


  • Elevated pCO2 influences growth and chemical composition of some intertidal algae.
  • Herbivore preference is reinforced by resilience of preferred alga to pCO2 exposure.
  • Preference is also influenced by changes in lesser-preferred algal species.
  • Specialist and generalist feeding may be indirectly affected by ocean acidification.


Ocean acidification (OA) can induce changes in marine organisms and species interactions. We examined OA effects on intertidal macroalgal growth, palatability, and consumption by a specialist crab (Pugettia producta) and a generalist snail (Tegula funebralis) herbivore. Moderate increases in pCO2 increased algal growth in most species, but effects of pCO2 on C:N and phenolic content varied by species. Elevated pCO2 had no effect on algal acceptability to herbivores, but did affect their preference ranks. Under elevated pCO2, electivity for a preferred kelp (Egregia menziesii) and preference rankings among algal species strengthened for both P. producta and T. funebralis, attributable to resilience of E. menziesii in elevated pCO2 and to changes in palatability among less-preferred species. Preferred algae may therefore grow more under moderate pCO2 increases in the future, but their appeal to herbivores may be strengthened by associated shifts in nutritional quality and defensive compounds in other species.

Continue reading ‘Elevated pCO2 reinforces preference among intertidal algae in both a specialist and generalist herbivore’

Epiphytic hydroids on Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows are winner organisms under future ocean acidification conditions: evidence from a CO2 vent system (Ischia Island, Italy)

Effects of ocean acidification (OA) on the plant phenology and colonization/settlement pattern of the hydrozoan epibiont community of the leaves of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica have been studied at volcanic CO2 vents off Ischia (Italy). The study was conducted in shallow Posidonia stands (2.5–3.5 m depth), in three stations on the north and three on the south sides of the vent’s area (Castello Aragonese vents), distributed along a pH gradient. At each station, 10–15 P. oceanica shoots were collected every three months for one-year cycle (Sept 2009–2010). The shoot density of Posidonia beds in the most acidified stations along the gradient (pH < 7.4) was significantly higher than that in the control area (pH = 8.10). On the other hand, we recorded lower leaf lengths and widths in the acidified stations in the whole year of observations, compared to those in the control stations. However, the overall leaf surface (Leaf Area Index) available for epiphytes under ocean acidification conditions was higher on the south side and on both the most acidified stations because of the higher shoot density under OA conditions. The hydrozoan epibiont community on the leaf canopy accounted for seven species, three of which were relatively abundant and occurring all year around (Sertularia perpusilla, Plumularia obliqua, Clytia hemisphaerica). All hydroids species showed a clear tolerance to low pH levels, including chitinous and non-calcifying forms, likely favoured also by the absence of competition for substratum with the calcareous forms of epiphytes selected against OA.

Continue reading ‘Epiphytic hydroids on Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows are winner organisms under future ocean acidification conditions: evidence from a CO2 vent system (Ischia Island, Italy)’

Impacts of multiple stressors on a benthic foraminiferal community: a long-term experiment assessing response to ocean acidification, hypoxia and warming

Ocean chemistry is changing as a result of human activities. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are increasing, causing an increase in oceanic pCO2 that drives a decrease in oceanic pH, a process called ocean acidification (OA). Higher CO2 concentrations are also linked to rising global temperatures that can result in more stratified surface waters, reducing the exchange between surface and deep waters; this stronger stratification, along with nutrient pollution, contributes to an expansion of oxygen-depleted zones (so called hypoxia or deoxygenation). Determining the response of marine organisms to environmental changes is important for assessments of future ecosystem functioning. While many studies have assessed the impact of individual or paired stressors, fewer studies have assessed the combined impact of pCO2, O2, and temperature. A long-term experiment (∼10 months) with different treatments of these three stressors was conducted to determine their sole or combined impact on the abundance and survival of a benthic foraminiferal community collected from a continental-shelf site. Foraminifera are well suited to such study because of their small size, relatively rapid growth, varied mineralogies and physiologies. Inoculation materials were collected from a ∼77-m deep site south of Woods Hole, MA. Very fine sediments (<53 μm) were used as inoculum, to allow the entire community to respond. Thirty-eight morphologically identified taxa grew during the experiment. Multivariate statistical analysis indicates that hypoxia was the major driving factor distinguishing the yields, while warming was secondary. Species responses were not consistent, with different species being most abundant in different treatments. Some taxa grew in all of the triple-stressor samples. Results from the experiment suggest that foraminiferal species’ responses will vary considerably, with some being negatively impacted by predicted environmental changes, while other taxa will tolerate, and perhaps even benefit, from deoxygenation, warming and OA.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of multiple stressors on a benthic foraminiferal community: a long-term experiment assessing response to ocean acidification, hypoxia and warming’

An intertidal life: combined effects of acidification and winter heatwaves on a coralline alga (Ellisolandia elongata) and its associated invertebrate community


  • Coralline alga create a microhabitat with mitigating effect on ocean acidification
  • Temperature is the major driver of changes in the invertebrate reef community
  • Winter heatwaves and acidified conditions alter invertebrates community structure
  • Algal reef communities become dominated by opportunistic taxa


In coastal marine ecosystems coralline algae often create biogenic reefs. These calcareous algal reefs affect their associated invertebrate communities via diurnal oscillations in photosynthesis, respiration and calcification processes. Little is known about how these biogenic reefs function and how they will be affected by climate change. We investigated the winter response of a Mediterranean intertidal biogenic reef, Ellisolandia elongate exposed in the laboratory to reduced pH conditions (i.e. ambient pH – 0.3, RCP 8.5) together with an extreme heatwave event (+1.4°C for 15 days). Response variables considered both the algal physiology (calcification and photosynthetic rates) and community structure of the associated invertebrates (at taxonomic and functional level). The combination of a reduced pH with a heatwave event caused Ellisolandia elongata to significantly increase photosynthetic activity. The high variability of calcification that occurred during simulated night time conditions, indicates that there is not a simple, linear relationship between these two and may indicate that it will resilient to future conditions of climate change.

In contrast, the associated fauna were particularly negatively affected by the heatwave event, which impoverished the communities as opportunistic taxa became dominant. Local increases in oxygen and pH driven by the algae can buffer the microhabitat in the algal fronds, thus favouring the survival of small invertebrates.

Continue reading ‘An intertidal life: combined effects of acidification and winter heatwaves on a coralline alga (Ellisolandia elongata) and its associated invertebrate community’

Natural CO2 seeps reveal adaptive potential to ocean acidification in fish

Volcanic CO2 seeps are natural laboratories that can provide insights into the adaptation of species to ocean acidification. Whilst many species are challenged by reduced pH levels, some species benefit from the altered environment and thrive. Here, we explore the molecular mechanisms of adaptation to ocean acidification in a population of a temperate fish species that experiences increased population sizes under elevated CO2. Fish from CO2 seeps exhibited an overall increased gene expression in gonad tissue compared to those from ambient CO2 sites. Up‐regulated genes at CO2 seeps are possible targets of adaptive selection as they can directly influence the physiological performance of fishes exposed to ocean acidification. Most of the up‐regulated genes at seeps were functionally involved in the maintenance of pH homeostasis and increased metabolism, and presented a deviation from neutral evolution expectations in their patterns of DNA polymorphisms, providing evidence for adaptive selection to ocean acidification. The targets of this adaptive selection are likely regulatory sequences responsible for the increased expression of these genes which would allow a fine‐tuned physiological regulation to maintain homeostasis and thrive at CO2 seeps. Our findings reveal that standing genetic variation in DNA sequences regulating the expression of genes in response to a reduced pH environment could provide for adaptive potential to near‐future ocean acidification in fishes. Moreover, with this study we provide a forthright methodology combining transcriptomics and genomics which can be applied to infer the adaptive potential to different environmental conditions in wild marine populations.

Continue reading ‘Natural CO2 seeps reveal adaptive potential to ocean acidification in fish’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book