Posts Tagged 'BRcommunity'

Inorganic carbon availability in benthic diatom communities: photosynthesis and migration

Diatom-dominated microphytobenthos (MPB) is the main primary producer of many intertidal and shallow subtidal environments, being therefore of critical importance to estuarine and coastal food webs. Owing to tidal cycles, intertidal MPB diatoms are subjected to environmental conditions far more variable than the ones experienced by pelagic diatoms (e.g. light, temperature, salinity, desiccation and nutrient availability). Nevertheless, benthic diatoms evolved adaptation mechanisms to these harsh conditions, including the capacity to move within steep physical and chemical gradients, allowing them to perform photosynthesis efficiently. In this contribution, we will review present knowledge on the effects of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) availability on photosynthesis and productivity of diatom-dominated MPB. We present evidence of carbon limitation of photosynthesis in benthic diatom mats and highly productive MPB natural communities. Furthermore, we hypothesize that active vertical migration of epipelic motile diatoms could overcome local depletion of DIC in the photic layer, providing the cells alternately with light and inorganic carbon supply. The few available longer-term experiments on the effects of inorganic carbon enrichment on the productivity of diatom-dominated MPB have yielded inconsistent results. Therefore, further studies are needed to properly assess the response of MPB communities to increased CO2 and ocean acidification related to climate change.

Continue reading ‘Inorganic carbon availability in benthic diatom communities: photosynthesis and migration’

Effects of elevated CO2 on phytoplankton community biomass and species composition during a spring Phaeocystis spp. bloom in the western English Channel

A 21-year time series of phytoplankton community structure was analysed in relation to Phaeocystis spp. to elucidate its contribution to the annual carbon budget at station L4 in the western English Channel (WEC).

Between 1993–2014 Phaeocystis spp. contributed ∼4.6% of the annual phytoplankton carbon and during the March − May spring bloom, the mean Phaeocystis spp. biomass constituted 17% with a maximal contribution of 47% in 2001. Upper maximal weekly values above the time series mean ranged from 63 to 82% of the total phytoplankton carbon (∼42–137 mg carbon (C) m−3) with significant inter-annual variability in Phaeocystis spp. Maximal biomass usually occurred by the end of April, although in some cases as early as mid-April (2007) and as late as late May (2013).

The effects of elevated pCO2 on the Phaeocystis spp. spring bloom were investigated during a fifteen-day semi-continuous microcosm experiment. The phytoplankton community biomass was estimated at ∼160 mg C m−3 and was dominated by nanophytoplankton (40%, excluding Phaeocystis spp.), Phaeocystis spp. (30%) and cryptophytes (12%). The smaller fraction of the community biomass comprised picophytoplankton (9%), coccolithophores (3%), Synechococcus (3%), dinoflagellates (1.5%), ciliates (1%) and diatoms (0.5%). Over the experimental period, total biomass increased significantly by 90% to ∼305 mg C m−3 in the high CO2 treatment while the ambient pCO2 control showed no net gains. Phaeocystis spp. exhibited the greatest response to the high CO2 treatment, increasing by 330%, from ∼50 mg C m−3 to over 200 mg C m−3 and contributing ∼70% of the total biomass.

Taken together, the results of our microcosm experiment and analysis of the time series suggest that a future high CO2 scenario may favour dominance of Phaeocystis spp. during the spring bloom. This has significant implications for the formation of hypoxic zones and the alteration of food web structure including inhibitory feeding effects and lowered fecundity in many copepod species.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated CO2 on phytoplankton community biomass and species composition during a spring Phaeocystis spp. bloom in the western English Channel’

Combined impacts of ocean acidification and dysoxia on survival and growth of four agglutinating foraminifera

Agglutinated foraminifera create a shell by assembling particles from the sediment and comprise a significant part of the foraminiferal fauna. Despite their high abundance and diversity, their response to environmental perturbations and climate change is relatively poorly studied. Here we present results from a culture experiment with four different species of agglutinating foraminifera incubated in artificial substrate and exposed to different pCO2 conditions, in either dysoxic or oxic settings. We observed species-specific reactions (i.e., reduced or increased chamber formation rates) to dysoxia and/or acidification. While chamber addition and/or survival rates of Miliammina fusca and Trochammina inflata were negatively impacted by either dysoxia or acidification, respectively, Textularia tenuissima and Spiroplectammina biformis had the highest survivorship and chamber addition rates with combined high pCO2 (2000 ppm) and low O2 (0.7 ml/l) conditions. The differential response of these species indicates that not all agglutinating foraminifera are well-adapted to conditions induced by predicted climate change, which may result in a shift in foraminiferal community composition.

Continue reading ‘Combined impacts of ocean acidification and dysoxia on survival and growth of four agglutinating foraminifera’

Size-dependent response of foraminiferal calcification to seawater carbonate chemistry (update)

The response of the marine carbon cycle to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be determined, in part, by the relative response of calcifying and non-calcifying organisms to global change. Planktonic foraminifera are responsible for a quarter or more of global carbonate production, therefore understanding the sensitivity of calcification in these organisms to environmental change is critical. Despite this, there remains little consensus as to whether, or to what extent, chemical and physical factors affect foraminiferal calcification. To address this, we directly test the effect of multiple controls on calcification in culture experiments and core-top measurements of Globigerinoides ruber. We find that two factors, body size and the carbonate system, strongly influence calcification intensity in life, but that exposure to corrosive bottom waters can overprint this signal post mortem. Using a simple model for the addition of calcite through ontogeny, we show that variable body size between and within datasets could complicate studies that examine environmental controls on foraminiferal shell weight. In addition, we suggest that size could ultimately play a role in determining whether calcification will increase or decrease with acidification. Our models highlight that knowledge of the specific morphological and physiological mechanisms driving ontogenetic change in calcification in different species will be critical in predicting the response of foraminiferal calcification to future change in atmospheric pCO2.

Continue reading ‘Size-dependent response of foraminiferal calcification to seawater carbonate chemistry (update)’

Species interactions drive fish biodiversity loss in a high-CO2 world


  • Elevated CO2 did not alter competitive hierarchies of fish at volcanic vents
  • Enhanced food and reduced predation boosted density of behaviorally dominant fish
  • Population increases of dominant fish suppressed subordinate species
  • Ocean acidification can reduce local fish diversity and homogenize fish communities


Accelerating climate change is eroding the functioning and stability of ecosystems by weakening the interactions among species that stabilize biological communities against change [1]. A key challenge to forecasting the future of ecosystems centers on how to extrapolate results from short-term, single-species studies to community-level responses that are mediated by key mechanisms such as competition, resource availability (bottom-up control), and predation (top-down control) [2]. We used CO2 vents as potential analogs of ocean acidification combined with in situ experiments to test current predictions of fish biodiversity loss and community change due to elevated CO2 [3] and to elucidate the potential mechanisms that drive such change. We show that high risk-taking behavior and competitive strength, combined with resource enrichment and collapse of predator populations, fostered already common species, enabling them to double their populations under acidified conditions. However, the release of these competitive dominants from predator control led to suppression of less common and subordinate competitors that did not benefit from resource enrichment and reduced predation. As a result, local biodiversity was lost and novel fish community compositions were created under elevated CO2. Our study identifies the species interactions most affected by ocean acidification, revealing potential sources of natural selection. We also reveal how diminished predator abundances can have cascading effects on local species diversity, mediated by complex species interactions. Reduced overfishing of predators could therefore act as a key action to stall diversity loss and ecosystem change in a high-CO2 world.

Continue reading ‘Species interactions drive fish biodiversity loss in a high-CO2 world’

Pteropod shell condition, locomotion, and long-term population trends in the context of ocean acidification and environmental change

Thecosome pteropods are planktonic mollusks that form aragonite shells and that may experience increased dissolution and other adverse effects due to ocean acidification. This thesis focuses on assessing the possible biological effects of ocean acidification on the shells and locomotion of pteropods and examining the response of a local pteropod population to environmental change over time. I analyzed shell condition after exposing pteropods to elevated CO2 as well as in natural populations to investigate the sensitivity of the shells of different species to aragonite saturation state (ΩA). The pteropods (Limacina retroversa) from laboratory experiments showed the clearest pattern of shell dissolution in response to decreased ΩA, while wild populations either had non-significant regional trends in shell condition (Clio pyramidata) or variability in shell condition that did not match expectations due to regional variability in ΩA (Limacina helicina). At locations with intermediate ΩA (1.5-2.5) the variability seen in L. helicina shell condition might be affected by food availability more than ΩA. I examined sinking and swimming behaviors in the laboratory in order to investigate a possible fitness effect of ocean acidification on pteropods. The sinking rates of L. retroversa from elevated CO2 treatments were slower in conjunction with worsened shell condition. These changes could increase their vulnerability to predators in the wild. Swimming ability was mostly unchanged by elevated CO2 after experiments that were up to three weeks in duration. I used a long-term dataset of pteropods in the Gulf of Maine to directly test whether there has been a population effect of environmental change over the past several decades. I did not observe a population decline between 1977 and 2015, and L. retroversa abundance in the fall actually increased over the time series. Analysis of the habitat use of L. retroversa revealed seasonal associations with temperature, salinity, and bottom depths. The combination of laboratory experiments and field surveys helped to address gaps in knowledge about pteropod ecology and improve our understanding of the effects of ocean acidification on pteropods.

Continue reading ‘Pteropod shell condition, locomotion, and long-term population trends in the context of ocean acidification and environmental change’

Extinction, dissolution, and possible ocean acidification prior to the Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary in the tropical Pacific

Biotic perturbations and changes in ocean circulation during the Maastrichtian stage of the latest Cretaceous raise questions about whether the biosphere was preconditioned for the end-Cretaceous mass extinction of calcareous plankton. A brief acme of inoceramid clams at ~ 71 Ma on Shatsky Rise in the tropical North Pacific was followed by their extinction during the “mid-Maastrichtian event” at 70.1 Ma associated with an abrupt warming of deep waters. This was later followed by an interval of intense dissolution beginning ~ 67.8 Ma at ODP Site 1209 (2387 m). The late Maastrichtian dissolution interval was initially gradual, and is characterized by a low planktic/benthic (P/B) ratio, highly fragmented planktic foraminifera, mostly an absence of larger taxa, low abundances of smaller taxa, extremely low planktic foraminiferal numbers, and low planktic foraminiferal and nannofossil species richness. A partial recovery in carbonate preservation and calcareous plankton simple diversity began ~ 250 kyr prior to the K/Pg boundary associated with the incursion of a younger (more enriched δ13C) deep water mass, although total abundances of planktic foraminifera in the sediment remained a tiny fraction of their earlier Maastrichtian values. A second, brief dissolution event occurred ~ 200 kyr before the boundary evidenced by renewed increase in planktic fragmentation, but without a decrease in P/B ratio. Our data show that changing deep water masses, coupled with reduced productivity and associated decrease in pelagic carbonate flux was responsible for the first ~ 1.6-Myr dissolution interval, while Deccan Traps volcanism (?) may have caused surface ocean acidification ~ 200 kyr prior to the K/Pg mass extinction event.

Continue reading ‘Extinction, dissolution, and possible ocean acidification prior to the Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) boundary in the tropical Pacific’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book