Posts Tagged 'BRcommunity'

Resistance of seagrass habitats to ocean acidification via altered interactions in a tri-trophic chain

Despite the wide knowledge about prevalent effects of ocean acidification on single species, the consequences on species interactions that may promote or prevent habitat shifts are still poorly understood. Using natural CO2 vents, we investigated changes in a key tri-trophic chain embedded within all its natural complexity in seagrass systems. We found that seagrass habitats remain stable at vents despite the changes in their tri-trophic components. Under high pCO2, the feeding of a key herbivore (sea urchin) on a less palatable seagrass and its associated epiphytes decreased, whereas the feeding on higher-palatable green algae increased. We also observed a doubled density of a predatory wrasse under acidified conditions. Bottom-up CO2 effects interact with top-down control by predators to maintain the abundance of sea urchin populations under ambient and acidified conditions. The weakened urchin herbivory on a seagrass that was subjected to an intense fish herbivory at vents compensates the overall herbivory pressure on the habitat-forming seagrass. Overall plasticity of the studied system components may contribute to prevent habitat loss and to stabilize the system under acidified conditions. Thus, preserving the network of species interactions in seagrass ecosystems may help to minimize the impacts of ocean acidification in near-future oceans.

Continue reading ‘Resistance of seagrass habitats to ocean acidification via altered interactions in a tri-trophic chain’

Effects of climate change and fishing on the Pearl River Estuary ecosystem and fisheries

Climate change poses a challenge to the management of marine ecosystems and fisheries. Estuarine ecosystems in particular are exposed to a broad range of environmental changes caused by the effects of climate change both on land and in the ocean, and such ecosystems have also had a long history of human disturbance from over-exploitation and habitat changes. In this study, we examine the effects of climate change and fishing on the Pearl River Estuary (PRE) ecosystem using Ecopath with Ecosim. Our results show that changes in net primary production and ocean warming are the dominant climatic factors impacting biomass and fisheries productivity in the PRE. Additionally, physiological changes of fishes and invertebrates that are induced by climate change were projected to be modified by trophic interactions. Overall, our study suggests that the combined effects of climate change and fishing will reduce the potential fisheries catches in the PRE. Reducing fishing efforts can reduce the impacts of climate change on selected functional groups; however, some prey fishes are expected to experience higher predation mortality and consequently decreases in biomass under low fishing intensity scenarios. Thus, our study highlights the non-linearity of the responses of estuarine ecosystems when climate change interacts with other human stressors.

Continue reading ‘Effects of climate change and fishing on the Pearl River Estuary ecosystem and fisheries’

Gamete quality in a multistressor environment


• State of knowledge on environmental stressors impact on gamete quality.

• Xenobiotics, plastics, climate change, air pollution and lifestyle are reviewed.

• Gamete quality parameters underling fertilization competence are susceptible to stressors.

• Environmental stressors represent a serious hazard to gamete quality.

• Gamete quality impairment may reduce reproductive success affecting specie fitness and survival.


Over the past few decades, accumulated evidence confirms that the global environment conditions are changing rapidly. Urban industrialization, agriculture and globalization have generated water, air and soil pollution, giving rise to an environment with a growing number of stress factors, which has a serious impact on the fitness, reproduction and survival of living organisms. The issue raises considerable concern on biodiversity conservation, which is now at risk: it is estimated that a number of species will be extinct in the near future. Sexual reproduction is the process that allows the formation of a new individual and is underpinned by gamete quality defined as the ability of spermatozoa and oocytes to interact during fertilization leading to the creation and development of a normal embryo.

This review aimed to provide the current state of knowledge regarding the impact of a broad spectrum of environmental stressors on diverse parameters used to estimate and evaluate gamete quality in humans and in canonical animal models used for experimental research.

Effects of metals, biocides, herbicides, nanoparticles, plastics, temperature rise, ocean acidification, air pollution and lifestyle on the physiological parameters that underlie gamete fertilization competence are described supporting the concept that environmental stressors represent a serious hazard to gamete quality with reproductive disorders and living organism failure. Although clear evidence is still limited, gamete capacity to maintain and/or recover physiological conditions is recently demonstrated providing further clues about the plasticity of organisms and their tolerance to the pressures of pollution that may facilitate the reproduction and the persistence of species within the scenario of global change.

Changes in the global environment must be urgently placed at the forefront of public attention, with a massive effort invested in further studies aimed towards implementing current knowledge and identifying new methodologies and markers to predict impairment of gamete quality.

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Transgenerational acclimation to changes in ocean acidification in marine invertebrates


• OA declines in ocean pH due to dramatic increase in atmospheric CO2 induced by anthropogenic activity.

• Changes in OA cause both direct and indirect physiological effects in marine invertebrates.

• Long-term exposure to OA stress over transgeneration may result in adaptive mechanism

• Transgenerational studies have elucidated the roles of acclimation and evolutionary adaptation in response to OA.

• Marine invertebrates possess various transgenerational mechanisms in response to changes in OA.


The rapid pace of increasing oceanic acidity poses a major threat to the fitness of the marine ecosystem, as well as the buffering capacity of the oceans. Disruption in chemical equilibrium in the ocean leads to decreased carbonate ion precipitation, resulting in calcium carbonate saturation. If these trends continue, calcifying invertebrates will experience difficultly maintaining their calcium carbonate exoskeleton and shells. Because malfunction of exoskeleton formation by calcifiers in response to ocean acidification (OA) will have non-canonical biological cascading results in the marine ecosystem, many studies have investigated the direct and indirect consequences of OA on ecosystem- and physiology-related traits of marine invertebrates. Considering that evolutionary adaptation to OA depends on the duration of OA effects, long-term exposure to OA stress over multi-generations may result in adaptive mechanisms that increase the potential fitness of marine invertebrates in response to OA. Transgenerational studies have the potential to elucidate the roles of acclimation, carryover effects, and evolutionary adaptation within and over generations in response to OA. In particular, understanding mechanisms of transgenerational responses (e.g., antioxidant responses, metabolic changes, epigenetic reprogramming) to changes in OA will enhance our understanding of marine invertebrate in response to rapid climate change.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational acclimation to changes in ocean acidification in marine invertebrates’

A high biodiversity mitigates the impact of ocean acidification on hard-bottom ecosystems

Biodiversity loss and climate change simultaneously threaten marine ecosystems, yet their interactions remain largely unknown. Ocean acidification severely affects a wide variety of marine organisms and recent studies have predicted major impacts at the pH conditions expected for 2100. However, despite the renowned interdependence between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, the hypothesis that the species’ response to ocean acidification could differ based on the biodiversity of the natural multispecies assemblages in which they live remains untested. Here, using experimentally controlled conditions, we investigated the impact of acidification on key habitat-forming organisms (including corals, sponges and macroalgae) and associated microbes in hard-bottom assemblages characterised by different biodiversity levels. Our results indicate that, at higher biodiversity, the impact of acidification on otherwise highly vulnerable key organisms can be reduced by 50 to >90%, depending on the species. Here we show that such a positive effect of a higher biodiversity can be associated with higher availability of food resources and healthy microbe-host associations, overall increasing host resistance to acidification, while contrasting harmful outbreaks of opportunistic microbes. Given the climate change scenarios predicted for the future, we conclude that biodiversity conservation of hard-bottom ecosystems is fundamental also for mitigating the impacts of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘A high biodiversity mitigates the impact of ocean acidification on hard-bottom ecosystems’

Cascading effects of climate change on plankton community structure

Plankton communities account for at least half of global primary production and play a key role in the global carbon cycle. Warming and acidification may alter the interaction chains in these communities from the bottom and top of the food web. Yet, the relative importance of these potentially complex interactions has not yet been quantified. Here, we examine the isolated and combined effects of warming, acidification, and reductions in phytoplankton and predator abundances in a series of factorial experiments. We find that warming directly impacts the top of the food web, but that the intermediate trophic groups are more strongly influenced by indirect effects mediated by altered top-down interactions. Direct manipulations of predator and phytoplankton abundance reveal similar strong top-down interactions following top predator decline. A meta-analysis of published experiments further supports the conclusion that warming has stronger direct impacts on the top and bottom of the food web rather than the intermediate trophic groups, with important differences between freshwater and marine plankton communities. Our results reveal that the trophic effect of warming cascading down from the top of the plankton food web is a powerful agent of global change.

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Marine clade sensitivities to climate change conform across timescales

Rapid climate change is postulated to cause marine extinctions, especially among climate-sensitive clades, traits and regions1,2,3,4,5,6. This premise is based on two hypotheses: (1) known individual physiological sensitivities scale up to macroecological selectivity patterns4,7,8 and (2) ancient hyperthermal events are appropriate models to anticipate ecological winners and losers of anthropogenic climate change9. Yet these hypotheses have largely escaped quantitative appraisal. Here we show that experimental responses of modern marine ectotherms to single and combined climate-related stressors (such as seawater warming, hypoxia and acidification) align with Phanerozoic fossil extinction regimes across clades and functional traits. Of climate-related stressors, the synergistic interaction between warming and hypoxia10, encumbering aerobic metabolism, has the greatest potency as a proximate driver of extinction. All else being equal8, this synergy particularly imperils modern warm-water organisms. Modern–fossil agreement is strongest at intermediate–high extinction intensities and hyperthermal events but may fail at extreme extinction events, perhaps due to rising prominences of, and interactions among, additional biotic and abiotic stressors. According to results from marine ectotherms, clade-based sensitivity of individuals to climate-related stressors scales up from subannual experiments and decadal range-shift response magnitudes11, to extinction selectivity patterns at ancient climate-related stressor events and the Phanerozoic durations of genera.

Continue reading ‘Marine clade sensitivities to climate change conform across timescales’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book