Posts Tagged 'BRcommunity'

Future ocean climate homogenizes communities across habitats through diversity loss and rise of generalist species

Predictions of the effects of global change on ecological communities are largely based on single habitats. Yet in nature, habitats are interconnected through the exchange of energy and organisms, and the responses of local communities may not extend to emerging community networks (i.e. metacommunities). Using large mesocosms and meiofauna communities as a model system, we investigated the interactive effects of ocean warming and acidification on the structure of marine metacommunities from three shallow‐water habitats: sandy soft‐bottoms, marine vegetation and rocky reef substrates. Primary producers and detritus – key food sources for meiofauna – increased in biomass under the combined effect of temperature and acidification. The enhanced bottom‐up forcing boosted nematode densities but impoverished the functional and trophic diversity of nematode metacommunities. The combined climate stressors further homogenized meiofauna communities across habitats. Under present‐day conditions metacommunities were structured by habitat type, but under future conditions they showed an unstructured random pattern with fast‐growing generalist species dominating the communities of all habitats. Homogenization was likely driven by local species extinctions, reducing interspecific competition that otherwise could have prevented single species from dominating multiple niches. Our findings reveal that climate change may simplify metacommunity structure and prompt biodiversity loss, which may affect the biological organization and resilience of marine communities.

Continue reading ‘Future ocean climate homogenizes communities across habitats through diversity loss and rise of generalist species’

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

• 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.

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’

Ocean acidification influences plant-animal interactions: the effect of Cocconeis scutellum parva on the sex reversal of Hippolyte inermis

Ocean acidification (O.A.) influences the ecology of oceans and it may impact plant-animal interactions at various levels. Seagrass meadows located at acidified vents in the Bay of Naples (Italy) are considered an open window to forecast the effects of global-changes on aquatic communities. Epiphytic diatoms of the genus Cocconeis are abundant in seagrass meadows, including acidified environments, where they play key ecological roles. A still-unknown apoptogenic compound produced by Cocconeis triggers the suicide of the androgenic gland of Hippolyte inermis Leach 1816, a protandric hermaphroditic shrimp distributed in P. oceanica meadows located both at normal pH and in acidified vents. Feeding on Cocconeis sp. was proven important for the stability of the shrimp’s natural populations. Since O.A. affects the physiology of diatoms, we investigated if, in future scenarios of O.A., Cocconeis scutellum parva will still produce an effect on shrimp’s physiology. Cell densities of Cocconeis scutellum parva cultivated in custom-designed photobioreactors at two pH conditions (pH 7.7 and 8.2) were compared. In addition, we determined the effects of the ingestion of diatoms on the process of sex reversal of H. inermis and we calculated the % female on the total of mature individuals-1 (F/mat). We observed significant differences in cell densities of C. scutellum parva at the two pH conditions. In fact, the highest cell densities (148,808 ±13,935 cells. mm-2) was obtained at day 13 (pH 7.7) and it is higher than the highest cell densities (38,066 (±4,166) cells. mm-2, day 13) produced at pH 8.2. Diatoms cultured at acidified conditions changed their metabolism. In fact, diatoms grown in acidified conditions produced in H. inermis a proportion of females (F/mat 36.3 ±5.9%) significantly lower than diatoms produced at normal pH (68.5 ±2.8), and it was not significantly different from that elicited by negative controls (31.7 ±5.6%).

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification influences plant-animal interactions: the effect of Cocconeis scutellum parva on the sex reversal of Hippolyte inermis’

Ocean acidification reduces growth and grazing of Antarctic heterotrophic nanoflagellates

High-latitude oceans have been identified as particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification if anthropogenic CO2 emissions continue. Marine microbes are an essential part of the marine food web and are a critical link in biogeochemical processes in the ocean, such as the cycling of nutrients and carbon. Despite this, the response of Antarctic marine microbial communities to ocean acidification is poorly understood. We investigated the effect of increasing fCO2 on the growth of heterotrophic nanoflagellates (HNF), nano- and picophytoplankton, and prokaryotes in a natural coastal Antarctic marine microbial community from Prydz Bay, East Antarctica. At CO2 levels ≥ 634 μatm, HNF abundance was reduced, coinciding with significantly increased abundance of picophytoplankton and prokaryotes. This increase in picophytoplankton and prokaryote abundance was likely due to a reduction in top-down control of grazing HNF. Nanophytoplankton abundance was significantly elevated in the 634 and 953 μatm treatments, suggesting that moderate increases in CO2 may stimulate growth. Changes in predator-prey interactions with ocean acidification could have a significant effect on the food web and biogeochemistry in the Southern Ocean. Based on these results, it is likely that the phytoplankton community composition in these waters will shift to communities dominated by prokaryotes, nano- and picophytoplankton. This may intensify organic matter recycling in surface waters, leading to a decline in carbon flux, as well as a reducing the quality and quantity of food available to higher trophic organisms.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification reduces growth and grazing of Antarctic heterotrophic nanoflagellates’

Effects of ocean acidification on marine photosynthetic organisms under the concurrent influences of warming, UV radiation, and deoxygenation

The oceans take up over 1 million tons of anthropogenic CO2 per hour, increasing dissolved pCO2 and decreasing seawater pH in a process called ocean acidification (OA). At the same time greenhouse warming of the surface ocean results in enhanced stratification and shoaling of upper mixed layers, exposing photosynthetic organisms dwelling there to increased visible and UV radiation as well as to a decreased nutrient supply. In addition, ocean warming and anthropogenic eutrophication reduce the concentration of dissolved O2 in seawater, contributing to the spread of hypoxic zones. All of these global changes interact to affect marine primary producers. Such interactions have been documented, but to a much smaller extent compared to the responses to each single driver. The combined effects could be synergistic, neutral, or antagonistic depending on species or the physiological processes involved as well as experimental setups. For most calcifying algae, the combined impacts of acidification, solar UV, and/or elevated temperature clearly reduce their calcification; for diatoms, elevated CO2 and light levels interact to enhance their growth at low levels of sunlight but inhibit it at high levels. For most photosynthetic nitrogen fixers (diazotrophs), acidification associated with elevated CO2 may enhance their N2 fixation activity, but interactions with other environmental variables such as trace metal availability may neutralize or even reverse these effects. Macroalgae, on the other hand, either as juveniles or adults, appear to benefit from elevated CO2 with enhanced growth rates and tolerance to lowered pH. There has been little documentation of deoxygenation effects on primary producers, although theoretically elevated CO2 and decreased O2 concentrations could selectively enhance carboxylation over oxygenation catalyzed by ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase and thereby benefit autotrophs. Overall, most ocean-based global change biology studies have used single and/or double stressors in laboratory tests. This overview examines the combined effects of OA with other features such as warming, solar UV radiation, and deoxygenation, focusing on primary producers.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on marine photosynthetic organisms under the concurrent influences of warming, UV radiation, and deoxygenation’

The impact of climate change on intertidal species, camouflage and predation

To understand the impact of climate change on ecosystems we need to know not only how individual species will be affected, but also the relationships between them. Predator-prey relationships determine the structure and function of ecosystems worldwide, governing the abundance of populations, the distribution of different species within habitats and, ultimately, the composition of communities. Many predator-prey relationships are shifting as a result of environmental change, with climate change causing both mismatches in the abundance and distribution of species and changes in predator and prey behaviour. However, few studies have addressed how climate change might impact the interactions between species, particularly the development of anti-predator defences, which enable prey to limit their predation risk. One of the most widespread defences in nature is camouflage, with many species capable of changing colour to match their background to avoid being seen and eaten. The impact of climate change on this process is largely unknown, save for studies on species that exhibit seasonal changes in coloration. Using behavioural assays with predatory rock gobies (Gobius paganellus) and chameleon prawn prey (Hippolyte varians), I first demonstrate how background matching affects survival, shedding light on the fitness benefits of camouflage. Building on this fundamental understanding, this project explores how defensive coloration may be affected by anthropogenic climate change. Through a series of laboratory studies I test what impact ocean warming and ocean acidification have on the development of camouflage in intertidal crustaceans (chameleon prawns and common shore crabs, Carcinus maenas). Camouflage is modelled according to the visual systems of relevant predators, allowing us to understand what implications their coloration has for detectability, predation risk, and associated trophic links. Finally, this project investigates how camouflage can be applied to conservation and aquaculture. By rearing juvenile European lobster (Homarus gammarus) on different backgrounds, I show that they are capable of colour change for camouflage, as well as colour change throughout ontogeny. This capacity could be harnessed to help improve survival on release into the wild. As such, this thesis explores the fundamental science of camouflage, anthropogenic impacts on this process and its applications for conservation.

Continue reading ‘The impact of climate change on intertidal species, camouflage and predation’

Behavioral adaptations of sandy beach macrofauna in face of climate change impacts: a conceptual framework

• An overview of macrofauna behavioral adaptations to sandy beach features is provided.

• The effects of main climate change drivers on sandy beaches are summarized.

• Specific hypotheses are formulated for how behavioral adaptations are predicted to respond to climate change impacts.

• Biodiversity loss will be the outcome of the negative pressures driven by climate change.

Sandy beaches are severely under-represented in the literature on climate-change ecology, yet different lines of evidence suggest that the macrofauna inhabiting these narrow and dynamic environments located at the land-sea interface is being reorganized under the influence of this large scale and long-lasting stressor. This is reflected in macrofaunal sensitivity to increasing sea surface temperature, sea-level rise, extreme events and erosion of the narrow physical habitat. However, evidence of behavioral responses by sandy beach macrofauna that are consistent with expectations under climate change is scarce and fragmentary. In this paper, specific hypotheses are formulated for how behavioral adaptations in sandy beach macrofauna are predicted to respond to climate change impacts. Firstly, a conceptual framework and an overview of macrofauna behavioral adaptation features are provided. Secondly, the effects of main climate change drivers on sandy beaches are summarized. Thirdly, a conceptual framework is developed giving behavioral adaptations of sandy beach macrofauna under climate change pressure. The degree to which observations on behavioral adaptations of beach animals conform to expectations under specific climate change drivers (sea level rise, sea surface temperature, winds and storminess, rainfall, acidification and eutrophication) is explored. Taking into account the empirical evidence and the theoretical framework detailed in the paper, emergent hypotheses/predictions are proposed. Climate change drivers are expected to impact habitat features and consequently the behavioral expression of macrofauna as active responses to habitat changes. Behavioral adaptations are expected to be impaired, more variable or disrupted, thus decreasing fitness, causing local population extirpations and potentially triggering a range of cascading effects of ecological change in the beach ecosystem. Biodiversity loss will be the outcome of the negative pressures driven by climate change. The specificity of sandy beaches as narrow ecotones between sea and land may be lost under climate change pressure, adversely affecting fine-tuned macrofaunal adaptations and therefore ecosystem functioning. Strictly adapted endemic sandy beach fauna will be especially subjected to local extirpations, while species with a large reaction norm (i.e. phenotypic and behavioral plasticity) may face changes by dispersal and exploitation of new niches. Under climate change impacts, biodiversity loss is predicted, which would hamper beach ecosystem resilience. The limits to which sandy beach macrofauna responds and can behaviorally adapt to environmental change are worthy of exploration, in view of the increasing influence of the long-lasting climate driven stressors threatening these ecosystems at risk.

Continue reading ‘Behavioral adaptations of sandy beach macrofauna in face of climate change impacts: a conceptual framework’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book