Posts Tagged 'bryozoa'

Bryozoans and ocean acidification

Bryozoans are aquatic animals that form colonies of connected individuals. Bryozoans have such highly variable morphology that they are often mistaken for other organisms such as hydroids, corals, colonial ascidians and turfing seaweeds. Some colonies are bushy and moss-like, hence the phylum name, Bryozoa, which means ‘moss animals’ in Greek. Others are flat and encrusting, hence the common name ‘sea mats’. Still others resemble lace, forming erect frondose colonies with holes in their structure or encrustations over sea-weeds and rocks, hence the name ‘lace corals’. Since no single common name is applicable to all species, the name ‘bryozoans’ is the most preferred by researchers of the group.

Continue reading ‘Bryozoans and ocean acidification’

Abiotic and biotic interactions in the diffusive boundary layer of kelp blades create a potential refuge from ocean acidification

  1. Seaweeds are able to modify the chemical environment at their surface, in a micro‐zone called the diffusive boundary layer (DBL), via their metabolic processes controlled by light intensity. Depending on the thickness of the DBL, sessile invertebrates such as calcifying bryozoans or tube‐forming polychaetes living on the surface of the blades can be affected by the chemical variations occurring in this microlayer. Especially in the context of ocean acidification (OA), these microhabitats might be considered as a refuge from lower pH, because during the day photosynthesis temporarily raises the pH to values higher than in the mainstream seawater.
  2. We assessed the thickness and the characteristics of the DBL at two pH levels (today’s average surface ocean pH 8.1 and a reduced pH predicted for the end of the century, pH 7.7) and seawater flows (slow, 0.5 and fast, >8 cm/s) on Ecklonia radiata (kelp) blades. Oxygen and pH profiles from the blade surface to the mainstream seawater were measured with O2 and pH microsensors for both bare blades and blades colonized by the bryozoan Membranipora membranacea.
  3. The DBL was thicker in slow flow compared with fast flow and the presence of bryozoans increased the DBL thickness and shaped the DBL gradient in dark conditions. Net production was increased in the low pH condition, increasing the amount of oxygen in the DBL in both bare and epiphytized blades. This increase drove the daily pH fluctuations at the blade surface, shifting them towards higher values compared with today’s pH. The presence of bryozoans led to lower oxygen concentrations in the DBL and more complex pH fluctuations at the blade surface, particularly at pH 7.7.
  4. Overall, this study, based on microprofiles, shows that, in slow flow, DBL microenvironments at the surface of the kelps may constitute a refuge from OA with pH values higher than those of the mainstream seawater. For calcifying organisms, it could also represent training ground for harsh conditions, with broad daily pH and oxygen fluctuations. These chemical microenvironments, biologically shaped by the macrophytes, are of great interest for the resilience of coastal ecosystems in the context of global change.

Continue reading ‘Abiotic and biotic interactions in the diffusive boundary layer of kelp blades create a potential refuge from ocean acidification’

Natural acidification changes the timing and rate of succession, alters community structure, and increases homogeneity in marine biofouling communities

Ocean acidification may have far-reaching consequences for marine community and ecosystem dynamics, but its full impacts remain poorly understood due to the difficulty of manipulating pCO2 at the ecosystem level to mimic realistic fluctuations that occur on a number of different timescales. It is especially unclear how quickly communities at various stages of development respond to intermediate-scale pCO2 change and, if high pCO2 is relieved mid-succession, whether past acidification effects persist, are reversed by alleviation of pCO2 stress, or are worsened by departures from prior high pCO2 conditions to which organisms had acclimatized. Here, we used reciprocal transplant experiments along a shallow water volcanic pCO2 gradient to assess the importance of the timing and duration of high pCO2 exposure (i.e. discrete events at different stages of successional development vs. continuous exposure) on patterns of colonization and succession in a benthic fouling community. We show that succession at the acidified site was initially delayed (less community change by eight weeks) but then caught up over the next four weeks. These changes in succession led to homogenization of communities maintained in or transplanted to acidified conditions, and altered community structure in ways that reflected both short- and longer-term acidification history. These community shifts are likely a result of interspecific variability in response to increased pCO2 and changes in species interactions. High pCO2 altered biofilm development, allowing serpulids to do best at the acidified site by the end of the experiment, although early (pre-transplant), negative effects of pCO2 on recruitment of these worms was still detectable. The ascidians Diplosoma sp. and Botryllus sp. settled later and were more tolerant to acidification. Overall, transient and persistent acidification-driven changes in the biofouling community, via both past and more recent exposure, could have important implications for ecosystem function and food web dynamics.

Continue reading ‘Natural acidification changes the timing and rate of succession, alters community structure, and increases homogeneity in marine biofouling communities’

Interactive effects of temperature, food and skeletal mineralogy mediate biological responses to ocean acidification in a widely distributed bryozoan

Marine invertebrates with skeletons made of high-magnesium calcite may be especially susceptible to ocean acidification (OA) due to the elevated solubility of this form of calcium carbonate. However, skeletal composition can vary plastically within some species, and it is largely unknown how concurrent changes in multiple oceanographic parameters will interact to affect skeletal mineralogy, growth and vulnerability to future OA. We explored these interactive effects by culturing genetic clones of the bryozoan Jellyella tuberculata (formerly Membranipora tuberculata) under factorial combinations of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2), temperature and food concentrations. High CO2 and cold temperature induced degeneration of zooids in colonies. However, colonies still maintained high growth efficiencies under these adverse conditions, indicating a compensatory trade-off whereby colonies degenerate more zooids under stress, redirecting energy to the growth and maintenance of new zooids. Low-food concentration and elevated temperatures also had interactive effects on skeletal mineralogy, resulting in skeletal calcite with higher concentrations of magnesium, which readily dissolved under high CO2. For taxa that weakly regulate skeletal magnesium concentration, skeletal dissolution may be a more widespread phenomenon than is currently documented and is a growing concern as oceans continue to warm and acidify.

Continue reading ‘Interactive effects of temperature, food and skeletal mineralogy mediate biological responses to ocean acidification in a widely distributed bryozoan’

Ocean acidification increases larval swimming speed and has limited effects on spawning and settlement of a robust fouling bryozoan, Bugula neritina

Few studies to date have investigated the effects of ocean acidification on non-reef forming marine invertebrates with non-feeding larvae. Here, we exposed adults of the bryozoan Bugula neritina and their larvae to lowered pH. We monitored spawning, larval swimming, settlement, and post-settlement individual sizes at two pHs (7.9 vs. 7.6) and settlement dynamics alone over a broader pH range (8.0 down to 6.5). Our results show that spawning was not affected by adult exposure (48 h at pH 7.6), larvae swam 32% faster and the newly-settled individuals grew significantly larger (5%) at pH 7.6 than in the control. Although larvae required more time to settle when pH was lowered, reduced pH was not lethal, even down to pH 6.5. Overall, this fouling species appeared to be robust to acidification, and yet, indirect effects such as prolonging the pelagic larval duration could increase predation risk, and might negatively impact population dynamics.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification increases larval swimming speed and has limited effects on spawning and settlement of a robust fouling bryozoan, Bugula neritina’

Low pH conditions impair module capacity to regenerate in a calcified colonial invertebrate, the bryozoan Cryptosula pallasiana

Many aquatic animals grow into colonies of repeated, genetically identical, modules (zooids). Zooid interconnections enable colonies to behave as integrated functional units, while plastic responses to environmental changes may affect individual zooids. Plasticity includes the variable partitioning of resources to sexual reproduction, colony growth and maintenance. Maintenance often involves regeneration, which is also a routine part of the life history in some organisms, such as bryozoans. Here we investigate changes in regenerative capacity in the encrusting bryozoan Cryptosula pallasiana when cultured at different seawater pCO2 levels. The proportion of active zooids showing polypide regeneration was highest at current oceanic pH (8.1), but decreased progressively as pH declined below that value, reaching a six-fold reduction at pH 7.0. The zone of budding of new zooids at the colony periphery declined in size below pH 7.7. Under elevated pCO2 conditions, already experienced sporadically in coastal areas, skeletal corrosion was accompanied by the proportional reallocation of resources from polypide regeneration in old zooids to the budding of new zooids at the edge of the colony. Thus, future ocean acidification can affect colonial organisms by changing how they allocate resources, with potentially profound impacts on life-history patterns and ecological interactions.

Continue reading ‘Low pH conditions impair module capacity to regenerate in a calcified colonial invertebrate, the bryozoan Cryptosula pallasiana’

Effects of ocean acidification on benthic organisms in the Mediterranean Sea under realistic climatic scenarios: A meta-analysis

Ocean acidification is expected to cause significant changes in the marine environment over the coming century. The effects of acidification on organisms’ physiology have been studied over the past two decades. However, the experimental findings are not always easily comparable because of differences in experimental design, and comparable experiments do not always produce similar results. To rigorously integrate the current knowledge, we performed a meta-analysis of published studies focused on benthic organisms in the Mediterranean Sea, both in controlled manipulative experiments and in situ experiments near vent areas. In each experiment, the effect of acidification was calculated as the log-transformed response ratio (LnRR) of experimental versus control conditions. The quantitative results obtained by the meta-analysis highlight: (a) an increase in fleshy algae cover, which may lead to a competitive advantage over calcifying macroalgae; (b) a reduction of calcification by both algae and corals; (c) an increase in seagrass shoot density under low pH; and (d) a general increase in the photosynthetic activity of macrophytes.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on benthic organisms in the Mediterranean Sea under realistic climatic scenarios: A meta-analysis’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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