Posts Tagged 'calcification'

Carbonate system parameters of an algal-dominated reef along West Maui (update)

Constraining coral reef metabolism and carbon chemistry dynamics are fundamental for understanding and predicting reef vulnerability to rising coastal CO2 concentrations and decreasing seawater pH. However, few studies exist along reefs occupying densely inhabited shorelines with known input from land-based sources of pollution. The shallow coral reefs off Kahekili, West Maui, are exposed to nutrient-enriched, low-pH submarine groundwater discharge (SGD) and are particularly vulnerable to the compounding stressors from land-based sources of pollution and lower seawater pH. To constrain the carbonate chemistry system, nutrients and carbonate chemistry were measured along the Kahekili reef flat every 4 h over a 6-day sampling period in March 2016. Abiotic process – primarily SGD fluxes – controlled the carbonate chemistry adjacent to the primary SGD vent site, with nutrient-laden freshwater decreasing pH levels and favoring undersaturated aragonite saturation (Ωarag) conditions. In contrast, diurnal variability in the carbonate chemistry at other sites along the reef flat was driven by reef community metabolism. Superimposed on the diurnal signal was a transition during the second sampling period to a surplus of total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) compared to ocean endmember TA and DIC measurements. A shift from positive net community production and positive net community calcification to negative net community production and negative net community calcification was identified. This transition occurred during a period of increased SGD-driven nutrient loading, lower wave height, and reduced current speeds. This detailed study of carbon chemistry dynamics highlights the need to incorporate local effects of nearshore oceanographic processes into predictions of coral reef vulnerability and resilience.

Continue reading ‘Carbonate system parameters of an algal-dominated reef along West Maui (update)’

The spatial and temporal variability of air-sea CO2 fluxes and the effect of net coral reef calcification in the Indonesian Seas: a numerical sensitivity study

A numerical model system was developed and applied to simulate air-sea fluxes of CO2 and coral reef calcification in the Indonesian Seas and adjacent ocean basin for the period 1960–2014 on a fine resolution grid (ca. 11 km) in order to study their response to rising sea water temperatures and CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. Results were analyzed for different sub-regions on the Sunda Shelf (Gulf of Thailand, Malacca Strait, Java Sea) and show realistic and different levels, signs and pronounced temporal variability in air-sea CO2 flux. The Gulf of Thailand changes from an atmospheric CO2 sink during the boreal winter to a CO2 source in summer due to higher water temperatures, while other sub-regions as well as the entire averaged Sunda Shelf act as a continuous source of CO2 for the atmosphere. However, increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations weakened this source function during the simulation period. In 2007, the model simulations showed even a first flux inversion, in course of which the Java Sea took up CO2. The simulated trends suggest that the entire Sunda Shelf will turn into a permanent sink for atmospheric CO2 within the next 30–35 years if current trends remain constant. Considering the period between 2010 and 2014, coral reef calcification enhanced the average CO2 emission of the Sunda Shelf by more than 10% from 15 to 17 Tg C yr−1 due to lowering the pH and increasing the partial pressure of CO2 in surface water. During the entire period of simulation, net reef calcification decreased although increasing seawater temperature mitigated effects of reduced CO2 emission and the resulting decrease of the pH values on reef calcification. Our realistic simulation results already without consideration of any biological processes suggest that biological processes taking up and releasing CO2 are currently well balanced in these tropical regions. However, the counteracting effects of climate change on the reef calcification, on other biological processes and the carbonate system need to be investigated in more detail. SST increased by about 0.6°C during the last 55 years, while SSS decreased by about 0.7 psu.

Continue reading ‘The spatial and temporal variability of air-sea CO2 fluxes and the effect of net coral reef calcification in the Indonesian Seas: a numerical sensitivity study’

Bivalves in the face of ocean acidification

Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are leading to a gradual decrease in ocean pH and changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, a process known as ocean acidification (OA). Such changes in oceanic environmental conditions will have negative consequences for marine life and organisms producing calcium carbonate (CaCO3) structures are amongst the most vulnerable due to the additional costs associated with calcification and maintenance of calcified structures under more acidic conditions. As calcifying animals of particular commercial and ecological relevance, bivalve molluscs have frequently been the object of OA research. In this thesis, responses to changes in seawater acidity in commercially important bivalve species were investigated with the aim of understanding their adaptation potential to OA. As the main focus was on blue mussels, the first part of the thesis provided an introduction to blue musselspecies complex in Europe which is characterized by the three species Mytilus edulis, M. galloprovincialis and M. trossulus. An analysis of potential consequences of interspecies hybridization for the aquaculture industry, especially in the context of changing environmental conditions, was provided. Possible positive and negative effects of hybridization were identified, the complexity of the blue mussel-species complex was highlighted and the implications of hybridization for adaptation were discussed. In the following section of the thesis, responses of Mytilus edulis larvae from a Swedish west coast population to elevated seawater acidity were investigated. By exposing larvae to a wide range of seawater acidity, the physiological tolerance threshold for normal shell development was identified and corresponded to pHT (pH on the total scale) ~ 7.8 which approximates the lower extremes of the local pH range naturally experienced by the larvae. This suggests that these mussels are well adapted to their local environment characterized by considerable fluctuations in seawater pH. Additionally, this result allowed selecting an appropriate pH level (pHT ~ 7.5, beyond the present range of natural variability), representing a realistic OA scenario for the investigated population and driving enough biological response to further investigate adaptation potential. This was achieved by measuring genetic variance and heritability of larval fitness-related traits (i.e. size and malformation of shell) through a crossbreeding experimental design and quantitative genetic techniques. Results showed high trait heritability under elevated seawater acidity, an indication of the potential of adapting to OA. Finally, in order to understand what functions and genes may be targeted by natural selection in the context of OA, genes involved in the initial phases of shell formation in Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) larvae were identified. With a genome available, the Pacific oyster was an ideal candidate for this task. The identified genes were attributed to four categories (metabolic genes, transmembrane proteins, shell matrix proteins and protease inhibitors) and are candidates for genes under selection in the context of an acidifying ocean. Altogether the results of this thesis contribute to a better understanding of bivalve adaptation potential to global changes and provide critical information for future work (e.g. investigation of allelespecific associated tolerance to changes in environmental parameters).

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Historical trends in pH and carbonate biogeochemistry on the Belize Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System

Coral reefs are important ecosystems that are increasingly negatively impacted by human activities. Understanding which anthropogenic stressors play the most significant role in their decline is vital for the accurate prediction of future trends in coral reef health and for effective mitigation of these threats. Here we present annually resolved boron and carbon isotope measurements of two cores capturing the past 90 years of growth of the tropical reef‐building coral Siderastrea siderea from the Belize Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. The pairing of these two isotope systems allows us to parse the reconstructed pH change into relative changes in net ecosystem productivity and net ecosystem calcification between the two locations. This approach reveals that the relationship between seawater pH and coral calcification, at both a colony and ecosystem level, is complex and cannot simply be modeled as linear or even positive. This study also underscores both the utility of coupled δ11B‐δ13C measurements in tracing past biogeochemical cycling in coral reefs and the complexity of this cycling relative to the open ocean.

Continue reading ‘Historical trends in pH and carbonate biogeochemistry on the Belize Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System’

Exposure to CO2 influences metabolism, calcification and gene expression of the thecosome pteropod Limacina retroversa

Thecosomatous pteropods, a group of aragonite shell-bearing zooplankton, are becoming an important sentinel organism for understanding the influence of ocean acidification on pelagic organisms. These animals show vulnerability to changing carbonate chemistry conditions, are geographically widespread, and are both biogeochemically and trophically important. The objective of this study was to determine how increasing duration and severity of CO2 treatment influence the physiology of the thecosome Limacina retroversa, integrating both gene expression and organism-level (respiration and calcification) metrics. We exposed pteropods to over-saturated, near-saturated or under-saturated conditions and sampled individuals at 1, 3, 7, 14 and 21 days of exposure to test for the effect of duration. We found that calcification was affected by borderline and under-saturated conditions by week two, while respiration appeared to be more strongly influenced by an interaction between severity and duration of exposure, showing complex changes by one week of exposure. The organismal metrics were corroborated by specific gene expression responses, with increased expression of biomineralization-associated genes in the medium and high treatments throughout and complex changes in metabolic genes corresponding to both captivity and CO2 treatment. Genes associated with other physiological processes such as lipid metabolism, neural function and ion pumping had complex responses, influenced by both duration and severity. Beyond these responses, our findings detail the captivity effects for these pelagic organisms, providing information to contextualize the conclusions of previous studies, and emphasizing a need for better culturing protocols.

Continue reading ‘Exposure to CO2 influences metabolism, calcification and gene expression of the thecosome pteropod Limacina retroversa’

Responses of coral reef community metabolism in flumes to ocean acidification

Much of the research on the effects of ocean acidification on tropical coral reefs has focused on the calcification rates of individual coral colonies, and less attention has been given to carbonate production and dissolution at the community scale. Using flumes (5.0 × 0.3 × 0.3 m) located outdoors in Moorea, French Polynesia, we assembled local back reef communities with ~ 25% coral cover, and tested their response to pCO2 levels of 344, 633, 870 and 1146 μatm. Incubations began in late Austral spring (November 2015), and net community calcification (Gnet) and net community primary production (Pnet) were measured prior to treatments, 24 h after treatment began, and biweekly or monthly thereafter until early Austral autumn (March 2016). Gnet was depressed under elevated pCO2 over 4 months, although the magnitude of the response varied over time. The proportional decline in Gnett as a function of saturation state of aragonite (Ωar) depended on the initial Ωar, but was 24% for a decline in Ωar from 4.0 to 3.0, which is nearly twice as sensitive to variation in Ωar than the previously published values for the net calcification of ex situ coral colonies. However, community Gnet was less sensitive to Ωar than coral reefs that have been analyzed in situ. Pnet was unaffected by pCO2, but Pnet and Gnet expressed on a hourly time base were positively associated, thus revealing the tight coupling between these metabolic processes. The high sensitivity of Gnet to pCO2 for the back reef of Moorea, versus lower sensitivity of individual coral colony calcification to pCO2, underscores the challenges of scaling-up experimental results on the effects of pCO2 from coral reef organisms to coral reef communities.

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Effects of seawater pCO2 and temperature on calcification and productivity in the coral genus Porites spp.: an exploration of potential interaction mechanisms

Understanding how rising seawater pCO2 and temperatures impact coral aragonite accretion is essential for predicting the future of reef ecosystems. Here, we report 2 long-term (10–11 month) studies assessing the effects of temperature (25 and 28 °C) and both high and low seawater pCO2 (180–750 μatm) on the calcification, photosynthesis and respiration of individual massive Porites spp. genotypes. Calcification rates were highly variable between genotypes, but high seawater pCO2 reduced calcification significantly in 4 of 7 genotypes cultured at 25 °C but in only 1 of 4 genotypes cultured at 28 °C. Increasing seawater temperature enhanced calcification in almost all corals, but the magnitude of this effect was seawater pCO2 dependent. The 3 °C temperature increase enhanced calcification rate on average by 3% at 180 μatm, by 35% at 260 μatm and by > 300% at 750 μatm. The rate increase at high seawater pCO2 exceeds that observed in inorganic aragonites. Responses of gross/net photosynthesis and respiration to temperature and seawater pCO2 varied between genotypes, but rates of all these processes were reduced at the higher seawater temperature. Increases in seawater temperature, below the thermal stress threshold, may mitigate against ocean acidification in this coral genus, but this moderation is not mediated by an increase in net photosynthesis. The response of coral calcification to temperature cannot be explained by symbiont productivity or by thermodynamic and kinetic influences on aragonite formation.

Continue reading ‘Effects of seawater pCO2 and temperature on calcification and productivity in the coral genus Porites spp.: an exploration of potential interaction mechanisms’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book