Posts Tagged 'calcification'

Particulate inorganic to organic carbon production as a predictor for coccolithophorid sensitivity to ongoing ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) can induce shifts in plankton community composition, with coccolithophores being mostly negatively impacted. This is likely to change particulate inorganic and organic carbon (PIC and POC, respectively) production, with impacts on the biological carbon pump. Hence, assessing and, most importantly, understanding species‐specific sensitivities of coccolithophores is paramount. In a multispecies comparison, spanning more than two orders of magnitude in terms of POC and PIC production rates, among Calcidiscus leptoporus, Coccolithus pelagicus subsp. braarudii, Emiliania huxleyi, Gephyrocapsa oceanica, and Scyphosphaera apsteinii, we found that cellular PIC : POC was a good predictor for a species’ OA sensitivity. This is likely related to the need for cellular pH homeostasis, which is challenged by the process of calcification producing protons internally, especially when seawater pH decreases in an OA scenario. With higher PIC : POC, species and strains being more sensitive to OA coccolithophores may shift toward less calcified varieties in the future.

Continue reading ‘Particulate inorganic to organic carbon production as a predictor for coccolithophorid sensitivity to ongoing ocean acidification’

Ocean warming drives decline in coral metabolism while acidification highlights species-specific responses

Ocean warming and acidification can have negative implications on coral reefs. This mechanistic study aims to evaluate the proximal causes of the observed negative response of Hawaiian corals to climate change scenarios. Net calcification (Gnet), gross photosynthesis, and dark respiration were measured in three species of Hawaiian corals across a range of temperature and acidification regimes using endpoint incubations. Calcification rates showed a curvilinear response with temperature, with the highest calcification rates observed at 26°C. Coral response to ocean acidification (OA) was species dependent and highly variable. OA enhanced calcification rates by 45% in the perforate coral, Montipora capitata, but had no short-term effect on the calcification or photosynthetic rates of imperforate corals, Pocillopora damicornis or Leptastrea purpurea. Further investigations revealed M. capitata to effectively dissipate protons (H+) while increasing uptake of bicarbonate (HCO−3), therefore maintaining high rates of Gnet under acute OA stress. This study demonstrates the first experimental evidence of the ability of a coral species to take advantage of increased dissolved inorganic carbon and overcome an increasing proton gradient in the boundary layer under OA conditions. These observed differences in coral metabolism may underlie the species-specific responses to climate change.

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Contrasting responses of photosynthesis and photochemical efficiency to ocean acidification under different light environments in a calcifying alga

Ocean acidification (OA) is predicted to enhance photosynthesis in many marine taxa. However, photophysiology has multiple components that OA may affect differently, especially under different light environments, with potentially contrasting consequences for photosynthetic performance. Furthermore, because photosynthesis affects energetic budgets and internal acid-base dynamics, changes in it due to OA or light could mediate the sensitivity of other biological processes to OA (e.g. respiration and calcification). To better understand these effects, we conducted experiments on Porolithon onkodes, a common crustose coralline alga in Pacific coral reefs, crossing pCO2 and light treatments. Results indicate OA inhibited some aspects of photophysiology (maximum photochemical efficiency), facilitated others (α, the responsiveness of photosynthesis to sub-saturating light), and had no effect on others (maximum gross photosynthesis), with the first two effects depending on treatment light level. Light also exacerbated the increase in dark-adapted respiration under OA, but did not alter the decline in calcification. Light-adapted respiration did not respond to OA, potentially due to indirect effects of photosynthesis. Combined, results indicate OA will interact with light to alter energetic budgets and potentially resource allocation among photosynthetic processes in P. onkodes, likely shifting its light tolerance, and constraining it to a narrower range of light environments.

Continue reading ‘Contrasting responses of photosynthesis and photochemical efficiency to ocean acidification under different light environments in a calcifying alga’

A comparison of species specific sensitivities to changing light and carbonate chemistry in calcifying marine phytoplankton

Coccolithophores are unicellular marine phytoplankton and important contributors to global carbon cycling. Most work on coccolithophore sensitivity to climate change has been on the small, abundant bloom-forming species Emiliania huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa oceanica. However, large coccolithophore species can be major contributors to coccolithophore community production even in low abundances. Here we fit an analytical equation, accounting for simultaneous changes in CO2 and light intensity, to rates of photosynthesis, calcification and growth in Scyphosphaera apsteinii. Comparison of responses to G. oceanica and E. huxleyi revealed S. apsteinii is a low-light adapted species and, in contrast, becomes more sensitive to changing environmental conditions when exposed to unfavourable CO2 or light. Additionally, all three species decreased their light requirement for optimal growth as CO2 levels increased. Our analysis suggests that this is driven by a drop in maximum rates and, in G. oceanica, increased substrate uptake efficiency. Increasing light intensity resulted in a higher proportion of muroliths (plate-shaped) to lopadoliths (vase shaped) and liths became richer in calcium carbonate as calcification rates increased. Light and CO2 driven changes in response sensitivity and maximum rates are likely to considerably alter coccolithophore community structure and productivity under future climate conditions.

Continue reading ‘A comparison of species specific sensitivities to changing light and carbonate chemistry in calcifying marine phytoplankton’

Ecological and physiological constraints of deep-sea corals in a changing environment

Deep-water or cold-water corals are abundant and highly diverse, greatly increase habitat heterogeneity and species richness, thereby forming one of the most significant ecosystems in the deep sea. Despite this remote location, they are not removed from the different anthropogenic disturbances that commonly impact their shallow-water counterparts. The global decrease in seawater pH due to increases in atmospheric CO2 are changing the chemical properties of the seawater, decreasing the concentration of carbonate ions that are important elements for different physiological and ecological processes. Predictive models forecast a shoaling of the carbonate saturation in the water column due to OA, and suggest that cold-water corals are at high risk, since large areas of suitable habitat will experience suboptimal conditions by the end of the century. The main objective of this study was to explore the fate of the deep-water coral community in time of environmental change. To better understand the impact of climate change this study focused in two of the most important elements of dee-sea coral habitat, the reef forming coral Lophelia pertusa and the octocoral community, particularly the gorgonian Callogorgia delta. By means of controlled experiments, I examined the effects of longand short-term exposures to seawater simulating future scenarios of ocean acidification on calcification and feeding efficiency. Finally In order to understand how the environment influences the community assembly, and ultimately how species cope with particular ecological filters, I integrated different aspects of biology such functional diversity and ecology into a more evolutionary context in the face of changing environment. My results suggest that I) deep-water corals responds negatively to future OA by lowering the calcification rates, II) not all individuals respond in the same way to OA with high intra-specific variability providing a potential for adaptation in the longterm III) there is a disruption in the balance between accretion and dissolution that in the long term can shift from net accretion to net dissolution, and IV) there is an evolutionary implication for certain morphological features in the coral community that can give an advantage under stresfull conditions. Nevertheless, the suboptimal conditions that deepwater corals will experience by the end of the century could potentially threaten their persistence, with potentially negative consequences for the future stability of this already fragile ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘Ecological and physiological constraints of deep-sea corals in a changing environment’

Effects of light and darkness on pH regulation in three coral species exposed to seawater acidification

The resilience of corals to ocean acidification has been proposed to rely on regulation of extracellular calcifying medium pH (pHECM), but few studies have compared the capacity of coral species to control this parameter at elevated pCO2. Furthermore, exposure to light and darkness influences both pH regulation and calcification in corals, but little is known about its effect under conditions of seawater acidification. Here we investigated the effect of acidification in light and darkness on pHECM, calcifying cell intracellular pH (pHI), calcification, photosynthesis and respiration in three coral species: Stylophora pistillata, Pocillopora damicornis and Acropora hyacinthus. We show that S. pistillata was able to maintain pHECM under acidification in light and darkness, but pHECM decreased in P. damicornis and A. hyacinthus to a much greater extent in darkness than in the light. Acidification depressed calcifying cell pHI in all three species, but we identified an unexpected positive effect of light on pHI. Calcification rate and pHECM decreased together under acidification, but there are inconsistencies in their relationship indicating that other physiological parameters are likely to shape how coral calcification responds to acidification. Overall our study reveals interspecies differences in coral regulation of pHECM and pHI when exposed to acidification, influenced by exposure to light and darkness.

Continue reading ‘Effects of light and darkness on pH regulation in three coral species exposed to seawater acidification’

Seagrass can mitigate negative ocean acidification effects on calcifying algae

The ultimate effect that ocean acidification (OA) and warming will have on the physiology of calcifying algae is still largely uncertain. Responses depend on the complex interactions between seawater chemistry, global/local stressors and species-specific physiologies. There is a significant gap regarding the effect that metabolic interactions between coexisting species may have on local seawater chemistry and the concurrent effect of OA. Here, we manipulated CO2 and temperature to evaluate the physiological responses of two common photoautotrophs from shallow tropical marine coastal ecosystems in Brazil: the calcifying alga Halimeda cuneata, and the seagrass Halodule wrightii. We tested whether or not seagrass presence can influence the calcification rate of a widespread and abundant species of Halimeda under OA and warming. Our results demonstrate that under elevated CO2, the high photosynthetic rates of H. wrightii contribute to raise H. cuneata calcification more than two-fold and thus we suggest that H. cuneata populations coexisting with H. wrightii may have a higher resilience to OA conditions. This conclusion supports the more general hypothesis that, in coastal and shallow reef environments, the metabolic interactions between calcifying and non-calcifying organisms are instrumental in providing refuge against OA effects and increasing the resilience of the more OA-susceptible species.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book