Posts Tagged 'calcification'

Interactive effects of seawater carbonate chemistry, light intensity and nutrient availability on physiology and calcification of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi

Rising atmospheric carbonate dioxide (CO2) levels lead to increasing CO2 concentration and declining pH in seawater, as well as ocean warming. This enhances stratification and shoals the upper mixed layer (UML), hindering the transport of nutrients from deeper waters and exposing phytoplankton to increased light intensities. In the present study, we investigated combined impacts of CO2 levels (410 μatm (LC) and 925 μatm (HC)), light intensities (80–480 μmol photons m−2 s−1) and nutrient concentrations [101 μmol L−1 dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and 10.5 μmol L−1 dissolved inorganic phosphate (DIP) (HNHP); 8.8 μmol L−1 DIN and 10.5 μmol L−1 DIP (LN); 101 μmol L−1 DIN and 0.4 μmol L−1 DIP (LP)] on growth, photosynthesis and calcification of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. HC and LN synergistically decreased growth rates of E. huxleyi at all light intensities. High light intensities compensated for inhibition of LP on growth rates at LC, but exacerbated inhibition of LP at HC. These results indicate that the ability of E. huxleyi to compete for nitrate and phosphate may be reduced in future oceans with high CO2 and high light intensities. Low nutrient concentrations increased particulate inorganic carbon quotas and the sensitivity of maximum electron transport rates to light intensity. Light-use efficiencies for carbon fixation and calcification rates were significantly larger than that of growth. Our results suggest that interactive effects of multiple environmental factors on coccolithophores need to be considered when predicting their contributions to the biological carbon pump and feedbacks to climate change.

Continue reading ‘Interactive effects of seawater carbonate chemistry, light intensity and nutrient availability on physiology and calcification of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi’

Vulnerability of coral reefs to bioerosion from land-based sources of pollution

Ocean acidification (OA), the gradual decline in ocean pH and [CO32- ] caused by rising levels of atmospheric CO2, poses a significant threat to coral reef ecosystems, depressing rates of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production, and enhancing rates of bioerosion and dissolution. As ocean pH and [CO32-] decline globally, there is increasing emphasis on managing local stressors that can exacerbate the vulnerability of coral reefs to the effects of OA. We show that sustained, nutrient rich, lower pH submarine groundwater discharging onto nearshore coral reefs off west Maui lowers the pH of seawater and exposes corals to nitrate concentrations 50 times higher than ambient. Rates of coral calcification are substantially decreased, and rates of bioerosion are orders of magnitude higher than those observed in coral cores collected in the Pacific under equivalent low pH conditions but living in oligotrophic waters. Heavier coral nitrogen isotope (δ15N) values pinpoint not only site-specific eutrophication, but also a sewage nitrogen source enriched in 15N. Our results show that eutrophication of reef seawater by land-based sources of pollution can magnify the effects of OA through nutrient driven-bioerosion. These conditions could contribute to the collapse of coastal coral reef ecosystems sooner than current projections predict based only on ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Vulnerability of coral reefs to bioerosion from land-based sources of pollution’

Different calcification responses of two hermatypic corals to CO2-driven ocean acidification

Understanding how calcification is influenced by the enhanced dissolution of CO2 in the oceans is the key to evaluating the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on coral reefs. In this study, two branching hermatypic corals widely distributed in the South China Sea, Pocillopora damicornis and Seriatopora caliendrum, were used to study the calcification responses to CO2-driven OA (7.77 ± 0.07 vs. 8.15 ± 0.12). Our results showed that the calcification rate (0.17 ± 0.04%/day to 0.21 ± 0.12%/day) in P. damicornis remained unchanged in the acidified seawaters, but that in S. caliendrum decreased significantly (0.62 ± 0.21%/day to 0.44 ± 0.11%/day). Our results suggested that reef corals with high calcification rates may be more susceptible to the enhanced dissolution of CO2. Differential calcified response to elevated CO2 may be closely attributed to coralline capacity of the upregulation at their site of calcification in acidified seawater.

Continue reading ‘Different calcification responses of two hermatypic corals to CO2-driven ocean acidification’

Community-level sensitivity of a calcifying ecosystem to acute in situ CO2 enrichment

The rate of change in ocean carbonate chemistry is a vital determinant in the magnitude of effects observed. Benthic marine ecosystems are facing an increasing risk of acute CO2 exposure that may be natural or anthropogenically derived (e.g. engineering and industrial activities). However, our understanding of how acute CO2 events impact marine life is restricted to individual organisms, with little understanding for how this manifests at the community level. Here, we investigated in situ the effect of acute CO2 enrichment on the coralline algal ecosystem—a globally ubiquitous, ecologically and economically important habitat, but one which is likely to be sensitive to CO2 enrichment due to its highly calcified reef-like structures engineered by coralline algae. Most notably, we observed a rapid community-level shift to favour net dissolution rather than net calcification. Smaller changes from net respiration to net photosynthesis were also observed. There was no effect on the net flux of DMS/DMSP (algal secondary metabolites), nor on the nutrients nitrate and phosphate. Following return to ambient CO2 levels, only a partial recovery was seen within the monitoring timeframe. This study highlights the sensitivity of biogenic carbonate marine communities to acute CO2 enrichment and raises concerns over the capacity for the system to ‘bounce back’ if subjected to repeated acute high-CO2 events.

Continue reading ‘Community-level sensitivity of a calcifying ecosystem to acute in situ CO2 enrichment’

Intraspecific variation in the response of the scleractinian coral Acropora digitifera to ocean acidification

To examine the possible variation in responses of corals to ocean acidification (OA) among populations, we compared the sensitivity of two Okinawan populations (Sesoko and Bise) of the scleractinian coral Acropora digitifera to high pCO2. We found that both light and dark calcification rates of Sesoko corals did not change with an increase in seawater pCO2, while the calcification rates of Bise corals significantly decreased. Additionally, calcification rate of Sesoko corals was significantly lower than Bise corals at control conditions. Expressions of two putative calcification-related genes (BAT: bicarbonate transporter and galaxin) were up-regulated at high CO2 compared to the control and expression of the BAT gene was significantly higher in Sesoko compared to Bise corals. Consequently, differences in the calcification rate between populations and differences in the expression of genes related to inorganic carbon transport regulation could be reasons that explain the difference in the response to OA between the two populations. Furthermore, taking into account that Sesoko corals were located in relatively nearshore areas where the environmental conditions are more variable, while Bise corals were located in the forereef which shows more stable conditions, plasticity for coral calcification in response to different environmental conditions and/or acclimation response to changes such as seawater pCO2 may lead to differences in sensitivity between the two populations to high seawater pCO2. Studies considering the potential variability in corals sensitivity to OA among local populations from different habitats are important to predict the potential effects of climate change on reef ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Intraspecific variation in the response of the scleractinian coral Acropora digitifera to ocean acidification’

Greenland tidal pools as hot spots for ecosystem metabolism and calcification

The hypothesis that Arctic tidal pools provide environmental conditions suitable for calcifiers during summer, thereby potentially providing refugia for calcifiers in an acidifying Arctic Ocean, was tested on the basis of measurements conducted during two midsummers (2014 and 2016) in tidal pools colonised by a community composed of macroalgae and calcifiers in Disko Bay, Greenland (69° N). The tidal pools exhibited steep diurnal variations in temperature from a minimum of about 6 °C during the night to a maximum of almost 18 °C in the afternoon, while the temperature of the surrounding shore water was much lower, typically in the range 3 to 8 °C. O2 concentrations in the tidal pools were elevated relative to those in the adjacent open waters, by up to 11 mg O2 L−1, and exhibited heavy super-saturation (up to > 240%) during daytime emersion, reflecting intense and sustained photosynthetic rates of the tidal macroalgae. The intense photosynthetic activity of the seaweeds resulted in the drawdown of pCO2 concentrations in the pools during the day to levels down to average (±SE) values of 66 ± 18 ppm, and a minimum recorded value of 14.7 ppm, corresponding to pH levels as high as 8.69 ± 0.08, as compared to CO2 levels of 256 ± 4 and pH levels of 8.14 ± 0.01 in the water flooding the pools during high tide. The corresponding Ωarag reached 5.04 ± 0.49 in the pools as compared to 1.55 ± 0.02 in the coastal waters flooding the pools. Net calcification averaged 9.6 ± 5.6 μmol C kg−1 h−1 and was strongly and positively correlated with calculated net ecosystem production rates, which averaged 27.5 ± 8.6 μmol C kg−1 h−1. Arctic tidal pools promote intense metabolism, creating conditions suitable for calcification during the Arctic summer, and can, therefore, provide refugia from ocean acidification to vulnerable calcifiers as extended periods of continuous light during summer are conducive to suitable conditions twice a day. Meroplankton larvae are exposed to ocean acidification until they settle in vegetated tidal pools, where they benefit from the protection offered by the “macroalgae-carbonate saturation state” interaction favouring calcification rates.

Continue reading ‘Greenland tidal pools as hot spots for ecosystem metabolism and calcification’

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

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-d 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 end-member TA and DIC measurements. A shift from net community production and calcification to net respiration and carbonate dissolution 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’


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