Posts Tagged 'Chordata'

Early development and metabolic physiology of the temperate lesser spotted shark (Scyliorhinus canicula) under high CO2 levels

Although sharks thrive in many different kinds of habitats and evolved to fill many ecological niches across a wide range of habitats, these animals are characterized by the limited capability to adapt rapidly to future climate change. Thus, the objective of the present dissertation was to analyze the potential impact of seawater acidification (OA, high CO2 levels ~1000 μatm) on the early development and physiology of the temperate shark Scyliorhinus canicula. More specifically, we evaluated OA effects on: i) development time and first feed, ii) Fulton condition of the newborns, iii) survival, iv) routine metabolic rate (RMR), v) maximum metabolic rate (MMR), and vi) aerobic scope (AS). The duration of embrygenesis ranged from 118 to 125 days, and after hatching, the mean number of days to start feeding (i.e. first feeding) varied between 4 and 6 days. In both endpoints there were no significant differences among treatments (i.e. normocapnia and hypercapnia; p >0.05). Juvenile survival (after 150 days post-hatching) also did no change significantly under high CO2 levels (p >0.05). Regarding energy expenditure rates and aerobic window, there were no significant differences in RMR, MMR, and AS among treatments (p-value > 0.005). In the overall, we argue that these findings are associated to the fact that S. canicula is a benthic, cosmopolitan and temperate shark usually exposed to great variations of abiotic factors, like those experienced in the highly-dynamic western Portuguese coast (with seasonal upwelling events). Although the present dissertation only investigated acclimation processes, it is plausible to assume that this shark species will not be greatly affected by future acidification conditions.

Continue reading ‘Early development and metabolic physiology of the temperate lesser spotted shark (Scyliorhinus canicula) under high CO2 levels’

Impact of climate change and contamination in the oxidative stress response of marine organisms

Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are increasing at an unprecedented rate, changing the carbonate chemistry (in a process known as ocean acidification) and temperature of the worlds ocean. Moreover, the simultaneous occurrence of highly toxic and persistent contaminants, such as mercury, will play a key role in further shaping the ecophysiology of marine organisms. Thus, the main goal of the present dissertation was to undertake the first comprehensive and comparative analysis of the biochemical strategies, namely antioxidant defense (both enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidants) and protein repair and removal mechanisms, of several marine organisms – from invertebrate (Veretillum cynomorium and Gammarus locusta) to vertebrate species (Argyrosomus regius, Chiloscyllium plagiosum and Scyliorhinus canicula) – encompassing different life-stages and life-strategies to the predicted climate-mediated changes. The findings provided in the present dissertation proved that organisms’ responses were mostly underpinned by temperature (increasing lipid, protein and nucleic acid damage), that also culminated into increased mercury bioaccumulation and toxicity, while ocean acidification as a sole stressor usually played a minor role in defining species vulnerability (i.e. responsible for increased oxidative damage in the marine calcifying organisms G. locusta). Nonetheless when co-occurring with warming and contamination scenarios, acidification was usually responsible for the reduction of heavy metal accumulation and toxicity, as well as decreased warming and contamination-elicited oxidative stress. Additionally, organisms’ responses were species-specific, and organisms that usually occupy more variable environments (e.g. daily changes in abiotic conditions) usually displayed greater responses towards environmental change than organisms inhabiting more stable environments. Furthermore, and assuming the relevance of transgenerational effects, it seems that the negative effects of OA are potentially being inherited by the offspring’s, compromising the efficiency of future generations to endure the upcoming conditions.

Continue reading ‘Impact of climate change and contamination in the oxidative stress response of marine organisms’

Ocean warming and acidification may challenge the riverward migration of glass eels

The dramatic decline of European eel (Anguilla anguilla) populations over recent decades has attracted considerable attention and concern. Furthermore, little is known about the sensitivity of the early stages of eels to projected future environmental change. Here, we investigated, for the first time, the potential combined effects of ocean warming (OW; Δ + 4°C; 18°C) and acidification (OA; Δ − 0.4 pH units) on the survival and migratory behaviour of A. anguilla glass eels, namely their preference towards riverine cues (freshwater and geosmin). Recently arrived individuals were exposed to isolated and combined OW and OA conditions for 100 days, adjusting for the salinity gradients associated with upstream migration. A two-choice test was used to investigate migratory activity and shifts in preference towards freshwater environments. While OW decreased survival and increased migratory activity, OA appears to hinder migratory response, reducing the preference for riverine cues. Our results suggest that future conditions could potentially favour an early settlement of glass eels, reducing the proportion of fully migratory individuals. Further research into the effects of climate change on eel migration and habitat selection is needed to implement efficient conservation plans for this critically endangered species.

Continue reading ‘Ocean warming and acidification may challenge the riverward migration of glass eels’

Ocean acidification and warming affect skeletal mineralization in a marine fish

Ocean acidification and warming are known to alter, and in many cases decrease, calcification rates of shell and reef building marine invertebrates. However, to date, there are no datasets on the combined effect of ocean pH and temperature on skeletal mineralization of marine vertebrates, such as fishes. Here, the embryos of an oviparous marine fish, the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea), were developmentally acclimatized to current and increased temperature and CO2 conditions as expected by the year 2100 (15 and 20°C, approx. 400 and 1100 µatm, respectively), in a fully crossed experimental design. Using micro-computed tomography, hydroxyapatite density was estimated in the mineralized portion of the cartilage in jaws, crura, vertebrae, denticles and pectoral fins of juvenile skates. Mineralization increased as a consequence of high CO2 in the cartilage of crura and jaws, while temperature decreased mineralization in the pectoral fins. Mineralization affects stiffness and strength of skeletal elements linearly, with implications for feeding and locomotion performance and efficiency. This study is, to my knowledge, the first to quantify a significant change in mineralization in the skeleton of a fish and shows that changes in temperature and pH of the oceans have complex effects on fish skeletal morphology.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and warming affect skeletal mineralization in a marine fish’

Feeding plasticity more than metabolic rate drives the productivity of economically important filter feeders in response to elevated CO2 and reduced salinity

Climate change driven alterations in salinity and carbonate chemistry are predicted to have significant implications particularly for northern costal organisms, including the economically important filter feeders Mytilus edulis and Ciona intestinalis. However, despite a growing number of studies investigating the biological effects of multiple environmental stressors, the combined effects of elevated pCO2 and reduced salinity remain comparatively understudied. Changes in metabolic costs associated with homeostasis and feeding/digestion in response to environmental stressors may reallocate energy from growth and reproduction, affecting performance. Although these energetic trade-offs in response to changes in routine metabolic rates have been well demonstrated fewer studies have investigated how these are affected by changes in feeding plasticity. Consequently, the present study investigated the combined effects of 26 days’ exposure to elevated pCO2 (500 µatm and 1000 µatm) and reduced salinity (30, 23, and 16) on the energy available for growth and performance (Scope for Growth) in M. edulis and C. intestinalis, and the role of metabolic rate (oxygen uptake) and feeding plasticity [clearance rate (CR) and absorption efficiency] in this process. In M. edulis exposure to elevated pCO2 resulted in a 50% reduction in Scope for Growth. However, elevated pCO2 had a much greater effect on C. intestinalis, with more than a 70% reduction in Scope for Growth. In M. edulis negative responses to elevated pCO2 are also unlikely be further affected by changes in salinity between 16 and 30. Whereas, under future predicted levels of pCO2C. intestinalis showed 100% mortality at a salinity of 16, and a >90% decrease in Scope for Growth with reduced biomass at a salinity of 23. Importantly, this work demonstrates energy available for production is more dependent on feeding plasticity, i.e. the ability to regulate CR and absorption efficiency, in response to multiple stressors than on more commonly studied changes in metabolic rates.

Continue reading ‘Feeding plasticity more than metabolic rate drives the productivity of economically important filter feeders in response to elevated CO2 and reduced salinity’

The weakest link: sensitivity to climate extremes across life stages of marine invertebrates

Predicting the effects of climate change on Earth’s biota becomes even more challenging when acknowledging that most species have life cycles consisting of multiple stages, each of which may respond differently to extreme environmental conditions. There is currently no clear consensus regarding which stages are most susceptible to increasing environmental stress, or ‘climate extremes’. We used a meta‐analytic approach to quantify variation in responses to environmental stress across multiple life stages of marine invertebrates. We identified 287 experiments in 29 papers which examined the lethal thresholds of multiple life stages (embryo, larva, juvenile, and adult) of both holoplanktonic and meroplanktonic marine invertebrates subjected to the same experimental conditions of warming, acidification, and hypoxia stress. Most studies considered short acute exposure to stressors. We calculated effect sizes (log response ratio) for each life stage (unpaired analysis) and the difference in effect sizes between stages of each species (paired analysis) included in each experiment. In the unpaired analysis, all significant responses were negative, indicating that warming, acidification and hypoxia tended to increase mortality. Furthermore, embryos, larvae, and juveniles were more negatively affected by warming than adults. The paired analysis revealed that, when subjected to the same experimental conditions, younger life stages were more negatively affected by warming than older life stages, specifically among pairings of adults vs. juveniles and larvae vs. embryos. Although responses to warming are well documented, few studies of the effects of acidification and hypoxia met the criteria for inclusion in our analyses. Our results suggest that while most life stages will be negatively affected by climate change, younger stages of marine invertebrates are more sensitive to extreme heating events.

Continue reading ‘The weakest link: sensitivity to climate extremes across life stages of marine invertebrates’

Variable metabolic responses of Skagerrak invertebrates to low O2 and high CO2 scenarios (update)

Coastal hypoxia is a problem that is predicted to increase rapidly in the future. At the same time, we are facing rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which are increasing the pCO2 and acidity of coastal waters. These two drivers are well studied in isolation; however, the coupling of low O2 and pH is likely to provide a more significant respiratory challenge for slow moving and sessile invertebrates than is currently predicted. The Gullmar Fjord in Sweden is home to a range of habitats, such as sand and mud flats, seagrass beds, exposed and protected shorelines and rocky bottoms. Moreover, it has a history of both natural and anthropogenically enhanced hypoxia as well as North Sea upwelling, where salty water reaches the surface towards the end of summer and early autumn. A total of 11 species (Crustacean, Chordate, Echinoderm and Mollusc) of these ecosystems were exposed to four different treatments (high or low oxygen and low or high CO2; varying pCO2 of 450 and 1300 µatm and O2 concentrations of 2–3.5 and 9–10 mg L−1) and respiration measured after 3 and 6 days, respectively. This allowed us to evaluate respiration responses of species of contrasting habitats to single and multiple stressors. Results show that respiratory responses were highly species specific as we observed both synergetic as well as antagonistic responses, and neither phylum nor habitat explained trends in respiratory responses. Management plans should avoid the generalized assumption that combined stressors will result in multiplicative effects and focus attention on alleviating hypoxia in the region.

Continue reading ‘Variable metabolic responses of Skagerrak invertebrates to low O2 and high CO2 scenarios (update)’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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