Posts Tagged 'chordata'

Ocean acidification modulates the impact of fluoxetine on larval behaviors of non-target organisms

Emerging pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals from human waste, are continuously released into aquatic systems. Although pharmaceuticals alone can adversely impact marine organisms, the bioavailability of many pharmaceuticals are dependent on ambient physical conditions, like pH. As few studies have considered the interactive effects of pharmaceutical pollution and anthropogenic ocean acidification, this study investigated the behavioral response of larval sea urchins (Heliocidaris crassispina) and ascidians (Styela plicata) to environmentally-relevant concentrations of fluoxetine (10 and 100 ng L-1) under ambient (pH 8.0) and acidified conditions (pH 7.7). Larval ascidians reared at pH 8.0 exhibited swam in slower, more directed paths with increasing fluoxetine. Interestingly, this effect was absent at pH 7.7. On the other hand, I only observed independent effects of fluoxetine and acidification on urchin swimming behavior. My findings highlight the importance of using behavioral endpoints when assessing the realistic sub-lethal organismal and ecological impacts of anthropogenic stressors, and that considering differences in species traits may allow for the generation of more realistic predictions of the impact of emerging pollutants under future climate scenarios.

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The effect of climate change on the predatory success of sharks

This literature overview focuses on how shark species, are faring with the anthropogenically induced climatic changes. The ocean is drastically affected by this, which has major implications on the aquatic life. Some effects include increasing temperature, carbon dioxide and acidity levels. This has led to shifts in the predatory success in sharks, which will only increase in severity as climate change intensifies, because changes in climate induce other changes in most aspects of the shark’s life. These can be grouped into three categories: shifts in body functions, behaviors and habitat. Some changes in body function include difficulty integrating sensory cues through reduced neuron receptor function, decreased brain/muscle aerobic potential and changes in growth/development. Behavioral changes include shifted swimming patterns, interacting with different species assemblages and prey behaviors. Lastly, habitat changes affect the shark’s ability to capture prey through increases in salinity, degradation of critical habitat and reduction in dissolved oxygen.

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Extreme levels of ocean acidification restructure the plankton community and biogeochemistry of a temperate coastal ecosystem: a mesocosm study

The oceans’ uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) decreases seawater pH and alters the inorganic carbon speciation – summarized in the term ocean acidification (OA). Already today, coastal regions experience episodic pH events during which surface layer pH drops below values projected for the surface ocean at the end of the century. Future OA is expected to further enhance the intensity of these coastal extreme pH events. To evaluate the influence of such episodic OA events in coastal regions, we deployed eight pelagic mesocosms for 53 days in Raunefjord, Norway, and enclosed 56–61 m3 of local seawater containing a natural plankton community under nutrient limited post-bloom conditions. Four mesocosms were enriched with CO2 to simulate extreme pCO2 levels of 1978 – 2069 μatm while the other four served as untreated controls. Here, we present results from multivariate analyses on OA-induced changes in the phyto-, micro-, and mesozooplankton community structure. Pronounced differences in the plankton community emerged early in the experiment, and were amplified by enhanced top-down control throughout the study period. The plankton groups responding most profoundly to high CO2 conditions were cyanobacteria (negative), chlorophyceae (negative), auto- and heterotrophic microzooplankton (negative), and a variety of mesozooplanktonic taxa, including copepoda (mixed), appendicularia (positive), hydrozoa (positive), fish larvae (positive), and gastropoda (negative). The restructuring of the community coincided with significant changes in the concentration and elemental stoichiometry of particulate organic matter. Results imply that extreme CO2 events can lead to a substantial reorganization of the planktonic food web, affecting multiple trophic levels from phytoplankton to primary and secondary consumers.

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The power struggle: assessing interacting global change stressors via experimental studies on sharks

Ocean warming and acidification act concurrently on marine ectotherms with the potential for detrimental, synergistic effects; yet, effects of these stressors remain understudied in large predatory fishes, including sharks. We tested for behavioural and physiological responses of blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) neonates to climate change relevant changes in temperature (28 and 31 °C) and carbon dioxide partial pressures (pCO2; 650 and 1050 µatm) using a fully factorial design. Behavioural assays (lateralisation, activity level) were conducted upon 7–13 days of acclimation, and physiological assays (hypoxia tolerance, oxygen uptake rates, acid–base and haematological status) were conducted upon 14–17 days of acclimation. Haematocrit was higher in sharks acclimated to 31 °C than to 28 °C. Significant treatment effects were also detected for blood lactate and minimum oxygen uptake rate; although, these observations were not supported by adequate statistical power. Inter-individual variability was considerable for all measured traits, except for haematocrit. Moving forward, studies on similarly ‘hard-to-study’ species may account for large inter-individual variability by increasing replication, testing larger, yet ecologically relevant, differences in temperature and pCO2, and reducing measurement error. Robust experimental studies on elasmobranchs are critical to meaningfully assess the threat of global change stressors in these data-deficient species.

Continue reading ‘The power struggle: assessing interacting global change stressors via experimental studies on sharks’

Responses of a coral reef shark acutely exposed to ocean acidification conditions

Anthropogenic ocean acidification (OA) is a threat to coral reef fishes, but few studies have investigated responses of high-trophic-level predators, including sharks. We tested the effects of 72-hr exposure to OA-relevant elevated partial pressures of carbon dioxide (pCO2) on oxygen uptake rates, acid–base status, and haematology of newborn tropical blacktip reef sharks (Carcharhinus melanopterus). Acute exposure to end-of-century pCO2 levels resulted in elevated haematocrit (i.e. stress or compensation of oxygen uptake rates) and blood lactate concentrations (i.e. prolonged recovery) in the newborns. Conversely, whole blood and mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentrations, blood pH, estimates of standard and maximum metabolic rates, and aerobic scope remained unaffected. Taken together, newborn blacktip reef sharks appear physiologically robust to end-of-century pCO2 levels, but less so than other, previously investigated, tropical carpet sharks. Our results suggest peak fluctuating pCO2 levels in coral reef lagoons could still physiologically affect newborn reef sharks, but studies assessing the effects of long-term exposure and in combination with other anthropogenic stressors are needed.

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Energetic context determines species and community responses to ocean acidification

Physiological responses to ocean acidification are thought to be related to energetic trade‐offs. Although a number of studies have proposed that negative responses to low pH could be minimized in situations where food resources are more readily available, evidence for such effects on individuals remain mixed, and the consequences of such effects at the community level remain untested. We explored the potential for food availability and diet quality to modify the effects of acidification on developing marine fouling communities in field‐deployed mesocosms by supplementing natural food supply with one of two species of phytoplankton, differing in concentration of fatty acids. After twelve weeks, no species demonstrated the interactive effects generally predicted in the literature, where a positive overall effect of diet mitigated the negative overall effects of acidification. Rather, for some species, additional food supply appeared to bring out or exacerbate the negative effects of low pH. Community richness and structure were only altered by acidification, while space occupation and evenness reflected patterns of the most dominant species. Importantly, we find that acidification stress can increase the relative abundance of invasive species, even under resource conditions that otherwise prevented invasive species establishment. Overall, the proposed hypothesis regarding the ability for food addition to mitigate the negative effects of acidification is thus far not widely supported at species or community levels. It is clear that acidification is a strong driving force in these communities but understanding underlying energetic and competitive context is essential to developing mechanistic predictions for climate change responses.

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Effects of elevated carbon dioxide on the hematological parameters of a temperate catshark

Atmospheric CO2 levels have been rising due to an increase in anthropic activities and its implications over marine ecosystems are unprecedented. The present study focused on the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on key hematological parameters of the juvenile small‐spotted catsharks (Scyliorhinus canicula). Eggs were reared throughout the entire embryogenesis (~4 months) plus 5 additional months, in two experimental treatments (control: pCO2 ~ 400 μatm; and high CO2: pCO2 ~ 900 μatm, Δ −0.3 pH units). After blood collection, the following hematological parameters were evaluated: (a) normal blood cells count (erythrocytes, leukocytes, and thrombocytes), (b) presence of erythrocytes with nuclear abnormalities, and (c) erythrocyte nucleus to cytoplasmic ratio. Concomitantly, to determine the cardiac and hematopoietic conditions, the spleen and heart to body ratios were also assessed. The present findings indicate that the measured variables may not be affected by elevated pCO2 in this temperate species, as no significant differences were observed between treatments across all the endpoints tested. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning a decreasing trend observed in a number of thrombocytes associated with OA, which should foster further investigation, regarding other aspects of their coagulation response. Along with OA, other stressors are expected to impact marine life, such as warming and hypoxia. Thus, future research should aim to investigate the cumulative effect of these stressors on hematological parameters in sharks.

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Sperm motility impairment in free spawning invertebrates under near-future level of ocean acidification: uncovering the mechanism

Ocean acidification (OA) refers to the decrease in ocean water pH resulting from the increasing absorption of atmospheric CO2. This will cause changes in the ocean’s carbonate chemistry system with a resulting impact on reproduction of marine organisms. Reproduction is the fundamental process that allows the conservation of the species; in free-spawning marine invertebrates, this process is highly sensitive to changes in seawater quality and chemistry. To date, the majority of the studies concerned OA effects on reproduction has been focused on embryo and larval development. Despite several evidence for the impairment of reproductive success by environmental perturbations through altering gamete quality, sperm physiological responses to OA are poorly investigated. In this study, we evaluated the effects of exposure to acidified seawater (AcSW) (pH 7.8), which approximate the predicted global averages for oceanic surface waters at the end of this century, on sperm quality of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis and the ascidian Ciona robusta by evaluating several endpoints, such as motility, vitality, mitochondrial activity, oxidative state, and intracellular pH (pHi). Following sperm exposure to AcSW, the percentage of motile spermatozoa, mitochondrial activity and pHi decreased in comparison to the current seawater pH of 8.1, whereas vitality and oxidative state were unaffected by the low external pH in both the species. In broadcast spawners, a relationship between sperm intracellular pH and the initiation of motility are well known. Spermatozoa are immotile in the testes and motility is induced after the spermatozoa are released into seawater; the alkaline pH of seawater, in fact, increases the pHi activating motility and mitochondrial respiration. The results of this study suggest that the lowering of seawater pH as predicted to occur for 2100, through the inhibition of pHi increase, prevent sperm motility activation. Sperm motility is a key determinant of fertilization success; consequently, a corresponding drop in fertilization success would be expected with important implications for the fitness and the survival of marine invertebrates.

Continue reading ‘Sperm motility impairment in free spawning invertebrates under near-future level of ocean acidification: uncovering the mechanism’

Ocean acidification impact on ascidian Ciona robusta spermatozoa: new evidence for stress resilience

Highlights

• Impact of ocean acidification on sperm quality of the ascidian Ciona robusta was investigated.

• Two experimental approaches were set up to simulate the ocean conditions predicted for the end of this century.

• Alteration of sperm motility, morphology and physiology was detected in short-term exposure.

• A rapid recovery of physiological conditions was observed within one week.

• New evidence of resilience in ascidian C. robusta spermatozoa in response to ocean acidification.

Abstract

Rising atmospheric CO2 is causing a progressive decrease of seawater pH, termed ocean acidification. Predicting its impact on marine invertebrate reproduction is essential to anticipate the consequences of future climate change on species fitness and survival. Ocean acidification may affect reproductive success either in terms of gamete or progeny quality threating species survival. Despite an increasing number of studies focusing on the effects of ocean acidification on the early life history of marine organisms, very few have investigated the effects on invertebrate gamete quality. In this study, we set up two experimental approaches simulating the ocean conditions predicted for the end of this century, in situ transplant experiments at a naturally acidified volcanic vent area along the Ischia island coast and microcosm experiments, to evaluate the short-term effects of the predicted near-future levels of ocean acidification on sperm quality of the ascidian Ciona robusta after parental exposure. In the first days of exposure to acidified conditions, we detected alteration of sperm motility, morphology and physiology, followed by a rapid recovery of physiological conditions that provide a new evidence of resilience of ascidian spermatozoa in response to ocean acidification. Overall, the short-term tolerance to adverse conditions opens a new scenario on the marine species capacity to continue to reproduce and persist in changing oceans.

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Future ocean climate homogenizes communities across habitats through diversity loss and rise of generalist species

Predictions of the effects of global change on ecological communities are largely based on single habitats. Yet in nature, habitats are interconnected through the exchange of energy and organisms, and the responses of local communities may not extend to emerging community networks (i.e. metacommunities). Using large mesocosms and meiofauna communities as a model system, we investigated the interactive effects of ocean warming and acidification on the structure of marine metacommunities from three shallow‐water habitats: sandy soft‐bottoms, marine vegetation and rocky reef substrates. Primary producers and detritus – key food sources for meiofauna – increased in biomass under the combined effect of temperature and acidification. The enhanced bottom‐up forcing boosted nematode densities but impoverished the functional and trophic diversity of nematode metacommunities. The combined climate stressors further homogenized meiofauna communities across habitats. Under present‐day conditions metacommunities were structured by habitat type, but under future conditions they showed an unstructured random pattern with fast‐growing generalist species dominating the communities of all habitats. Homogenization was likely driven by local species extinctions, reducing interspecific competition that otherwise could have prevented single species from dominating multiple niches. Our findings reveal that climate change may simplify metacommunity structure and prompt biodiversity loss, which may affect the biological organization and resilience of marine communities.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)’

Ocean acidification alters early successional coral reef communities and their rates of community metabolism

Ocean acidification is expected to alter community composition on coral reefs, but its effects on reef community metabolism are poorly understood. Here we document how early successional benthic coral reef communities change in situ along gradients of carbon dioxide (CO2), and the consequences of these changes on rates of community photosynthesis, respiration, and light and dark calcification. Ninety standardised benthic communities were grown on PVC tiles deployed at two shallow-water volcanic CO2 seeps and two adjacent control sites in Papua New Guinea. Along the CO2 gradient, both the upward facing phototrophic and the downward facing cryptic communities changed in their composition. Under ambient CO2, both communities were dominated by calcifying algae, but with increasing CO2 they were gradually replaced by non-calcifying algae (predominantly green filamentous algae, cyanobacteria and macroalgae, which increased from ~30% to ~80% cover). Responses were weaker in the invertebrate communities, however ascidians and tube-forming polychaetes declined with increasing CO2. Differences in the carbonate chemistry explained a far greater amount of change in communities than differences between the two reefs and successional changes from five to 13 months, suggesting community successions are established early and are under strong chemical control. As pH declined from 8.0 to 7.8, rates of gross photosynthesis and dark respiration of the 13-month old reef communities (upper and cryptic surfaces combined) significantly increased by 10% and 20%, respectively, in response to altered community composition. As a consequence, net production remained constant. Light and dark calcification rates both gradually declined by 20%, and low or negative daily net calcification rates were observed at an aragonite saturation state of <2.3. The study demonstrates that ocean acidification as predicted for the end of this century will strongly alter reef communities, and will significantly change rates of community metabolism.

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Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions

Ocean warming and acidification (OA) may alter the fitness of species in marine pelagic ecosystems through community effects or direct physiological impacts. We used the zooplanktonic appendicularian, Oikopleura dioica, to assess temperature and pH effects at mesocosm and microcosm scales. In mesocosms, both OA and warming positively impacted O. dioica abundance over successive generations. In microcosms, the positive impact of OA, was observed to result from increased fecundity. In contrast, increased pH, observed for example during phytoplankton blooms, reduced fecundity. Oocyte fertility and juvenile development were equivalent under all pH conditions, indicating that the positive effect of lower pH on O. dioica abundance was principally due to increased egg number. This effect was influenced by food quantity and quality, supporting possible improved digestion and assimilation at lowered pH. Higher temperature resulted in more rapid growth, faster maturation and earlier reproduction. Thus, increased temperature and reduced pH had significant positive impacts on O. dioica fitness through increased fecundity and shortened generation time, suggesting that predicted future ocean conditions may favour this zooplankton species.

Continue reading ‘Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions’

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

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/low oxygen and low/high CO2; varying pCO2 of 450 and 1300 ppm and O2 concentrations of 2–3.5 and 9–10 mg L−1) and respiration measured after 3 and 6 days, respectively. This allows us to evaluate respiration responses of species of contrasting habitats and life-history strategies to single and multiple stressors. Results show that the responses of the respiration 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 results 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’


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