Posts Tagged 'cnidaria'

Marine macroinvertebrate ecosystem services under changing conditions of seagrasses and mangroves


  • Overfishing and climate change show potential effects on MMI ES.
  • MMI regulating ES can be quantified using species richness and functional traits.
  • Digital platforms are valuable tools to retrieve data but have limitations.
  • Baseline data and information on environmental changes and MMI ES is provided.


This study aimed to investigate the impact of changing environmental conditions on MMI ES in seagrasses and mangroves. We used data from satellite and biodiversity platforms combined with field data to explore the links between ecosystem pressures (habitat conversion, overexploitation, climate change), conditions (environmental quality, ecosystem attributes), and MMI ES (provisioning, regulation, cultural). Both seagrass and mangrove extents increased significantly since 2016. While sea surface temperature showed no significant annual variation, sea surface partial pressure CO2, height above sea level and pH presented significant changes. Among the environmental quality variables only silicate, PO4 and phytoplankton showed significant annual varying trends. The MMI food provisioning increased significantly, indicating overexploitation that needs urgent attention. MMI regulation and cultural ES did not show significant trends overtime. Our results show that MMI ES are affected by multiple factors and their interactions can be complex and non-linear. We identified key research gaps and suggested future directions for research. We also provided relevant data that can support future ES assessments.

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High abundances of zooxanthellate zoantharians (Palythoa and Zoanthus) at multiple natural analogues: potential model anthozoans?

Whilst natural analogues for future ocean conditions such as CO2 seeps and enclosed lagoons in coral reef regions have received much recent research attention, most efforts in such locations have focused on the effects of prolonged high CO2 levels on scleractinian corals and fishes. Here, we demonstrate that the three species of zooxanthellate zoantharians, hexacorallian non-calcifying “cousins” of scleractinians, are common across five coral reef natural analogue sites with high CO2 levels in the western Pacific Ocean, in Japan (n = 2), Palau, Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia (n = 1 each). These current observations support previously reported cases of high Palythoa and Zoanthus abundance and dominance on various impacted coral reefs worldwide. The results demonstrate the need for more research on the ecological roles of zooxanthellate zoantharians in coral reef systems, as well as examining other “understudied” taxa that may become increasingly important in the near future under climate change scenarios. Given their abundance in these sites combined with ease in sampling and non-CITES status, some zoantharian species should make excellent hexacoral models for examining potential resilience or resistance mechanisms of anthozoans to future high pCO2 conditions.

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Parental exposure to ocean acidification impacts gamete production and physiology but not offspring performance in Nematostella vectensis

Ocean acidification (OA) resulting from anthropogenic CO2 emissions is impairing the reproduction of marine organisms. While parental exposure to OA can protect offspring via carryover effects, this phenomenon is poorly understood in many marine invertebrate taxa. Here, we examined how parental exposure to acidified (pH 7.40) versus ambient (pH 7.72) seawater influenced reproduction and offspring performance across six gametogenic cycles (13 weeks) in the estuarine sea anemone Nematostella vectensis. Females exhibited reproductive plasticity under acidic conditions, releasing significantly fewer but larger eggs compared to ambient females after four weeks of exposure, and larger eggs in two of the four following spawning cycles despite recovering fecundity, indicating long-term acclimatization and greater investment in eggs. Males showed no changes in fecundity under acidic conditions, but produced a greater percentage of sperm with high mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP; a proxy for elevated motility), which corresponded with higher fertilization rates relative to ambient males. Finally, parental exposure to acidic conditions did not significantly influence offspring development rates, respiration rates, or heat tolerance. Overall, this study demonstrates that parental exposure to acidic conditions impacts gamete production and physiology but not offspring performance in N. vectensis, suggesting that increased investment in individual gametes may promote fitness.

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Negative effects of a zoanthid competitor limit coral calcification more than ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) threatens the persistence of reef-building corals and the habitat they provide. While species-specific effects of OA on marine organisms could have cascading effects on ecological interactions like competition, few studies have identified how benthic reef competitors respond to OA. We explored how two common Caribbean competitors, branching Porites and a colonial zoanthid (Zoanthus), respond to the factorial combination of OA and competition. In the laboratory, we exposed corals, zoanthids and interacting corals and zoanthids to ambient (8.01 ± 0.03) and OA (7.68 ± 0.07) conditions for 60 days. The OA treatment had no measured effect on zoanthids or coral calcification but decreased Porites maximum PSII efficiency. Conversely, the competitive interaction significantly decreased Porites calcification but had minimal-to-no countereffects on the zoanthid. Although this interaction was not exacerbated by the 60-day OA exposure, environmental changes that enhance zoanthid performance could add to the dominance of zoanthids over corals. The lack of effects of OA on coral calcification indicates that near-term competitive interactions may have more immediate consequences for some corals than future global change scenarios. Disparate consequences of competition have implications for community structure and should be accounted for when evaluating local coral reef trajectories.

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Ocean acidification does not overlook sex: review of understudied effects and implications of low pH on marine invertebrate sexual reproduction

Sexual reproduction is a fundamental process essential for species persistence, evolution, and diversity. However, unprecedented oceanographic shifts due to climate change can impact physiological processes, with important implications for sexual reproduction. Identifying bottlenecks and vulnerable stages in reproductive cycles will enable better prediction of the organism, population, community, and global-level consequences of ocean change. This article reviews how ocean acidification impacts sexual reproductive processes in marine invertebrates and highlights current research gaps. We focus on five economically and ecologically important taxonomic groups: cnidarians, crustaceans, echinoderms, molluscs and ascidians. We discuss the spatial and temporal variability of experimental designs, identify trends of performance in acidified conditions in the context of early reproductive traits (gametogenesis, fertilization, and reproductive resource allocation), and provide a quantitative meta-analysis of the published literature to assess the effects of low pH on fertilization rates across taxa. A total of 129 published studies investigated the effects of ocean acidification on 122 species in selected taxa. The impact of ocean acidification is dependent on taxa, the specific reproductive process examined, and study location. Our meta-analysis reveals that fertilization rate decreases as pH decreases, but effects are taxa-specific. Echinoderm fertilization appears more sensitive than molluscs to pH changes, and while data are limited, fertilization in cnidarians may be the most sensitive. Studies with echinoderms and bivalve molluscs are prevalent, while crustaceans and cephalopods are among the least studied species even though they constitute some of the largest fisheries worldwide. This lack of information has important implications for commercial aquaculture, wild fisheries, and conservation and restoration of wild populations. We recommend that studies expose organisms to different ocean acidification levels during the entire gametogenic cycle, and not only during the final stages before gametes or larvae are released. We argue for increased focus on fundamental reproductive processes and associated molecular mechanisms that may be vulnerable to shifts in ocean chemistry. Our recommendations for future research will allow for a better understanding of how reproduction in invertebrates will be affected in the context of a rapidly changing environment.

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Adaptive responses of the sea anemone Heteractis crispa to the interaction of acidification and global warming

Simple Summary

This study investigated the effects of the interaction of acidification and warming on the photosynthetic apparatus and sterol metabolism of sea anemone Heteractis crispa. Thermal stress is the dominant driver of the deteriorating health of H. crispa, which might be relatively insensitive to the impact of ocean acidification; upregulation of chlorophyll content is suggested as an important strategy for symbionts to adapt to high pCO2. However, warming and acidification (alone or combined) significantly affected the cholesterol or sterol levels. Indeed, environmental changes like warming and acidification will affect the sterol metabolism and health of H. crispa in the coming decades.


Ocean acidification and warming are two of the most important threats to the existence of marine organisms and are predicted to co-occur in oceans. The present work evaluated the effects of acidification (AC: 24 ± 0.1 °C and 900 μatm CO2), warming (WC: 30 ± 0.1 °C and 450 μatm CO2), and their combination (CC: 30 ± 0.1 °C and 900 μatm CO2) on the sea anemone, Heteractis crispa, from the aspects of photosynthetic apparatus (maximum quantum yield of photosystem II (PS II), chlorophyll level, and Symbiodiniaceae density) and sterol metabolism (cholesterol content and total sterol content). In a 15-day experiment, acidification alone had no apparent effect on the photosynthetic apparatus, but did affect sterol levels. Upregulation of their chlorophyll level is an important strategy for symbionts to adapt to high partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2). However, after warming stress, the benefits of high pCO2 had little effect on stress tolerance in H. crispa. Indeed, thermal stress was the dominant driver of the deteriorating health of H. crispa. Cholesterol and total sterol contents were significantly affected by all three stress conditions, although there was no significant change in the AC group on day 3. Thus, cholesterol or sterol levels could be used as important indicators to evaluate the impact of climate change on cnidarians. Our findings suggest that H. crispa might be relatively insensitive to the impact of ocean acidification, whereas increased temperature in the future ocean might impair viability of H. crispa.

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Ocean acidification alters the predator – prey relationship between hydrozoa and fish larvae

Anthropogenic CO2 emissions cause a drop in seawater pH and shift the inorganic carbon speciation. Collectively, the term ocean acidification (OA) summarizes these changes. Few studies have examined OA effects on predatory plankton, e.g. Hydrozoa and fish larvae as well as their interaction in complex natural communities. Because Hydrozoa can seriously compete with and prey on other higher-level predators such as fish, changes in their abundances may have significant consequences for marine food webs and ecosystem services. To investigate the interaction between Hydrozoa and fish larvae influenced by OA, we enclosed a natural plankton community in Raunefjord, Norway, for 53 days in eight ≈ 58 m³ pelagic mesocosms. CO2 levels in four mesocosms were increased to ≈ 2000 µatm pCO2, whereas the other four served as untreated controls. We studied OA-induced changes at the top of the food web by following ≈2000 larvae of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) hatched inside each mesocosm during the first week of the experiment, and a Hydrozoa population that had already established inside the mesocosms. Under OA, we detected 20% higher abundance of hydromedusae staged jellyfish, but 25% lower biomass. At the same time, survival rates of Atlantic herring larvae were higher under OA (control pCO2: 0.1%, high pCO2: 1.7%) in the final phase of the study. These results indicate that a decrease in predation pressure shortly after hatch likely shaped higher herring larvae survival, when hydromedusae abundance was lower in the OA treatment compared to control conditions. We conclude that indirect food-web mediated OA effects drove the observed changes in the Hydrozoa – fish relationship, based on significant changes in the phyto-, micro-, and mesoplankton community under high pCO2. Ultimately, the observed immediate consequences of these changes for fish larvae survival and the balance of the Hydrozoa – fish larvae predator – prey relationship has important implications for the functioning of oceanic food webs.

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The role of epiphytes in seagrass productivity under ocean acidification

Ocean Acidification (OA), due to rising atmospheric CO2, can affect the seagrass holobiont by changing the plant’s ecophysiology and the composition and functioning of its epiphytic community. However, our knowledge of the role of epiphytes in the productivity of the seagrass holobiont in response to environmental changes is still very limited. CO2 vents off Ischia Island (Italy) naturally reduce seawater pH, allowing to investigate the adaptation of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica L. (Delile) to OA. Here, we analyzed the percent cover of different epiphytic groups and the epiphytic biomass of P. oceanica leaves, collected inside (pH 6.9–7.9) and outside (pH 8.1–8.2) the CO2 vents. We estimated the contribution of epiphytes to net primary production (NPP) and respiration (R) of leaf sections collected from the vent and ambient pH sites in laboratory incubations. Additionally, we quantified net community production (NCP) and community respiration (CR) of seagrass communities in situ at vent and ambient pH sites using benthic chambers. Leaves at ambient pH sites had a 25% higher total epiphytic cover with encrusting red algae (32%) dominating the community, while leaves at vent pH sites were dominated by hydrozoans (21%). Leaf sections with and without epiphytes from the vent pH site produced and respired significantly more oxygen than leaf sections from the ambient pH site, showing an average increase of 47 ± 21% (mean ± SE) in NPP and 50 ± 4% in R, respectively. Epiphytes contributed little to the increase in R; however, their contribution to NPP was important (56 ± 6% of the total flux). The increase in productivity of seagrass leaves adapted to OA was only marginally reflected by the results from the in situ benthic chambers, underlining the complexity of the seagrass community response to naturally occurring OA conditions.

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Severe seawater acidification causes a significant reduction in pulse rate, bell diameter, and acute deterioration in feeding apparatus in the scyphozoan medusa Cassiopeia sp

The detrimental effect of ocean acidification (OA) on marine animals with carbonate exoskeletons or shells is an issue drawing increased attention in marine biology and ecology, yet few studies have focused on the impact on gelatinous organisms like scyphozoan medusae. Here, we examined the physiological tolerance of Cassiopea sp., an abundant genus of scyphozoans valuable for their role as bioindicators and for having similarities to other cnidarians, to OA by conducting three, 12-week trials using CO2 diffusers and electronic pH controllers to incrementally lower the water to test pHs of 7.5 and 7.0. The impact of reduced pH on the survival, pulse rate, bell diameter, and reorientation and settlement abilities of Cassiopea sp. medusae were measured weekly. Cassiopea sp. was tolerant to pH 7.5 while further reduction of the pH to 7.0 resulted in 22.22% mortality rate, which was significantly different from the control and treatment pH 7.5. Significant differences between the treatment pH 7.0 and control first occurred on day 23.5 with a 50% reduction in the pulse rate, and on day 36 with a 16.6% reduction in bell diameter, while pH 7.5 had no effect. By the final time point of 66 days in treatment pH 7.0, there was an 87% reduction in pulse rate and a 36% reduction in bell diameter versus control. Reduced pH 7.0 caused bell malformations, inhibited swimming abilities, and deterioration of the oral arm feeding apparatus, but had no effect on the orientation and settlement assay. Observations indicate that asexual reproduction via planuloid production and strobilation was unaffected by pH reduction, though polyps in treatment pH 7.0 gave rise to ephyrae with inverted bells. Combined, findings from this study demonstrate Cassiopea sp. to be resilient to the end of century ocean acidity prediction of pH 7.6, and vulnerable to more severe OA to pH 7.0.

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Biomineralization: integrating mechanism and evolutionary history

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) biomineralizing organisms have played major roles in the history of life and the global carbon cycle during the past 541 Ma. Both marine diversification and mass extinctions reflect physiological responses to environmental changes through time. An integrated understanding of carbonate biomineralization is necessary to illuminate this evolutionary record and to understand how modern organisms will respond to 21st century global change. Biomineralization evolved independently but convergently across phyla, suggesting a unity of mechanism that transcends biological differences. In this review, we combine CaCO3 skeleton formation mechanisms with constraints from evolutionary history, omics, and a meta-analysis of isotopic data to develop a plausible model for CaCO3 biomineralization applicable to all phyla. The model provides a framework for understanding the environmental sensitivity of marine calcifiers, past mass extinctions, and resilience in 21st century acidifying oceans. Thus, it frames questions about the past, present, and future of CaCO3 biomineralizing organisms.

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Lead in the marine environment: concentrations and effects on invertebrates

Lead (Pb) is a non-essential metal naturally present in the environment and often complexed with other elements (e.g., copper, selenium, zinc). This metal has been used since ancient Egypt and its extraction has grown in the last centuries. It has been used until recently as a fuel additive and is currently used in the production of vehicle batteries, paint, and plumbing. Marine ecosystems are sinks of terrestrial contaminations; consequently, lead is detected in oceans and seas. Furthermore, lead is not biodegradable. It remains in soil, atmosphere, and water inducing multiple negative impacts on marine invertebrates (key species in trophic chain) disturbing ecological ecosystems. This review established our knowledge on lead accumulation and its effects on marine invertebrates (Annelida, Cnidaria, Crustacea, Echinodermata, and Mollusca). Lead may affect different stages of development from fertilization to larval development and can also lead to disturbance in reproduction and mortality. Furthermore, we discussed changes in the seawater chemistry due to Ocean Acidification, which can affect the solubility, speciation, and distribution of the lead, increasing potentially its toxicity to marine invertebrates.

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Climate change effects on the ecophysiology and ecological functioning of an offshore wind farm artificial hard substrate community


  • Local effects of offshore wind farms add to and interact with global climate change.
  • Species-specific effects on artificial hard substrate colonising community.
  • Mortality, feeding and metabolism generally increased with temperature and lower pH.
  • Temperature and pH had antagonistic effect on growth.
  • Maximised cumulative clearance potential significantly increased by climate change.


In the effort towards a decarbonised future, the local effects of a proliferating offshore wind farm (OWF) industry add to and interact with the global effects of marine climate change. This study aimed to quantify potential ecophysiological effects of ocean warming and acidification and to estimate and compare the cumulative clearance potential of suspended food items by OWF epifauna under current and future climate conditions. To this end, this study combined ecophysiological responses to ocean warming and acidification of three dominant colonising species on OWF artificial hard substrates (the blue mussel Mytilus edulis, the tube-building amphipod Jassa herdmani and the plumose anemone Metridium senile). In general, mortality, respiration rate and clearance rate increased during 3- to 6-week experimental exposures across all three species, except for M. senile, who exhibited a lower clearance rate in the warmed treatments (+3 °C) and an insensitivity to lowered pH (−0.3 pH units) in terms of survival and respiration rate. Ocean warming and acidification affected growth antagonistically, with elevated temperature being beneficial for M. edulis and lowered pH being beneficial for M. senile. The seawater volume potentially cleared from suspended food particles by this AHS colonising community increased significantly, extending the affected distance around an OWF foundation by 9.2% in a future climate scenario. By using an experimental multi-stressor approach, this study thus demonstrates how ecophysiology underpins functional responses to climate change in these environments, highlighting for the first time the integrated, cascading potential effects of OWFs and climate change on the marine ecosystem.

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The regulatory role of GABAA receptor in Actinia equina nervous system and the possible effect of global ocean acidification

Global warming and connected acidification of the World Ocean attract a substantial amount of research efforts, in particular in a context of their impact on behaviour and metabolism of marine organisms, such as Cnidaria. Nevertheless, mechanisms underlying Cnidarians’ neural signalling and behaviour and their (possible) alterations due to the World Ocean acidification remain poorly understood. Here we researched for the first time modulation of GABAA receptors (GABAARs) in Actinia equina (Cnidaria: Anthozoa) by pH fluctuations within a range predicted by the World Ocean acidification scenarios for the next 80-100 years, and by selective pharmacological activation. We found, that in line with earlier studies on vertebrates, both changes of pH and activation of GABAARs with a selective allosteric agonist (diazepam) modulate electrical charge transfer through GABAAR and the whole-cell excitability. On top of that, diazepam modifies the animal behavioural reaction on startle response. However, despite behavioural reactions displayed by living animals are controlled by GABAARs, changes of pH do not alter them significantly. Possible mechanisms underlying the species resistance to acidification impact are discussed.

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Biodiversity of coral reef cryptobiota shuffles but does not decline under the combined stressors of ocean warming and acidification


Although climate change is expected to decimate coral reefs, the combined impacts of ocean-warming and acidification on coral reef biodiversity remains largely unmeasured. Here, we present a two-year mesocosm experiment to simulate future ocean acidification and ocean-warming to quantify the impacts on species richness, community composition, and community structure. We find that species richness is equivalent between the dual-stressor and present-day treatments but that the community shuffles, undoubtedly altering ecosystem function. However, our ability to predict the outcomes of such community shuffling remains limited due to the critical knowledge gap regarding ecological functions, life histories, and distributions for most members of the cryptobenthic community that account for the majority of the biodiversity within these iconic ecosystems.


Ocean-warming and acidification are predicted to reduce coral reef biodiversity, but the combined effects of these stressors on overall biodiversity are largely unmeasured. Here, we examined the individual and combined effects of elevated temperature (+2 °C) and reduced pH (−0.2 units) on the biodiversity of coral reef communities that developed on standardized sampling units over a 2-y mesocosm experiment. Biodiversity and species composition were measured using amplicon sequencing libraries targeting the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) barcoding gene. Ocean-warming significantly increased species richness relative to present-day control conditions, whereas acidification significantly reduced richness. Contrary to expectations, species richness in the combined future ocean treatment with both warming and acidification was not significantly different from the present-day control treatment. Rather than the predicted collapse of biodiversity under the dual stressors, we find significant changes in the relative abundance but not in the occurrence of species, resulting in a shuffling of coral reef community structure among the highly species-rich cryptobenthic community. The ultimate outcome of altered community structure for coral reef ecosystems will depend on species-specific ecological functions and community interactions. Given that most species on coral reefs are members of the understudied cryptobenthos, holistic research on reef communities is needed to accurately predict diversity–function relationships and ecosystem responses to future climate conditions.

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Impact of ocean warming and ocean acidification on asexual reproduction and statolith formation of the symbiotic jellyfish Cotylorhiza tuberculata

Ocean acidification and warming are challenging marine organisms and ecosystems around the world. The synergetic effects of these two climate change stressors on jellyfish remain still understudied. Here, we examine the independent and combined effects of these two environmental variables on polyp population dynamics of the Mediterranean jellyfish Cotylorhiza tuberculata. An experiment was conducted to examine asexual reproduction by budding and strobilation considering current and ca. 2100 winter (Trial 1, 36 days) and summer (Trial 2, 36 days) conditions under the RCP8.5 (IPCC 2013). In Trial 1, a temperature of 18°C and two pH levels (current: 7.9 and, reduced: 7.7) were tested. Trial 2 considered two temperature levels 24°C and 30°C, under current and reduced acidification conditions (8.0 and 7.7, respectively). Ephyrae size and statolith formation of released ephyrae from polyps exposed to summer temperatures under both acidification treatment was also analyzed. Zooxanthellae density inside the polyps throughout the experiment was measured. Ctuberculata polyps could cope with the conditions mimicked in all experimental treatments and no significant effect of pH, temperature, or the combination of both variables on the abundance of polyps was observed. At 18°C, strobilation was reduced under high PCO2 conditions. Under summer treatments (24°C and 30°C), percentage strobilation was very low and several released ephyrae suffered malformations and reduced size, as a consequence of reduced pH and elevated temperatures, separately. The number of statoliths was not affected by pH or temperature, however, bigger statoliths were formed at elevated temperatures (30°C). Finally, zooxanthellae density was not affected by experimental conditions, even if, the duration of the experiment significantly affected symbiont concentration. Our results show that even though polyps of Ctuberculata would thrive the future worst scenario predicted for the Mediterranean Sea, their capacity to undergo a proper strobilation and to produce healthy ephyrae will be more vulnerable to climate induced environmental conditions, thereby affecting medusae recruitment and, therefore, population dynamics of the species.

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DNA metabarcoding to examine the biodiversity of coral reef cryptobiota

Coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse, complex, and productive of ecosystems. The vast majority of coral reef biodiversity is made up of the small and cryptic organisms living unseen by most within the reef matrix. This hidden community, the cryptobiota, are a critical component of coral reef trophic dynamics and play an essential role in nutrient recycling that enable reefs to thrive in oligotrophic environments. Despite their ecological importance, the cryptobiota are often ignored because they live deep within the reef matrix and require significant taxonomic expertise and time to collect and identify. As a result, our perceptions of coral reef biodiversity across marine gradients and how it will respond to climatic change is based on observable surface-dwelling taxa, such as corals and fish. Using DNA metabarcoding technology, this research fills an extensive knowledge gap about the diversity and distribution of the important and understudied coral reef cryptobiota community. The objectives of this dissertation were to (i) evaluate metabarcoding performance on marine sponges, a prominent and ecologically vital member of the cryptobenthos that is one of the most difficult metazoans to identify to species using both taxonomic and molecular methods; (ii) investigate the individual and combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on cryptobiota biodiversity; and (iii) examine cryptobiota diversity along the most striking macrospatial diversity gradient in the marine tropics. Contrary to expectations, this research (i) demonstrated that the metabarcoding approach performs much better than expected in capturing sponge richness; (ii) discovered that diversity shuffles but does not decline under the combined stressors of ocean warming and acidification; and (iii) cryptobiotic diversity undermines the tropical Pacific longitudinal diversity gradient defined by corals and fish. These results contribute towards reshaping the way we consider coral reef biodiversity under different oceanographic, geographic and climatic regimes.

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Ocean acidification impairs the physiology of symbiotic phyllosoma larvae of the lobster Thenus australiensis and their ability to detect cues from jellyfish


  • Ocean acidification (OA) under delta (∆) pH = – 0.3 (pH ~7.7), but not ∆pH = – 0.1 (pH ~ 7.9) relative to the present (~8.0 pH), reduced the survival, respiration and moulting of phyllosomas of T. australiensis.
  • OA under pH ~7.7 adversely affected the attraction of T. australiensis phyllosomas to jellyfish cues.
  • The majority of individual metabolites of phyllosomas were suppressed even in mild pH ~ 7.9.
  • The interaction between phyllosoma and jellyfish may be impaired under pH ~7.7.


Ocean acidification (OA) can alter the behaviour and physiology of marine fauna and impair their ability to interact with other species, including those in symbiotic and predatory relationships. Phyllosoma larvae of lobsters are symbionts to many invertebrates and often ride and feed on jellyfish, however OA may threaten interactions between phyllosomas and jellyfish. Here, we tested whether OA predicted for surface mid-shelf waters of Great Barrier Reef, Australia, under ∆ pH = −0.1 (pH ~7.9) and ∆pH = −0.3 (pH ~7.7) relative to the present pH (~8.0) (P) impaired the survival, moulting, respiration, and metabolite profiles of phyllosoma larvae of the slipper lobster Thenus australiensis, and the ability of phyllosomas to detect chemical cues of fresh jellyfish tissue. We discovered that OA was detrimental to survival of phyllosomas with only 20% survival under ∆pH = −0.3 compared to 49.2 and 45.3% in the P and ∆pH = −0.1 treatments, respectively. The numbers of phyllosomas that moulted in the P and ∆pH = −0.1 treatments were 40% and 34% higher, respectively, than those in the ∆pH = −0.3 treatment. Respiration rates varied between pH treatments, but were not consistent through time. Respiration rates in the ∆pH = −0.3 and ∆pH = −0.1 treatments were initially 40% and 22% higher, respectively, than in the P treatment on Day 2 and then rates varied to become 26% lower (∆pH = −0.3) and 17% (∆pH = −0.1) higher towards the end of the experiment. Larvae were attracted to jellyfish tissue in treatments P and ∆pH = −0.1 but avoided jellyfish at ∆pH = −0.3. Moreover, OA conditions under ∆pH = −0.1 and ∆pH = −0.3 levels reduced the relative abundances of 22 of the 34 metabolites detected in phyllosomas via Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Our study demonstrates that the physiology and ability to detect jellyfish tissue by phyllosomas of the lobster T. australiensis may be impaired under ∆pH = −0.3 relative to the present conditions, with potential negative consequences for adult populations of this commercially important species.

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Patterns of element incorporation in calcium carbonate biominerals recapitulate phylogeny for a diverse range of marine calcifiers

Elemental ratios in biogenic marine calcium carbonates are widely used in geobiology, environmental science, and paleoenvironmental reconstructions. It is generally accepted that the elemental abundance of biogenic marine carbonates reflects a combination of the abundance of that ion in seawater, the physical properties of seawater, the mineralogy of the biomineral, and the pathways and mechanisms of biomineralization. Here we report measurements of a suite of nine elemental ratios (Li/Ca, B/Ca, Na/Ca, Mg/Ca, Zn/Ca, Sr/Ca, Cd/Ca, Ba/Ca, and U/Ca) in 18 species of benthic marine invertebrates spanning a range of biogenic carbonate polymorph mineralogies (low-Mg calcite, high-Mg calcite, aragonite, mixed mineralogy) and of phyla (including Mollusca, Echinodermata, Arthropoda, Annelida, Cnidaria, Chlorophyta, and Rhodophyta) cultured at a single temperature (25°C) and a range of pCO2 treatments (ca. 409, 606, 903, and 2856 ppm). This dataset was used to explore various controls over elemental partitioning in biogenic marine carbonates, including species-level and biomineralization-pathway-level controls, the influence of internal pH regulation compared to external pH changes, and biocalcification responses to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. The dataset also enables exploration of broad scale phylogenetic patterns of elemental partitioning across calcifying species, exhibiting high phylogenetic signals estimated from both uni- and multivariate analyses of the elemental ratio data (univariate: λ = 0–0.889; multivariate: λ = 0.895–0.99). Comparing partial R2 values returned from non-phylogenetic and phylogenetic regression analyses echo the importance of and show that phylogeny explains the elemental ratio data 1.4–59 times better than mineralogy in five out of nine of the elements analyzed. Therefore, the strong associations between biomineral elemental chemistry and species relatedness suggests mechanistic controls over element incorporation rooted in the evolution of biomineralization mechanisms.

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Comparative sensitivities of zooplankton to ocean acidification conditions in experimental and natural settings

Zooplankton can serve as indicators of ecosystem health, water quality, food web structure, and environmental change, including those associated with climate change and ocean acidification (OA). Laboratory studies demonstrate that low pH and high pCO2 associated with OA can significantly affect the physiology and survival of zooplankton, with differential responses among taxa. While laboratory studies can be indicative of zooplankton response to OA, in situ responses will ultimately determine the fate of populations and ecosystems. In this perspective, we compare expectations from experimental studies with observations made in Puget Sound (Washington, United States), a highly dynamic estuary with known vulnerabilities to low pH and high pCO2. We found little association between empirical measures of in situ pH and the abundance of sensitive taxa as revealed by meta-analysis, calling into question the coherence between experimental studies and field observations. The apparent mismatch between laboratory and field studies has important ramifications for the design of long-term monitoring programs and interpretation and use of the data produced. Important work remains to be done to connect traits that are sensitive to OA with those that are ecologically relevant and reliably observable in the field.

Continue reading ‘Comparative sensitivities of zooplankton to ocean acidification conditions in experimental and natural settings’

Epiphytic hydroids on Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows are winner organisms under future ocean acidification conditions: evidence from a CO2 vent system (Ischia Island, Italy)

Effects of ocean acidification (OA) on the plant phenology and colonization/settlement pattern of the hydrozoan epibiont community of the leaves of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica have been studied at volcanic CO2 vents off Ischia (Italy). The study was conducted in shallow Posidonia stands (2.5–3.5 m depth), in three stations on the north and three on the south sides of the vent’s area (Castello Aragonese vents), distributed along a pH gradient. At each station, 10–15 P. oceanica shoots were collected every three months for one-year cycle (Sept 2009–2010). The shoot density of Posidonia beds in the most acidified stations along the gradient (pH < 7.4) was significantly higher than that in the control area (pH = 8.10). On the other hand, we recorded lower leaf lengths and widths in the acidified stations in the whole year of observations, compared to those in the control stations. However, the overall leaf surface (Leaf Area Index) available for epiphytes under ocean acidification conditions was higher on the south side and on both the most acidified stations because of the higher shoot density under OA conditions. The hydrozoan epibiont community on the leaf canopy accounted for seven species, three of which were relatively abundant and occurring all year around (Sertularia perpusilla, Plumularia obliqua, Clytia hemisphaerica). All hydroids species showed a clear tolerance to low pH levels, including chitinous and non-calcifying forms, likely favoured also by the absence of competition for substratum with the calcareous forms of epiphytes selected against OA.

Continue reading ‘Epiphytic hydroids on Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadows are winner organisms under future ocean acidification conditions: evidence from a CO2 vent system (Ischia Island, Italy)’

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