Posts Tagged 'community composition'

Acidification and warming affect prominent bacteria in two seasonal phytoplankton bloom mesocosms

In contrast to clear stimulatory effects of rising temperature, recent studies of the effects of CO2 on planktonic bacteria have reported conflicting results. To better understand the potential impact of predicted climate scenarios on the development and performance of bacterial communities, we performed bifactorial mesocosm experiments (pCO2 and temperature) with Baltic Sea water, during a diatom dominated bloom in autumn and a mixed phytoplankton bloom in summer. The development of bacterial community composition (BCC) followed well-known algal bloom dynamics. A principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) of bacterial OTUs (operational taxonomic units) revealed that phytoplankton succession and temperature were the major variables structuring the bacterial community whereas the impact of pCO2 was weak. Prokaryotic abundance and carbon production, and organic matter concentration and composition were partly affected by temperature but not by increased pCO2. However, pCO2 did have significant and potentially direct effects on the relative abundance of several dominant OTUs; in some cases, these effects were accompanied by an antagonistic impact of temperature. Our results suggest the necessity of high-resolution BCC analyses and statistical analyses at the OTU level to detect the strong impact of CO2 on specific bacterial groups, which in turn might also influence specific organic matter degradation processes.

Continue reading ‘Acidification and warming affect prominent bacteria in two seasonal phytoplankton bloom mesocosms’

Special edition of Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science – “Ocean acidification in the Mediterranean Sea: pelagic mesocosm experiments”

The topic of ocean acidification has received extensive attention in a recently published special edition of the journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Volume 186, Part A presents a series of 12 research papers focusing on pelagic mesocosm experiments conducted in the Mediterranean Sea in 2012 and 2013. Plankton plays a key role in the global carbon cycle. It is therefore important to project the evolution of plankton community structure and function in a future high-CO2 world. Several results from experiments conducted at the community level have shown increased rates of community primary production and shifts in community composition as a function of increasing pCO2. However, the great majority of these – experiments have been performed under high natural or nutrient-enriched conditions and very few data are available in areas with naturally low levels of nutrient and chlorophyll i.e. oligotrophic areas such as the Mediterranean Sea, although they represent a large and expanding part of the ocean surface. In the frame of the European Mediterranean Sea Acidification in a changing climate project (MedSeA;, large-scale in situ mesocosms (9 x 50 m3, 12 m deep) have been used to quantify the potential effects of CO2 enrichment in two coastal areas of the Mediterranean Sea: the bay of Calvi (Corsica, France) in June/July 2012 and the bay of Villefranche (France) in February/March 2013. These two experiments gathered the expertise of more than 25 scientists from 7 institutes and 6 countries (France, Greece, Spain, UK, Italy, Belgium, US).

Continue reading ‘Special edition of Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science – “Ocean acidification in the Mediterranean Sea: pelagic mesocosm experiments”’

Influence of ocean acidification on plankton community structure during a winter-to-summer succession: An imaging approach indicates that copepods can benefit from elevated CO2 via indirect food web effects

Plankton communities play a key role in the marine food web and are expected to be highly sensitive to ongoing environmental change. Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) causes pronounced shifts in marine carbonate chemistry and a decrease in seawater pH. These changes–summarized by the term ocean acidification (OA)–can significantly affect the physiology of planktonic organisms. However, studies on the response of entire plankton communities to OA, which also include indirect effects via food-web interactions, are still relatively rare. Thus, it is presently unclear how OA could affect the functioning of entire ecosystems and biogeochemical element cycles. In this study, we report from a long-term in situ mesocosm experiment, where we investigated the response of natural plankton communities in temperate waters (Gullmarfjord, Sweden) to elevated CO2 concentrations and OA as expected for the end of the century (~760 μatm pCO2). Based on a plankton-imaging approach, we examined size structure, community composition and food web characteristics of the whole plankton assemblage, ranging from picoplankton to mesozooplankton, during an entire winter-to-summer succession. The plankton imaging system revealed pronounced temporal changes in the size structure of the copepod community over the course of the plankton bloom. The observed shift towards smaller individuals resulted in an overall decrease of copepod biomass by 25%, despite increasing numerical abundances. Furthermore, we observed distinct effects of elevated CO2 on biomass and size structure of the entire plankton community. Notably, the biomass of copepods, dominated by Pseudocalanus acuspes, displayed a tendency towards elevated biomass by up to 30–40% under simulated ocean acidification. This effect was significant for certain copepod size classes and was most likely driven by CO2-stimulated responses of primary producers and a complex interplay of trophic interactions that allowed this CO2 effect to propagate up the food web. Such OA-induced shifts in plankton community structure could have far-reaching consequences for food-web interactions, biomass transfer to higher trophic levels and biogeochemical cycling of marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Influence of ocean acidification on plankton community structure during a winter-to-summer succession: An imaging approach indicates that copepods can benefit from elevated CO2 via indirect food web effects’

Impact of environmental factors on bacterioplankton communities

Aquatic bacteria are main drivers of biogeochemical cycles and contribute predominantly to organic matter and nutrient recycling. As a high biodiversity is assumed to stabilize ecosystem functioning, it is necessary to understand the bacterial community dynamics and their structuring factors. It is known that different taxa are dominant across different habitats and seasons. This indicates an occurrence of species sorting by community structuring environmental factors. A first attempt for the understanding of bacterial distribution is to test for a correlation between microbial composition and measured environmental variables. In order to get further insights into the impact of environmental factors on bacterial communities, this thesis assessed the influence of major structuring drivers by using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, bacterial bulk parameters and interdisciplinary approaches in laboratory experiments and field studies.

In a field study in the Benguela upwelling system, the influence of different levels of primary production and the planktonic succession on bacterial community composition and its development was investigated. Community analysis revealed a clustering of different microbial assemblages along aging upwelled water. This zonation was mainly driven by phytoplankton composition and abundance and the spatial differences were comparable with a temporal succession that occurs during phytoplankton blooms in temperate coastal waters. A dominance of Bacteroidetes and Gammaproteobacteria was observed during algal blooming and high abundance of “Pelagibacterales” was found in regions with low algal abundance. Overall, this study highlightes the strong impact of quality and quantity of phytoplankton and nutrients on the bacterial communities.

A laboratory experiment with Baltic Sea water was performed to better understand the potential impact of rising temperature and CO2 on planktonic bacteria. The development of the bacterial community composition was followed in bifactorial mesocosm experiments during a diatom bloom in autumn and a phytoplankton bloom in summer. The results confirmed that phytoplankton succession and temperature were the major variables structuring the bacterial community. The impact of CO2 on the broad community was weak but high-resolution community analyses revealed a strong effect on specific bacterial groups, which might play important roles in specific organic matter degradation processes.

The response of bacterial communities to a disturbance by a saline intrusion could be investigated during a major Baltic inflow event. Community structuring factors were dominated by mixing of the inflow water with the former bottom water. Although the inflow had a selecting effect on the bacterial community, some immigrated taxa showed increased potential activity and seem to profit from changing environmental conditions. These results suggest a potential impact of inflow events on bacterial functions and therefore on biogeochemical processes.

Altogether, the results confirm the strong structuring effects of environmental conditions on bacterial community composition. Furthermore, high-resolution sequencing enabled an identification of specific affected taxa, which in turn give first clues for the impact of the investigated factors on specific bacterial functions.

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Insignificant effects of elevated CO2 on bacterioplankton community in a eutrophic coastal mesocosm experiment

There is increasing concern about the effects of ocean acidification on marine biogeochemical and ecological processes and the organisms that drive them, including marine bacteria. Here, we examine the effects of elevated CO2 on bacterioplankton community during a mesocosm experiment using an artificial phytoplankton community in subtropical, eutrophic coastal waters of Xiamen, Southern China. We found that the elevated CO2 hardly altered the network structure of the bacterioplankton taxa present with high abundance but appeared to reassemble the community network of taxa present with low abundance by sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene V3-V4 region and ecological network analysis. This led to relatively high resilience of the whole bacterioplankton community to the elevated CO2 level and associated chemical changes. We also observed that the Flavobacteriia group, which plays an important role in the microbial carbon pump, showed higher relative abundance under elevated CO2 condition during the developing stage of the phytoplankton bloom in the mesocosms. Compared to the CO2 enrichment, the phytoplankton bloom had more pronounced effects on baterioplankton community structure. Our results suggest that the bacterioplankton community in this subtropical, high nutrient coastal environment is relatively insensitive to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry.

Continue reading ‘Insignificant effects of elevated CO2 on bacterioplankton community in a eutrophic coastal mesocosm experiment’

Ciliate and mesozooplankton community response to increasing CO2 levels in the Baltic Sea: insights from a large-scale mesocosm experiment (update)

Community approaches to investigating ocean acidification (OA) effects suggest a high tolerance of micro- and mesozooplankton to carbonate chemistry changes expected to occur within this century. Plankton communities in the coastal areas of the Baltic Sea frequently experience pH variations partly exceeding projections for the near future both on a diurnal and seasonal basis. We conducted a large-scale mesocosm CO2 enrichment experiment ( ∼  55 m3) enclosing the natural plankton community in Tvärminne–Storfjärden for 8 weeks during June–August 2012 and studied community and species–taxon response of ciliates and mesozooplankton to CO2 elevations expected for this century. In addition to the response to fCO2, we also considered temperature and chlorophyll a variations in our analyses. Shannon diversity of ciliates significantly decreased with fCO2 and temperature with a greater dominance of smaller species. The mixotrophic Myrionecta rubra seemed to indirectly and directly benefit from higher CO2 concentrations in the post-bloom phase through increased occurrence of picoeukaryotes (most likely Cryptophytes) and Dinophyta at higher CO2 levels. With respect to mesozooplankton, we did not detect significant effects for either total abundance or for Shannon diversity. The cladocera Bosmina sp. occurred at distinctly higher abundance for a short time period during the second half of the experiment in three of the CO2-enriched mesocosms except for the highest CO2 level. The ratio of Bosmina sp. with empty to embryo- or resting-egg-bearing brood chambers, however, was significantly affected by CO2, temperature, and chlorophyll a. An indirect CO2 effect via increased food availability (Cyanobacteria) stimulating Bosmina sp. reproduction cannot be ruled out. Although increased regenerated primary production diminishes trophic transfer in general, the presence of organisms able to graze on bacteria such as cladocerans may positively impact organic matter transfer to higher trophic levels. Thus, under increasing OA in cladoceran-dominated mesozooplankton communities, the importance of the microbial loop in the pelagic zone may be temporarily enhanced and carbon transfer to higher trophic levels may be stimulated.

Continue reading ‘Ciliate and mesozooplankton community response to increasing CO2 levels in the Baltic Sea: insights from a large-scale mesocosm experiment (update)’

Seaweed community response to a massive CO2 input

Changes in the structure of seaweed communities were examined following a massive CO2 input caused by a submarine eruption near the coast of El Hierro island (Canary Islands, Spain). The event lasted almost five months (October 2011–March 2012) and created a significant pH gradient. Specifically, we compared three different zones: highly affected with extreme low pH (6.7–7.3), affected with low pH (7.6–7.8), and unaffected ambient pH zone (∼8.1) according to the pH gradient generated by the predominate currents and waves in the south of the island. Studies were carried out before, during and after the CO2 input event in each zone. We found community-wide effects on seaweed communities during the eruption; these included changes in species abundance and changes in the diversity. However, changes in all these community traits were only evident in the highly affected zone, where there were major shifts in the seaweed community, with a replacement of Lobophora variegata by ephemeral seaweeds. Lobophora variegata dropped in cover from 87–94 to 27% while ephemeral seaweeds increased 6–10 to 29%. When the impact ended Lobophora variegata began to recover reaching a cover higher than 60%. In the moderate affected area the Lobophora variegata canopies maintained their integrity avoiding phase shifts to turfs. Here the only significant changes were the reduction of the cover of the crustose and geniculate coralline algae.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book