Posts Tagged 'community composition'

Effects of in situ CO2 enrichment on epibiont settlement on artificial substrata within a Posidonia oceanica meadow


  • Ocean acidification (OA) may cause community shifts by effecting early life stages.
  • pH was lowered in situ and maintained as an offset within a FOCE setup.
  • Settlement/colonization of molluscs and peracarid crustaceans were robust to OA.
  • Crustose coralline algae and calcifying polychaetes were vulnerable at early life.


Alterations to colonization or early post-settlement stages may cause the reorganization of communities under future ocean acidification conditions. Yet, this hypothesis has been little tested by in situ pH manipulation. A Free Ocean Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FOCE) system was used to lower pH by a ~ 0.3 unit offset within a partially enclosed portion (1.7 m3) of a Posidonia oceanica seagrass meadow (11 m depth) between 21 June and 3 November 2014. Epibiont colonization and early post settlement stages were assessed within the FOCE setup, as part of the larger community-level study, to better understand the outcome for a multispecies assemblage and the ecological processes that result in reported community shifts under altered carbonate chemistry. Two types of artificial collectors (tiles and scourers) were placed within three treatments: a pH-manipulated enclosure, an un-manipulated control enclosure, and an open plot in the ambient meadow. Tiles and scourers were collected after one to four months. Additionally, to see whether the outcome differed for communities in a later successional stage, previously settled scourer-collectors were also placed in the same three treatments. Enclosures acted to reduce settlement and migrant colonization. Scourers deployed for one to four months within the open-plot contained a community assemblage that could be distinguished from the assemblages within the enclosures. However, a comparison of enclosure assemblages on tiles showed evidence of a pH effect. There was lowered coverage of crustose coralline algae and fewer calcareous tube-forming polychaetes (Spirorbis sp. and Spirobranchus sp.) on tiles placed in the pH-manipulated enclosure compared to the un-manipulated enclosure. For assemblages in scourer collectors, shared and common taxa, in all treatments, were invertebrate polychaetes Psamathe fusca, Sphaerosyllis sp., Chrysopetalum sp., arthropods Harpacticoida, and Amphipoda, and the juvenile bivalve Lyonsia sp. Similar organism composition and abundance, as well as taxonomic richness and evenness, were found in scourers from both enclosures. Pre-settled scourers contained greater numbers of individuals and more calcified members, but the assemblage, as well as the growth rate of a juvenile bivalve Lyonsia sp., appeared unaffected by a two-month exposure to lowered pH and calcium carbonate saturation state. Results from this case study support the hypothesis that early stages of specific calcifiers (crustose coralline algae and calcareous tube-forming polychaetes) are sensitive to near future ocean acidification conditions yet suggest that negative effects on sessile micro-invertebrate assemblages will be minimal.

Continue reading ‘Effects of in situ CO2 enrichment on epibiont settlement on artificial substrata within a Posidonia oceanica meadow’

The microbiome of the octocoral Lobophytum pauciflorum: minor differences between sexes and resilience to short-term stress

Bacteria associated with marine invertebrates are thought to have a range of important roles that benefit the host including production of compounds that may exclude pathogenic microorganisms and recycling of essential nutrients. This study characterised the microbiome of a gonochoric octocoral, Lobophytum pauciflorum, and investigated whether either sex or environmental stresses influenced the diversity of the associated microbiome through amplicon profiling of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene. Sequences affiliated to Spirochaetaceae and Endozoicimonaceae dominated the microbiome of L. pauciflorum, representing 43% and 21% of the community, respectively. Among the dominant class affiliations, no sex-specific differences were detected, though unassigned sequences were at a 2-fold higher relative abundance in samples from female individuals than from males. These potentially novel sequences contributed to observed differences between sexes as detected by a multivariate analysis at the OTU level. Exposing L. pauciflorum fragments to increased temperature (31°C), decreased pH (7.9) or both stressors simultaneously for 12 days did not significantly alter the microbial community, indicating that the soft coral microbiome is relatively resilient to short-term environmental stress.

Continue reading ‘The microbiome of the octocoral Lobophytum pauciflorum: minor differences between sexes and resilience to short-term stress’

Climate change effects on photosynthetic symbionts in the sea anemone Anthopleura xanthogrammica

The giant green sea anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) inhabits the rocky intertidal zone in California and Oregon. Two photosynthetic algal symbionts, zooxanthellae and zoochlorellae, make these anemones important primary producers in the intertidal zone. This study investigated the effects of changes in temperature and pH on anemones and their symbionts over a natural environmental gradient along the coast of California and Oregon. Zoochlorellae responded negatively to warmer temperatures and positively to more acidic conditions, while zooxanthellae responded positively to warmer temperatures and lower pH. Temperature and pH did not significantly affect chlorophyll a concentrations or anemone protein biomass. Depending on the magnitude of future changes in ocean temperatures and acidity, changes in the ranges of the two types of symbionts and increased densities of sea anemones in the rocky intertidal could be expected to occur.

Continue reading ‘Climate change effects on photosynthetic symbionts in the sea anemone Anthopleura xanthogrammica’

Microbiome dynamics in early life stages of the scleractinian coral Acropora gemmifera in response to elevated pCO2

Reef-building corals are complex holobionts, harbouring diverse microorganisms that play essential roles in maintaining coral health. However, microbiome development in early life stages of corals remains poorly understood. Here, microbiomes of Acropora gemmifera were analysed during spawning and early developmental stages, and also under different seawater partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) conditions, using amplicon sequencing of 16S rRNA gene for bacteria and archaea and of ITS2 for Symbiodinium. No remarkable microbiome shift was observed in adults before and after spawning. Moreover, microbiomes in eggs were highly similar to those in spawned adults, possibly suggesting a vertical transmission from parents to offspring. However, significant stage-specific changes were found in coral microbiome during development, indicating that host development played a dominant role in shaping coral microbiome. Specifically, Cyanobacteria were particularly abundant in 6-day-old juveniles, but decreased largely in 31-day-old juveniles with a possible subclade shift in Symbiodinium dominance from C2r to D17. Larval microbiome showed changes in elevated pCO2, while juvenile microbiomes remained rather stable in response to higher pCO2. This study provides novel insights into the microbiome development during the critical life stages of coral.

Continue reading ‘Microbiome dynamics in early life stages of the scleractinian coral Acropora gemmifera in response to elevated pCO2’

The combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on shallow-water meiofaunal assemblages


  • Higher seawater temperature did not effect meiofaunal abundance.
  • Lower seawater pH did reduce meiofaunal abundance and species richness.
  • Nematode assemblages showed increased dominance under a future OW/OA scenario.


Climate change due to increased anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is causing an increase in seawater temperatures referred to as ocean warming and a decrease in seawater pH, referred to as ocean acidification. The meiofauna play an important role in the ecology of marine ecosystems and the functions they provide. Using microcosms, meiofaunal assemblages were exposed to two temperatures (15 and 19 °C) and two pHs (pCO2 of 400 and 1000 ppm), both individually and in combination, for a period of 90 days. The hypothesis that increased temperature will increase meiofaunal abundance was not supported. The hypothesis that a reduced pH will reduce meiofaunal abundance and species richness was supported. The combination of future conditions of temperature and pH (19 °C and pCO2 of 1000 ppm) did not affect overall abundance but the structure of the nematode assemblage changed becoming dominated by a few opportunistic species.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on shallow-water meiofaunal assemblages’

Ocean acidification alters zooplankton communities and increases top-down pressure of a cubozoan predator

The composition of local ecological communities is determined by the members of the regional community that are able to survive the abiotic and biotic conditions of a local ecosystem. Anthropogenic activities since the industrial revolution have increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which have in turn decreased ocean pH and altered carbonate ion concentrations: so called ocean acidification (OA). Single-species experiments have shown how OA can dramatically affect zooplankton development, physiology and skeletal mineralization status, potentially reducing their defensive function and altering their predatory and antipredatory behaviors. This means that increased OA may indirectly alter the biotic conditions by modifying trophic interactions. We investigated how OA affects the impact of a cubozoan predator on their zooplankton prey, predominantly Copepoda, Pleocyemata, Dendrobranchiata, and Amphipoda. Experimental conditions were set at either current (pCO2 370 μatm) or end-of-the-century OA (pCO2 1,100 μatm) scenarios, crossed in an orthogonal experimental design with the presence/absence of the cubozoan predator Carybdea rastoni. The combined effects of exposure to OA and predation by C. rastoni caused greater shifts in community structure, and greater reductions in the abundance of key taxa than would be predicted from combining the effect of each stressor in isolation. Specifically, we show that in the combined presence of OA and a cubozoan predator, populations of the most abundant member of the zooplankton community (calanoid copepods) were reduced 27% more than it would be predicted based on the effects of these stressors in isolation, suggesting that OA increases the susceptibility of plankton to predation. Our results indicate that the ecological consequences of OA may be greater than predicted from single-species experiments, and highlight the need to understand future marine global change from a community perspective.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification alters zooplankton communities and increases top-down pressure of a cubozoan predator’

Iron sources alter the response of Southern Ocean phytoplankton to ocean acidification

The rise in anthropogenic CO2 and the associated ocean acidification (OA) will change trace metal solubility and speciation, potentially altering Southern Ocean (SO) phytoplankton productivity and species composition. As iron (Fe) sources are important determinants of Fe bioavailability, we assessed the effect of Fe-laden dust versus inorganic Fe (FeCl3) enrichment under ambient and high pCO2 levels (390 and 900 μatm) in a naturally Fe-limited SO phytoplankton community. Despite similar Fe chemical speciation and net particulate organic carbon (POC) production rates, CO2-dependent species shifts were controlled by Fe sources. Final phytoplankton communities of both control and dust treatments were dominated by the same species, with an OA-dependent shift from the diatom Pseudo nitzschia prolongatoides towards the prymnesiophyte Phaeocystis antarctica. Addition of FeCl3 resulted in high abundances of Nitzschia lecointei and Chaetoceros neogracilis under ambient and high pCO2, respectively. These findings reveal that both the characterization of the phytoplankton community at the species level and the use of natural Fe sources are essential for a realistic projection of the biological carbon pump in the Fe-limited pelagic SO under OA. As dust deposition represents a more realistic scenario for the Fe-limited pelagic SO under OA, unaffected net POC production and dominance of P. antarctica can potentially weaken the export of carbon and silica in the future.

Continue reading ‘Iron sources alter the response of Southern Ocean phytoplankton to ocean acidification’

Subscribe to the RSS feed

Powered by FeedBurner

Follow AnneMarin on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 1,030,785 hits


Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book