Posts Tagged 'community composition'

The Bouraké semi-enclosed lagoon (New Caledonia). A natural laboratory to study the life-long adaptation of a coral reef ecosystem to climate change-like conditions

According to current experimental evidence, coral reefs could disappear within the century if CO2 emissions remain unabated. However, recent discoveries of diverse and high cover reefs that already thrive under extreme conditions seem to contradict these projections. Volcanic CO2 vents, semi-enclosed lagoons and mangrove estuaries are unique study sites where one or more ecologically relevant parameters for life in the oceans are close or even worse than currently projected for the year 2100. These natural analogues of future conditions hold new hope for the future of coral reefs and provide unique natural laboratories to explore how reef species could keep pace with climate change. To achieve this, it is essential to characterize their environment as a whole, and accurately consider all possible environmental factors that may differ from what is expected in the future and that may possibly alter the ecosystem response.

In this study, we focus on the semi-enclosed lagoon of Bouraké (New Caledonia, SW Pacific Ocean) where a healthy reef ecosystem thrives in warm, acidified and deoxygenated water. We used a multi-scale approach to characterize the main physical-chemical parameters and mapped the benthic community composition (i.e., corals, sponges, and macroalgae). The data revealed that most physical and chemical parameters are regulated by the tide, strongly fluctuate 3 to 4 times a day, and are entirely predictable. The seawater pH and dissolved oxygen decrease during falling tide and reach extreme low values at low tide (7.2 pHT and 1.9 mg O2 L−1 at Bouraké, vs 7.9 pHT and 5.5 mg O2 L−1 at reference reefs). Dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH fluctuates according to the tide of up to 4.91 mg O2 L−1, 6.50 °C, and 0.69 pHT units on a single day. Furthermore, the concentration of most of the chemical parameters was one- to 5-times higher at the Bouraké lagoon, particularly for organic and inorganic carbon and nitrogen, but also for some nutrients, notably silicates. Surprisingly, despite extreme environmental conditions and altered seawater chemical composition, our results reveal a diverse and high cover community of macroalgae, sponges and corals accounting for 28, 11 and 66 species, respectively. Both environmental variability and nutrient imbalance might contribute to their survival under such extreme environmental conditions. We describe the natural dynamics of the Bouraké ecosystem and its relevance as a natural laboratory to investigate the benthic organism’s adaptive responses to multiple stressors like future climate change conditions.

Continue reading ‘The Bouraké semi-enclosed lagoon (New Caledonia). A natural laboratory to study the life-long adaptation of a coral reef ecosystem to climate change-like conditions’

Multiple ecological parameters affect living benthic foraminifera in the river-influenced west-central Bay of Bengal

The huge riverine influx and associated processes decrease the ambient salinity, stratify the water column, modulate the oxygen-deficient zone, and are also responsible for the recent acidification in the Bay of Bengal. Here, we have studied the effect of these riverine influx-dominated ecological parameters on living benthic foraminifera in the west-central Bay of Bengal. We report that the pH below 7.6 in front of the Krishna river, reduces the diversity and the richness of living benthic foraminifera on the adjacent shelf and the slope. A similar decreased diversity and richness is also observed in front of the Godavari River. We delineate three prominent assemblages, representing different depth zones with associated distinct physico-chemical conditions. The shallow water assemblage (∼27–100 m) is represented by Nonionella labradoricaHanzawaia nipponicaBrizalina dilatataAmmonia tepida, and Nonionella limbato-striata. These species are adapted to relatively warmer temperatures and more oxygenated waters. The deepwater assemblage (∼1,940–2,494 m) includes Bulimina cf. delreyensis, Bulimina marginataHormosinella guttiferaCassidulina laevigata, and Gyroidinoides subzelandica and can tolerate a relatively colder temperature. The intermediate-depth assemblage (∼145–1,500 m) dominated by Eubuliminella exilis, Bolivinellina earlandiFursenkoina spinosaBolivinellina lucidopunctataGlobobulimina globosa, Fursenkoina spinosa, Eubuliminella cassandrae, Uvigerina peregrina, Rotaliatinopsis semiinvoluta, and Cassidulina laevigata, represents oxygen-deficient and organic carbon-rich environment. Besides the pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen and organic matter, we also report a strong influence of bathymetry, coarse fraction (CF) and the type of organic matter on a few living benthic foraminifera. The ecological preferences of 40 such dominant living benthic foraminifera, each representing a specific environment, have also been reported for site-specific proxy. We conclude that although the huge riverine influx affects living benthic foraminifera on the shelf, the dissolved oxygen and organic carbon mostly control benthic foraminiferal distribution in the deeper west-central Bay of Bengal.

Continue reading ‘Multiple ecological parameters affect living benthic foraminifera in the river-influenced west-central Bay of Bengal’

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)’

Impacts of multiple stressors on a benthic foraminiferal community: a long-term experiment assessing response to ocean acidification, hypoxia and warming

Ocean chemistry is changing as a result of human activities. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are increasing, causing an increase in oceanic pCO2 that drives a decrease in oceanic pH, a process called ocean acidification (OA). Higher CO2 concentrations are also linked to rising global temperatures that can result in more stratified surface waters, reducing the exchange between surface and deep waters; this stronger stratification, along with nutrient pollution, contributes to an expansion of oxygen-depleted zones (so called hypoxia or deoxygenation). Determining the response of marine organisms to environmental changes is important for assessments of future ecosystem functioning. While many studies have assessed the impact of individual or paired stressors, fewer studies have assessed the combined impact of pCO2, O2, and temperature. A long-term experiment (∼10 months) with different treatments of these three stressors was conducted to determine their sole or combined impact on the abundance and survival of a benthic foraminiferal community collected from a continental-shelf site. Foraminifera are well suited to such study because of their small size, relatively rapid growth, varied mineralogies and physiologies. Inoculation materials were collected from a ∼77-m deep site south of Woods Hole, MA. Very fine sediments (<53 μm) were used as inoculum, to allow the entire community to respond. Thirty-eight morphologically identified taxa grew during the experiment. Multivariate statistical analysis indicates that hypoxia was the major driving factor distinguishing the yields, while warming was secondary. Species responses were not consistent, with different species being most abundant in different treatments. Some taxa grew in all of the triple-stressor samples. Results from the experiment suggest that foraminiferal species’ responses will vary considerably, with some being negatively impacted by predicted environmental changes, while other taxa will tolerate, and perhaps even benefit, from deoxygenation, warming and OA.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of multiple stressors on a benthic foraminiferal community: a long-term experiment assessing response to ocean acidification, hypoxia and warming’

An intertidal life: combined effects of acidification and winter heatwaves on a coralline alga (Ellisolandia elongata) and its associated invertebrate community

Highlights

  • Coralline alga create a microhabitat with mitigating effect on ocean acidification
  • Temperature is the major driver of changes in the invertebrate reef community
  • Winter heatwaves and acidified conditions alter invertebrates community structure
  • Algal reef communities become dominated by opportunistic taxa

Abstract

In coastal marine ecosystems coralline algae often create biogenic reefs. These calcareous algal reefs affect their associated invertebrate communities via diurnal oscillations in photosynthesis, respiration and calcification processes. Little is known about how these biogenic reefs function and how they will be affected by climate change. We investigated the winter response of a Mediterranean intertidal biogenic reef, Ellisolandia elongate exposed in the laboratory to reduced pH conditions (i.e. ambient pH – 0.3, RCP 8.5) together with an extreme heatwave event (+1.4°C for 15 days). Response variables considered both the algal physiology (calcification and photosynthetic rates) and community structure of the associated invertebrates (at taxonomic and functional level). The combination of a reduced pH with a heatwave event caused Ellisolandia elongata to significantly increase photosynthetic activity. The high variability of calcification that occurred during simulated night time conditions, indicates that there is not a simple, linear relationship between these two and may indicate that it will resilient to future conditions of climate change.

In contrast, the associated fauna were particularly negatively affected by the heatwave event, which impoverished the communities as opportunistic taxa became dominant. Local increases in oxygen and pH driven by the algae can buffer the microhabitat in the algal fronds, thus favouring the survival of small invertebrates.

Continue reading ‘An intertidal life: combined effects of acidification and winter heatwaves on a coralline alga (Ellisolandia elongata) and its associated invertebrate community’

Viral-mediated microbe mortality modulated by ocean acidification and eutrophication: consequences for the carbon fluxes through the microbial food web

Anthropogenic carbon emissions are causing changes in seawater carbonate chemistry including a decline in the pH of the oceans. While its aftermath for calcifying microbes has been widely studied, the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on marine viruses and their microbial hosts is controversial, and even more in combination with another anthropogenic stressor, i.e., human-induced nutrient loads. In this study, two mesocosm acidification experiments with Mediterranean waters from different seasons revealed distinct effects of OA on viruses and viral-mediated prokaryotic mortality depending on the trophic state and the successional stage of the plankton community. In the winter bloom situation, low fluorescence viruses, the most abundant virus-like particle (VLP) subpopulation comprising mostly bacteriophages, were negatively affected by lowered pH with nutrient addition, while the bacterial host abundance was stimulated. High fluorescence viruses, containing cyanophages, were stimulated by OA regardless of the nutrient conditions, while cyanobacteria of the genus Synechococcus were negatively affected by OA. Moreover, the abundance of very high fluorescence viruses infecting small haptophytes tended to be lower under acidification while their putative hosts’ abundance was enhanced, suggesting a direct and negative effect of OA on viral–host interactions. In the oligotrophic summer situation, we found a stimulating effect of OA on total viral abundance and the viral populations, suggesting a cascading effect of the elevated pCO2 stimulating autotrophic and heterotrophic production. In winter, viral lysis accounted for 30 ± 16% of the loss of bacterial standing stock per day (VMMBSS) under increased pCO2 compared to 53 ± 35% in the control treatments, without effects of nutrient additions while in summer, OA had no significant effects on VMMBSS (35 ± 20% and 38 ± 5% per day in the OA and control treatments, respectively). We found that phage production and resulting organic carbon release rates significantly reduced under OA in the nutrient replete winter situation, but it was also observed that high nutrient loads lowered the negative effect of OA on viral lysis, suggesting an antagonistic interplay between these two major global ocean stressors in the Anthropocene. In summer, however, viral-mediated carbon release rates were lower and not affected by lowered pH. Eutrophication consistently stimulated viral production regardless of the season or initial conditions. Given the relevant role of viruses for marine carbon cycling and the biological carbon pump, these two anthropogenic stressors may modulate carbon fluxes through their effect on viruses at the base of the pelagic food web in a future global change scenario.

Continue reading ‘Viral-mediated microbe mortality modulated by ocean acidification and eutrophication: consequences for the carbon fluxes through the microbial food web’

Ocean acidification induces changes in virus–host relationships in Mediterranean benthic ecosystems

Acidified marine systems represent “natural laboratories”, which provide opportunities to investigate the impacts of ocean acidification on different living components, including microbes. Here, we compared the benthic microbial response in four naturally acidified sites within the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea characterized by different acidification sources (i.e., CO2 emissions at Ischia, mixed gases at Panarea and Basiluzzo and acidified freshwater from karst rocks at Presidiana) and pH values. We investigated prokaryotic abundance, activity and biodiversity, viral abundance and prokaryotic infections, along with the biochemical composition of the sediment organic matter. We found that, despite differences in local environmental dynamics, viral life strategies change in acidified conditions from mainly lytic to temperate lifestyles (e.g., chronic infection), also resulting in a lowered impact on prokaryotic communities, which shift towards (chemo)autotrophic assemblages, with lower organic matter consumption. Taken together, these results suggest that ocean acidification exerts a deep control on microbial benthic assemblages, with important feedbacks on ecosystem functioning.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification induces changes in virus–host relationships in Mediterranean benthic ecosystems’

Bacterial communities are more sensitive to ocean acidification than fungal communities in estuarine sediments

Ocean acidification (OA) in estuaries is becoming a global concern, and may affect microbial characteristics in estuarine sediments. Bacterial communities in response to acidification in this habitat have been well discussed; however, knowledge about how fungal communities respond to OA remains poorly understood. Here, we explored the effects of acidification on bacterial and fungal activities, structures and functions in estuarine sediments during a 50-day incubation experiment. Under acidified conditions, activities of three extracellular enzymes related to nutrient cycling were inhibited and basal respiration rates were decreased. Acidification significantly altered bacterial communities and their interactions, while weak alkalization had a minor impact on fungal communities. We distinguished pH-sensitive/tolerant bacteria and fungi in estuarine sediments, and found that only pH-sensitive/tolerant bacteria had strong correlations with sediment basal respiration activity. FUNGuild analysis indicated that animal pathogen abundances in sediment were greatly increased by acidification, while plant pathogens were unaffected. High-throughput quantitative PCR-based SmartChip analysis suggested that the nutrient cycling-related multifunctionality of sediments was reduced under acidified conditions. Most functional genes associated with nutrient cycling were identified in bacterial communities and their relative abundances were decreased by acidification. These new findings highlight that acidification in estuarine regions affects bacterial and fungal communities differently, increases potential pathogens and disrupts bacteria-mediated nutrient cycling.

Continue reading ‘Bacterial communities are more sensitive to ocean acidification than fungal communities in estuarine sediments’

Risk assessment for key socio-economic and ecological species in a sub-arctic marine ecosystem under combined ocean acidification and warming

The Arctic may be particularly vulnerable to the consequences of both ocean acidification (OA) and global warming, given the faster pace of warming and acidification. Here, we use the Atlantis ecosystem model to assess how the trophic network of marine fishes and invertebrates in the Icelandic waters is responding to the combined pressures of OA and warming. We develop an approach which allows us to focus on species of economic (catch-value), social (number of participants in fisheries), or ecological (keystone species) importance. We parameterize the model with literature-determined ranges of sensitivity to OA and warming for different species and functional groups in the Icelandic waters. We found divergent species responses to warming and acidification levels; (mainly) planktonic groups and forage fish benefited while (mainly) benthic groups and predatory fish decreased under warming and acidification scenarios. Assuming conservative harvest rates for the largest catch-value species, Atlantic cod, we see that the population is projected to remain stable under even the harshest acidification and warming scenario. Further, for the scenarios where the model projects reductions in biomass of Atlantic cod, other species in the ecosystem increase, likely due to a reduction in competition and predation. These results highlight the interdependencies of multiple global change drivers and their cascading effects on trophic organization, and the supply of an important species from a socio-economic perspective in the Icelandic fisheries.

Continue reading ‘Risk assessment for key socio-economic and ecological species in a sub-arctic marine ecosystem under combined ocean acidification and warming’

The combined effects of increased pCO2 and warming on a coastal phytoplankton assemblage: from species composition to sinking rate

In addition to ocean acidification, a significant recent warming trend in Chinese coastal waters has received much attention. However, studies of the combined effects of warming and acidification on natural coastal phytoplankton assemblages here are scarce. We conducted a continuous incubation experiment with a natural spring phytoplankton assemblage collected from the Bohai Sea near Tianjin. Experimental treatments used a full factorial combination of temperature (7 and 11°C) and pCO2 (400 and 800 ppm) treatments. Results suggest that changes in pCO2 and temperature had both individual and interactive effects on phytoplankton species composition and elemental stoichiometry. Warming mainly favored the accumulation of picoplankton and dinoflagellate biomass. Increased pCO2 significantly increased particulate organic carbon to particulate organic phosphorus (C:P) and particulate organic carbon to biogenic silica (C:BSi) ratios, and decreased total diatom abundance; in the meanwhile, higher pCO2 significantly increased the ratio of centric to pennate diatom abundance. Warming and increased pCO2 both greatly decreased the proportion of diatoms to dinoflagellates. The highest chlorophyll a biomass was observed in the high pCO2, high temperature phytoplankton assemblage, which also had the slowest sinking rate of all treatments. Overall, there were significant interactive effects of increased pCO2 and warming on dinoflagellate abundance, pennate diatom abundance, diatom vs. dinoflagellates ratio and the centric vs. pennate ratio. These findings suggest that future ocean acidification and warming trends may individually and cumulatively affect coastal biogeochemistry and carbon fluxes through shifts in phytoplankton species composition and sinking rates.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of increased pCO2 and warming on a coastal phytoplankton assemblage: from species composition to sinking rate’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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