Posts Tagged 'community composition'

Variability in sediment-water carbonate chemistry and bivalve abundance after bivalve settlement in Long Island Sound, Milford, Connecticut


  • Total bivalve community composition influenced by grain size, pH, alkalinity, and date
  • Short term drivers of bivalve community settlement influenced by carbonate chemistry parameters
  • Different bivalve species respond to different carbonate chemistry cues for settlement.


Cues that drive bivalve settlement and abundance in sediments are not well understood, but recent reports suggest that sediment carbonate chemistry may influence bivalve abundance. In 2013, we conducted field experiments to assess the relationship between porewater sediment carbonate chemistry (pH, alkalinity (At), dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC)), grain size, and bivalve abundance throughout the July–September settlement period at two sites in Long Island Sound (LIS), CT. Two dominate bivalves species were present during the study period Mya arenaria and Nucula spp. Akaike’s linear information criterion models, indicated 29% of the total community abundance was predicted by grain size, salinity, and pH. When using 2 weeks of data during the period of peak bivalve settlement, pH and phosphate concentrations accounted 44% of total bivalve community composition and 71% of Nucula spp. abundance with pH, phosphate, and silica. These results suggest that sediment carbonate chemistry may influence bivalve abundance in LIS.

Continue reading ‘Variability in sediment-water carbonate chemistry and bivalve abundance after bivalve settlement in Long Island Sound, Milford, Connecticut’

Impact of carbonate saturation on large Caribbean benthic foraminifera assemblages

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and its dissolution in seawater have reduced ocean pH and carbonate ion concentration with potential implications to calcifying organisms. To assess the response of Caribbean benthic foraminifera to low carbonate saturation conditions, we analyzed benthic foraminifera abundance and relative distribution in proximity to low carbonate saturation submarine springs and at adjacent control sites. Our results show that the total abundance of benthic foraminifera is significantly lower at the low pH low calcite saturation submarine springs than at control sites, despite higher concentrations of inorganic carbon at the spring sites. The relative abundance of symbiont-bearing foraminifera and agglutinated foraminifera was higher at the low pH low calcite saturation submarine springs compared to control sites. These differences indicate that non-symbiont bearing heterotrophic calcareous foraminifera are more sensitive to the effects of ocean acidification than non-calcifying and symbiont bearing foraminifera, suggesting that future ocean acidification may impact natural benthic foraminifera populations.

Continue reading ‘Impact of carbonate saturation on large Caribbean benthic foraminifera assemblages’

Coccolithophore community response along a natural CO2 gradient off Methana (SW Saronikos Gulf, Greece, NE Mediterranean)

A natural pH gradient caused by marine CO2 seeps off the Methana peninsula (Saronikos Gulf, eastern Peloponnese peninsula) was used as a natural laboratory to assess potential effects of ocean acidification on coccolithophores. Coccolithophore communities were therefore investigated in plankton samples collected during September 2011, September 2016 and March 2017. The recorded cell concentrations were up to ~50 x103 cells/l, with a high Shannon index of up to 2.8, along a pH gradient from 7.61 to 8.18, with values being occasionally <7. Numerous holococcolithophore species represented 60–90% of the surface water assemblages in most samples during September samplings. Emiliania huxleyi was present only in low relative abundances in September samples, but it dominated in March assemblages. Neither malformed nor corroded coccolithophores were documented. Changes in the community structure can possibly be related to increased temperatures, while the overall trend associates low pH values with high cell densities. Our preliminary results indicate that in long-termed acidified, warm and stratified conditions, the study of the total coccolithophore assemblage may prove useful to recognize the intercommunity variability, which favors the increment of lightly calcified species such as holococcolithophores.

Continue reading ‘Coccolithophore community response along a natural CO2 gradient off Methana (SW Saronikos Gulf, Greece, NE Mediterranean)’

Geographical CO2 sensitivity of phytoplankton correlates with ocean buffer capacity

Accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 is significantly altering ocean chemistry. A range of biological impacts resulting from this oceanic CO2 accumulation are emerging, however, the mechanisms responsible for observed differential susceptibility between organisms and across environmental settings remain obscure. A primary consequence of increased oceanic CO2 uptake is a decrease in the carbonate system buffer capacity, which characterizes the system’s chemical resilience to changes in CO2, generating the potential for enhanced variability in pCO2 and the concentration of carbonate [urn:x-wiley:13541013:media:gcb14324:gcb14324-math-0001], bicarbonate [urn:x-wiley:13541013:media:gcb14324:gcb14324-math-0002], and protons [H+] in the future ocean. We conducted a meta‐analysis of 17 shipboard manipulation experiments performed across three distinct geographical regions that encompassed a wide range of environmental conditions from European temperate seas to Arctic and Southern oceans. These data demonstrated a correlation between the magnitude of natural phytoplankton community biological responses to short‐term CO2 changes and variability in the local buffer capacity across ocean basin scales. Specifically, short‐term suppression of small phytoplankton (<10 μm) net growth rates were consistently observed under enhanced pCO2within experiments performed in regions with higher ambient buffer capacity. The results further highlight the relevance of phytoplankton cell size for the impacts of enhanced pCO2 in both the modern and future ocean. Specifically, cell size‐related acclimation and adaptation to regional environmental variability, as characterized by buffer capacity, likely influences interactions between primary producers and carbonate chemistry over a range of spatio‐temporal scales.

Continue reading ‘Geographical CO2 sensitivity of phytoplankton correlates with ocean buffer capacity’

Baltic Sea diazotrophic cyanobacterium is negatively affected by acidification and warming

Nitrogen fixation is a key source of nitrogen in the Baltic Sea which counteracts nitrogen loss processes in the deep anoxic basins. Laboratory and field studies have indicated that single-strain nitrogen-fixing (diazotrophic) cyanobacteria from the Baltic Sea are sensitive to ocean acidification and warming, 2 drivers of marked future change in the marine environment. Here, we enclosed a natural plankton community in 12 indoor mesocosms (volume ~1400 l) and manipulated partial pressure of carbon dioxide ( pCO2) in seawater to yield 6 CO2 treatments with 2 different temperature treatments (16.6°C and 22.4°C, pCO2 range = 360-2030 µatm). We followed the filamentous, heterocystous diazotrophic cyanobacteria community (Nostocales, primarily Nodularia spumigena) over 4 wk. Our results indicate that heterocystous diazotrophic cyanobacteria may become less competitive in natural plankton communities under ocean acidification. Elevated CO2 had a negative impact on Nodularia sp. biomass, which was exacerbated by warming. Our results imply that Nodularia sp. may contribute less to new nitrogen inputs in the Baltic Sea in the future.

Continue reading ‘Baltic Sea diazotrophic cyanobacterium is negatively affected by acidification and warming’

High CO2 under nutrient fertilization increases primary production and biomass in subtropical phytoplankton communities: a mesocosm approach

The subtropical oceans are home to one of the largest ecosystems on Earth, contributing to nearly one third of global oceanic primary production. Ocean warming leads to enhanced stratification in the oligotrophic ocean but also intensification in cross-shore wind gradients and thus in eddy kinetic energy across eastern boundary regions of the subtropical gyres. Phytoplankton thriving in a future warmer oligotrophic subtropical ocean with enhanced COlevels could therefore be patchily fertilized by increased mesoscale and submesoscale variability inducing nutrient pumping into the surface ocean. Under this premise, we have tested the response of three size classes (0.2–2, 2–20, and >20 μm) of subtropical phytoplankton communities in terms of primary production, chlorophyll and cell biomass, to increasing COconcentrations and nutrient fertilization during an in situ mesocosm experiment in oligotrophic waters off of the island of Gran Canaria. We found no significant CO2-related effect on primary production and biomass under oligotrophic conditions (phase I). In contrast, primary production, chlorophyll and biomass displayed a significant and pronounced increase under elevated CO2 conditions in all groups after nutrient fertilization, both during the bloom (phase II) and post-bloom (phase III) conditions. Although the relative increase of primary production in picophytoplankton (250%) was 2.5 higher than in microphytoplankton (100%) after nutrient fertilization, comparing the high and low CO2 treatments, microphytoplankton dominated in terms of biomass, contributing >57% to the total. These results contrast with similar studies conducted in temperate and cold waters, where consistently small phytoplankton benefitted after nutrient additions at high CO2, pointing to different CO2-sensitivities across plankton communities and ecosystem types in the ocean.

Continue reading ‘High CO2 under nutrient fertilization increases primary production and biomass in subtropical phytoplankton communities: a mesocosm approach’

A three-dimensional niche comparison of Emiliania huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa oceanica: reconciling observations with projections (update)

Coccolithophore responses to changes in carbonate chemistry speciation such as CO2 and H+ are highly modulated by light intensity and temperature. Here, we fit an analytical equation, accounting for simultaneous changes in carbonate chemistry speciation, light and temperature, to published and original data for Emiliania huxleyi, and compare the projections with those for Gephyrocapsa oceanica. Based on our analysis, the two most common bloom-forming species in present-day coccolithophore communities appear to be adapted for a similar fundamental light niche but slightly different ones for temperature and CO2, with E. huxleyi having a tolerance to lower temperatures and higher CO2 levels than G. oceanica. Based on growth rates, a dominance of E. huxleyi over G. oceanica is projected below temperatures of 22 °C at current atmospheric CO2 levels. This is similar to a global surface sediment compilation of E. huxleyi and G. oceanica coccolith abundances suggesting temperature-dependent dominance shifts. For a future Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 climate change scenario (1000 µatm fCO2), we project a CO2 driven niche contraction for G. oceanica to regions of even higher temperatures. However, the greater sensitivity of G. oceanica to increasing CO2 is partially mitigated by increasing temperatures. Finally, we compare satellite-derived particulate inorganic carbon estimates in the surface ocean with a recently proposed metric for potential coccolithophore success on the community level, i.e. the temperature-, light- and carbonate-chemistry-dependent CaCO3 production potential (CCPP). Based on E. huxleyi alone, as there was interestingly a better correlation than when in combination with G. oceanica, and excluding the Antarctic province from the analysis, we found a good correlation between CCPP and satellite-derived particulate inorganic carbon (PIC) with an R2 of 0.73, p < 0.01 and a slope of 1.03 for austral winter/boreal summer and an R2 of 0.85, p < 0.01 and a slope of 0.32 for austral summer/boreal winter.

Continue reading ‘A three-dimensional niche comparison of Emiliania huxleyi and Gephyrocapsa oceanica: reconciling observations with projections (update)’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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