Posts Tagged 'community composition'

Response of phytoplankton assemblages from naturally acidic coastal ecosystems to elevated pCO2

The interplay of coastal oceanographic processes usually results in partial pressures of CO2 (pCO2) higher than expected from the equilibrium with the atmosphere and even higher than those expected by the end of the century. Although this is a well-known situation, the natural variability of seawater chemistry at the locations from which tested organisms or communities originate is seldom considered in ocean acidification experiments. In this work, we aimed to evaluate the role of the carbonate chemistry dynamics in shaping the response of coastal phytoplankton communities to increased pCO2 levels. The study was conducted at two coastal ecosystems off Chile, the Valdivia River estuary and the coastal upwelling ecosystem in the Arauco Gulf. We characterized the seasonal variability (winter/summer) of the hydrographic conditions, the carbonate system parameters, and the phytoplankton community structure at both sites. The results showed that carbonate chemistry dynamics in the estuary were mainly related to seasonal changes in freshwater discharges, with acidic and corrosive conditions dominating in winter. In the Arauco Gulf, these conditions were observed in summer, mainly associated with the upwelling of cold and high pCO2 (>1,000 μatm) waters. Diatoms dominated the phytoplankton communities at both sites, yet the one in Valdivia was more diverse. Only certain phytoplankton groups in this latter ecosystem showed a significant correlations with the carbonate system parameters. When the impact of elevated pCO2 levels was investigated by pCO2 manipulation experiments, we did not observe any significant effect on the biomass of either of the two communities. Changes in the phytoplankton species composition and abundance during the incubations were related to other factors, such as competition and growth phases. Our findings highlight the importance of the natural variability of coastal ecosystems and the potential for local adaptation in determining responses of coastal phytoplankton communities to increased pCO2 levels.

Continue reading ‘Response of phytoplankton assemblages from naturally acidic coastal ecosystems to elevated pCO2’

Changes in biofilm bacterial communities in response to combined effects of hypoxia, ocean acidification and nutrients from aquaculture activity in Three Fathoms Cove


•Combined occurrence of hypoxia, acidification and nutrients increased biofilm bacterial diversity and richness

•Elevated nutrients, and depleted oxygen and pH levels resulted in different bacterial community composition

•Higher abundance of Flavobacteriales, Epsilonproteobacteria and Vibrionales, but less Oceanospirillales and Alteromonadales

•Suggests the identities of bacterial groups affected under the ocean trend of pollution, deoxygenation and acidification


Anthropogenic nutrient enrichment results in hypoxia, ocean acidification and elevated nutrients (HOAN) in coastal environments throughout the world. Here, we examined the composition of biofilm bacterial communities from a nutrient-excessive fish farm with low dissolved oxygen (DO) and pH levels using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. HOAN was accompanied by higher bacterial diversity and richness, and resulted in an altered community composition than the control site. HOAN resulted in more Flavobacteriales, Rhizobiales, Epsilonproteobacteria and Vibrionales, but less Oceanospirillales and Alteromonadales. Photobacterium sp. and Vibrio sp. were mostly found to be exclusive to HOAN conditions, suggesting that HOAN could possibly proliferate the presence of these potential pathogens. Our study suggests the complexity of bacterial communities to hypoxia and acidification in response to increased nutrient loads, along with identities of nutrient, oxygen and pH-susceptible bacterial groups that are most likely affected under this ocean trend.

Continue reading ‘Changes in biofilm bacterial communities in response to combined effects of hypoxia, ocean acidification and nutrients from aquaculture activity in Three Fathoms Cove’

Porewater carbonate chemistry dynamics in a temperate and a subtropical seagrass system

Seagrass systems are integral components of both local and global carbon cycles and can substantially modify seawater biogeochemistry, which has ecological ramifications. However, the influence of seagrass on porewater biogeochemistry has not been fully described, and the exact role of this marine macrophyte and associated microbial communities in the modification of porewater chemistry remains equivocal. In the present study, carbonate chemistry in the water column and porewater was investigated over diel timescales in contrasting, tidally influenced seagrass systems in Southern California and Bermuda, including vegetated (Zostera marina) and unvegetated biomes (0–16 cm) in Mission Bay, San Diego, USA and a vegetated system (Thallasia testudinium) in Mangrove Bay, Ferry Reach, Bermuda. In Mission Bay, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA) exhibited strong increasing gradients with sediment depth. Vertical porewater profiles differed between the sites, with almost twice as high concentrations of DIC and TA observed in the vegetated compared to the unvegetated sediments. In Mangrove Bay, both the range and vertical profiles of porewater carbonate parameters such as DIC and TA were much lower and, in contrast to Mission Bay where no distinct temporal signal was observed, biogeochemical parameters followed the semi-diurnal tidal signal in the water column. The observed differences between the study sites most likely reflect a differential influence of biological (biomass, detritus and infauna) and physical processes (e.g., sediment permeability, residence time and mixing) on porewater carbonate chemistry in the different settings.

Continue reading ‘Porewater carbonate chemistry dynamics in a temperate and a subtropical seagrass system’

Pacific-wide pH snapshots reveal that high coral cover correlates with low, but variable pH

Ocean acidification (OA) is impairing the construction of coral reefs while simultaneously accelerating their breakdown. The metabolism of different reef organism assemblages alters seawater pH in different ways, possibly buffering or exacerbating OA impacts. In spite of this, field data relating benthic community structure and seawater pH are sparse. We collected pH time-series data snapshots at 10 m depth from 28 different reefs (n = 13 lagoon, n = 15 fore reef) across 22 Pacific islands, spanning 31° latitude and 90° longitude. Coincident with all deployments, we measured percent cover of the benthic community. On fore reefs, high coral cover (CC) negatively correlated with mean and minimum pH, but positively correlated with pH variability. Conversely, pH minima were positively correlated to coverage of coralline and turf algae. Benthic cover did not correlate with pH in lagoonal reefs. From 0%–100% CC, mean pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag ) declined −0.081 and −0.51, respectively, while declines in minimum values were greater (Δmin pH = −0.164, Δmin Ωarag = −0.96). Based upon previously published relationships, the mean pH decline from 0%–100% CC would depress coral calcification 7.7%–18.0% and increase biologically-mediated dissolution 13.5%–27.9%, with pH minima depressing dark coral calcification 14.4%–35.2% and increasing biologically-mediated dissolution 31.0%–62.2%. This spatially expansive dataset provides evidence that coral reefs with the highest coral cover may experience the lowest and most extreme pH values with OA.

Continue reading ‘Pacific-wide pH snapshots reveal that high coral cover correlates with low, but variable pH’

Metabolic responses of subtropical microplankton after a simulated deep-water upwelling event suggest a possible dominance of mixotrophy under increasing CO2 levels

In the autumn of 2014, nine large mesocosms were deployed in the oligotrophic subtropical North-Atlantic coastal waters off Gran Canaria (Spain). Their deployment was designed to address the acidification effects of CO2 levels from 400 to 1,400 μatm, on a plankton community experiencing upwelling of nutrient-rich deep water. Among other parameters, chlorophyll a (chl-a), potential respiration (Φ), and biomass in terms of particulate protein (B) were measured in the microplankton community (0.7–50.0 μm) during an oligotrophic phase (Phase I), a phytoplankton-bloom phase (Phase II), and a post-bloom phase (Phase III). Here, we explore the use of the Φ/chl-a ratio in monitoring shifts in the microplankton community composition and its metabolism. Φ/chl-a values below 2.5 μL O2 h−1 (μg chl-a)−1 indicated a community dominated by photoautotrophs. When Φ/chl-a ranged higher, between 2.5 and 7.0 μL O2 h−1 (μg chl-a)−1, it indicated a mixed community of phytoplankton, microzooplankton and heterotrophic prokaryotes. When Φ/chl-a rose above 7.0 μL O2 h−1 (μg chl-a)−1, it indicated a community where microzooplankton proliferated (>10.0 μL O2 h−1 (μg chl-a)−1), because heterotrophic dinoflagellates bloomed. The first derivative of B, as a function of time (dB/dt), indicates the rate of protein build-up when positive and the rate of protein loss, when negative. It revealed that the maximum increase in particulate protein (biomass) occurred between 1 and 2 days before the chl-a peak. A day after this peak, the trough revealed the maximum net biomass loss. This analysis did not detect significant changes in particulate protein, neither in Phase I nor in Phase III. Integral analysis of Φ, chl-a and B, over the duration of each phase, for each mesocosm, reflected a positive relationship between Φ and pCO2 during Phase II [α = 230·10−5 μL O2 h−1 L−1 (μatm CO2)−1 (phase-day)−1, R2 = 0.30] and between chl-a and pCO2 during Phase III [α = 100·10−5 μg chl-a L−1 (μ atmCO2)−1 (phase-day)−1, R2 = 0.84]. At the end of Phase II, a harmful algal species (HAS), Vicicitus globosus, bloomed in the high pCO2 mesocosms. In these mesocosms, microzooplankton did not proliferate, and chl-a retention time in the water column increased. In these V. globosus-disrupted communities, the Φ/chl-a ratio [4.1 ± 1.5 μL O2 h−1 (μg chl-a)−1] was more similar to the Φ/chl-a ratio in a mixed plankton community than to a photoautotroph-dominated one.

Continue reading ‘Metabolic responses of subtropical microplankton after a simulated deep-water upwelling event suggest a possible dominance of mixotrophy under increasing CO2 levels’

Characterizing biogeochemical fluctuations in a world of extremes: A synthesis for temperate intertidal habitats in the face of global change

Coastal and intertidal habitats are at the forefront of anthropogenic influence and environmental change. The species occupying these habitats are adapted to a world of extremes, which may render them robust to the changing climate or more vulnerable if they are at their physiological limits. We characterized the diurnal, seasonal and interannual patterns of flux in biogeochemistry across an intertidal gradient on a temperate sandstone platform in eastern Australia over 6 years (2009–2015) and present a synthesis of our current understanding of this habitat in context with global change. We used rock pools as natural mesocosms to determine biogeochemistry dynamics and patterns of eco‐stress experienced by resident biota. In situ measurements and discrete water samples were collected night and day during neap low tide events to capture diurnal biogeochemistry cycles. Calculation of pHT using total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) revealed that the mid‐intertidal habitat exhibited the greatest flux over the years (pHT 7.52–8.87), and over a single tidal cycle (1.11 pHT units), while the low‐intertidal (pHT 7.82–8.30) and subtidal (pHT 7.87–8.30) were less variable. Temperature flux was also greatest in the mid‐intertidal (8.0–34.5°C) and over a single tidal event (14°C range), as typical of temperate rocky shores. Mean TA and DIC increased at night and decreased during the day, with the most extreme conditions measured in the mid‐intertidal owing to prolonged emersion periods. Temporal sampling revealed that net ecosystem calcification and production were highest during the day and lowest at night, particularly in the mid‐intertidal. Characterization of biogeochemical fluctuations in a world of extremes demonstrates the variable conditions that intertidal biota routinely experience and highlight potential microhabitat‐specific vulnerabilities and climate change refugia.

Continue reading ‘Characterizing biogeochemical fluctuations in a world of extremes: A synthesis for temperate intertidal habitats in the face of global change’

Subtle bacterioplankton community responses to elevated CO2 and warming in the oligotrophic South Pacific gyre

Bacterioplankton play a critical role in primary production, carbon cycling, and nutrient cycling in the oligotrophic ocean. To investigate the effect of elevated CO2 and warming on the composition and function of bacterioplankton communities in oligotrophic waters, we performed two trace‐metal clean deck board incubation experiments during the New Zealand GEOTRACES transect of the South Pacific gyre (SPG). High‐throughput amplicon sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene revealed that bacterioplankton community composition was distinct between the fringe and ultra‐oligotrophic centre of the SPG and changed consistently in response to elevated CO2 at the ultra‐oligotrophic centre but not at the mesotrophic fringe of the SPG. The combined effects of elevated CO2 and warming resulted in a high degree of heterogeneity between replicate communities. Community‐level protein synthesis rates (3H‐Leucine incorporation) and bacterioplankton abundance were not affected by elevated CO2 alone or in combination with warming at the fringe or ultra‐oligotrophic centre of the SPG. These data suggest bacterioplankton community responses to elevated CO2 may be modulated by nutrient regimes in open ocean ecosystems and highlight the need for further investigation in expanding oligotrophic subtropical gyres.

Continue reading ‘Subtle bacterioplankton community responses to elevated CO2 and warming in the oligotrophic South Pacific gyre’

Can we project changes in fish abundance and distribution in response to climate?

Large‐scale and long‐term changes in fish abundance and distribution in response to climate change have been simulated using both statistical and process‐based models. However, national and regional fisheries management requires also shorter term projections on smaller spatial scales, and these need to be validated against fisheries data. A 26‐year time series of fish surveys with high spatial resolution in the North‐East Atlantic provides a unique opportunity to assess the ability of models to correctly simulate the changes in fish distribution and abundance that occurred in response to climate variability and change. We use a dynamic bioclimate envelope model forced by physical–biogeochemical output from eight ocean models to simulate changes in fish abundance and distribution at scales down to a spatial resolution of 0.5°. When comparing with these simulations with annual fish survey data, we found the largest differences at the 0.5° scale. Differences between fishery model runs driven by different biogeochemical models decrease dramatically when results are aggregated to larger scales (e.g. the whole North Sea), to total catches rather than individual species or when the ensemble mean instead of individual simulations are used. Recent improvements in the fidelity of biogeochemical models translate into lower error rates in the fisheries simulations. However, predictions based on different biogeochemical models are often more similar to each other than they are to the survey data, except for some pelagic species. We conclude that model results can be used to guide fisheries management at larger spatial scales, but more caution is needed at smaller scales.

Continue reading ‘Can we project changes in fish abundance and distribution in response to climate?’

High CO2 and warming affect microzooplankton food web dynamics in a Baltic Sea summer plankton community

Aquatic ecosystems face a multitude of environmental stressors, including warming and acidification. While warming is expected to have a pronounced effect on plankton communities, many components of the plankton seem fairly robust towards realistic end-of-century acidification conditions. However, interactions of the two stressors and the inclusion of further factors such as nutrient concentration and trophic interactions are expected to change this outcome. We investigated the effects of warming and high CO2 on a nutrient-deplete late summer plankton community from the Kiel Fjord, Baltic Sea, using a mesocosm setup crossing two temperatures with a gradient of CO2. Phytoplankton and microzooplankton (MZP) growth rates as well as biomass, taxonomic composition, and grazing rates of MZP were analysed. We observed effects of high CO2, warming, and their interactions on all measured parameters. The occurrence and direction of the effects were dependent on the phytoplankton or MZP community composition. In addition, the abundance of small-sized phytoplankton was identified as one of the most important factors in shaping the MZP community composition. Overall, our results indicate that an estuarine MZP community used to strong natural fluctuations in CO2 can still be affected by a moderate increase in CO2 if it occurs in combination with warming and during a nutrient-deplete post-bloom situation. This highlights the importance of including trophic interactions and seasonality aspects when assessing climate change effects on marine zooplankton communities.

Continue reading ‘High CO2 and warming affect microzooplankton food web dynamics in a Baltic Sea summer plankton community’

Short-term responses to ocean acidification: effects on relative abundance of eukaryotic plankton from the tropical Timor Sea

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions drive climate change and pose one of the major challenges of our century. The effects of increased CO2 in the form of ocean acidification (OA) on the communities of marine planktonic eukaryotes in tropical regions such as the Timor Sea are barely understood. Here, we show the effects of high CO2 (pCO2=1823±161 μatm, pHT=7.46±0.05) versus in situ CO2 (pCO2=504±42 μatm, pHT=7.95±0.04) seawater on the community composition of marine planktonic eukaryotes immediately and after 48 hours of treatment exposure in a shipboard microcosm experiment. Illumina sequencing of the V9 hypervariable region of 18S rRNA (gene) was used to study the eukaryotic community composition. Down-regulation of extracellular carbonic anhydrase occurred faster in the high CO2 treatment. Increased CO2 significantly suppressed the relative abundances of eukaryotic operational taxonomic units (OTUs), including important primary producers. These effects were consistent between abundant (DNA-based) and active (cDNA-based) taxa after 48 hours, e.g., for the diatoms Trieres chinensis and Stephanopyxis turris. Effects were also very species-specific among the different diatoms. The microbial eukaryotes showed adaptation to the CO2 treatment over time, but many OTUs were adversely affected by decreasing pH. OA effects might fundamentally impact the base of marine biodiversity, suggesting unpredictable outcomes for food web functioning in the future ocean.

Continue reading ‘Short-term responses to ocean acidification: effects on relative abundance of eukaryotic plankton from the tropical Timor Sea’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book