Posts Tagged 'communitycomposition'

Effects of ocean acidification on Antarctic microbial communities

Antarctic waters are amongst the most vulnerable in the world to ocean acidification due to their cold temperatures, naturally low levels of calcium carbonate and upwelling that brings deep CO2-rich waters to the surface. A meta-analysis demonstrated groups of Antarctic marine biota in waters south of 60!S have a range of tolerances to ocean acidification. Invertebrates and phytoplankton showed negative effects above 500 μatm and 1000 μatm CO2 respectively, while bacteria appear tolerant to elevated CO2. Phytoplankton studied as part of a natural microbial community were found to be more
sensitive than those studied as a single species in culture. This highlights the importance of community and ecosystem level studies, which incorporate the interaction and competition among species and trophic levels, to accurately assess the effects of ocean acidification on the Antarctic ecosystem.

Antarctic marine microbes (comprising phytoplankton, protozoa and bacteria) drive ocean productivity, nutrient cycling and mediate trophodynamics and the biological pump. While they appear vulnerable to changes in ocean chemistry, little is known about the nature and magnitude of their responses to ocean acidification, especially for natural communities. To address this lack of information, a six level, dose-response ocean acidification experiment was conducted in Prydz Bay, East Antarctica, using 650 L incubation tanks (minicosms). The minicosms were filled with Antarctic nearshore water and adjusted to a gradient of carbon dioxide (CO2) from 343 to 1641 μatm. Microscopy
and phylogenetic marker gene sequence analysis found the microbial community
composition altered at CO2 levels above approximately 1000 μatm. The CO2-
induced responses of microeukaryotes (>20 μm) and nanoeukaryotes (2 to 20 μm) were taxon-specific. For diatoms the response of taxa was related to cell size with micro-sized diatoms (>20 μm) increasing in abundance with moderate CO2 (506 to 634 μatm), while above this level their abundance declined. In contrast, nano-size diatoms (<20 μm) tolerated elevated CO2. Like large diatoms, Phaeocystis antarctica increased in abundance between 343 to 634 μatm CO2 but fell at higher levels. 18S and 16S rDNA sequencing showed that picoeukaryotic and prokaryotic composition was unaffected by CO2, despite having higher abundances at CO2 levels !634 μatm. This was likely due to the lower abundance of heterotrophic nanoflagellates at CO2 levels exceeding 953 μatm, which reduced the top-down control of their pico- and nanoplanktonic prey. As a result of the differences in the tolerance of individual taxa/size categories, CO2 caused a
significant change in the microbial community structure to one dominated by nano-sized diatoms, picoeukaryotes and prokaryotes.

Based on the CO2-induced changes in the microbial community, modelling was performed to investigate the future effects of different levels of elevated CO2 on the structure and function of microbial communities in Antarctic coastal systems. These models indicate CO2 levels predicted toward the end of the century under a “business as usual scenario” elicit changes in microbial composition, significantly altering trophodynamic pathways, reducing energy transfer to higher trophic levels and favouring respiration of carbon within the microbial loop. Such responses would alter elemental cycles, jeopardise the productivity that underpins the wealth and diversity of life for which Antarctica is renowned. In addition, it would reduce carbon sequestration in coastal Antarctic waters thereby having a positive feedback on global climate change.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on Antarctic microbial communities’

Energetic context determines species and community responses to ocean acidification

Physiological responses to ocean acidification are thought to be related to energetic trade‐offs. Although a number of studies have proposed that negative responses to low pH could be minimized in situations where food resources are more readily available, evidence for such effects on individuals remain mixed, and the consequences of such effects at the community level remain untested. We explored the potential for food availability and diet quality to modify the effects of acidification on developing marine fouling communities in field‐deployed mesocosms by supplementing natural food supply with one of two species of phytoplankton, differing in concentration of fatty acids. After twelve weeks, no species demonstrated the interactive effects generally predicted in the literature, where a positive overall effect of diet mitigated the negative overall effects of acidification. Rather, for some species, additional food supply appeared to bring out or exacerbate the negative effects of low pH. Community richness and structure were only altered by acidification, while space occupation and evenness reflected patterns of the most dominant species. Importantly, we find that acidification stress can increase the relative abundance of invasive species, even under resource conditions that otherwise prevented invasive species establishment. Overall, the proposed hypothesis regarding the ability for food addition to mitigate the negative effects of acidification is thus far not widely supported at species or community levels. It is clear that acidification is a strong driving force in these communities but understanding underlying energetic and competitive context is essential to developing mechanistic predictions for climate change responses.

Continue reading ‘Energetic context determines species and community responses to ocean acidification’

Fabriciidae (Annelida, Sabellida) from a naturally acidified coastal system (Italy) with description of two new species

Polychaete worms are known to thrive in extreme environmental conditions, however little is known about how polychaete species will respond to major climatic stressors, such as ocean acidification. Here, we examined the distribution of Fabriciidae (Annelida, Sabellida) species along a gradient of ocean acidification, caused by carbon dioxide (CO2) vent emissions in a shallow, coastal system off the island of Ischia (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy). A total of 265 specimens of Fabriciidae, representing six species from five genera, were collected along the gradient. Most of the species were found across the entire CO2 gradient, suggesting polychaetes may have a high tolerance for ocean acidification in the future. Two of the species were new to science, and two of the genera were previously unrecorded in the Mediterranean. A full description of the new species Brifacia aragonensis sp. nov. andParafabricia mazzellae sp. nov. is given, both of which were most abundant in the most acidified areas (pH 6.6–7.2). The geographical distribution and ecology of the new taxa, as well as of the other fabriciid species collected, is discussed. Taxonomic keys to identify the Fabriciidae species currently recorded in the Mediterranean Sea are also provided.

Continue reading ‘Fabriciidae (Annelida, Sabellida) from a naturally acidified coastal system (Italy) with description of two new species’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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