Posts Tagged 'communityMF'

Functional loss in herbivores drives runaway expansion of weedy algae in a near-future ocean


• Elevated CO2 and warming increased productivity of turf algae.

• Elevated CO2 increased per capita feeding rates of gastropods.

• Ocean warming reduced grazer diversity, density, and biomass.

• As a result, ocean warming drove a fourfold expansion of weedy algal species.


The ability of a community to absorb environmental change without undergoing structural modification is a hallmark of ecological resistance. The recognition that species interactions can stabilize community processes has led to the idea that the effects of climate change may be less than what most considerations currently allow. We tested whether herbivory can compensate for the expansion of weedy algae triggered by CO2 enrichment and warming. Using a six-month mesocosm experiment, we show that increasing per capita herbivory by gastropods absorbs the boosted effects of CO2 enrichment on algal production in temperate systems of weak to moderate herbivory. However, under the combined effects of acidification and warming this compensatory effect was eroded by reducing the diversity, density and biomass of herbivores. This loss of functionality combined with boosted primary productivity drove a fourfold expansion of weedy algal species. Our results demonstrate capacity to buffer ecosystems against CO2 enrichment, but loss of this capacity through ocean warming either in isolation or combined with CO2, driving significant algal turf expansion. Identifying compensatory processes and the circumstances under which they prevail could potentially help manage the impacts of ocean warming and acidification, which are further amplified by local disturbances such as habitat loss and herbivore over-exploitation.

Continue reading ‘Functional loss in herbivores drives runaway expansion of weedy algae in a near-future ocean’

The harmful algae, Cochlodinium polykrikoides and Aureococcus anophagefferens, elicit stronger transcriptomic and mortality response in larval bivalves (Argopecten irradians) than climate change stressors

Global ocean change threatens marine life, yet a mechanistic understanding of how organisms are affected by specific stressors is poorly understood. Here, we identify and compare the unique and common transcriptomic responses of an organism experiencing widespread fisheries declines, Argopecten irradians (bay scallop) exposed to multiple stressors including high pCO2, elevated temperature, and two species of harmful algae, Cochlodinium (aka Margalefidinium) polykrikoides and Aureococcus anophagefferens using high‐throughput sequencing (RNA‐seq). After 48 hr of exposure, scallop transcriptomes revealed distinct expression profiles with larvae exposed to harmful algae (C. polykrikoides and A. anophagefferens) displaying broader responses in terms of significantly and differentially expressed (DE) transcripts (44,922 and 4,973; respectively) than larvae exposed to low pH or elevated temperature (559 and 467; respectively). Patterns of expression between larvae exposed to each harmful algal treatment were, however, strikingly different with larvae exposed to A. anophagefferens displaying large, significant declines in the expression of transcripts (n = 3,615; 87% of DE transcripts) whereas exposure to C. polykrikoides increased the abundance of transcripts, more than all other treatments combined (n = 43,668; 97% of DE transcripts). Larvae exposed to each stressor up‐regulated a common set of 21 genes associated with protein synthesis, cellular metabolism, shell growth, and membrane transport. Larvae exposed to C. polykrikoides displayed large increases in antioxidant‐associated transcripts, whereas acidification‐exposed larvae increased abundance of transcripts associated with shell formation. After 10 days of exposure, each harmful algae caused declines in survival that were significantly greater than all other treatments. Collectively, this study reveals the common and unique transcriptional responses of bivalve larvae to stressors that promote population declines within coastal zones, providing insight into the means by which they promote mortality as well as traits possessed by bay scallops that enable potential resistance.

Continue reading ‘The harmful algae, Cochlodinium polykrikoides and Aureococcus anophagefferens, elicit stronger transcriptomic and mortality response in larval bivalves (Argopecten irradians) than climate change stressors’

Individual and population level effects of ocean acidification on a predator−prey system with inducible defenses: bryozoan−nudibranch interactions in the Salish Sea

Ocean acidification (OA) from in creased oceanic CO2 concentrations imposes significant physiological stresses on many calcifying organisms. OA effects on individual organisms may be synergistically amplified or reduced by inter- and intraspecies interactions as they propagate up to population and community
levels, altering predictions by studies of calcifier responses in isolation. The calcifying colonial bryozoan Membranipora membranacea and the predatory nudibranch Corambe steinbergae comprise a trophic system strongly regulated by predator induced defensive responses and space limitation, presenting a unique system to investigate OA effects on these regulatory mechanisms at individual and population levels. We experimentally quantified OA effects across a range of pH from 7.0 to 7.9 on growth, calcification, senescence and predator-induced spine formation in Membranipora, with or without waterborne predator cue, and on zooid consumption rates in Corambe at Friday Harbor Laboratories, San Juan Island, WA. Membranipora exhibited maximum growth and calcification at moderately low pH (7.6), and continued spine formation in all pH treatments.
Spines reduced Corambe zooid consumption rates, with lower pH weakening this effect. Using a spatially explicit model of colony growth, where colony area
serves as a proxy for colony fitness, we assessed the population-level impacts of these experimentally determined individual-level effects in the context of
space limitation. The area-based fitness costs associated with defense measured at the individual level led to amplified effects predicted for the population level due to competition. Our coupled experimental and modeling results demonstrate the need to consider population-level processes when assessing ecological responses to stresses from changing environments.

Continue reading ‘Individual and population level effects of ocean acidification on a predator−prey system with inducible defenses: bryozoan−nudibranch interactions in the Salish Sea’

The ability of macroalgae to mitigate the negative effects of ocean acidification on four species of North Atlantic bivalve (updated)

Coastal ecosystems can experience acidification via upwelling, eutrophication, riverine discharge, and climate change. While the resulting increases in pCO2 can have deleterious effects on calcifying animals, this change in carbonate chemistry may benefit some marine autotrophs. Here, we report on experiments performed with North Atlantic populations of hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria), eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica), bay scallops (Argopecten irradians), and blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) grown with and without North Atlantic populations of the green macroalgae, Ulva. In six of seven experiments, exposure to elevated pCO2 levels ( ∼ 1700µatm) resulted in depressed shell- and/or tissue-based growth rates of bivalves compared to control conditions, whereas rates were significantly higher in the presence of Ulva in all experiments. In many cases, the co-exposure to elevated pCO2 levels and Ulva had an antagonistic effect on bivalve growth rates whereby the presence of Ulva under elevated pCO2 levels significantly improved their performance compared to the acidification-only treatment. Saturation states for calcium carbonate (Ω) were significantly higher in the presence of Ulva under both ambient and elevated CO2 delivery rates, and growth rates of bivalves were significantly correlated with Ω in six of seven experiments. Collectively, the results suggest that photosynthesis and/or nitrate assimilation by Ulva increased alkalinity, fostering a carbonate chemistry regime more suitable for optimal growth of calcifying bivalves. This suggests that large natural and/or aquacultured collections of macroalgae in acidified environments could serve as a refuge for calcifying animals that may otherwise be negatively impacted by elevated pCO2 levels and depressed Ω.

Continue reading ‘The ability of macroalgae to mitigate the negative effects of ocean acidification on four species of North Atlantic bivalve (updated)’

Physiological and biochemical responses of a coralline alga and a sea urchin to climate change: Implications for herbivory


• Algal metabolism and phenolic content were unaffected by CO2 and temperature treatments.
• CaCO3 content of algae decreased in high CO2 treatments.
• Total sugar content of algae was affected by both CO2 and temperature.
• Sea urchin respiration and feeding increased under high CO2, low temperature.
• Direct effects to sea urchin metabolism drove feeding more than algal palatability.


Direct responses to rising temperatures and ocean acidification are increasingly well known for many single species, yet recent reviews have highlighted the need for climate change research to consider a broader range of species, how stressors may interact, and how stressors may affect species interactions. The latter point is important in the context of plant-herbivore interactions, as increasing evidence shows that increasing seawater temperature and/or acidification can alter algal traits that dictate their susceptibility to herbivores, and subsequently, community and ecosystem properties. To better understand how marine rocky shore environments will be affected by a changing ocean, in the present study we investigated the direct effects of short-term, co-occurring increased temperature and ocean acidification on a coralline alga (Jania rubens) and a sea urchin herbivore (Echinometra lucunter) and assessed the indirect effects of these factors on the algal-herbivore interaction. A 21-day mesocosm experiment was conducted with both algae and sea urchins exposed to ambient (24 °C, Low CO2), high-temperature (28 °C, Low CO2), acidified (24 °C, High CO2), or high-temperature plus acidified (28 °C, High CO2) conditions. Algal photosynthesis, respiration, and phenolic content were unaffected by increased temperature and CO2, but calcium carbonate content was reduced under high CO2 treatments in both temperatures, while total sugar content of the algae was reduced under acidified, lower temperature conditions. Metabolic rates of the sea urchin were elevated in the lower temperature, high CO2 treatment, and feeding assays showed that consumption rates also increased in this treatment. Despite some changes to algal chemical composition, it appears that at least under short-term exposure to climate change conditions, direct effects on herbivore metabolism dictated herbivory rates, while indirect effects caused by changes in algal palatability seemed to be of minor importance.

Continue reading ‘Physiological and biochemical responses of a coralline alga and a sea urchin to climate change: Implications for herbivory’

Comparative effects of seawater acidification on microalgae: Single and multispecies toxicity tests


• Different responses were observed depending on the species.
• In this work N. gaditana was the most sensitive species to low pH.
• Effects of competence among species were observed in the multispecies control (pH 8.0).
• Effects of competence were eclipsed by the CO2 effects on cultures exposed to pH 6.0.


In order to gain knowledge about the potential effects of acidification in aquatic ecosystems, global change research based on microalgae as sentinel species has been often developed. However, these studies are limited to single species tests and there is still a knowledge gap about the behaviour of microalgal communities under this environmental stressor. Thus, the aim of this study was to assess the negative effects of CO2 under an ecologically realistic scenario. To achieve this objective, two types of toxicity tests were developed; i) single toxicity tests and ii) multispecies toxicity tests, in order to evaluate the effects on each species as well as the interspecific competition. For this purpose, three microalgae species (Tetraselmis chuii, Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Nannochloropsis gaditana) were exposed to two selected pH levels (7.4, 6.0) and a control (pH 8.0). The pH values were choosen for testsing different scenarios of CO2 enrichment including the exchange atmosphere-ocean (pH 7.4) and natural or anthropogenic sources of CO2 (pH 6.0). The effects on growth, cell viability, oxidative stress, plus inherent cell properties (size, complexity and autofluorescence) were studied using flow cytometry (FCM). Results showed that T. chuii was the most resistant species to CO2 enrichment with less abrupt changes in terms of cell density, inherent cell properties, oxidative stress and cell viability. Although P. tricornutum was the dominant species in both single and multispecies tests, this species showed a higher decrease in cell density under pH 6.0. Effects of competence were recorded in the multispecies tests (pH 8, control) but this competence was eclipsed by the effects of low pH. The knowledge of biological interactions made by different microalgae species is a useful tool to extrapolate research data from laboratory to the field.

Continue reading ‘Comparative effects of seawater acidification on microalgae: Single and multispecies toxicity tests’

The bloom-forming macroalgae, Ulva, outcompetes the seagrass, Zostera marina, under high CO2 conditions

This study reports on experiments performed with a Northwest Atlantic species of the macroalgae, Ulva, and the seagrass, Zostera marina, grown under ambient and elevated levels of pCO2, and subjected to competition with each other. When grown individually, elevated pCO2 significantly increased growth rates and productivity of Ulva and Zostera, respectively, beyond control treatments (by threefold and 27%, respectively). For both primary producers, significant declines in tissue δ13C signatures suggested that increased growth and productivity were associated with a shift from use of HCO3 toward CO2 use. When grown under higher pCO2, Zostera experienced significant increases in leaf and rhizome carbon content as well as significant increases in leaf carbon-to-nitrogen ratios, while sediments within which high CO2 Zostera were grown had a significantly higher organic carbon content. When grown in the presence of Ulva; however, above- and below-ground productivity and tissue nitrogen content of Zostera were significantly lower, revealing an antagonistic interaction between elevated CO2 and the presence of Ulva. The presence of Zostera had no significant effect on the growth of Ulva. Collectively, this study demonstrates that while Ulva and Zostera can each individually benefit from elevated pCO2 levels, the ability of Ulva to grow more rapidly and inhibit seagrass productivity under elevated pCO2, coupled with accumulation of organic C in sediments, may offset the potential benefits for Zostera within high CO2 environments.

Continue reading ‘The bloom-forming macroalgae, Ulva, outcompetes the seagrass, Zostera marina, under high CO2 conditions’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book