Posts Tagged 'communityMF'

Interactive effects of ocean acidification with other environmental drivers on marine plankton

Planktonic organisms form the base of the marine food web and may be impacted by environmental change in many ways. The interactive effects of multiple, simultaneous climate-driven changes on these organisms are not well understood. This dissertation examined the impacts of ocean acidification in combination with other environmental stressors on marine plankton and determined spatial patterns of one of these potential interactive drivers. Chapter 2 investigated the synergistic effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia on the harmful dinoflagellate Amphidinium carterae. Findings indicated that empirical studies may be crucial to accurately predict organismal responses to multi-stressors. Results also suggested that photorespiration may serve a previously unrecognized role in dinoflagellate metabolism. Chapter 3 examined the combined effects of ocean acidification and lithogenic trace metals on the growth of another harmful dinoflagellate, Cochlodinium polykrikoides. Results indicated that high suspended sediment loads may deliver toxic concentrations of trace elements to marine phytoplankton in acidified coastal ecosystems. Chapter 4 examined the interactive effects of ocean acidification and bacteria on the severity and extent of dissolution in the shells of larval gastropods and the adult pteropod Limacina helicina. Research findings indicated that microbial communities on the shell surfaces of some planktonic molluscs may mediate certain types of shell dissolution in acidified, upwelled waters. Chapter 5 explored the use of thorium isotope fluxes as a proxy for dust and lithogenic iron in the Indian Ocean. Results suggested that the gradient of dust fluxes in the region could impose thresholds for biological productivity. Together, these interdisciplinary studies demonstrate coupled biological and chemical changes in marine ecosystems as a result of increased anthropogenic environmental change.

Continue reading ‘Interactive effects of ocean acidification with other environmental drivers on marine plankton’

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

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 6 of 7 experiments, exposure to elevated pCO2 levels (~ 1,700 µatm) resulted in depressed shell- and/or tissue-based growth rates of bivalves compared to control conditions (p < 0.05) whereas rates were significantly higher in the presence of Ulva in all experiments (p < 0.05). In many cases, the co-exposure 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 (p < 0.05). Saturation states for calcium carbonate (Ω) were significantly higher in the presence of Ulva under both ambient and elevated CO2 delivery rates (p < 0.05). 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’

Competitive interactions moderate the effects of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 on the health and functioning of oysters

Global increases in sea temperatures and atmospheric concentrations of CO2 may affect the health of calcifying shellfish. Little is known, however, about how competitive interactions within and between species may influence how species respond to multiple stressors. We experimentally assessed separate and combined effects of temperature (12 or 16°C) and atmospheric CO2 concentrations (400 and 1000 ppm) on the health and biological functioning of native (Ostrea edulis) and invasive (Crassostrea gigas) oysters held alone and in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. We found evidence of reduced phagocytosis under elevated CO2 and, when combined with increased temperature, a reduction in the number of circulating haemocytes. Generally, C. gigas showed lower respiration rates relative to O. edulis when the species were in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. In contrast, O. edulis showed a higher respiration rate relative to C. gigas when held in an interspecific mixture and exhibited lower clearance rates when held in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. Overall, clearance rates of C. gigas were consistently greater than those of O. edulis. Collectively, our findings indicate that a species’ ability to adapt metabolic processes to environmental conditions can be modified by biotic context and may make some species (here, C. gigas) competitively superior and less vulnerable to future climatic scenarios at local scales. If these conclusions are generic, the relative role of species interactions, and other biotic parameters, in altering the outcomes of climate change will require much greater research emphasis.

Continue reading ‘Competitive interactions moderate the effects of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 on the health and functioning of oysters’

Divergent responses in growth and nutritional quality of coastal macroalgae to the combination of increased pCO2 and nutrients


  • Growth rates and tissue quality of two common macroalgal species were assessed under conditions of high pCO2 and nutrient loading under monoculture and biculture.
  • Ephemeral macroalgae exhibited significant increases in growth under high pCO2 and high nutrients.
  • Growth rates of perennial macroalgae were unaffected by environmental treatments.
  • Tissue quality of both species increased via decreases in C:N when nutrients were increased.
  • Biculture appears to impact resource acquisition of perennial macroalgae as evidence of higher tissue C:N when compared to monoculture tissue.


Coastal ecosystems are subjected to global and local environmental stressors, including increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) (and subsequent ocean acidification) and nutrient loading. Here, we tested how two common macroalgal species in the Northwest Atlantic (Ulva spp. and Fucus vesiculosus Linneaus) respond to the combination of increased CO2 and nutrient loading. We utilized two levels of pCO2 with two levels of nutrients in a full factorial design, testing the growth rates and tissue quality of Ulva and Fucus grown for 21 days in monoculture and biculture. We found that the opportunistic, fast-growing Ulva exhibited increased growth rates under high pCO2 and high nutrients, with growth rates increasing three-fold above Ulva grown in ambient pCO2 and ambient nutrients. By contrast, Fucus growth rates were not impacted by either environmental factor. Both species exhibited a decline in carbon to nitrogen ratios (C:N) with elevated nutrients, but pCO2 concentration did not alter tissue quality in either species. Species grown in biculture exhibited similar growth rates to those in monoculture conditions, but Fucus C:N increased significantly when grown with Ulva, indicating an effect of the presence of Ulva on Fucus. Our results suggest that the combination of ocean acidification and nutrients will enhance abundance of opportunistic algal species in coastal systems and will likely drive macroalgal community shifts, based on species-specific responses to future conditions.

Continue reading ‘Divergent responses in growth and nutritional quality of coastal macroalgae to the combination of increased pCO2 and nutrients’

Ocean acidification alters zooplankton communities and increases top-down pressure of a cubozoan predator

The composition of local ecological communities is determined by the members of the regional community that are able to survive the abiotic and biotic conditions of a local ecosystem. Anthropogenic activities since the industrial revolution have increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which have in turn decreased ocean pH and altered carbonate ion concentrations: so called ocean acidification (OA). Single-species experiments have shown how OA can dramatically affect zooplankton development, physiology and skeletal mineralization status, potentially reducing their defensive function and altering their predatory and antipredatory behaviors. This means that increased OA may indirectly alter the biotic conditions by modifying trophic interactions. We investigated how OA affects the impact of a cubozoan predator on their zooplankton prey, predominantly Copepoda, Pleocyemata, Dendrobranchiata, and Amphipoda. Experimental conditions were set at either current (pCO2 370 μatm) or end-of-the-century OA (pCO2 1,100 μatm) scenarios, crossed in an orthogonal experimental design with the presence/absence of the cubozoan predator Carybdea rastoni. The combined effects of exposure to OA and predation by C. rastoni caused greater shifts in community structure, and greater reductions in the abundance of key taxa than would be predicted from combining the effect of each stressor in isolation. Specifically, we show that in the combined presence of OA and a cubozoan predator, populations of the most abundant member of the zooplankton community (calanoid copepods) were reduced 27% more than it would be predicted based on the effects of these stressors in isolation, suggesting that OA increases the susceptibility of plankton to predation. Our results indicate that the ecological consequences of OA may be greater than predicted from single-species experiments, and highlight the need to understand future marine global change from a community perspective.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification alters zooplankton communities and increases top-down pressure of a cubozoan predator’

The organizing effects of elevated CO2 on competition among estuarine primary producers

Fossil fuel combustion, eutrophication, and upwelling introduce excess CO2 into coastal zones. The extent to which marine autotrophs may benefit from elevated CO2 will be a function of their carbon limitation and, among other factors, competition with other primary producers. Here, we report on experiments performed with North Atlantic species of Ulva and Gracilaria grown in situ or exposed to ambient (~400 µatm) and elevated pCO2 (~2500 µatm) and/or subjected to competition with each other and/or with natural plankton assemblages. Elevated pCO2significantly increased the growth rates of Gracilaria and Ulva and yielded significant declines in tissue δ13C, suggesting that increased growth was associated with increased CO2 use relative to HCO3−. Gracilaria growth was unaffected by competition with plankton or Ulva, while Ulva experienced significantly reduced growth when competing with Gracilaria or plankton. Dinoflagellates experienced significantly increased growth when exposed to elevated pCO2 but significantly slower growth when competing with Gracilaria. Elevated carbon-to-nitrogen ratios among macroalgae suggested that competition for nitrogen also shaped interactions among autotrophs, particularly Ulva. While some estuarine autotrophs benefit from elevated pCO2, the benefit can change when direct competition with other primary producers is considered with Gracilaria outcompeting Ulva and dinoflagellates outcompeting diatoms under elevated pCO2.

Continue reading ‘The organizing effects of elevated CO2 on competition among estuarine primary producers’

Effects of ocean acidification and contact with the brown alga Stypopodium zonale on the settlement and early survival of the coral Porites astreoides

To evaluate the effects of ocean acidification (OA) and algal presence on the early life-history stages of corals, we conducted an aquarium study that examined the isolated and combined effects of reduced pH (pH 8.10 vs. 7.85) and contact with the alga Stypopodium zonale on the survival, settlement, and post-settlement growth of larvae from the brooding coral Porites astreoides. Two settlement substrates, biofilmed tiles and the crustose coralline alga (CCA) Hydrolithon boergesenii, were initially incubated for 12 d in separate tanks under a factorial combination of low pH and S. zonale contact, and then subjected to a series of settlement assays. Across both substrate types, S. zonale presence significantly reduced coral settlement. Low pH imposed relatively minor effects; however, there was a significant interaction between pH and S. zonale presence for settlement on the CCA substrate, such that low pH exacerbated the negative effects of S. zonale. Post-settlement growth for 2 wk was unaffected by either S. zonale presence or low pH on either substrate. While our results demonstrate that S. zonale contact likely remains a dominant threat to larval survival and settlement, in certain cases, OA may amplify the negative effects of S. zonale presence, highlighting the need to consider multiple factors in studies aimed at assessing the future health of coral reef ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification and contact with the brown alga Stypopodium zonale on the settlement and early survival of the coral Porites astreoides’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book