Posts Tagged 'communitymodeling'

Multiple stressors and the functioning of coral reefs

Coral reefs provide critical services to coastal communities, and these services rely on ecosystem functions threatened by stressors. By summarizing the threats to the functioning of reefs from fishing, climate change, and decreasing water quality, we highlight that these stressors have multiple, conflicting effects on functionally similar groups of species and their interactions, and that the overall effects are often uncertain because of a lack of data or variability among taxa. The direct effects of stressors on links among functional groups, such as predator-prey interactions, are particularly uncertain. Using qualitative modeling, we demonstrate that this uncertainty of stressor impacts on functional groups (whether they are positive, negative, or neutral) can have significant effects on models of ecosystem stability, and reducing uncertainty is vital for understanding changes to reef functioning. This review also provides guidance for future models of reef functioning, which should include interactions among functional groups and the cumulative effect of stressors.

Continue reading ‘Multiple stressors and the functioning of coral reefs’

Exposure history determines pteropod vulnerability to ocean acidification along the US West Coast

The pteropod Limacina helicina frequently experiences seasonal exposure to corrosive conditions (Ωar  < 1) along the US West Coast and is recognized as one of the species most susceptible to ocean acidification (OA). Yet, little is known about their capacity to acclimatize to such conditions. We collected pteropods in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) that differed in the severity of exposure to Ωar conditions in the natural environment. Combining field observations, high-CO2 perturbation experiment results, and retrospective ocean transport simulations, we investigated biological responses based on histories of magnitude and duration of exposure to Ωar < 1. Our results suggest that both exposure magnitude and duration affect pteropod responses in the natural environment. However, observed declines in calcification performance and survival probability under high CO2 experimental conditions do not show acclimatization capacity or physiological tolerance related to history of exposure to corrosive conditions. Pteropods from the coastal CCE appear to be at or near the limit of their physiological capacity, and consequently, are already at extinction risk under projected acceleration of OA over the next 30 years. Our results demonstrate that Ωar exposure history largely determines pteropod response to experimental conditions and is essential to the interpretation of biological observations and experimental results.

Continue reading ‘Exposure history determines pteropod vulnerability to ocean acidification along the US West Coast’

Size-dependent response of foraminiferal calcification to seawater carbonate chemistry (update)

The response of the marine carbon cycle to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be determined, in part, by the relative response of calcifying and non-calcifying organisms to global change. Planktonic foraminifera are responsible for a quarter or more of global carbonate production, therefore understanding the sensitivity of calcification in these organisms to environmental change is critical. Despite this, there remains little consensus as to whether, or to what extent, chemical and physical factors affect foraminiferal calcification. To address this, we directly test the effect of multiple controls on calcification in culture experiments and core-top measurements of Globigerinoides ruber. We find that two factors, body size and the carbonate system, strongly influence calcification intensity in life, but that exposure to corrosive bottom waters can overprint this signal post mortem. Using a simple model for the addition of calcite through ontogeny, we show that variable body size between and within datasets could complicate studies that examine environmental controls on foraminiferal shell weight. In addition, we suggest that size could ultimately play a role in determining whether calcification will increase or decrease with acidification. Our models highlight that knowledge of the specific morphological and physiological mechanisms driving ontogenetic change in calcification in different species will be critical in predicting the response of foraminiferal calcification to future change in atmospheric pCO2.

Continue reading ‘Size-dependent response of foraminiferal calcification to seawater carbonate chemistry (update)’

Potential sources of variability in mesocosm experiments on the response of phytoplankton to ocean acidification (update)

Mesocosm experiments on phytoplankton dynamics under high CO2 concentrations mimic the response of marine primary producers to future ocean acidification. However, potential acidification effects can be hindered by the high standard deviation typically found in the replicates of the same CO2 treatment level. In experiments with multiple unresolved factors and a sub-optimal number of replicates, post-processing statistical inference tools might fail to detect an effect that is present. We propose that in such cases, data-based model analyses might be suitable tools to unearth potential responses to the treatment and identify the uncertainties that could produce the observed variability. As test cases, we used data from two independent mesocosm experiments. Both experiments showed high standard deviations and, according to statistical inference tools, biomass appeared insensitive to changing CO2 conditions. Conversely, our simulations showed earlier and more intense phytoplankton blooms in modeled replicates at high CO2 concentrations and suggested that uncertainties in average cell size, phytoplankton biomass losses, and initial nutrient concentration potentially outweigh acidification effects by triggering strong variability during the bloom phase. We also estimated the thresholds below which uncertainties do not escalate to high variability. This information might help in designing future mesocosm experiments and interpreting controversial results on the effect of acidification or other pressures on ecosystem functions.

Continue reading ‘Potential sources of variability in mesocosm experiments on the response of phytoplankton to ocean acidification (update)’

Risks of ocean acidification in the California Current food web and fisheries: ecosystem model projections

The benefits and ecosystem services that humans derive from the oceans are threatened by numerous global change stressors, one of which is ocean acidification. Here, we describe the effects of ocean acidification on an upwelling system that already experiences inherently low pH conditions, the California Current. We used an end-to-end ecosystem model (Atlantis), forced by downscaled global climate models and informed by a meta-analysis of the pH sensitivities of local taxa, to investigate the direct and indirect effects of future pH on biomass and fisheries revenues. Our model projects a 0.2-unit drop in pH during the summer upwelling season from 2013 to 2063, which results in wide-ranging magnitudes of effects across guilds and functional groups. The most dramatic direct effects of future pH may be expected on epibenthic invertebrates (crabs, shrimps, benthic grazers, benthic detritivores, bivalves), and strong indirect effects expected on some demersal fish, sharks, and epibenthic invertebrates (Dungeness crab) because they consume species known to be sensitive to changing pH. The model’s pelagic community, including marine mammals and seabirds, was much less influenced by future pH. Some functional groups were less affected to changing pH in the model than might be expected from experimental studies in the empirical literature due to high population productivity (e.g., copepods, pteropods). Model results suggest strong effects of reduced pH on nearshore state-managed invertebrate fisheries, but modest effects on the groundfish fishery because individual groundfish species exhibited diverse responses to changing pH. Our results provide a set of projections that generally support and build upon previous findings and set the stage for hypotheses to guide future modeling and experimental analysis on the effects of OA on marine ecosystems and fisheries.

Continue reading ‘Risks of ocean acidification in the California Current food web and fisheries: ecosystem model projections’

Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification

Climate change, including ocean acidification (OA), represents a major threat to coral-reef ecosystems. Although previous experiments have shown that OA can negatively affect the fitness of reef corals, these have not included the long-term effects of competition for space on coral growth rates. Our multispecies year-long study subjected reef-building corals from the Gulf of Aqaba (Red Sea) to competitive interactions under present-day ocean pH (pH 8.1) and predicted end-of-century ocean pH (pH 7.6). Results showed coral growth is significantly impeded by OA under intraspecific competition for five out of six study species. Reduced growth from OA, however, is negligible when growth is already suppressed in the presence of interspecific competition. Using a spatial competition model, our analysis indicates shifts in the competitive hierarchy and a decrease in overall coral cover under lowered pH. Collectively, our case study demonstrates how modified competitive performance under increasing OA will in all likelihood change the composition, structure and functionality of reef coral communities.

Continue reading ‘Spatial competition dynamics between reef corals under ocean acidification’

Assessing the effects of ocean acidification in the Northeast US using an end-to-end marine ecosystem model

The effects of ocean acidification on living marine resources present serious challenges for managers of these resources. An understanding of the ecosystem consequences of ocean acidification is required to assess tradeoffs among ecosystem components (e.g. fishery yield, protected species conservation, sensitive habitat) and adaptations to this perturbation. We used a marine ecosystem model for the Northeast US continental shelf to address direct and indirect effects of species responses to ocean acidification. Focusing on upper trophic level groups that are primary targets of fishing activity, we projected changes for systemic ecological and fisheries indicators. We modeled effects of ocean acidification as either fixed changes in mortality rate or production for select species groups over twenty years. Biomass and fishery yield of species groups that were modeled to have direct acidification impacts and groups that were not directly impacted both declined, due to both increased mortality/decreased growth and a decrease in availability of food for groups that prey on shelled invertebrates. Our analyses show that food web consequences of ocean acidification can extend beyond groups thought most vulnerable, and to fishery yield and ecosystem structure. However, the magnitude and precise nature of ocean acidification effects depend on understanding likely species’ responses to decrease in pH. While predicting the effects of ocean acidification is difficult, the potential impacts on ecosystem structure and function need to be evaluated now to provide scientists and managers preliminary assessments for planning and priority setting. Scenario analysis using simulation models like ours provides a framework for testing hypotheses about ecosystem consequences of acidification, and for integrating results of experiments and monitoring.

Continue reading ‘Assessing the effects of ocean acidification in the Northeast US using an end-to-end marine ecosystem model’


Subscribe to the RSS feed

Powered by FeedBurner

Follow AnneMarin on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 1,018,757 hits

OA-ICC HIGHLIGHTS

Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book