Posts Tagged 'communitymodeling'

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’

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’

Ocean warming and acidification may drag down the commercial Arctic cod fishery by 2100

The Arctic Ocean is an early warning system for indicators and effects of climate change. We use a novel combination of experimental and time-series data on effects of ocean warming and acidification on the commercially important Northeast Arctic cod (Gadus morhua) to incorporate these physiological processes into the recruitment model of the fish population. By running an ecological-economic optimization model, we investigate how the interaction of ocean warming, acidification and fishing pressure affects the sustainability of the fishery in terms of ecological, economic, social and consumer-related indicators, ranging from present day conditions up to future climate change scenarios. We find that near-term climate change will benefit the fishery, but under likely future warming and acidification this large fishery is at risk of collapse by the end of the century, even with the best adaptation effort in terms of reduced fishing pressure.

Continue reading ‘Ocean warming and acidification may drag down the commercial Arctic cod fishery by 2100’

Ocean acidification and dynamic energy budget models: parameterisation and simulations for the green-lipped mussel


• A dynamic energy budget (DEB) model for the green-lipped mussel.

• Experiments at future projected pCO2/pH levels, simulating ocean acidification (OA).

• Higher respiration rates and less growth at elevated pCO2 (reduced pH).

• Key DEB parameters modified for OA scenarios projected for 2050 and 2100.

• DEB predicts reduced growth, biomass and reproductive capacity with OA.


Ocean acidification (OA), the change in ocean chemistry caused by carbon dioxide emissions, poses a serious imminent threat to marine organisms, especially those with calcium carbonate shells. The green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus), endemic to New Zealand, is common in coastal ecosystems and is an economically important aquaculture species. As a step towards supporting aquaculture management in a changing environment, we used a dynamic energy budget (DEB) model to investigate the potential influence of OA on growth and reproduction of the mussel. Zero-variate and growth data from local mussel farms were used to parameterise the model with the AmP method. The parameter estimation showed an acceptable goodness of fit, with a low mean relative error of 0.143 and the symmetric mean squared error of 0.125. The model was subsequently modified to estimate parameter values under OA conditions, based on data obtained from laboratory experiments where mussels were grown at future projected reduced pH (elevated pCO2) levels. The maintenance ([ṗM]) and volume-specific cost for growth ([EG]) were identified as the key parameters in response to OA. The model was then applied to simulate mussel energetics under pCO2 scenarios projected for 2050 and 2100. The model predicts that decreasing pH would cause reductions in shell length growth, flesh weight and reproductive capacity. As well as providing a quantitative tool for understanding the influence of OA on mussel physiology, this DEB model is also an important component of individual-based population and ecosystem models, enabling simulation of complex population and ecosystem level responses to OA.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and dynamic energy budget models: parameterisation and simulations for the green-lipped mussel’

The importance of environmental exposure history in forecasting Dungeness crab megalopae occurrence using J-SCOPE, a high-resolution model for the US Pacific Northwest

The Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) fishery is one of the highest value fisheries in the US Pacific Northwest, but its catch size fluctuates widely across years. Although the underlying causes of this wide variability are not well understood, the abundance of M. magister megalopae has been linked to recruitment into the adult fishery 4 years later. These pelagic megalopae are exposed to a range of ocean conditions during their dispersal period, which may drive their occurrence patterns. Environmental exposure history has been found to be important for some pelagic organisms, so we hypothesized that inclusion of recent environmental exposure history would improve our ability to predict inter-annual variability in M. magister megalopae occurrence patterns compared to using “in situ” conditions alone. We combined 8 years of local observations of M. magister megalopae and regional simulations of ocean conditions to model megalopae occurrence using a generalized linear model (GLM) framework. The modeled ocean conditions were extracted from JISAO’s Seasonal Coastal Ocean Prediction of the Ecosystem (J-SCOPE), a high-resolution coupled physical-biogeochemical model. The analysis included variables from J-SCOPE identified in the literature as important for larval crab occurrence: temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen concentration, nitrate concentration, phytoplankton concentration, pH, aragonite, and calcite saturation state. GLMs were developed with either in situ ocean conditions or environmental exposure histories generated using particle tracking experiments. We found that inclusion of exposure history improved the ability of the GLMs to predict megalopae occurrence 98% of the time. Of the six swimming behaviors used to simulate megalopae dispersal, five behaviors generated GLMs with superior fits to the observations, so a biological ensemble of these models was constructed. When the biological ensemble was used for forecasting, the model showed skill in predicting megalopae occurrence (AUC = 0.94). Our results highlight the importance of including exposure history in larval occurrence modeling and help provide a method for predicting pelagic megalopae occurrence. This work is a step toward developing a forecast product to support management of the fishery.

Continue reading ‘The importance of environmental exposure history in forecasting Dungeness crab megalopae occurrence using J-SCOPE, a high-resolution model for the US Pacific Northwest’

Model simulation of seasonal growth of Fucus vesiculosus in its benthic community

Numerical models are a suitable tool to quantify impacts of predicted climate change on complex ecosystems but are rarely used to study effects on benthic macroalgal communities. Fucus vesiculosus L. is a habitat‐forming macroalga in the Baltic Sea and alarming shifts from the perennial Fucus community to annual filamentous algae are reported. We developed a box model able to simulate the seasonal growth of the Baltic Fucus–grazer–epiphyte system. This required the implementation of two state variables for Fucus biomass in units of carbon (C) and nitrogen (N). Model equations describe relevant physiological and ecological processes, such as storage of C and N assimilates by Fucus, shading effects of epiphytes or grazing by herbivores on both Fucus and epiphytes, but with species‐specific rates and preferences. Parametrizations of the model equations and required initial conditions were based on measured parameters and process rates in the near‐natural Kiel Outdoor Benthocosm (KOB) experiments during the Biological Impacts of Ocean Acidification project. To validate the model, we compared simulation results with observations in the KOB experiment that lasted from April 2013 until March 2014 under ambient and climate‐change scenarios, that is, increased atmospheric temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide. The model reproduced the magnitude and seasonal cycles of Fucus growth and other processes in the KOBs over 1 yr under different scenarios. Now having established the Fucus model, it will be possible to better highlight the actual threat of climate change to the Fucus community in the shallow nearshore waters of the Baltic Sea.

Continue reading ‘Model simulation of seasonal growth of Fucus vesiculosus in its benthic community’

Clam feeding plasticity reduces herbivore vulnerability to ocean warming and acidification

Ocean warming and acidification affect species populations, but how interactions within communities are affected and how this translates into ecosystem functioning and resilience remain poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that experimental ocean warming and acidification significantly alters the interaction network among porewater nutrients, primary producers, herbivores and burrowing invertebrates in a seafloor sediment community, and is linked to behavioural plasticity in the clam Scrobicularia plana. Warming and acidification induced a shift in the clam’s feeding mode from predominantly suspension feeding under ambient conditions to deposit feeding with cascading effects on nutrient supply to primary producers. Surface-dwelling invertebrates were more tolerant to warming and acidification in the presence of S. plana, most probably due to the stimulatory effect of the clam on their microalgal food resources. This study demonstrates that predictions of population resilience to climate change require consideration of non-lethal effects such as behavioural changes of key species.

Continue reading ‘Clam feeding plasticity reduces herbivore vulnerability to ocean warming and acidification’

Climate shapes population variation in dogwhelk predation on foundational mussels

Trait variation among populations is important for shaping ecological dynamics. In marine intertidal systems, seawater temperature, low tide emersion temperature, and pH can drive variation in traits and affect species interactions. In western North America, Nucella dogwhelks are intertidal drilling predators of the habitat-forming mussel Mytilus californianus. Nucella exhibit local adaptation, but it is not known to what extent environmental factors and genetic structure contribute to variation in prey selectivity among populations. We surveyed drilled mussels at sites across Oregon and California, USA, and used multiple regression and Mantel tests to test the effects of abiotic factors and Nucella neutral genetic relatedness on the size of mussels drilled across sites. Our results show that Nucella at sites characterized by higher and less variable temperature and pH drilled larger mussels. Warmer temperatures appear to induce faster handling time, and more stable pH conditions may prolong opportunities for active foraging by reducing exposure to repeated stressful conditions. In contrast, there was no significant effect of genetic relatedness on prey size selectivity. Our results emphasize the role of climate in shaping marine predator selectivity on a foundation species. As coastal climates change, predator traits will respond to localized environmental conditions, changing ecological interactions.

Continue reading ‘Climate shapes population variation in dogwhelk predation on foundational mussels’

Potential socioeconomic impacts from ocean acidification and climate change effects on Atlantic Canadian fisheries

Ocean acidification is an emerging consequence of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. The full extent of the biological impacts are currently not entirely defined. However, it is expected that invertebrate species that rely on the mineral calcium carbonate will be directly affected. Despite the limited understanding of the full extent of potential impacts and responses there is a need to identify potential pathways for human societies to be affected by ocean acidification. Research on these social implications is a small but developing field. This research contributes to this field by using an impact assessment framework, informed by a biophysical model of future species distributions, to investigate potential impacts facing Atlantic Canadian society from potential changes in shellfish fisheries driven by ocean acidification and climate change. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are expected to see declines in resource accessibility but are relatively socially insulated from these changes. Conversely, Prince Edward Island, along with Newfoundland and Labrador are more socially vulnerable to potential losses in fisheries, but are expected to experience relatively minor net changes in access.

Continue reading ‘Potential socioeconomic impacts from ocean acidification and climate change effects on Atlantic Canadian fisheries’

Effects of coastal acidification on North Atlantic bivalves: interpreting laboratory responses in the context of in situ populations

Experimental exposure of early life stage bivalves has documented negative effects of elevated pCO2 on survival and growth, but the population consequences of these effects are unknown. We substituted laboratory responses into baseline population models of northern quahog Mercenaria mercenaria and bay scallop Argopecten irradians. The models were constructed using inverse demography with time series of size-structured field data from New York, USA, whereas the stress-response relationships were developed using data from published laboratory studies. We used stochastic projections and diffusion approximations of extinction probability to estimate cumulative risk of 50% population decline during 5 yr projections at pCO2 levels of 400, 800, and 1200 µatm. Although the A. irradians field population exhibited higher growth (12% yr-1) than the declining M. mercenaria population (-8% yr-1), cumulative risk was higher due to variance in the stochastic growth rate estimate (log λs = -0.02, σ2 = 0.24). This 5 yr risk increased from 56% at 400 µatm to 99 and >99% at 800 and 1200 µatm, respectively. For M. mercenaria (log λs = -0.09, σ2 = 0.01), 5 yr risk was 25, 79, and 97% at 400, 800, and 1200 µatm, respectively. These estimates could be improved with detailed consideration of harvest, disease, restocking, compensatory responses, and interactions between these and other effects. However, results clearly indicate that early life stage responses to plausible levels of pCO2 enrichment have the potential to cause significant increases in risk to these marine bivalve populations.

Continue reading ‘Effects of coastal acidification on North Atlantic bivalves: interpreting laboratory responses in the context of in situ populations’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book