Posts Tagged 'corals'

Understanding feedbacks between ocean acidification and coral reef metabolism

Biogeochemical feedbacks from benthic metabolism have been hypothesized as a potential mechanism to buffer some effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs. The article in JGR-Oceans by DeCarlo et al. demonstrates the importance of benthic community health on this feedback from Dongsha Atoll in the South China Sea.

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Climate-smart design for ecosystem management: a test application for coral reefs

The interactive and cumulative impacts of climate change on natural resources such as coral reefs present numerous challenges for conservation planning and management. Climate change adaptation is complex due to climate-stressor interactions across multiple spatial and temporal scales. This leaves decision makers worldwide faced with local, regional, and global-scale threats to ecosystem processes and services, occurring over time frames that require both near-term and long-term planning. Thus there is a need for structured approaches to adaptation planning that integrate existing methods for vulnerability assessment with design and evaluation of effective adaptation responses. The Corals and Climate Adaptation Planning project of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force seeks to develop guidance for improving coral reef management through tailored application of a climate-smart approach. This approach is based on principles from a recently-published guide which provides a framework for adopting forward-looking goals, based on assessing vulnerabilities to climate change and applying a structured process to design effective adaptation strategies. Work presented in this paper includes: (1) examination of the climate-smart management cycle as it relates to coral reefs; (2) a compilation of adaptation strategies for coral reefs drawn from a comprehensive review of the literature; (3) in-depth demonstration of climate-smart design for place-based crafting of robust adaptation actions; and (4) feedback from stakeholders on the perceived usefulness of the approach. We conclude with a discussion of lessons-learned on integrating climate-smart design into real-world management planning processes and a call from stakeholders for an “adaptation design tool” that is now under development.

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Twenty years of marine carbon cycle observations at Devils Hole Bermuda provide insights into seasonal hypoxia, coral reef calcification, and ocean acidification

Open–ocean observations have revealed gradual changes in seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) chemistry resulting from uptake of atmospheric CO2 and ocean acidification (OA), but, with few long–term records (>5 years) of the coastal ocean that can reveal the pace and direction of environmental change. In this paper, observations collected from 1996 to 2016 at Harrington Sound, Bermuda, constitute one of the longest time–series of coastal ocean inorganic carbon chemistry. Uniquely, such changes can be placed into the context of contemporaneous offshore changes observed at the nearby Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site. Onshore, surface dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2; >10% change per decade) have increased and OA indicators such as pH and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) saturation state (Ω) decreased from 1996 to 2016 at a rate of two to three times that observed offshore at BATS. Such changes, combined with reduction of total alkalinity over time, reveal a complex interplay of biogeochemical processes influencing Bermuda reef metabolism, including net ecosystem production (NEP = gross primary production–autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration) and net ecosystem calcification (NEC = gross calcification–gross CaCO3 dissolution). These long–term data show a seasonal shift between wintertime net heterotrophy and summertime net autotrophy for the entire Bermuda reef system. Over annual time-scales, the Bermuda reef system does not appear to be in trophic balance, but rather slightly net heterotrophic. In addition, the reef system is net accretive (i.e., gross calcification > gross CaCO3 dissolution), but there were occasional periods when the entire reef system appears to transiently shift to net dissolution. A previous 5–year study of the Bermuda reef suggested that net calcification and net heterotrophy have both increased. Over the past 20 years, rates of net calcification and net heterotrophy determined for the Bermuda reef system have increased by ~30%, most likely due to increased coral nutrition occurring in concert with increased offshore productivity in the surrounding subtropical North Atlantic Ocean. Importantly, this long–term study reveals that other environmental factors (such as coral feeding) can mitigate against the effects of ocean acidification on coral reef calcification, at least over the past couple of decades.

Continue reading ‘Twenty years of marine carbon cycle observations at Devils Hole Bermuda provide insights into seasonal hypoxia, coral reef calcification, and ocean acidification’

Variation in calcification rate of Acropora downingi relative to seasonal changes in environmental conditions in the northeastern Persian Gulf

There is a strong interest in understanding how coral calcification varies with changing environmental conditions, especially given the projected changes in temperature and aragonite saturation due to climate change. This study explores in situ variation in calcification rates of Acropora downingi in the northeastern Persian Gulf relative to seasonal changes in temperature, irradiance and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag). Calcification rates of A. downingi were highest in the spring and lowest in the winter, and intra-annual variation in calcification rate was significantly related to temperature (r2 = 0.30) and irradiance (r2 = 0.36), but not Ωarag (r2 = 0.02). Seasonal differences in temperature are obviously confounded by differences in other environmental conditions and vice versa. Therefore, we used published relationships from experimental studies to establish which environmental parameter(s) (temperature, irradiance, and/or Ωarag) placed greatest constraints on calcification rate (relative to the maximum spring rate) in each season. Variation in calcification rates was largely attributable to seasonal changes in irradiance and temperature (possibly ~57.4 and 39.7% respectively). Therefore, we predict that ocean warming may lead to increased rates of calcification during winter, but decelerate calcification during spring, fall and especially summer, resulting in net deceleration of calcification for A. downingi in the Persian Gulf.

Continue reading ‘Variation in calcification rate of Acropora downingi relative to seasonal changes in environmental conditions in the northeastern Persian Gulf’

Cell biology of reef-building corals: ion transport, acid/base regulation, and energy metabolism

Coral reefs are built by colonial cnidarians that establish a symbiotic relationship with dinoflagellate algae of the genus Symbiodinium. The processes of photosynthesis, calcification, and general metabolism require the transport of diverse ions across several cellular membranes and generate waste products that induce acid/base and oxidative stress. This chapter reviews the current knowledge on coral cell biology with a focus on ion transport and acid/base regulation while also discussing related aspects of coral energy metabolism.

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Exploring the mitochondrial response to oxidative DNA damage in octocorals (not peer-reviewed)

Mitochondrial response to oxidative stress is intricately related to cellular homeostasis due to the high susceptibility of the mitochondrial genome to oxidative damage. Octocoral mitogenomes possess a unique DNA repair gene, mtMutS, potentially capable of counteracting the effects of oxidative stress induced mtDNA damage. Despite this unique feature, the response of octocoral mitochondria to increased oxidative stress remains unexplored. Here we explore the response of the octocoral Sinularia cf. cruciata to elevated temperature and low-pH stress and its ability to reverse acute oxidative mtDNA damage caused by exogenous agents like hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). The differential transcriptional response to these climate change-related stresses was recorded for two mtDNA-encoded genes and three stress biomarkers. Only HSP70 was significantly upregulated during thermal stress whereas significant reduction in the expression levels of HSP70, GPX, and COI was observed along with an increased number of mtMutS transcripts during low-pH stress. Damage to mtDNA was evident, accompanied by changes in mtDNA copy number. Damage caused by H2O2 toxicity was reversed within 5 hours and initial mtDNA copy number apparently influenced damage reversal. Our results indicate that different stress-specific resilience strategies are used by this octocoral species and its mitochondria to reverse oxidative stress and associated mtDNA damage. These experiments provide the first account on the response of octocoral mitochondria with its unique gene repertoire among animals to different stressors and highlight its potential role in conferring resilience to the host cells during different climate change scenarios.

Continue reading ‘Exploring the mitochondrial response to oxidative DNA damage in octocorals (not peer-reviewed)’

Effects of ocean acidification on the potency of macroalgal allelopathy to a common coral

Many coral reefs have phase shifted from coral to macroalgal dominance. Ocean acidification (OA) due to elevated CO2 is hypothesised to advantage macroalgae over corals, contributing to these shifts, but the mechanisms affecting coral-macroalgal interactions under OA are unknown. Here, we show that (i) three common macroalgae are more damaging to a common coral when they compete under CO2 concentrations predicted to occur in 2050 and 2100 than under present-day conditions, (ii) that two macroalgae damage corals via allelopathy, and (iii) that one macroalga is allelopathic under conditions of elevated CO2, but not at ambient levels. Lipid-soluble, surface extracts from the macroalga Canistrocarpus (=Dictyota) cervicornis were significantly more damaging to the coral Acropora intermedia growing in the field if these extracts were from thalli grown under elevated vs ambient concentrations of CO2. Extracts from the macroalgae Chlorodesmis fastigiata and Amansia glomerata were not more potent when grown under elevated CO2. Our results demonstrate increasing OA advantages seaweeds over corals, that algal allelopathy can mediate coral-algal interactions, and that OA may enhance the allelopathy of some macroalgae. Other mechanisms also affect coral-macroalgal interactions under OA, and OA further suppresses the resilience of coral reefs suffering blooms of macroalgae.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on the potency of macroalgal allelopathy to a common coral’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book