Posts Tagged 'dissolution'

The dissolution behavior of biogenic calcites in seawater and a possible role for magnesium and organic carbon

We present the dissolution kinetics of mixed planktic foraminifera, the benthic foraminifera Amphistegina, the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi, and the soft coral Rhythismia fulvum in seawater. Dissolution rates were measured across a large range of saturation states (Ω = 0.99–0.2) by dissolving 13C-labeled calcites in natural seawater undersaturated with respect to calcite. 13C-label was incorporated into biogenic calcite by culturing marine calcifiers in 13C-labeled natural seawater. Net dissolution rates were calculated as the slope of seawater δ13C versus time in a closed seawater-calcite system. All calcites show distinct, nonlinear, dependencies on seawater saturation state when normalized by mass or by specific surface area. For example, coccolith calcite dissolves at a similar rate to inorganic calcite near equilibrium when normalized by surface area, but dissolves much more slowly far from equilibrium. Mass loss from foraminiferal tests is correlated with a decrease in Mg/Ca of the solid, indicating that Mg-rich phases are preferentially leached out at even mild undersaturations. Dissolution also appears to strongly affect test B/Ca. Finally, we provide an interpretation of surface area-normalized biogenic calcite dissolution rates as a function of their Mg and organic carbon content. Near-equilibrium dissolution rates of all calcites measured here show a strong, nonlinear dependence on Mg content. Far-from-equilibrium dissolution rates decrease strongly as a function of organic carbon content. These results help to build a framework for understanding the underlying mechanisms of rate differences between biogenic calcites, and bear important implications for the dissolution of high-Mg calcites in view of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘The dissolution behavior of biogenic calcites in seawater and a possible role for magnesium and organic carbon’

A kinetic pressure effect on calcite dissolution in seawater

This study provides laboratory data of calcite dissolution rate as a function of seawater undersaturation state (1 − Ω ) under variable pressure. 13C-labeled calcite was dissolved in unlabeled seawater and the evolving δ13C composition of the fluid was monitored over time to evaluate the dissolution rate. Results show that dissolution rates are enhanced by a factor of 2–4 at 700 dbar compared to dissolution at the same Ω under ambient pressure (10 dbar). This dissolution rate enhancement under pressure applies over an Ω range of 0.65–1 between 10 dbar and 700 dbar. Above 700 dbar (up to 2500 dbar), dissolution rates become independent of pressure. The observed enhancement is well beyond the uncertainty associated with the thermodynamic properties of calcite under pressure (partial molar volume ΔV), and thus should be interpreted as a kinetic pressure effect on calcite dissolution. Dissolution at ambient pressure and higher pressures yield non-linear dissolution kinetics, the pressure effect does not significantly change the reaction order n in Rate = k(1 −Ω )n, which is shown to vary from 3.1 ± 0.3 to 3.8 ± 0.5 from 10 dbar to 700 dbar over Ω  = 0.65–0.9. Furthermore, two different dissolution mechanisms are indicated by a discontinuity in the rate-undersaturation relationship, and seen at both ambient and higher pressures. The discontinuity, Ωcritical = 0.87 ± 0.05 and 0.90 ± 0.03 at 10 dbar and 1050 dbar respectively, are similar within error. The reaction order, n, at Ω  > 0.9 is 0.47 ± 0.27 and 0.46 ± 0.15 at 10 dbar and 700 dbar respectively. This Ωcritical is considered to be the threshold between step retreat dissolution and defect-assisted dissolution. The kinetic enhancement of dissolution rates at higher pressures is related to a decrease in the interfacial energy barrier at dissolution sites. The impact of pressure on the calcite dissolution kinetics implies that sinking particles would dissolve at shallower depths than previously thought.

Continue reading ‘A kinetic pressure effect on calcite dissolution in seawater’

Coralline algal skeletal mineralogy affects grazer impacts

In macroalgal‐dominated systems, herbivory is a major driver in controlling ecosystem structure. However, the role of altered plant–herbivore interactions and effects of changes to trophic control under global change are poorly understood. This is because both macroalgae and grazers themselves may be affected by global change, making changes in plant–herbivore interactions hard to predict. Coralline algae lay down a calcium carbonate skeleton, which serves as protection from grazing and is preserved in archival samples. Here, we compare grazing damage and intensity to coralline algae in situ over 4 decades characterized by changing seawater acidity. While grazing intensity, herbivore abundance and identity remained constant over time, grazing wound width increased together with Mg content of the skeleton and variability in its mineral organization. In one species, decreases in skeletal organization were found concurrent with deeper skeletal damage by grazers over time since the 1980s. Thus, in a future characterized by acidification, we suggest coralline algae may be more prone to grazing damage, mediated by effects of variability between individuals and species.

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Ocean acidification and molluscan shell taphonomy: can elevated seawater pCO2 influence taphonomy in a naticid predator–prey system?


• Tested for taphonomic effects of elevated pCO2 in a naticid predator-prey system
• High pCO2 induced greater shell dissolution rates, which differed across species
• Breakage force differed across species and drill hole category
• No pCO2 effect on shell breakage force
• Limited species-specific drill hole diameter increase under high pCO2


The size and frequency of gastropod drill holes in shells of their prey are common indicators of predator-prey ecology in the fossil record. Taphonomic processes occurring after predation, however, can influence the preservation of shells in a given fossil assemblage and can thus influence ecological inferences based on preserved shells. To determine if ocean acidification (OA) has the capacity to influence prey shell taphonomy in a gastropod drilling predation system, we tested for effects of elevated pCO2 on dissolution rates, breakage force, and drill hole diameters in non-fragmented shells of two prey species of the cannibalistic naticid gastropod, Euspira heros. Drilled and non-drilled shells of Littorina littorea and E. heros were exposed to control (~300 μatm) and elevated (~800 and 4000 μatm) pCO2 treatments for five weeks. Dry shell weight and drill hole diameter (outer and inner) were recorded for individual shells before and after exposure; the force required for shell breakage was recorded at the end of the exposure period. Shell mass loss in 800 and 4000 μatm, respectively, were ~1 and 7% for E. heros, and ~0 and 4% for L. littorea, compared to ~0% in the control for both species. Shell breakage force was unaffected by elevated pCO2, but was affected by species and drill hole presence, with E. heros shells requiring a force of ~220 and 269 Newtons in drilled and non-drilled shells, respectively, compared to ~294 and 415 Newtons in L. littorea. At 4000 μatm, outer drill hole diameter significantly increased by ~12% for E. heros, while inner drill hole diameter significantly increased by ~13% in E. heros and ~10% in L. littorea. Ultimately, this study provides the first documentation of molluscan shell taphonomy in the context of OA for a gastropod drilling predation system and sets the stage for future research.


Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and molluscan shell taphonomy: can elevated seawater pCO2 influence taphonomy in a naticid predator–prey system?’

Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the diversity and the functioning of macroalgal communities (full thesis in French)

Predicted ocean acidification and warming for the end of the century may have drastic consequences on the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. However, a lack of knowledge persists on the impact of future changes on the response of marine communities. This thesis aims to provide new understanding of the impact of ocean acidification and warming at the community level. For this, two ecosystems have been considered: rockpools, characterized by high physico-chemical variations, and maerl beds, with smaller variations. In the laboratory, artificial assemblages were created from the main calcareous and fleshy macroalgal and grazer species present in these two ecosystems. Created assemblages have been subjected to ambient and future temperature and pCO2 conditions. Ocean acidification and warming altered the structure and functioning of maerl bed assemblages, through an increase in the productivity of non-calcareous macroalgae and a decline in maërl calcification rates. The physiology of grazers is negatively impacted by future changes, which altered assemblages’ trophic structure. On the other hand, ocean acidification and warming had no effect on the productivity of rockpool assemblages. The highly variable environment may thus increase the resistance of rockpool communities to future changes, compared to communities from more stable environments, such as maerl beds.

Continue reading ‘Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the diversity and the functioning of macroalgal communities (full thesis in French)’

High pCO2 levels affect metabolic rate, but not feeding behavior and fitness, of farmed giant mussel Choromytilus chorus

Benthic habitats such as intertidal areas, sandy or rocky shores, upwelling zones, and estuaries are characterized by variable environmental conditions. This high variability of environmental stressors such as temperature, salinity, and pH/ pCO2 levels have been shown to impose restrictions on organismal performance. The giant mussel Choromytilus chorus forms intertidal and subtidal mussel beds in estuarine zones associated with fjords occurring in southern Chile and is an important aquacultural resource in Patagonia. In this study, we estimated the sensitivity of physiological traits and energy balance of C. chorus juveniles exposed to 3 pCO2 treatments (500, 750, and 1200 µatm) for 30 d. Results showed that in acidified, high pCO2 conditions, C. chorus juveniles had increased metabolic rates; however, other physiological traits (clearance and ingestion rates, ammonia excretion, absorption efficiency, growth rate, biomass production, net calcification, and dissolution rates) were not affected. These results suggest that when subjected to acidification, the adaptive response of C. chorus triggers tradeoffs among physiological traits that favor sustained feeding and growth in order to combat increased metabolic stress. As has been reported for other marine organisms, chronic exposure to variable pH/ pCO2 in their native habitats, such as estuarine zones, could explain the differential acclimatization capacity of giant mussels to cope with the increase in pCO2. Additionally, the fact that the mussels did not suffer from mortality indicates that increased pCO2 levels may have chronic, but not lethal, effects on this species under these experimental conditions.

Continue reading ‘High pCO2 levels affect metabolic rate, but not feeding behavior and fitness, of farmed giant mussel Choromytilus chorus’

Nutrient pollution disrupts key ecosystem functions on coral reefs

There is a long history of examining the impacts of nutrient pollution and pH on coral reefs. However, little is known about how these two stressors interact and influence coral reef ecosystem functioning. Using a six-week nutrient addition experiment, we measured the impact of elevated nitrate (NO−3) and phosphate (PO3−4) on net community calcification (NCC) and net community production (NCP) rates of individual taxa and combined reef communities. Our study had four major outcomes: (i) NCC rates declined in response to nutrient addition in all substrate types, (ii) the mixed community switched from net calcification to net dissolution under medium and high nutrient conditions, (iii) nutrients augmented pH variability through modified photosynthesis and respiration rates, and (iv) nutrients disrupted the relationship between NCC and aragonite saturation state documented in ambient conditions. These results indicate that the negative effect of NO−3 and PO3−4 addition on reef calcification is likely both a direct physiological response to nutrients and also an indirect response to a shifting pH environment from altered NCP rates. Here, we show that nutrient pollution could make reefs more vulnerable to global changes associated with ocean acidification and accelerate the predicted shift from net accretion to net erosion.

Continue reading ‘Nutrient pollution disrupts key ecosystem functions on coral reefs’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book