Posts Tagged 'dissolution'

Thicker shells compensate extensive dissolution in brachiopods under future ocean acidification

Organisms with long generation times require phenotypic plasticity to survive in changing environments until genetic adaptation can be achieved. Marine calcifiers are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification due to dissolution and a reduction in shell-building carbonate ions. Long-term experiments assess organisms’ abilities to acclimatise or even adapt to environmental change. Here we present an unexpected compensatory response to extensive shell dissolution in a highly calcium-carbonate-dependent organism after long-term culture in predicted end-century acidification and warming conditions. Substantial shell dissolution with decreasing pH posed a threat to both a polar (Liothyrella uva) and a temperate (Calloria inconspicua) brachiopod after 7 months and 3 months exposure, respectively, with more extensive dissolution in the polar species. This impact was reflected in decreased outer primary layer thickness in the polar brachiopod. A compensatory response of increasing inner secondary layer thickness, and thereby producing a thicker shell was exhibited by the polar species. Less extensive dissolution in the temperate brachiopod did not affect shell thickness. Increased temperature did not impact shell dissolution or thickness. Brachiopod ability to produce a thicker shell when extensive shell dissolution occurs suggests this marine calcifier has great plasticity in calcification providing insights into how similar species might cope under future environmental change.

Continue reading ‘Thicker shells compensate extensive dissolution in brachiopods under future ocean acidification’

Ecological and physiological constraints of deep-sea corals in a changing environment

Deep-water or cold-water corals are abundant and highly diverse, greatly increase habitat heterogeneity and species richness, thereby forming one of the most significant ecosystems in the deep sea. Despite this remote location, they are not removed from the different anthropogenic disturbances that commonly impact their shallow-water counterparts. The global decrease in seawater pH due to increases in atmospheric CO2 are changing the chemical properties of the seawater, decreasing the concentration of carbonate ions that are important elements for different physiological and ecological processes. Predictive models forecast a shoaling of the carbonate saturation in the water column due to OA, and suggest that cold-water corals are at high risk, since large areas of suitable habitat will experience suboptimal conditions by the end of the century. The main objective of this study was to explore the fate of the deep-water coral community in time of environmental change. To better understand the impact of climate change this study focused in two of the most important elements of dee-sea coral habitat, the reef forming coral Lophelia pertusa and the octocoral community, particularly the gorgonian Callogorgia delta. By means of controlled experiments, I examined the effects of longand short-term exposures to seawater simulating future scenarios of ocean acidification on calcification and feeding efficiency. Finally In order to understand how the environment influences the community assembly, and ultimately how species cope with particular ecological filters, I integrated different aspects of biology such functional diversity and ecology into a more evolutionary context in the face of changing environment. My results suggest that I) deep-water corals responds negatively to future OA by lowering the calcification rates, II) not all individuals respond in the same way to OA with high intra-specific variability providing a potential for adaptation in the longterm III) there is a disruption in the balance between accretion and dissolution that in the long term can shift from net accretion to net dissolution, and IV) there is an evolutionary implication for certain morphological features in the coral community that can give an advantage under stresfull conditions. Nevertheless, the suboptimal conditions that deepwater corals will experience by the end of the century could potentially threaten their persistence, with potentially negative consequences for the future stability of this already fragile ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘Ecological and physiological constraints of deep-sea corals in a changing environment’

Ecological and physiological constraints of deep-sea corals in a changing environment

Deep-water or cold-water corals are abundant and highly diverse, greatly increase habitat heterogeneity and species richness, thereby forming one of the most significant ecosystems in the deep sea. Despite this remote location, they are not removed from the different anthropogenic disturbances that commonly impact their shallow-water counterparts. The global decrease in seawater pH due to increases in atmospheric CO2 are changing the chemical properties of the seawater, decreasing the concentration of carbonate ions that are important elements for different physiological and ecological processes. Predictive models forecast a shoaling of the carbonate saturation in the water column due to OA, and suggest that cold-water corals are at high risk, since large areas of suitable habitat will experience suboptimal conditions by the end of the century. The main objective of this study was to explore the fate of the deep-water coral community in time of environmental change. To better understand the impact of climate change this study focused in two of the most important elements of dee-sea coral habitat, the reef forming coral Lophelia pertusa and the octocoral community, particularly the gorgonian Callogorgia delta. By means of controlled experiments, I examined the effects of long and short-term exposures to seawater simulating future scenarios of ocean acidification on calcification and feeding efficiency. Finally In order to understand how the environment influences the community assembly, and ultimately how species cope with particular ecological filters, I integrated different aspects of biology such functional diversity and ecology into a more evolutionary context in the face of changing environment. My results suggest that I) deep-water corals responds negatively to future OA by lowering the calcification rates, II) not all individuals respond in the same way to OA with high intra-specific variability providing a potential for adaptation in the longterm III) there is a disruption in the balance between accretion and dissolution that in the long term can shift from net accretion to net dissolution, and IV) there is an evolutionary implication for certain morphological features in the coral community that can give an advantage under stresfull conditions. Nevertheless, the suboptimal conditions that deepwater corals will experience by the end of the century could potentially threaten their persistence, with potentially negative consequences for the future stability of this already fragile ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘Ecological and physiological constraints of deep-sea corals in a changing environment’

Evaluation of autonomously measured alkalinity, pH, and pCO2 variability on a coral reef

Currently, our understanding of alkalinity (AT) variability in highly dynamic
environments such as coral reefs is limited by the dearth of AT measurements. In order to better characterize these environments, high temporal resolution AT data are needed. This work employed the newly developed Submersible Autonomous Moored Instrument for Alkalinity (SAMI-alk), a fully autonomous in situ AT analyzer, to study seawater AT variability. The main goals of this research were to evaluate the utility of combining the SAMI-alk data with currently available in situ measurements of pH and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) to characterize the inorganic carbon cycle, and to measure AT variability and determine what drives it on a coral reef. Autonomous AT and pH sensors (SAMI-alk and SAMI-pH) were deployed along with existing pCO2 (MAPCO2) and pH (SeaFET) sensors in Kanoehe Bay, HI from June 4 – 21, 2013. The results show that the pH – AT combination can provide important information about autonomously measured in situ data quality, and that it can be used to fully characterize the inorganic CO2 system in seawater. The SAMI-alk data were also used to examine AT variability and thereby calcification rates on coral reefs in Kaneohe Bay. AT varied by more than 100 µmol kg-1 on a diel basis due to CaCO3 production and dissolution. Dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), calculated from the pH – AT sensor pair, varied by more than 200 µmol kg-1 , due primarily to biological metabolism on the reef. Reef calcification and metabolism dramatically alter the seawater chemistry from the open ocean source water and drive the large diel changes in all measured inorganic carbon parameters (i.e. aragonite saturation state (Ωarag), pH, pCO2, AT, DIC). This data set demonstrates the value of a high-quality in situ AT analyzer in a coral reef environment; making it possible to determine combined CO2 system variability with unprecedented temporal resolution. These data show that NEC can be consistently sustained (net CaCO3 production) until a threshold level of net respiration (NEP) is reached, around -50 (mmol m-2 h-1), which corresponds to an AT : DIC ratio of about 1:1.

Continue reading ‘Evaluation of autonomously measured alkalinity, pH, and pCO2 variability on a coral reef’

pH regulation and tissue coordination pathways promote calcium carbonate bioerosion by excavating sponges

Coral reefs are threatened by a multitude of environmental and biotic influences. Among these, excavating sponges raise particular concern since they bore into coral skeleton forming extensive cavities which lead to weakening and loss of reef structures. Sponge bioerosion is achieved by a combination of chemical dissolution and mechanical chip removal and ocean acidification has been shown to accelerate bioerosion rates. However, despite the ecological relevance of sponge bioerosion, the exact chemical conditions in which dissolution takes place and how chips are removed remain elusive. Using fluorescence microscopy, we show that intracellular pH is lower at etching sites compared to ambient seawater and the sponge’s tissue. This is realised through the extension of filopodia filled with low intracellular pH vesicles suggesting that protons are actively transported into this microenvironment to promote CaCO3 dissolution. Furthermore, fusiform myocyte-like cells forming reticulated pathways were localised at the interface between calcite and sponge. Such cells may be used by sponges to contract a conductive pathway to remove chips possibly instigated by excess Ca2+ at the boring site. The mechanism underlying CaCO3 dissolution by sponges provides new insight into how environmental conditions can enhance dissolution and improves predictions of future rates of coral dissolution due to sponge activity.

Continue reading ‘pH regulation and tissue coordination pathways promote calcium carbonate bioerosion by excavating sponges’

Carbonate dissolution by reef microbial borers: a biogeological process producing alkalinity under different pCO2 conditions

Rising atmospheric CO2 is acidifying the world’s oceans, affecting both calcification and dissolution processes in coral reefs. Among processes, carbonate dissolution by bioeroding microflora has been overlooked, and especially its impact on seawater alkalinity. To date, this biogeological process has only been studied using microscopy or buoyant weight techniques. To better understand its possible effect on seawater alkalinity, and thus on reef carbonate budget, an experiment was conducted under various seawater chemistry conditions (2 ≤ Ωarag ≤ 3.5 corresponding to 440 ≤ pCO2 (µatm) ≤ 940) at 25 °C under night and daylight (200 µmol photons m−2 s−1) with natural microboring communities colonizing dead coral blocks (New Caledonia). Both the alkalinity anomaly technique and microscopy methods were used to study the activity of those communities dominated by the chlorophyte Ostreobium sp. Results show that (1) the amount of alkalinity released in seawater by such communities is significant and varies between 12.8 ± 0.7 at ΩArag ~ 2 and 5.6 ± 0.4 mmol CaCO3 m−2 day−1 at ΩArag ~ 3–3.5 considering a 12:12 photoperiod; (2) although dissolution is higher at night (~ 80 vs. 20% during daylight), the process can occur under significant photosynthetic activity; and (3) the process is greatly stimulated when an acidity threshold is reached (pCO2 ≥ 920 µatm vs. current conditions at constant light intensity). We show that carbonate dissolution by microborers is a major biogeochemical process that could dissolve a large part of the carbonates deposited by calcifying organisms under ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Carbonate dissolution by reef microbial borers: a biogeological process producing alkalinity under different pCO2 conditions’

In-situ incubation of a coral patch for community-scale assessment of metabolic and chemical processes on a reef slope

Anthropogenic pressures threaten the health of coral reefs globally. Some of these pressures directly affect coral functioning, while others are indirect, for example by promoting the capacity of bioeroders to dissolve coral aragonite. To assess the coral reef status, it is necessary to validate community-scale measurements of metabolic and geochemical processes in the field, by determining fluxes from enclosed coral reef patches. Here, we investigate diurnal trends of carbonate chemistry, dissolved organic carbon, oxygen, and nutrients on a 20 m deep coral reef patch offshore from the island of Saba, Dutch Caribbean by means of tent incubations. The obtained trends are related to benthic carbon fluxes by quantifying net community calcification (NCC) and net community production (NCP). The relatively strong currents and swell-induced near-bottom surge at this location caused minor seawater exchange between the incubated reef and ambient water. Employing a compensating interpretive model, the exchange is used to our advantage as it maintains reasonably ventilated conditions, which conceivably prevents metabolic arrest during incubation periods of multiple hours. No diurnal trends in carbonate chemistry were detected and all net diurnal rates of production were strongly skewed towards respiration suggesting net heterotrophy in all incubations. The NCC inferred from our incubations ranges from −0.2 to 1.4 mmol CaCO3 m−2 h−1 (−0.2 to 1.2 kg CaCO3 m−2 year−1) and NCP varies from −9 to −21.7 mmol m−2 h−1 (net respiration). When comparing to the consensus-based ReefBudget approach, the estimated NCC rate for the incubated full planar area (0.36 kg CaCO3 m−2 year−1) was lower, but still within range of the different NCC inferred from our incubations. Field trials indicate that the tent-based incubation as presented here, coupled with an appropriate interpretive model, is an effective tool to investigate, in situ, the state of coral reef patches even when located in a relatively hydrodynamic environment.

Continue reading ‘In-situ incubation of a coral patch for community-scale assessment of metabolic and chemical processes on a reef slope’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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