Posts Tagged 'dissolution'

Response of corals Acropora pharaonis and Porites lutea to changes in pH and temperature in the Gulf

Coral reefs are harboring a large part of the marine biodiversity and are important ecosystems for the equilibrium of the oceans. As a consequence of anthropogenic CO2 emission, a drop in pH and an increase in seawater temperature is observed in the Gulf coastal waters that potentially threaten coral assemblages. An experimental study was conducted on two species of corals to assess the effect of ocean warming and ocean acidification on the net calcification rate. Two pH conditions 8.2 and 7.5 and three temperatures, 22.5, 27.5 and 32.5 °C, were considered. Net calcification rates were measured using 45Ca radiotracer. Both temperature and pH had a significant effect on net calcification rates following a similar pattern for both species. The highest calcification rate was observed at low temperature and high pH. Increased temperature and decreased pH led to a decrease in net calcification rates. An interactive effect was observed as the effect of pH decreased with increasing temperature. However, the two species of coral were able to calcify in all the tested combination of temperature and pH suggesting that they are adapted to short term changes in temperature and pH. Ability to calcify even at a high temperature of 32.5 °C that is identical to the summertime Gulf seawater temperature under both the ambient and low pH condition with no mortalities, raises a question: are these corals adapted to high seawater temperatures and low pH? More in-depth assessments will be required to confirm if this is an adaptation to higher temperatures in Persian Gulf corals.

Continue reading ‘Response of corals Acropora pharaonis and Porites lutea to changes in pH and temperature in the Gulf’

Biomonitoring acidification using marine gastropods


• Data loggers offer limited coverage of acidification in marine ecosystems.

• Intertidal water pH was reflected in organismal attributes of gastropods.

• Shell surface erosion presents a clear estimate of corrosive water exposure.

• Gastropod biomonitoring can identify coastal areas of more or lesser acidification.


Ocean acidification is mainly being monitored using data loggers which currently offer limited coverage of marine ecosystems. Here, we trial the use of gastropod shells to monitor acidification on rocky shores. Animals living in areas with highly variable pH (8.6–5.9) were compared with those from sites with more stable pH (8.6–7.9). Differences in site pH were reflected in size, shape and erosion patterns in Nerita chamaeleon and Planaxis sulcatus. Shells from acidified sites were shorter, more globular and more eroded, with both of these species proving to be good biomonitors. After an assessment of baseline weathering, shell erosion can be used to indicate the level of exposure of organisms to corrosive water, providing a tool for biomonitoring acidification in heterogeneous intertidal systems. A shell erosion ranking system was found to clearly discriminate between acidified and reference sites. Being spatially-extensive, this approach can identify coastal areas of greater or lesser acidification. Cost-effective and simple shell erosion ranking is amenable to citizen science projects and could serve as an early-warning-signal for natural or anthropogenic acidification of coastal waters.

Continue reading ‘Biomonitoring acidification using marine gastropods’

Calcite dissolution rates in seawater: lab vs. in-situ measurements and inhibition by organic matter


• Calcite dissolution in lab and in-situ exhibits the same dissolution mechanisms.

• In-situ dissolution rates are likely inhibited by dissolved organic carbon.

• Orthophosphate has no effect on seawater calcite dissolution rates from pH 5.5 to 7.5.

• Previous in-situ dissolution rates fall between bounds established by our measurements.

• Rate measurements suggest need to reevaluate marine carbonate system equilibria.


Ocean acidification from fossil fuel burning is lowering the mean global ocean saturation state (Ω = ), thus increasing the thermodynamic driving force for calcium carbonate minerals to dissolve. This dissolution process will eventually neutralize the input of anthropogenic CO2, but the relationship between Ω and calcite dissolution rates in seawater is still debated. Recent advances have also revealed that spectrophotometric measurements of seawater pHs, and therefore in-situ Ωs, are systematically lower than pHs/Ωs calculated from measurements of alkalinity (Alk) and total dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). The calcite saturation horizon, defined as the depth in the water column where Ω = 1, therefore shifts by ~5–10% depending on the parameters used to calculate Ω. The “true” saturation horizon remains unknown. To resolve these issues, we developed a new in-situ reactor and measured dissolution rates of 13C-labeled inorganic calcite at four stations across a transect of the North Pacific Ocean. In-situ saturation was calculated using both Alk-DIC (Ω(Alk, DIC)) and Alk-pH (Ω(Alk, pH)) pairs. We compare in-situ dissolution rates with rates measured in filtered, poisoned, UV-treated seawater at 5 and 21 °C under laboratory conditions. We observe in-situ dissolution above Ω(Alk, DIC) = 1, but not above Ω(Alk, pH) = 1. We emphasize that marine carbonate system equilibria should be reevaluated and that care should be taken when using proxies calibrated to historical Ω(Alk, DIC). Our results further demonstrate that calcite dissolution rates are slower in-situ than in the lab by a factor of ~4, but that they each possess similar reaction orders (n) when fit to the empirical Rate = k(1-Ω)n equation. The reaction orders are n < 1 for 0.8 < Ω < 1 and n = 4.7 for 0 < Ω < 0.8, with the kink in rates at Ωcrit = 0.8 being consistent with a mechanistic transition from step edge retreat to homogenous etch pit formation. We reconcile the offset between lab and in-situ rates by dissolving calcite in the presence of elevated orthophosphate (20 μm) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) concentrations, where DOC is in the form of oxalic acid (20 μm), gallic acid (20 μm), and d-glucose (100 μm). We find that soluble reactive phosphate has no effect on calcite dissolution rates from pH 5.5–7.5, but the addition of DOC in the form of d-glucose and oxalic acid slows laboratory dissolution rates to match in-situ observations, potentially by inhibiting the retreat rate of steps on the calcite surface. Our lab and in-situ rate data form an envelope around previous in-situ dissolution measurements and may be considered outer bounds for dissolution rates in low/high DOC waters. The lower bound (high DOC) is most realistic for particles formed in, and sinking out of, surface waters, and is described by R(mol cm-2 s-1) = 10–14.3±0.2(1-Ω)0.11±0.1 for 0.8 < Ω < 1, and R(mol cm-2 s-1) = 10–10.8±0.4(1-Ω)4.7±0.7 for 0 < Ω < 0.8. These rate equations are derived from in-situ measurements and may be readily implemented into marine geochemical models to describe water column calcite dissolution.

Continue reading ‘Calcite dissolution rates in seawater: lab vs. in-situ measurements and inhibition by organic matter’

Changes in coral reef community structure in response to year-long incubations under contrasting pCO2 regimes

Coral reefs are threatened by ocean acidification (OA), which depresses net calcification of corals, calcified algae, and coral reef communities. These effects have been quantified for many organisms, but most experiments last weeks-to-months, and do not test for effects on community structure. Here, the effects of OA on back reef communities from Mo’orea, French Polynesia (17.492 S, 149.826 W), were tested from 12 November 2015 to 16 November 2016 in outdoor flumes maintained at mean pCO2 levels of 364 µatm, 564 µatm, 761 µatm, and 1067 µatm. The communities consisted of four corals and two calcified algae, with change in mass (Gnet, a combination of gross accretion and dissolution) and percent cover recorded monthly. For massive Porites and Montipora spp., Gnet differed among treatments, and at 1067 µatm (relative to ambient) was reduced and still positive; for Porolithon onkodes, all of which died, Gnet was negative at high pCO2, revealing dissolution (sample sizes were too small for analysis of Gnet for other taxa). Growth rates (% cover month−1) were unaffected by pCO2 for Montipora spp., P. rus, Pocillopora verrucosa, and Lithophyllum kotschyanum, but were depressed for massive Porites at 564 µatm. Multivariate community structure changed among seasons, and the variation under all elevated pCO2 treatments differed from that recorded at 364 µatm, and was greatest under 564 µatm and 761 µatm pCO2. Temporal variation in multivariate community structure could not be attributed solely to the effects of OA on the chemical and physical properties of seawater. Together, these results suggest that coral reef community structure may be more resilient to OA than suggested by the negative effects of high pCO2 on Gnet of their component organisms.

Continue reading ‘Changes in coral reef community structure in response to year-long incubations under contrasting pCO2 regimes’

Ocean acidification affects calcareous tube growth in adult stage and reared offspring of serpulid polychaetes

The energetically costly transition from free-swimming larvae to benthic life stage and maintenance of a calcareous structure can make calcifying marine invertebrates vulnerable to ocean acidification. The first goal of this study was to evaluate the impacts of ocean acidification on calcified tube growth for two Serpulidae polychaete worms. Spirorbis sp. and Spirobranchus triqueter were collected at 11 m depth from the Northwest Mediterranean Sea and maintained for 30 and 90 d, at three mean pHT levels (total scale) of 8.1 (ambient), 7.7, and 7.4. Moderately decreased tube elongation rates were observed in both species at a pHT of 7.7 while severe reductions occurred at pHT 7.4. There was visual evidence of dissolution and tubes were more fragile at lower pH but, fragility was not attributed to changes in fracture toughness. Instead, it appeared to be due to the presence of larger alveoli covered in a thinner calcareous layer. The second objective of the study was to test for effects in offspring development of the species S. triqueter. Spawning was induced, and offspring were reared in the same pH conditions the parents experienced. Trochophore size was reduced at the lowest pH level but settlement success was similar across pH conditions. Post-settlement tube growth was most affected. At 38 d post-settlement, juvenile tubes at pHT of 7.7 and 7.4 were half the size of those at pHT 8.1. Results suggest future carbonate chemistry will negatively affect initiation and persistence of both biofouling and epiphytic polychaete tube worms.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification affects calcareous tube growth in adult stage and reared offspring of serpulid polychaetes’

Wasting away in the intertidal: the fate of chiton valves in an acidifying ocean

Chitons are locally common in New Zealand, and several studies have suggested that their valves are resistant to dissolution, so it seems contradictory that they are under-represented in the sediment and fossil records of New Zealand. Indeed, special resistance to dissolution seems counterintuitive since the valves are primarily made of aragonite. Here we examine the resistance of chiton skeletal material to dissolution in order to expand our understanding of how taphonomic forces affect chitons and to provide insight into the preservation potential of chiton valves. Live individuals of eight species of chitons were collected from Otago Peninsula, South Island, New Zealand. The valves were subjected to one of two pH treatments: ambient pH of 8.10 and reduced pH of 7.70. Notoplax violacea, Sypharochiton pelliserpentis, and S. sinclairi were the most resistant to dissolution while Acanthochitona zelandica, Chiton glaucus, Onithochiton neglectus, and Ischnochiton maorianus were more vulnerable to dissolution. Leptochiton inquinatus lost the most mass in both treatments, but did not show a significant difference between them. SEM images of the dorsal and ventral surfaces on each valve revealed low-pH damage to crystal structures in the articulamentum, while the tegmentum showed no significant damage. Chiton skeletal material in general does not appear to resist dissolution any better than other examined mollusks, but the resistant tegmentum confers considerable resilience to lowered pH. Chiton valves can last up to an estimated 45 years before becoming unrecognizable, which is much shorter than the normal temperate shallow-water exposure time of hundreds to thousands of years.

Continue reading ‘Wasting away in the intertidal: the fate of chiton valves in an acidifying ocean’

Quantifying susceptibility of marine invertebrate biocomposites to dissolution in reduced pH

Ocean acidification threatens many ecologically and economically important marine calcifiers. The increase in shell dissolution under the resulting reduced pH is an important and increasingly recognized threat. The biocomposites that make up calcified hardparts have a range of taxon-specific compositions and microstructures, and it is evident that these may influence susceptibilities to dissolution. Here, we show how dissolution (thickness loss), under both ambient and predicted end-century pH (approx. 7.6), varies between seven different bivalve molluscs and one crustacean biocomposite and investigate how this relates to details of their microstructure and composition. Over 100 days, the dissolution of all microstructures was greater under the lower pH in the end-century conditions. Dissolution of lobster cuticle was greater than that of any bivalve microstructure, despite its calcite mineralogy, showing the importance of other microstructural characteristics besides carbonate polymorph. Organic content had the strongest positive correlation with dissolution when all microstructures were considered, and together with Mg/Ca ratio, explained 80–90% of the variance in dissolution. Organic content, Mg/Ca ratio, crystal density and mineralogy were all required to explain the maximum variance in dissolution within only bivalve microstructures, but still only explained 50–60% of the variation in dissolution.

Continue reading ‘Quantifying susceptibility of marine invertebrate biocomposites to dissolution in reduced pH’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book