Posts Tagged 'dissolution'

An experimental study on post-mortem dissolution and overgrowth processes affecting coccolith assemblages: a rapid and complex process

Coccolith dissolution together with post-mortem morphological features are immensely important phenomena that can affect assemblage compositions, complicate taxonomic identification as well as provide valuable palaeoenvironmental insights. This study summarizes the effects of pH oscillations on post-mortem coccolith morphologies and the abundances and compositions of calcareous nannoplankton assemblages in three distinct types of material—(i) Cretaceous chalk, (ii) Miocene marls, and (iii) late Holocene calcareous ooze. Two independent experimental runs within a semi-enclosed system setting were realized to observe assemblage alterations. One experiment was realized with the presence of bacteria and, in contrast, the second one inhibited their potential effect on the studied system. The pH was gradually decreased within the range of 8.3–6.4 using a reaction of CO2 with H2O forming weak carbonic acid (H2CO3), thereby affecting CO32-. Further, a subsequent overgrowth study was carried out during spontaneous degassing accompanied by a gradual pH rise. The experiment revealed that the process and intensity of coccolith corrosion and subsequent overgrowth build-ups are influenced by a plethora of different factors such as (i) pH and associated seawater chemistry, (ii) mineral composition of the sediment, (iii) the presence of coccoliths within a protective substrate (faecal pellets, pores, pits), and (iv) the presence/absence of bacteria. Nannoplankton assemblages with corroded coccoliths or with coccoliths with overgrowth build-ups showed that the observed relative abundances of taxa experienced alteration from the original compositions. Additionally, extreme pH oscillations may result in enhanced morphological changes that make coccoliths unidentifiable structures, and might even evoke the absence of coccoliths in the fossil record.

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Environmental change impacts on shell formation in the muricid Nucella lapillus

Environmental change is a significant threat to marine ecosystems worldwide. Ocean acidification, global warming and long-term emissions of anthropogenic effluents are all negatively impacting aquatic life. Marine calcifying organisms, in particular, are expected to be severely affected by decreasing seawater pH, resulting in shell dissolution and retardations during the formation and repair of shells. Understanding the underlying biological and environmental factors driving species vulnerabilities to habitat alterations is thus crucial to our ability to faithfully predict impacts on marine ecosystems under an array of environmental change scenarios. So far, existing knowledge about organism responses mainly stems from short to medium term laboratory experiments of single species or over- simplified communities. Although these studies have provided important insights, results may not translate to organism responses in a complex natural system requiring a more holistic experimental approach. In this thesis, I investigated shell formation mechanisms and shape and elemental composition responses in the shell of the important intertidal predatory muricid Nucella lapillus both in situ and across heterogeneous environmental gradients. The aim was to identify potential coping mechanisms of N. lapillus to environmental change and provide a more coherent picture of shell formation responses along large ecological gradients in the spatial and temporal domain. To investigate shell formation mechanisms, I tested for the possibility of shell recycling as a function to reduce calcification costs during times of exceptional demand using a multi-treatment shell labelling experiment. Reports on calcification costs vary largely in the literature. Still, recent discoveries showed that costs might increase as a function of decreasing calcification substrate abundance, suggesting that shell formation becomes increasingly more costly under future environmental change scenarios. However, despite the anticipated costs, no evidence was found that would indicate the use of functional dissolution as a means to recycle shell material for a more cost-efficient shell formation in N. lapillus. To investigate shell formation responses, I combined morphometric and shell thickness analyses with novel statistical methods to identify natural shape and thickness response of N. lapillus to large scale variability in temperature, salinity, wind speed and the carbonate system across a wide geographic range (from Portugal to Iceland) and through time (over 130 years). I found that along geographical gradients, the state of the carbonate system and, more specifically, the substrate inhibitor ratio ([HCO3−][H+]−1) (SIR) was the main predictor for shape variations in N. lapillus. Populations in regions with a lower SIR tend to form narrower shells with a higher spire to body whorl ratio. In contrast, populations in regions with a higher SIR form wider shells with a much lower spire to body whorl ratio. The results suggest a widespread phenotypic response of N. lapillus to continuing ocean acidification could be expected, affecting its phenotypic response patterns to predator or wave exposure regimes with profound implications for North Atlantic rocky shore communities. On the contrary, investigations of shell shape and thickness changes over the last 130 years from adjacent sampling regions on the Southern North Sea coast revealed that contrary to global predictions, N. lapillus built continuously thicker shells while maintaining a consistent shell shape throughout the last century. Systematic modelling efforts suggested that the observed shell thickening resulted from higher annual temperatures, longer yearly calcification windows, nearshore eutrophication, and enhanced prey abundance, which mitigated the impact of other climate change factors. An investigation into the trace elemental composition of common pollutant metals in the same archival N. lapillus specimens revealed that shell Cu/Ca and Zn/Ca concentration ratios remained remarkably constant throughout the last 130 years despite substantial shifts in the environmental concentration. However, Pb/Ca concentration ratios showed a definite trend closely aligned with leaded petrol emissions in Europe over the same period. Discussing physiological and environmental drivers for the observed shell bound heavy metal patterns, I argue that, unlike for Pb, constraints on environmental dissolved Cu species abundance and biologically mediated control on internal Zn levels were likely responsible for a decoupling of shell-bound to total ambient Cu and Zn concentrations. The results highlight the complexity of internal and external pathways that govern the uptake of heavy metals into the molluscan shell and suggest that the shell of N. lapillus could be a suitable archive for a targeted investigation of Pb pollution in the intertidal zone.

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The influences of diurnal variability and ocean acidification on the bioerosion rates of two reef-dwelling Caribbean sponges

Ocean acidification (OA) is expected to modify the structure and function of coral reef ecosystems by reducing calcification, increasing bioerosion, and altering the physiology of many marine organisms. Much of our understanding of these relationships is based upon experiments with static OA treatments, though evidence suggests that the magnitude of diurnal fluctuations in carbonate chemistry may modulate the calcification response to OA. These light-mediated swings in seawater pH are projected to become more extreme with OA, yet their impact on bioerosion remains unknown. We evaluated the influence of diurnal carbonate chemistry variability on the bioerosion rates of two Caribbean sponges: the zooxanthellate Cliona varians and azooxanthellate Cliothosa delitrix. Replicate fragments from multiple colonies of each species were exposed to four precisely-controlled pH treatments: contemporary static (8.05 ± 0.00; mean pH ± diurnal pH oscillation), contemporary variable (8.05 ± 0.10), future OA static (7.80 ± 0.00), and future OA variable (7.80 ± 0.10). Significantly enhanced bioerosion rates, determined using buoyant weight measurements, were observed under more variable conditions in both the contemporary and future OA scenarios for C. varians, whereas the same effect was only apparent under contemporary pH conditions for C. delitrix. These results indicate that variable carbonate chemistry has a stimulating influence on sponge bioerosion, and we hypothesize that bioerosion rates evolve non-linearly as a function of pCO2 resulting in different magnitudes and directions of rate enhancement/reduction between day and night, even with an equal fluctuation around the mean. This response appeared to be intensified by photosymbionts, evident by the consistently higher percent increase in bioerosion rates for photosynthetic C. varians across all treatments. These findings further suggest that more variable natural ecosystems may presently experience elevated sponge bioerosion rates and that the heightened impact of OA enhanced bioerosion on reef habitat could occur sooner than prior predictions.

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Acidification and high-temperature impacts on energetics and shell production of the edible clam Ameghinomya antiqua

Warming and ocean acidification are currently critical global change drivers for marine ecosystems due to their complex and irreversible effects on the ecology and evolution of marine communities. Changes in the chemistry and the temperature of the ocean impact the biological performance of marine resources by affecting their energy budget and thus imposing energetic restrictions and trade-offs on their survival, growth, and reproduction. In this study, we evaluated the interplaying effects of increased pCO2 levels and temperature on the economically relevant clam Ameghinomya antiqua, an infaunal bivalve inhabiting a wide distributional range along the coast of Chile. Juvenile clams collected from southern Chile were exposed to a 90-day experimental set-up emulating the current and a future scenario projeced to the end of the current century for both high pCO2/low-pH and temperature (10 and 15°C) projected for the Chilean coast. Clams showed physiological plasticity to different projected environmental scenarios without mortality. In addition, our results showed that the specimens under low-pH conditions were not able to meet the energetic requirements when increased temperature imposed high maintenance costs, consequently showing metabolic depression. Indeed, although the calcification rate was negative in the high-pCO2 scenario, it was the temperature that determined the amount of shell loss. These results indicate that the studied clam can face environmental changes for short-term periods modifying energetic allocation on maintenance and growth processes, but with possible long-term population costs, endangering the sustainability of an important benthic artisanal fisheries resource.

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Cold-water coral ecosystems under future ocean change: live coral performance vs. framework dissolution and bioerosion

Physiological sensitivity of cold-water corals to ocean change is far less understood than of tropical corals and very little is known about the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on degradative processes of dead coral framework. In a 13-month laboratory experiment, we examined the interactive effects of gradually increasing temperature and pCO2 levels on survival, growth, and respiration of two prominent color morphotypes (colormorphs) of the framework-forming cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa, as well as bioerosion and dissolution of dead framework. Calcification rates tended to increase with warming, showing temperature optima at ~ 14°C (white colormorph) and 10–12°C (orange colormorph) and decreased with increasing pCO2. Net dissolution occurred at aragonite undersaturation (ΩAr < 1) at ~ 1000 μatm pCO2. Under combined warming and acidification, the negative effects of acidification on growth were initially mitigated, but at ~ 1600 μatm dissolution prevailed. Respiration rates increased with warming, more strongly in orange corals, while acidification slightly suppressed respiration. Calcification and respiration rates as well as polyp mortality were consistently higher in orange corals. Mortality increased considerably at 14–15°C in both colormorphs. Bioerosion/dissolution of dead framework was not affected by warming alone but was significantly enhanced by acidification. While live corals may cope with intermediate levels of elevated pCO2 and temperature, long-term impacts beyond levels projected for the end of this century will likely lead to skeletal dissolution and increased mortality. Our findings further suggest that acidification causes accelerated degradation of dead framework even at aragonite saturated conditions, which will eventually compromise the structural integrity of cold-water coral reefs.

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The impact of carbonate chemistry on bioeroding sponges and the persistence of south Florida coral reefs

Coral reef ecosystems are being threatened by the growing effects of anthropogenically-induced climate change. At a global-scale, diminished reef development and growth potential has culminated in a consequential shift towards the net loss of reef habitat. While the impacts of climate change have been well established for reef calcifiers, the response by bioeroders is vastly understudied in the literature.      

This Ph.D project evaluated the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) and diurnal carbonate chemistry variability on zooxanthellate (C. varians) and azooxanthellate (P. lampa and C. delitrix) sponge species common to Caribbean reef ecosystems. Physiological and molecular analysis identified a sponge stress response under OA conditions, as depressed bioerosion rates and differentially expressed genes implicated in a generalized stress response were measured in the 7.75 pH treatment. Diurnal carbonate chemistry variability was also found to be a significant driver of sponge bioerosion, with higher bioerosion rates measured under both contemporary and OA variable conditions relative to that of the static treatment groups, an effect that was more pronounced for the zooxanthellate sponge species.      

Additionally, this Ph.D project used a carbonate budget approach to evaluate spatial and temporal trends in reef growth potential for 723 South Florida reef sites. The results reported a net erosional state for coral reefs throughout the Florida Reef Tract (FRT). While these data detailed a considerable trend towards habitat loss throughout South Florida, the inclusion of reef type data revealed that mid-channel reefs in the Upper and Lower Keys may be potential hold-outs for reef development compared to their inshore and offshore counterparts.      

Altogether, the conclusions drawn from these studies address critical research gaps related to sponge bioerosion and reef development. This Ph.D will enhance prospective evaluations of habitat growth potential and improve future assessments modeling the fate of coral reef ecosystems in response to projected environmental scenarios.

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Global assessment of coralline algae mineralogy points to high vulnerability of Southwestern Atlantic reefs and rhodolith beds to ocean acidification

Coralline algae constitute one of the main groups of highly vulnerable calcified benthic organisms to ocean acidification. Although damaging effects of seawater acidification on the coralline algae skeleton have been widely demonstrated, the susceptibility to dissolution varies according to the Mg2+ in the calcite lattice. Even though the Southwest Atlantic Ocean exhibits the world’s largest rhodolith beds, which occupies 20,902 km2, there is no information regarding the coralline algae species mineralogy in this area. Here, we provide mineralogical data of twenty-four coralline algae species, examine the similarity in taxonomic groups, spatial occurrence and the vulnerability of these algae to seawater acidification. Mineralogy revealed that coralline algae skeletons were mainly composed of high-Mg calcite (> 70%) with minor presence of aragonite (< 30%) and dolomite (< 3%). There were no similarities between the skeletal mineralogy of taxonomic groups and sampling regions. Remarkably, the mean Mg-substitution of encrusting coralline algae from the Brazilian Shelf was 46.3% higher than global average. Because of the higher mean Mg-substitution in calcite compared with worldwide coralline algae, these algae from Southwest Atlantic Ocean would be highly susceptible to dissolution caused by the expected near-future ocean acidification and will compromise CaCO3 net production across the Brazilian Shelf.

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Enhanced silica export in a future ocean triggers global diatom decline

Diatoms account for up to 40% of marine primary production and require silicic acid to grow and build their opal shell3. On the physiological and ecological level, diatoms are thought to be resistant to, or even benefit from, ocean acidification. Yet, global-scale responses and implications for biogeochemical cycles in the future ocean remain largely unknown. Here we conducted five in situ mesocosm experiments with natural plankton communities in different biomes and find that ocean acidification increases the elemental ratio of silicon (Si) to nitrogen (N) of sinking biogenic matter by 17 ± 6 per cent under pCO2 conditions projected for the year 2100. This shift in Si:N seems to be caused by slower chemical dissolution of silica at decreasing seawater pH. We test this finding with global sediment trap data, which confirm a widespread influence of pH on Si:N in the oceanic water column. Earth system model simulations show that a future pH-driven decrease in silica dissolution of sinking material reduces the availability of silicic acid in the surface ocean, triggering a global decline of diatoms by 13–26 per cent due to ocean acidification by the year 2200. This outcome contrasts sharply with the conclusions of previous experimental studies, thereby illustrating how our current understanding of biological impacts of ocean change can be considerably altered at the global scale through unexpected feedback mechanisms in the Earth system.

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Sinking diatoms trap silicon in deep seawater of acidified oceans

The seas are acidifying as a result of carbon dioxide emissions. It now emerges that this will alter the solubility of the shells of marine organisms called diatoms — and thereby change the distribution of nutrients and plankton in the ocean.

The ecologically dominant phytoplankton in much of the ocean are a group of unicellular organisms known as diatoms. Writing in Nature, Taucher et al. present a study that uses a combination of experimental, observational and modelling approaches to examine how the diatom-driven effects of ocean acidification — a consequence of rising carbon dioxide concentrations in seawater — will affect biogeochemical cycles. The separate lines of evidence suggest that ocean acidification will have far-reaching effects on the export of elements to the deep ocean.

Diatoms are highly efficient at converting dissolved CO2 into organic carbon through photosynthesis, whereupon this organic carbon becomes incorporated into particles that sink rapidly to the deep ocean. Diatoms therefore serve as primary engines of a ‘biological pump’ that exports carbon to the deep ocean for sequestration. Each diatom cell is enclosed in a shell of silica (SiO2, where Si is silicon), and the solubility of the silicon in this biomineral is pH-sensitive — it becomes less soluble as seawater acidity rises. Although these features of diatoms are familiar to marine scientists, their combined implications for future biogeochemical cycles in the context of ocean acidification had not been explored.

Enter Taucher and colleagues. They carried out a series of five experiments in various parts of the ocean in which natural phytoplankton communities were grown in large enclosures (with volumes of 35–75 cubic metres) known as mesocosms, which simulated future ocean acidification. When the authors measured the elemental composition of the diatom-derived debris at the bottom of the mesocosms, they observed much higher ratios of silicon to nitrogen than the ratios of particles suspended near the surface. This suggested that, at low seawater pH, diatom silica shells were dissolving much more slowly than nitrogen-containing compounds in the same sinking material. In other words, silicon was being exported from the surface to deeper waters preferentially to nitrogen. The authors validated this finding using records of silicon-to-nitrogen ratios in sinking biological detritus in the open ocean, measured as a function of seawater pH, and obtained from particle-collecting sediment traps deployed by research vessels.

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Multiscale mechanical consequences of ocean acidification for cold-water corals

Ocean acidification is a threat to deep-sea corals and could lead to dramatic and rapid loss of the reef framework habitat they build. Weakening of structurally critical parts of the coral reef framework can lead to physical habitat collapse on an ecosystem scale, reducing the potential for biodiversity support. The mechanism underpinning crumbling and collapse of corals can be described via a combination of laboratory-scale experiments and mathematical and computational models. We synthesise data from electron back-scatter diffraction, micro-computed tomography, and micromechanical experiments, supplemented by molecular dynamics and continuum micromechanics simulations to predict failure of coral structures under increasing porosity and dissolution. Results reveal remarkable mechanical properties of the building material of cold-water coral skeletons of 462 MPa compressive strength and 45–67 GPa stiffness. This is 10 times stronger than concrete, twice as strong as ultrahigh performance fibre reinforced concrete, or nacre. Contrary to what would be expected, CWCs retain the strength of their skeletal building material despite a loss of its stiffness even when synthesised under future oceanic conditions. As this is on the material length-scale, it is independent of increasing porosity from exposure to corrosive water or bioerosion. Our models then illustrate how small increases in porosity lead to significantly increased risk of crumbling coral habitat. This new understanding, combined with projections of how seawater chemistry will change over the coming decades, will help support future conservation and management efforts of these vulnerable marine ecosystems by identifying which ecosystems are at risk and when they will be at risk, allowing assessment of the impact upon associated biodiversity.

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Natural analogues in pH variability and predictability across the coastal Pacific estuaries: extrapolation of the increased oyster dissolution under increased pH amplitude and low predictability related to ocean acidification

Coastal-estuarine habitats are rapidly changing due to global climate change, with impacts influenced by the variability of carbonate chemistry conditions. However, our understanding of the responses of ecologically and economically important calcifiers to pH variability and temporal variation is limited, particularly with respect to shell-building processes. We investigated the mechanisms driving biomineralogical and physiological responses in juveniles of introduced (Pacific; Crassostrea gigas) and native (Olympia; Ostrea lurida) oysters under flow-through experimental conditions over a six-week period that simulate current and future conditions: static control and low pH (8.0 and 7.7); low pH with fluctuating (24-h) amplitude (7.7 ± 0.2 and 7.7 ± 0.5); and high-frequency (12-h) fluctuating (8.0 ± 0.2) treatment. The oysters showed physiological tolerance in vital processes, including calcification, respiration, clearance, and survival. However, shell dissolution significantly increased with larger amplitudes of pH variability compared to static pH conditions, attributable to the longer cumulative exposure to lower pH conditions, with the dissolution threshold of pH 7.7 with 0.2 amplitude. Moreover, the high-frequency treatment triggered significantly greater dissolution, likely because of the oyster’s inability to respond to the unpredictable frequency of variations. The experimental findings were extrapolated to provide context for conditions existing in several Pacific coastal estuaries, with time series analyses demonstrating unique signatures of pH predictability and variability in these habitats, indicating potentially benefiting effects on fitness in these habitats. These implications are crucial for evaluating the suitability of coastal habitats for aquaculture, adaptation, and carbon dioxide removal strategies.

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Calcium carbonate dissolution patterns in the ocean

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) minerals secreted by marine organisms are abundant in the ocean. These particles settle and the majority dissolves in deeper waters or at the seafloor. Dissolution of carbonates buffers the ocean, but the vertical and regional distribution and magnitude of dissolution are unclear. Here we use seawater chemistry and age data to derive pelagic CaCO3 dissolution rates in major oceanic regions and provide the first data-based, regional profiles of CaCO3 settling fluxes. We find that global CaCO3 export at 300 m depth is 76 ± 12 Tmol yr−1, of which 36 ± 8 Tmol (47%) dissolves in the water column. Dissolution occurs in two distinct depth zones. In shallow waters, metabolic CO2 release and high-magnesium calcites dominate dissolution while increased CaCO3 solubility governs dissolution in deeper waters. Based on reconstructed sinking fluxes, our data indicate a higher CaCO3 transfer efficiency from the surface to the seafloor in high-productivity, upwelling areas than in oligotrophic systems. These results have implications for assessments of future ocean acidification as well as palaeorecord interpretations, as they demonstrate that surface ecosystems, not only interior ocean chemistry, are key to controlling the dissolution of settling CaCO3 particles.

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Global declines in coral reef calcium carbonate production under ocean acidification and warming


The growth of coral reefs is threatened by the dual stressors of ocean warming and acidification. Despite a wealth of studies assessing the impacts of climate change on individual taxa, projections of their impacts on coral reef net carbonate production are limited. By projecting impacts across 233 different locations, we demonstrate that the majority of coral reefs will be unable to maintain positive net carbonate production globally by the year 2100 under representative concentration pathways RCP4.5 and 8.5, while even under RCP2.6, coral reefs will suffer reduced accretion rates. Our results provide quantitative projections of how different climate change stressors will influence whole ecosystem carbonate production across coral reefs in all major ocean basins.


Ocean warming and acidification threaten the future growth of coral reefs. This is because the calcifying coral reef taxa that construct the calcium carbonate frameworks and cement the reef together are highly sensitive to ocean warming and acidification. However, the global-scale effects of ocean warming and acidification on rates of coral reef net carbonate production remain poorly constrained despite a wealth of studies assessing their effects on the calcification of individual organisms. Here, we present global estimates of projected future changes in coral reef net carbonate production under ocean warming and acidification. We apply a meta-analysis of responses of coral reef taxa calcification and bioerosion rates to predicted changes in coral cover driven by climate change to estimate the net carbonate production rates of 183 reefs worldwide by 2050 and 2100. We forecast mean global reef net carbonate production under representative concentration pathways (RCP) 2.6, 4.5, and 8.5 will decline by 76, 149, and 156%, respectively, by 2100. While 63% of reefs are projected to continue to accrete by 2100 under RCP2.6, 94% will be eroding by 2050 under RCP8.5, and no reefs will continue to accrete at rates matching projected sea level rise under RCP4.5 or 8.5 by 2100. Projected reduced coral cover due to bleaching events predominately drives these declines rather than the direct physiological impacts of ocean warming and acidification on calcification or bioerosion. Presently degraded reefs were also more sensitive in our analysis. These findings highlight the low likelihood that the world’s coral reefs will maintain their functional roles without near-term stabilization of atmospheric CO2 emissions.

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Geographical variation in phenotypic plasticity of intertidal sister limpet’s species under ocean acidification scenarios

Ocean Acidification (OA) can have pervasive effects in calcifying marine organisms, and a better understanding of how different populations respond at the physiological and evolutionary level could help to model the impacts of global change in marine ecosystems. Due to its natural geography and oceanographic processes, the Chilean coast provides a natural laboratory where benthic organisms are frequently exposed to diverse projected OA scenarios. The goal of this study was to assess whether a population of mollusks thriving in a more variable environment (Talcaruca) would present higher phenotypic plasticity in physiological and morphological traits in response to different pCO2 when compared to a population of the same species from a more stable environment (Los Molles). To achieve this, two benthic limpets (Scurria zebrina and Scurria viridula) inhabiting these two contrasting localities were exposed to ocean acidification experimental conditions representing the current pCO2 in the Chilean coast (500 μatm) and the levels predicted for the year 2100 in upwelling zones (1500 (μatm). Our results show that the responses to OA are species-specific, even in this related species. Interestingly, S. viridula showed better performance under OA than S. zebrina (i.e., similar sizes and carbonate content in individuals from both populations; lower effects of acidification on the growth rate combined with a reduction of metabolism at higher pCO2). Remarkably, these characteristics could explain this species’ success in overstepping the biogeographical break in the area of Talcaruca, which S. zebrina cannot achieve. Besides, the results show that the habitat factor has a strong influence on some traits. For instance, individuals from Talcaruca presented a higher growth rate plasticity index and lower shell dissolution rates in acidified conditions than those from Los Molles. These results show that limpets from the variable environment tend to display higher plasticity, buffering the physiological effects of OA compared with limpets from the more stable environment. Taken together, these findings highlight the key role of geographic variation in phenotypic plasticity to determine the vulnerability of calcifying organisms to future scenarios of OA.

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Unexpected role of communities colonizing dead coral substrate in the calcification of coral reefs

Global and local anthropogenic stressors such as climate change, acidification, overfishing, and pollution are expected to shift the benthic community composition of coral reefs from dominance by calcifying organisms to dominance by non‐calcifying algae. These changes could reduce the ability of coral reef ecosystems to maintain positive net calcium carbonate accretion. However, relationships between community composition and calcification rates remain unclear. We performed field experiments to quantify the metabolic rates of the two most dominant coral reef substrate types, live coral and dead coral substrate colonized by a mixed algal assemblage, using a novel underwater respirometer. Our results revealed that calcification rates in the daytime were similar for the live coral and dead coral substrate communities. However, in the dark, while live corals continued to calcify at slower rates, the dead coral substrate communities exhibited carbonate dissolution. Daytime net photosynthesis of the dead coral substrate communities was up to five times as much as for live corals, which we hypothesize may have created favorable conditions for the precipitation of carbonate minerals. We conclude that: (1) calcification from dead coral substrate communities can contribute to coral reef community calcification during the day, and (2) dead coral substrate communities can also contribute to carbonate mineral dissolution at night, decreasing ecosystem calcification over a diel cycle. This provides evidence that reefs could shift from slow, long‐term accretion of calcium carbonate to a state where large daily cycling of calcium carbonate occurs, but with little or no long‐term accumulation of the carbonate minerals needed to sustain the reef against erosional forces.

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Severe biological effects under present-day estuarine acidification in the seasonally variable Salish Sea


• Spatial and temporal variation in estuarine acidification cause severe biological responses.

• Extreme low saturation state and duration of exposure cause pteropod shell dissolution.

• Changing estuarine conditions cause cumulative stress that was used to generate stress index.

• Compensatory mechanisms allow pelagic calcifiers to persist in extreme OA estuarine habitats.


Estuaries are recognized as one of the habitats most vulnerable to coastal ocean acidification due to seasonal extremes and prolonged duration of acidified conditions. This is combined with co-occurring environmental stressors such as increased temperature and low dissolved oxygen. Despite this, evidence of biological impacts of ocean acidification in estuarine habitats is largely lacking. By combining physical, biogeochemical, and biological time-series observations over relevant seasonal-to-interannual time scales, this study is the first to describe both the spatial and temporal variation of biological response in the pteropod Limacina helicina to estuarine acidification in association with other stressors. Using clustering and principal component analyses, sampling sites were grouped according to their distribution of physical and biogeochemical variables over space and time. This identified the most exposed habitats and time intervals corresponding to the most severe negative biological impacts across three seasons and three years. We developed a cumulative stress index as a means of integrating spatial-temporal OA variation over the organismal life history. Our findings show that over the 2014–2016 study period, the severity of low aragonite saturation state combined with the duration of exposure contributed to overall cumulative stress and resulted in severe shell dissolution. Seasonally-variable estuaries such as the Salish Sea (Washington, U.S.A.) predispose sensitive organisms to more severe acidified conditions than those of coastal and open-ocean habitats, yet the sensitive organisms persist. We suggest potential environmental factors and compensatory mechanisms that allow pelagic calcifiers to inhabit less favorable habitats and partially offset associated stressors, for instance through food supply, increased temperature, and adaptation of their life history. The novel metric of cumulative stress developed here can be applied to other estuarine environments with similar physical and chemical dynamics, providing a new tool for monitoring biological response in estuaries under pressure from accelerating global change.

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Effect of CO2 driven ocean acidification on calcification, physiology and ovarian cells of tropical sea urchin Salmacis virgulata – a microcosm approach

In the present study, we depict the structural modification of test minerals, physiological response and ovarian damage in the tropical sea urchin Salmacis virgulata using microcosm CO2 (Carbon dioxide) perturbation experiment. S. virgulata were exposed to hypercapnic conditions with four different pH levels using CO2 gas bubbling method that reflects ambient level (pH 8.2) and elevated pCO2 scenarios (pH 8.0, 7.8 and 7.6). The variations in physical strength and mechanical properties of S. virgulata test were evaluated by thermogravimetric analysis, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction analysis and scanned electron microscopy analysis. Biomarker enzymes such as glutathione-S-transferase, catalase, acetylcholine esterase, lipid peroxidase and reduced glutathione showed physiological stress and highly significant (p < 0.01) towards pH 7.6 and 7.8 treatments. Ovarian cells were highly damaged at pH 7.6 and 7.8 treatments. This study proved that the pH level 7.6 and 7.8 drastically affect calcification, physiological response and ovarian cells in S. virgulata.

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Biological impact of ocean acidification in the Canadian Arctic: widespread severe pteropod shell dissolution in Amundsen Gulf

Increasing atmospheric CO2, cold water temperatures, respiration, and freshwater inputs all contribute to enhanced acidification in Arctic waters. However, ecosystem effects of ocean acidification (derived from anthropogenic and/or natural sources) in the Arctic Ocean are highly uncertain. Zooplankton samples and oceanographic data were collected in August 2012–2014 and again in August 2017 to investigate the pelagic sea snail, Limacina helicina, a biological indicator of the presence and potential impact of acidified waters in the Canadian Beaufort Sea. Between 2012 and 2014 L. helicina abundance ranged from <1 to 1942 Ind. m–2, with highest abundances occurring at stations on the Canadian Beaufort Shelf in 2012. The majority of individuals (66%) were located between 25 and 100 m depth, corresponding to upper halocline water of Pacific origin. In both 2014 and 2017, >85% of L. helicina assessed (n = 134) from the Amundsen Gulf region displayed shell dissolution and advanced levels of dissolution occurred at all stations. The severity of dissolution was not significantly different between 2014 and 2017 despite the presence of larger individuals that are less prone to dissolution, and higher food availability that can provide some physiological benefits in 2014. Corrosive water conditions were not widespread in the Amundsen Gulf at the time of sampling in 2017, and aragonite undersaturation (Ωar < 1) occurred primarily at depths >150 m. The majority of dissolution was observed on the first whorl of the shells strongly indicating that damage was initiated during the larval stage of growth in May or early June when sea ice is still present. Evidence of shell modification was present in 2014, likely supported by abundant food availability in 2014 relative to 2017. The proportion of damaged L. helicina collected from coastal embayments and offshore stations is higher than in other Arctic and temperate locations indicating that exposure to corrosive waters is spatially widespread in the Amundsen Gulf region, and periods of exposure are extreme enough to impact the majority of the population.

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Response of large benthic foraminifera to climate and local changes: implications for future carbonate production

Large benthic foraminifera are major carbonate components in tropical carbonate platforms, important carbonate producers, stratigraphic tools and powerful bioindicators (proxies) of environmental change. The application of large benthic foraminifera in tropical coral reef environments has gained considerable momentum in recent years. These modern ecological assessments are often carried out by micropalaeontologists or ecologists with expertise in the identification of foraminifera. However, large benthic foraminifera have been under‐represented in favour of macro reef‐builders, for example, corals and calcareous algae. Large benthic foraminifera contribute about 5% to modern reef‐scale carbonate sediment production. Their substantial size and abundance are reflected by their symbiotic association with the living algae inside their tests. When the foraminiferal holobiont (the combination between the large benthic foraminifera host and the microalgal photosymbiont) dies, the remaining calcareous test renourishes sediment supply, which maintains and stabilizes shorelines and low‐lying islands. Geological records reveal episodes (i.e. late Palaeocene and early Eocene epochs) of prolific carbonate production in warmer oceans than today, and in the absence of corals. This begs for deeper consideration of how large benthic foraminifera will respond under future climatic scenarios of higher atmospheric carbon dioxide (pCO2) and to warmer oceans. In addition, studies highlighting the complex evolutionary associations between large benthic foraminifera hosts and their algal photosymbionts, as well as to associated habitats, suggest the potential for increased tolerance to a wide range of conditions. However, the full range of environments where large benthic foraminifera currently dwell is not well‐understood in terms of present and future carbonate production, and impact of stressors. The evidence for acclimatization, at least by a few species of well‐studied large benthic foraminifera, under intensifying climate change and within degrading reef ecosystems, is a prelude to future host‐symbiont resilience under different climatic regimes and habitats than today. This review also highlights knowledge gaps in current understanding of large benthic foraminifera as prolific calcium carbonate producers across shallow carbonate shelf and slope environments under changing ocean conditions.

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Effects of ocean acidification on calcification of the sub-Antarctic pteropod Limacina retroversa

Ocean acidification is expected to impact the high latitude oceans first, as CO2 dissolves more easily in colder waters. At the current rate of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, the sub-Antarctic Zone will start to experience undersaturated conditions with respect to aragonite within the next few decades, which will affect marine calcifying organisms. Shelled pteropods, a group of calcifying zooplankton, are considered to be especially sensitive to changes in carbonate chemistry because of their thin aragonite shells. Limacina retroversa is the most abundant pteropod in sub-Antarctic waters, and plays an important role in the carbonate pump. However, not much is known about its response to ocean acidification. In this study, we investigated differences in calcification between L. retroversa individuals exposed to ocean carbonate chemistry conditions of the past (pH 8.19; mid-1880s), present (pH 8.06), and near-future (pH 7.93; predicted for 2050) in the sub-Antarctic. After 3 days of exposure, calcification responses were quantified by calcein staining, shell weighing, and Micro-CT scanning. In pteropods exposed to past conditions, calcification occurred over the entire shell and the leading edge of the last whorl, whilst individuals incubated under present and near-future conditions mostly invested in extending their shells, rather than calcifying over their entire shell. Moreover, individuals exposed to past conditions formed larger shell volumes compared to present and future conditions, suggesting that calcification is already decreased in today’s sub-Antarctic waters. Shells of individuals incubated under near-future conditions did not increase in shell weight during the incubation, and had a lower density compared to past and present conditions, suggesting that calcification will be further compromised in the future. This demonstrates the high sensitivity of L. retroversa to relatively small and short-term changes in carbonate chemistry. A reduction in calcification of L. retroversa in the rapidly acidifying waters of the sub-Antarctic will have a major impact on aragonite-CaCO3 export from oceanic surface waters to the deep sea.

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