Posts Tagged 'dissolution'

DISCO – Drivers and impacts of coastal ocean acidification

Ocean acidification, mainly attributed to the increasing anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere, is characterised by a lowering pH together with a shift in the sea water carbonate chemistry toward lower concentration of carbonate ions. On the coasts, where the environmental variability is high due to natural and human impacts, ocean acidification mainly affects the frequency, magnitude, and duration of lower pH and lower calcium carbonate saturation events. Coastal ecosystems are adapted to environmental variability such as frequent changes in salinity, temperature, pH, oxygen levels and organic matter content. However, the effects of an increase of the range of this variability on coastal species, and especially on calcifiers, are still not clear. In this context, this thesis explores the impacts of coastal ocean acidification combined with other environmental stressors on benthic foraminifera.

In the Skagerrak-Baltic Sea region, foraminifera faunas varied along a strong gradient in terms of salinity, pH, and dissolved oxygen concentration, and species were adapted to local environmental stressors. However, the specimens of Ammonia spp. and Elphidium spp. observed in the south Baltic Sea were partially to completely dissolved, probably due to a combination of different stressors affecting the required energy for biomineralisation.

In a culture study, the coastal species Ammonia spp. and E. crispum were found to be resistant to dissolution under varying salinity and pH, which reflects the environmental variations in their natural habitats. However, their resistance to lower pH is decreased when cultured in brackish water conditions, and living decalcified specimens were also observed under a salinity of 5. This underlines the importance of a high salinity in the calcification process of foraminifera.

At the entrance of the Baltic Sea, environmental changes during the last 200 years were reconstructed using foraminiferal faunas. Four periods were identified with varying oxygen levels, salinity, organic matter content, and pollution with lower pH. This highlights that foraminiferal faunas were able to adapt to multiple environmental stressors.

This thesis concludes that, even if coastal species of foraminifera can tolerate extremely varying conditions in their environment on the short term, it is likely that tolerance thresholds will be passed for benthic ecosystems under the future increase in anthropogenic impacts such as coastal ocean acidification.

Further studies of micro-organisms such as foraminifera will be necessary to improve our understanding of past environmental changes and to put present and future changes into a larger context.

Continue reading ‘DISCO – Drivers and impacts of coastal ocean acidification’

Species interactions can shift the response of a maerl bed community to ocean acidification and warming (update)

Predicted ocean acidification and warming are likely to have major implications for marine organisms, especially marine calcifiers. However, little information is available on the response of marine benthic communities as a whole to predicted changes. Here, we experimentally examined the combined effects of temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) increases on the response of maerl bed assemblages, composed of living and dead thalli of the free-living coralline alga Lithothamnion corallioides, epiphytic fleshy algae, and grazer species. Two 3-month experiments were performed in the winter and summer seasons in mesocosms with four different combinations of pCO2 (ambient and high pCO2) and temperature (ambient and +3 °C). The response of maerl assemblages was assessed using metabolic measurements at the species and assemblage scales. This study suggests that seasonal variability represents an important driver influencing the magnitude and the direction of species and community response to climate change. Gross primary production and respiration of assemblages was enhanced by high pCO2 conditions in the summer. This positive effect was attributed to the increase in epiphyte biomass, which benefited from higher CO2 concentrations for growth and primary production. Conversely, high pCO2 drastically decreased the calcification rates in assemblages. This response can be attributed to the decline in calcification rates of living L. corallioides due to acidification and increased dissolution of dead L. corallioides. Future changes in pCO2 and temperature are likely to promote the development of non-calcifying algae to the detriment of the engineer species L. corallioides. The development of fleshy algae may be modulated by the ability of grazers to regulate epiphyte growth. However, our results suggest that predicted changes will negatively affect the metabolism of grazers and potentially their ability to control epiphyte abundance. We show here that the effects of pCO2 and temperature on maerl bed communities were weakened when these factors were combined. This underlines the importance of examining multi-factorial approaches and community-level processes, which integrate species interactions, to better understand the impact of global change on marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Species interactions can shift the response of a maerl bed community to ocean acidification and warming (update)’

Mussel larvae modify calcifying fluid carbonate chemistry to promote calcification

Understanding mollusk calcification sensitivity to ocean acidification (OA) requires a better knowledge of calcification mechanisms. Especially in rapidly calcifying larval stages, mechanisms of shell formation are largely unexplored—yet these are the most vulnerable life stages. Here we find rapid generation of crystalline shell material in mussel larvae. We find no evidence for intracellular CaCO3 formation, indicating that mineral formation could be constrained to the calcifying space beneath the shell. Using microelectrodes we show that larvae can increase pH and [CO32−] beneath the growing shell, leading to a ~1.5-fold elevation in calcium carbonate saturation state (Ωarag). Larvae exposed to OA exhibit a drop in pH, [CO32−] and Ωarag at the site of calcification, which correlates with decreased shell growth, and, eventually, shell dissolution. Our findings help explain why bivalve larvae can form shells under moderate acidification scenarios and provide a direct link between ocean carbonate chemistry and larval calcification rate.

Continue reading ‘Mussel larvae modify calcifying fluid carbonate chemistry to promote calcification’

Southern Ocean pteropods at risk from ocean warming and acidification

Early life stages of marine calcifiers are particularly vulnerable to climate change. In the Southern Ocean aragonite undersaturation events and areas of rapid warming already occur and are predicted to increase in extent. Here, we present the first study to successfully hatch the polar pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica and observe the potential impact of exposure to increased temperature and aragonite undersaturation resulting from ocean acidification (OA) on the early life stage survival and shell morphology. High larval mortality (up to 39%) was observed in individuals exposed to perturbed conditions. Warming and OA induced extensive shell malformation and dissolution, respectively, increasing shell fragility. Furthermore, shell growth decreased, with variation between treatments and exposure time. Our results demonstrate that short-term exposure through passing through hotspots of OA and warming poses a serious threat to pteropod recruitment and long-term population viability.

Continue reading ‘Southern Ocean pteropods at risk from ocean warming and acidification’

Natural ocean acidification at Papagayo upwelling system (North Pacific Costa Rica): implications for reef development

Numerous experiments have shown that ocean acidification impedes coral calcification, but knowledge about in situ reef ecosystem response to ocean acidification is still scarce. Bahía Culebra, situated at the northern Pacific coast of Costa Rica, is a location naturally exposed to acidic conditions due to the Papagayo seasonal upwelling. We measured pH and pCO2 in situ during two non-upwelling seasons (June 2012, May–June 2013), with a high temporal resolution of every 15 and 30 min, respectively, using two Submersible Autonomous Moored Instruments (SAMI-pH, SAMI-CO2). These results were compared with published data from the upwelling season 2009. Findings revealed that the carbonate system in Bahía Culebra shows a high temporal variability. Incoming offshore waters drive inter- and intra-seasonal changes. Lowest pH (7.8) and highest pCO2 (658.3 µatm) values measured during a cold-water intrusion event in the non-upwelling season were similar to those minimum values reported from upwelling season (pH = 7.8, pCO2 = 643.5 µatm), unveiling that natural acidification occurs sporadically also in non-upwelling season. This affects the interaction of photosynthesis, respiration, calcification, and carbonate dissolution and the resulting diel cycle of pH and pCO2 in the reefs of Bahía Culebra. During non-upwelling season, the aragonite saturation state (Ωa) rises to values of > 3.3 and enhances calcification. Aragonite saturation state values during upwelling season falls below 2.5, hampering calcification and coral growth. Low reef accretion in Bahía Culebra indicates high erosion rates and that these reefs grow on the verge of their ecological tolerance. The Ωa threshold values for coral growth, derived from the correlation between Ωa and coral linear extension rates, suggest that future ocean acidification will threaten reefs in Bahía Culebra. These data contribute to build a better understanding of the carbonate system dynamics and coral reefs key response (e.g. coral growth) to natural low-pH conditions, in upwelling areas in the Eastern Tropical Pacific and beyond.

Continue reading ‘Natural ocean acidification at Papagayo upwelling system (North Pacific Costa Rica): implications for reef development’

Environmental drivers of coral reef carbonate production and bioerosion: a multi-scale analysis

The resilience of coral reefs depends on the balance between reef growth and reef breakdown, and their responses to changing environmental conditions. Across the 2500-km Hawaiian Archipelago, we quantified rates of carbonate production, bioerosion, and net accretion at regional, island, site, and within-site spatial scales and tested how these rates respond to environmental conditions across different spatial scales. Overall, there were four major outcomes from this study: (1) bioerosion rates were generally higher in the populated Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) than the remote, protected Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), while carbonate production rates did not vary significantly between the two regions; (2) variability in carbonate production, bioerosion, and net accretion rates was greatest at the smallest within-reef spatial scale; (3) carbonate production and bioerosion rates were associated with distinct sets of environmental parameters; and (4) the strongest correlates of carbonate production, bioerosion, and net accretion rates were different between the MHI region and the NWHI region: in the MHI, the dominant correlates were percent cover of macroalgae and herbivorous fish biomass for carbonate production and bioerosion, respectively, whereas in the NWHI, the top correlates were total alkalinity and benthic cover. This study highlights the need to understand accretion and erosion processes as well as local environmental conditions to predict net coral reef responses to future environmental changes.

Continue reading ‘Environmental drivers of coral reef carbonate production and bioerosion: a multi-scale analysis’

Comment on “Bioerosion: the other ocean acidification problem”: on field studies and mechanisms

In a recent review, “Bioerosion: the other ocean acidification problem,” Schönberg et al. claim that studies of bioerosion across natural chemical gradients are “flawed” or “compromised” by co-variation among environmental factors. Their discussion falls largely on two publications, Silbiger et al. and DeCarlo et al. Here, we demonstrate that critical errors in plotting, statistical analysis, and data selection in Schönberg et al.’s reanalysis, result in a gross misrepresentation of these studies. Further, we argue three key points regarding field-based studies that require broader discussion within the bioerosion community and marine scientists in general: (1) that natural variability in field studies is not a flaw, (2) interpretations must be supported by mechanistic understanding, and (3) field-based studies play an essential role in elucidating interactions between OA and natural variability that is not captured by laboratory CO2-manipulation experiments. Our goal with this comment is to encourage open discussion of the advantages and caveats of field-based studies in general, and ultimately, advance our understanding of bioerosion patterns observed in nature.

Continue reading ‘Comment on “Bioerosion: the other ocean acidification problem”: on field studies and mechanisms’


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