Posts Tagged 'dissolution'

Exoskeleton dissolution with mechanoreceptor damage in larval Dungeness crab related to severity of present-day ocean acidification vertical gradients


• Coastal habitats with the steepest ocean acidification gradients are most detrimental for larval Dungeness crabs.

• Severe carapace dissolution was observed in larval Dungeness crabs along the US west coast.

• Mechanoreceptors with important sensory and behavioral functions were destabilized.

• Dissolution is negatively related to the growth, demonstrating energetic trade-offs.

• 10% dissolution increase over the last two decades estimated due to atmospheric CO2.


Ocean acidification (OA) along the US West Coast is intensifying faster than observed in the global ocean. This is particularly true in nearshore regions (<200 m) that experience a lower buffering capacity while at the same time providing important habitats for ecologically and economically significant species. While the literature on the effects of OA from laboratory experiments is voluminous, there is little understanding of present-day OA in-situ effects on marine life. Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) is perennially one of the most valuable commercial and recreational fisheries. We focused on establishing OA-related vulnerability of larval crustacean based on mineralogical and elemental carapace to external and internal carapace dissolution by using a combination of different methods ranging from scanning electron microscopy, energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, elemental mapping and X-ray diffraction. By integrating carapace features with the chemical observations and biogeochemical model hindcast, we identify the occurrence of external carapace dissolution related to the steepest Ω calcite gradients (∆Ωcal,60) in the water column. Dissolution features are observed across the carapace, pereopods (legs), and around the calcified areas surrounding neuritic canals of mechanoreceptors. The carapace dissolution is the most extensive in the coastal habitats under prolonged (1-month) long exposure, as demonstrated by the use of the model hindcast. Such dissolution has a potential to destabilize mechanoreceptors with important sensory and behavioral functions, a pathway of sensitivity to OA. Carapace dissolution is negatively related to crab larval width, demonstrating a basis for energetic trade-offs. Using a retrospective prediction from a regression models, we estimate an 8.3% increase in external carapace dissolution over the last two decades and identified a set of affected OA-related sublethal pathways to inform future risk assessment studies of Dungeness crabs.

Continue reading ‘Exoskeleton dissolution with mechanoreceptor damage in larval Dungeness crab related to severity of present-day ocean acidification vertical gradients’

Aragonite pteropod abundance and preservation records from the Maldives, equatorial Indian Ocean: inferences on past oceanic carbonate saturation and dissolution events


• 1.2 Myr record of pteropod abundance/preservation variations from the Maldives

• Periods of enhanced ventilation during MIS 8, 3, 2 and MIS 14-13, 6-5 transitions

• MBDI marked by very poor preservation of pteropods during MIS 13 to 11

• Seawater carbonate chemistry plays a role in shell calcification.

• Glacial periods, MIS 16, 14, 6, 4, 2 are marked by larger and pristine shells.


During the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 359, a long continuous carbonate-rich sequence was recovered from the Inner Sea of Maldives. We investigated pteropod proxies (absolute abundance of pteropods species, total pteropods, epipelagic to mesopelagic ratio, fragmentation ratio, Limacina Dissolution Index (LDX), mean shell size variations of L. inflata) from Sites U1467 (water depth: 487 m) and U1468 (water depth: 521 m) to understand both surface and sub-surface paleoceanographic changes in the equatorial Indian Ocean and to improve our understanding of the factors responsible for pteropod preservation on longer timescales. A total of 15 species of pteropods were identified, and their downcore variations were documented from the core top to 707.49 mbsf in U1467 and from 447.4 to 846.92 mbsf in U1468. At the Site U1467, pteropod shells show high abundances/preservation up to a depth of 45 mbsf (~1.2 Ma), which is consistent with the presence of aragonite content in sediments (with the top 50 m bearing high aragonite content). Beyond 45 mbsf, only fragmented pteropod shells were seen down to 50 mbsf (corresponding to 1.5 Ma) followed by a total absence of pteropod shells and fragments from 50 mbsf (~1.5 Ma) to the end of the core at 846.92 mbsf (~24 Ma). A decrease in the SO42ˉconcentration and alkalinity in the interstitial fluid geochemistry is seen at these depths. The presence of dolomite content below 50 mbsf also indicates the alteration of aragonite into dolomite. Analyses of the carbonate preservation proxies reveal that the pteropods exhibit considerable fluctuation in abundance/preservation during the last 1.2 Myr. A good to moderate preservation (LDX: 2 to 3) is seen which correlates well with the fragmentation ratio but with an inverse relation with calcification rate. The proxies for in-life pteropod shell dissolution (average size of L. inflata and LDX) indicate that glacial periods (MIS 16, 14, 6, 4 and 2) have shown no signs of dissolution pointing better calcification under aragonite-saturated water column which is in good correlation with reduced atmospheric CO₂ concentration. Epipelagic/mesopelagic ratio indicates that the water column exhibited enhanced ventilation and mixing during glacial to interglacial periods, but intervals of intense stratification, a sign of poor ventilation or weakened circulation, was prevalent beyond MIS 14. The longest interval of poorest preservation was marked during MIS 11 and 13, which corresponds to the ‘Mid-Brunhes Dissolution Interval (MBDI).’ On a longer time scale, the abundances/preservation of pteropods in the Maldives seems to be controlled by changes in the seawater chemistry associated with monsoon productivity, water column ventilation, and atmospheric CO2 concentration.

Continue reading ‘Aragonite pteropod abundance and preservation records from the Maldives, equatorial Indian Ocean: inferences on past oceanic carbonate saturation and dissolution events’

Coccolith morphological and assemblage responses to dissolution in the recent sediments of the East China Sea


• Gephyrocapsa coccoliths (>3 μm) got thinner and lighter in response to dissolution in the sediments of East China Sea.

• The acidification experiments showed selective dissolution of the four dominant coccolith species/genera.

• Coccolith morphological parameters can be used as indices to evaluate coccolith dissolution in sediments.


Evaluating carbonate dissolution in deep sea sediments is of key importance in understanding the variation of the carbonate compensation depth and the ocean carbon cycle in the geological past. Since coccoliths are one of the main contributors to oceanic CaCO3, their dissolution and preservation degrees in sediments can be a useful indicator for deep sea carbonate chemistry. Varying coccolith preservation conditions have been found due to dissolution caused by organic matter degradation in the recent surface sediments of the East China Sea, which provides a good basis for the study of coccolith morphological and assemblage responses to dissolution. We measured the coccolith weight, thickness, and length of Gephyrocapsa spp. (>3 μm) using a circularly polarized light microscope. It has been found that Gephyrocapsa spp. (>3 μm) coccoliths become thinner and lighter in response to dissolution, and coccolith assemblages are also altered in poorly preserved sediments. This phenomenon was confirmed by an acidification experiment on a sediment sample, which also showed that coccoliths became thinner and lighter under increasingly acidified conditions. There is selective dissolution, i.e., Emiliania huxleyi coccoliths are most dissolution-prone, followed by Gephyrocapsa spp. (3 μm), and Helicosphaera spp.. Coccolith morphological parameters can be used to quantitatively evaluate coccolith preservation and dissolution in sediment samples. We suggest that using size-normalized weight, a mean coccolith weight loss of ~30–50% can be assigned to moderate-poor preservation for coccoliths, as reflected by the measured coccolith morphological changes in the surface sediments and in the acidification experiment.

Continue reading ‘Coccolith morphological and assemblage responses to dissolution in the recent sediments of the East China Sea’

Combined effects of global climate change and nutrient enrichment on the physiology of three temperate maerl species

Made up of calcareous coralline algae, maerl beds play a major role as ecosystem engineers in coastal areas throughout the world. They undergo strong anthropogenic pressures, which may threaten their survival. The aim of this study was to gain insight into the future of maerl beds in the context of global and local changes. We examined the effects of rising temperatures (+3°C) and ocean acidification (−0.3 pH units) according to temperature and pH projections (i.e., the RCP 8.5 scenario), and nutrient (N and P) availability on three temperate maerl species (Lithothamnion corallioides, Phymatolithon calcareum, and Lithophyllum incrustans) in the laboratory in winter and summer conditions. Physiological rates of primary production, respiration, and calcification were measured on all three species in each treatment and season. The physiological response of maerl to global climate change was species‐specific and influenced by seawater nutrient concentrations. Future temperature–pH scenario enhanced maximal gross primary production rates in P. calcareum in winter and in L. corallioides in both seasons. Nevertheless, both species suffered an impairment of light harvesting and photoprotective mechanisms in winter. Calcification rates at ambient light intensity were negatively affected by the future temperature–pH scenario in winter, with net dissolution observed in the dark in L. corallioides and P. calcareum under low nutrient concentrations. Nutrient enrichment avoided dissolution under future scenarios in winter and had a positive effect on L. incrustans calcification rate in the dark in summer. In winter conditions, maximal calcification rates were enhanced by the future temperature–pH scenario on the three species, but P. calcareum suffered inhibition at high irradiances. In summer conditions, the maximal calcification rate dropped in L. corallioides under the future global climate change scenario, with a potential negative impact on CaCO3 budget for maerl beds in the Bay of Brest where this species is dominant. Our results highlight how local changes in nutrient availability or irradiance levels impact the response of maerl species to global climate change and thus point out how it is important to consider other abiotic parameters in order to develop management policies capable to increase the resilience of maerl beds under the future global climate change scenario.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of global climate change and nutrient enrichment on the physiology of three temperate maerl species’

Seasonal variability of calcium carbonate precipitation and dissolution in shallow coral reef sediments

Shallow, permeable calcium carbonate (CaCO3) sediments make up a large proportion of the benthic cover on coral reefs and account for a large fraction of the standing stock of CaCO3. There have been a number of laboratory, mesocosm, and in situ studies examining shallow sediment metabolism and dissolution, but none of these have considered seasonal variability. Advective benthic chambers were used to measure in situ net community calcification (NCC) rates of CaCO3 sediments on Heron Island, Australia (Great Barrier Reef) over an annual cycle. Sediments were, on average, net precipitating during the day and net dissolving at night throughout the year. Night dissolution rates (−NCCNIGHT) were highest in the austral autumn and lowest in the austral winter driven by changes in respiration (R) and to a lesser extent temperature and Ωarag/pH. Similarly, precipitation during the day (+NCCDAY) was highest in March and lowest in winter, driven primarily by benthic net primary production (NPP) and temperature. On average, sediments were net precipitating over a diel cycle (NCC24h) but shifted to net dissolving in July and December. This shift was largely caused by the differential effects of seasonal cycles in organic metabolism and carbonate chemistry on NCCDAY and NCCNIGHT. The results from this study highlight the large variability in sediment CaCO3 dynamics and the need to include repeated measurements over different months and seasons, particularly in shallow reef systems that can experience large swings in light, temperature, and carbonate chemistry.

Continue reading ‘Seasonal variability of calcium carbonate precipitation and dissolution in shallow coral reef sediments’

Net heterotrophy and carbonate dissolution in two subtropical seagrass meadows

The net ecosystem productivity (NEP) of two seagrass meadows within one of the largest seagrass ecosystems in the world, Florida Bay, was assessed using direct measurements over consecutive diel cycles during a short study in the fall of 2018. We report significant differences between NEP determined by dissolved inorganic carbon (NEPDIC) and by dissolved oxygen (NEPDO), likely driven by differences in air–water gas exchange and contrasting responses to variations in light intensity. We also acknowledge the impact of advective exchange on metabolic calculations of NEP and net ecosystem calcification (NEC) using the “open-water” approach and attempt to quantify this effect. In this first direct determination of NEPDIC in seagrass, we found that both seagrass ecosystems were net heterotrophic, on average, despite large differences in seagrass net above-ground primary productivity. NEC was also negative, indicating that both sites were net dissolving carbonate minerals. We suggest that a combination of carbonate dissolution and respiration in sediments exceeded seagrass primary production and calcification, supporting our negative NEP and NEC measurements. However, given the limited spatial (two sites) and temporal (8 d) extent of this study, our results may not be representative of Florida Bay as a whole and may be season-specific. The results of this study highlight the need for better temporal resolution, accurate carbonate chemistry accounting, and an improved understanding of physical mixing processes in future seagrass metabolism studies.

Continue reading ‘Net heterotrophy and carbonate dissolution in two subtropical seagrass meadows’

Control of CaCO3 dissolution at the deep seafloor and its consequences

Prediction of the neutralization of anthropogenic CO2 in the oceans and the interpretation of the calcite record preserved in deep-sea sediments requires the use of the correct kinetics for calcite dissolution. Dissolution rate information from suspended calcite-grain experiments consistently indicates a high-order nonlinear dependence on undersaturation, with a well-defined rate constant. Conversely, stirred-chamber and rotating-disc dissolution experiments consistently indicate linear kinetics of dissolution and a strong dependence on the fluid flow velocity. Here, we resolve these seeming incongruities and establish reliably the kinetic controls on deep-sea calcite dissolution. By equating the carbonate-ion flux from a dissolving calcite bed, governed by laboratory-based nonlinear kinetics, to the flux across typical diffusive boundary layers (DBL) at the seafloor, we show that the net flux is influenced both by boundary layer and bed processes, but that flux is strongly dominated by the rate of diffusion through the DBL. Furthermore, coupling that calculation to an equation for the calcite content of the seafloor, we show that a DBL-transport dominated model adeptly lysoclines adeptly, i.e., CaCO3 vs ocean depth profiles, observed across the oceans. Conversely, a model with only sediment-side processes fails to predict lysoclines in all tested regions. Consequently, the past practice of arbitrarily altering the calcite-dissolution rate constant to allow sediment-only models to fit calcite profiles constitutes confirmation bias. From these results, we hypothesize that the reason suspended-grain experiments and bed experiments yield different reaction orders is that dissolution rates of individual grains in a bed are fast enough to maintain porewaters at or close to saturation, so that the exact reaction order cannot be measured and dissolution appears to be linear. Finally, we provide a further test of DBL-transport dominated calcite dissolution by successfully predicting, not fitting, the in-situ pH profiles observed at four stations reported in the literature.

Continue reading ‘Control of CaCO3 dissolution at the deep seafloor and its consequences’

New methods for imaging and quantifying dissolution of pteropods to monitor the impacts of ocean acidification

Large-scale changes in climate and ocean ecosystems demand innovative and cost-effective ways to track changes in the marine environment and its living resources. During the past decade, ocean acidification has become recognized as a major threat to the biodiversity of marine ecosystems during the 21st century. However, an important constraint on modern ocean acidification research is the lack of accessibility to effective imaging techniques, as well as accurate analytical methods. Here, we compare several different microscopic techniques to evaluate the relative merits of each. Additionally, a new dissolution quantification method is developed that more completely assesses damage over an entire shell. These findings can help expand the toolbox for scientists engaged in studying the impacts of ocean acidification on marine invertebrates and enable more researchers to participate in this vital field.

Continue reading ‘New methods for imaging and quantifying dissolution of pteropods to monitor the impacts of ocean acidification’

In situ growth and bioerosion rates of Lophelia pertusa in a Norwegian fjord and open shelf cold-water coral habitat

Coral reef resilience depends on the balance between carbonate precipitation, leading to reef growth, and carbonate degradation, for example, through bioerosion. Changes in environmental conditions are likely to affect the two processes differently, thereby shifting the balance between reef growth and degradation. In cold-water corals estimates of accretion-erosion processes in their natural habitat are scarce and solely live coral growth rates were studied with regard to future environmental changes in the laboratory so far, limiting our ability to assess the potential of cold-water coral reef ecosystems to cope with environmental changes. In the present study, growth rates of the two predominant colour morphotypes of live Lophelia pertusa as well as bioerosion rates of dead coral framework were assessed in different environmental settings in Norwegian cold-water coral reefs in a 1-year in situ experiment. Net growth (in weight gain and linear extension) of live L. pertusa was in the lower range of previous estimates and did not significantly differ between inshore (fjord) and offshore (open shelf) habitats. However, slightly higher net growth rates were obtained inshore. Bioerosion rates were significantly higher on-reef in the fjord compared to off-reef deployments in- and offshore. Besides, on-reef coral fragments yielded a broader range of individual growth and bioerosion rates, indicating higher turnover in live reef structures than off-reef with regard to accretion-bioerosion processes. Moreover, if the higher variation in growth rates represents a greater variance in (genetic) adaptations to natural environmental variability in the fjord, inshore reefs could possibly benefit under future ocean change compared to offshore reefs. Although not significantly different due to high variances between replicates, growth rates of orange branches were consistently higher at all sites, while mortality was statistically significantly lower, potentially indicating higher stress-resistance than the less pigmented white phenotype. Comparing the here measured rates of net accretion of live corals (regardless of colour morphotype) with net erosion of dead coral framework gives a first estimate of the dimensions of both processes in natural cold-water coral habitats, indicating that calcium carbonate loss through bioerosion amounts to one fifth to one sixth of the production rates by coral calcification (disregarding accretion processes of other organisms and proportion of live and dead coral framework in a reef). With regard to likely accelerating bioerosion and diminishing growth rates of corals under ocean acidification, the balance of reef accretion and degradation may be shifted towards higher biogenic dissolution in the future.

Continue reading ‘In situ growth and bioerosion rates of Lophelia pertusa in a Norwegian fjord and open shelf cold-water coral habitat’

Assessing annual variability in the shell thickness of the pteropod Heliconoides inflatus in the Cariaco Basin using micro-CT scanning

Pteropods have been nicknamed the canary in the coal mine for ocean acidification because they are predicted to be among the first organisms to be affected by future changes in ocean chemistry. This is due to their fragile, aragonitic shells and high abundances in polar and sub-polar regions where the impacts of ocean acidification will manifest first. For pteropods to be used most effectively as indicators of ocean acidification, their natural variability in the modern ocean needs to be quantified and understood. Here, we measured the shell condition (i.e., the degree to which a shell has dissolved) and shell characteristics, including size, number of whorls, shell thickness, and shell volume (i.e., amount of shell material) of nearly fifty specimens of the pteropod species Heliconoides inflatus from a sediment trap in the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela sampled over an 11-month period. The water in the Cariaco Basin is supersaturated with respect to aragonite year-round, and hydrographic and chemical properties vary seasonally due to the movement of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Shell condition was assessed using with two methods: the Limacina Dissolution Index (LDX) and the opacity method. The opacity method captured changes in shell condition only in the early stages of dissolution, whereas the LDX recorded dissolution changes over a much larger range. Shell condition did not deteriorate with the length of time in the sediment trap. Instead, the most altered shells occurred in samples collected in September and October when water temperatures were warmest, and the amount of organic matter degradation in the water column was likely to have been the greatest. Shells of H. inflatus varied in size, number of whorls, and thickness throughout the year. The number of whorls did not correlate with shell diameter, suggesting that shell growth is plastic. H. inflatus formed shells that were 40 % thicker and 20 % larger in diameter when nutrient concentrations were high during times of upwelling, compared to specimens sampled from the oligotrophic rainy season. This study produces a baseline dataset of the variability in shell characteristics of H. inflatus in the Cariaco Basin and establishes a methodology for generating similar baseline records for pteropod populations globally.

Continue reading ‘Assessing annual variability in the shell thickness of the pteropod Heliconoides inflatus in the Cariaco Basin using micro-CT scanning’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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