Posts Tagged 'diversity'

Effects of ocean acidification on sponge communities

The effects of ocean acidification on lower invertebrates such as sponges may be pronounced because of their low capacity for acid–base regulation. However, so far, most studies have focused on calcifiers. We present the first study of the effects of ocean acidification on the Porifera. Sponge species composition and cover along pH gradients at CO2 vents off Ischia (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy) was measured at sites with normal pH (8.1–8.2), lowered pH (mean 7.8–7.9, min 7.4–7.5) and extremely low pH (6.6). There was a strong correlation between pH and both sponge cover and species composition. Crambe crambe was the only species present in any abundance in the areas with mean pH 6.6, seven species were present at mean pH 7.8–7.9 and four species (Phorbas tenacior, Petrosia ficiformis, Chondrilla nucula and Hemimycale columella) were restricted to sites with normal pH. Sponge percentage cover decreased significantly from normal to acidified sites. No significant effect of increasing CO2 levels and decreasing pH was found on spicule form in Crambe crambe. This study indicates that increasing CO2 concentrations will likely affect sponge community composition as some demosponge species appear to be more vulnerable than others. Further research into the mechanisms by which acidification affects sponges would be useful in predicting likely effects on sessile marine communities.

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Effect of ocean acidification on bacterial abundance, activity and diversity in the Ross Sea, Antarctica

Three ocean acidification experiments were conducted on water from the same location in the Ross Sea, Southern Ocean, to ascertain how surface-water mixed populations, including the microbial community, would respond to changes in pH (pH 7.80 and 7.65). Bacterial extracellular enzymes, abundances, thymidine uptake rate, the diversity of the active fraction of the bacterial community and phytoplankton diversity were measured in response to changes in pH. Bacterial abundance increased at lower pH, and the active fraction of the bacteria decreased, concurrently becoming less diverse within 8 d. However, as the active fraction of the bacterial community evolved, changes in bacterial extracellular enzyme rates occurred, with phosphatase, β-glucosidase and lipase activity increasing up to 2-fold in the acidified incubations. These results suggest that carbohydrates and lipids may be hydrolysed faster with more rapid regeneration of nutrients at lower pH. The changes observed in our experiments indicate that the bacteria in the Ross Sea adapt quickly to lower pH but that bacterial diversity will be lost. However, this loss of diversity did not adversely affect bacterial activity and in fact enhanced their ability to break down carbohydrates and lipids and recycle phosphate. These changes will alter the rate of carbon and phosphate regeneration, potentially accelerating decomposition in surface waters and short-circuiting the biological pump.

Continue reading ‘Effect of ocean acidification on bacterial abundance, activity and diversity in the Ross Sea, Antarctica’

High risk of extinction of benthic foraminifera in this century due to ocean acidification

Increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations lead to decreased pH and carbonate availability in the ocean (Ocean Acidification, OA). Carbon dioxide seeps serve as ‘windows into the future’ to study the ability of marine invertebrates to acclimatise to OA. We studied benthic foraminifera in sediments from shallow volcanic CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea. Conditions follow a gradient from present day pH/pCO2 to those expected past 2100. We show that foraminiferal densities and diversity declined steeply with increasing pCO2. Foraminifera were almost absent at sites with pH < 7.9 (>700 μatm pCO2). Symbiont-bearing species did not exhibit reduced vulnerability to extinction at <7.9 pH. Non-calcifying taxa declined less steeply along pCO2 gradients, but were also absent in samples at pH < 7.9. Data suggest the possibility of an OA induced ecological extinction of shallow tropical benthic foraminifera by 2100; similar to extinctions observed in the geological past.

Continue reading ‘High risk of extinction of benthic foraminifera in this century due to ocean acidification’

Benthic foraminifera show some resilience to ocean acidification in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico

Extensive CO2 vents have been discovered in the Wagner Basin, northern Gulf of California, where they create large areas with lowered seawater pH. Such areas are suitable for investigations of long-term biological effects of ocean acidification and effects of CO2 leakage from subsea carbon capture storage. Here, we show responses of benthic foraminifera to seawater pH gradients at 74–207 m water depth. Living (rose Bengal stained) benthic foraminifera included Nonionella basispinata, Epistominella bradyana and Bulimina marginata. Studies on foraminifera at CO2 vents in the Mediterranean and off Papua New Guinea have shown dramatic long-term effects of acidified seawater. We found living calcareous benthic foraminifera in low pH conditions in the northern Gulf of California, although there was an impoverished species assemblage and evidence of post-mortem test dissolution.

Continue reading ‘Benthic foraminifera show some resilience to ocean acidification in the northern Gulf of California, Mexico’

High tolerance of microzooplankton to ocean acidification in an Arctic coastal plankton community (update)

Impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine biota have been observed in a wide range of marine systems. We used a mesocosm approach to study the response of a high Arctic coastal microzooplankton community during the post-bloom period in Kongsfjorden (Svalbard) to direct and indirect effects of high pCO2/low pH. We found almost no direct effects of OA on microzooplankton composition and diversity. Both the relative shares of ciliates and heterotrophic dinoflagellates as well as the taxonomic composition of microzooplankton remained unaffected by changes in pCO2/pH. Although the different pCO2 treatments affected food availability and phytoplankton composition, no indirect effects (e.g. on the total carrying capacity and phenology of microzooplankton) could be observed. Our data point to a high tolerance of this Arctic microzooplankton community to changes in pCO2/pH. Future studies on the impact of OA on plankton communities should include microzooplankton in order to test whether the observed low sensitivity to OA is typical for coastal communities where changes in seawater pH occur frequently.

Continue reading ‘High tolerance of microzooplankton to ocean acidification in an Arctic coastal plankton community (update)’

Metabolically active microbial communities in marine sediment under high-CO2 and low-pH extremes

Sediment-hosting hydrothermal systems in the Okinawa Trough maintain a large amount of liquid, supercritical and hydrate phases of CO2 in the seabed. The emission of CO2 may critically impact the geochemical, geophysical and ecological characteristics of the deep-sea sedimentary environment. So far it remains unclear whether microbial communities that have been detected in such high-CO2 and low-pH habitats are metabolically active, and if so, what the biogeochemical and ecological consequences for the environment are. In this study, RNA-based molecular approaches and radioactive tracer-based respiration rate assays were combined to study the density, diversity and metabolic activity of microbial communities in CO2-seep sediment at the Yonaguni Knoll IV hydrothermal field of the southern Okinawa Trough. In general, the number of microbes decreased sharply with increasing sediment depth and CO2 concentration. Phylogenetic analyses of community structure using reverse-transcribed 16S ribosomal RNA showed that the active microbial community became less diverse with increasing sediment depth and CO2 concentration, indicating that microbial activity and community structure are sensitive to CO2 venting. Analyses of RNA-based pyrosequences and catalyzed reporter deposition-fluorescence in situ hybridization data revealed that members of the SEEP-SRB2 group within the Deltaproteobacteria and anaerobic methanotrophic archaea (ANME-2a and -2c) were confined to the top seafloor, and active archaea were not detected in deeper sediments (13–30 cm in depth) characterized by high CO2. Measurement of the potential sulfate reduction rate at pH conditions of 3–9 with and without methane in the headspace indicated that acidophilic sulfate reduction possibly occurs in the presence of methane, even at very low pH of 3. These results suggest that some members of the anaerobic methanotrophs and sulfate reducers can adapt to the CO2-seep sedimentary environment; however, CO2 and pH in the deep-sea sediment were found to severely impact the activity and structure of the microbial community.

Continue reading ‘Metabolically active microbial communities in marine sediment under high-CO2 and low-pH extremes’

High tolerance of protozooplankton to ocean acidification in an Arctic coastal plankton community

Impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine biota have been observed in a wide range of marine systems. We used a mesocosm approach to study the response of a high Arctic coastal protozooplankton (PZP in the following) community during the post-bloom period in the Kongsfjorden (Svalbard) to direct and indirect effects of high pCO2/low pH. We found almost no direct effects of OA on PZP composition and diversity. Both, the relative shares of ciliates and heterotrophic dinoflagellates as well as the taxonomic composition of protozoans remained unaffected by changes inpCO2/pH. The different pCO2 treatments did not have any effect on food availability and phytoplankton composition and thus no indirect effects e.g. on the total carrying capacity and phenology of PZP could be observed. Our data points at a high tolerance of this Arctic PZP community to changes in pCO2/pH. Future studies on the impact of OA on plankton communities should include PZP in order to test whether the observed low sensitivity of protozoans to OA is typical for coastal communities where changes in seawater pH occur frequently.

Continue reading ‘High tolerance of protozooplankton to ocean acidification in an Arctic coastal plankton community’

Experimental climate change weakens the insurance effect of biodiversity

Ecosystems are simultaneously affected by biodiversity loss and climate change, but we know little about how these factors interact. We predicted that climate warming and CO2-enrichment should strengthen trophic cascades by reducing the relative efficiency of predation-resistant herbivores, if herbivore consumption rate trades off with predation resistance. This weakens the insurance effect of herbivore diversity. We tested this prediction using experimental ocean warming and acidification in seagrass mesocosms. Meta-analyses of published experiments first indicated that consumption rate trades off with predation resistance. The experiment then showed that three common herbivores together controlled macroalgae and facilitated seagrass dominance, regardless of climate change. When the predation-vulnerable herbivore was excluded in normal conditions, the two resistant herbivores maintained top-down control. Under warming, however, increased algal growth outstripped control by herbivores and the system became algal-dominated. Consequently, climate change can reduce the relative efficiency of resistant herbivores and weaken the insurance effect of biodiversity.

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Increased diversity of sessile epibenthos at subtidal hydrothermal vents: seven hypotheses based on observations at Milos Island, Aegean Sea

Research on subtidal hydrothermal vent ecosystems at Milos, Hellenic Volcanic Arc (Aegean Sea), suggested that vent activity increased the species richness of sessile epibenthic assemblages. Based on 303 species found in 6 sites (3 close to vents, 3 farther away), the present paper uses correspondence analysis and species/samples curves to examine the species composition and richness of these assemblages. Differences due to vent proximity were more important than those due to bottom depth and distance from the shore. Diversity was confirmed to be higher near the vents, although none of the 266 species found at the vent sites can be considered as obligate vent-associated species. Seven different, although not mutually exclusive, hypotheses are discussed to explain the pattern of increased epibenthic species diversity at the vent sites, namely: (i) vents represent an intermediate disturbance, inducing mortality by the emission of toxic fluids; (ii) higher winter temperature allows for the occurrence of warm-water species, which add to the regional background; (iii) venting disrupts the homogeneity of the water bottom layer, increasing bottom roughness and hence habitat heterogeneity; (iv) deposition of minerals and enhanced bioconstruction by Ca enrichment increment habitat provision; (v) fluid emission induces advective mechanisms that favour recruitment; (vi) vents emit CO2, nutrients and trace elements that enhance primary productivity; and (vii) bacterial chemosynthesis add to photosynthesis to provide a diversity of food sources for the fauna.

Continue reading ‘Increased diversity of sessile epibenthos at subtidal hydrothermal vents: seven hypotheses based on observations at Milos Island, Aegean Sea’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book