Posts Tagged 'echinoderms'

Altered epiphyte community and sea urchin diet in Posidonia oceanica meadows in the vicinity of submarine volcanic CO2 vents

Ocean acidification (OA) predicted for 2100 is expected to shift seagrass epiphyte communities towards the dominance of more tolerant non-calcifying taxa. However, little is known about the indirect effects of such changes on food provision to key seagrass consumers. We found that epiphyte communities of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica in two naturally acidified sites (i.e. north and south sides of a volcanic CO2 vent) and in a control site away from the vent at the Ischia Island (NW Mediterranean Sea) significantly differed in composition and abundance. Such differences involved a higher abundance of non-calcareous crustose brown algae and a decline of calcifying polychaetes in both acidified sites. A lower epiphytic abundance of crustose coralline algae occurred only in the south side of the vents, thus suggesting that OA may alter epiphyte assemblages in different ways due to interaction with local factors such as differential fish herbivory or hydrodynamics. The OA effects on food items (seagrass, epiphytes, and algae) indirectly propagated into food provision to the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, as reflected by a reduced P. oceanica exploitation (i.e. less seagrass and calcareous epiphytes in the diet) in favour of non-calcareous green algae in both vent sites. In contrast, we detected no difference close and outside the vents neither in the composition of sea urchin diet nor in the total abundance of calcareous versus non-calcareous taxa. More research, under realistic scenarios of predicted pH reduction (i.e. ≤ 0.32 units of pH by 2100), is still necessary to better understand cascading effects of this altered urchin exploitation of food resources under acidified conditions on ecosystem diversity and function.

Continue reading ‘Altered epiphyte community and sea urchin diet in Posidonia oceanica meadows in the vicinity of submarine volcanic CO2 vents’

Paternal identity influences response of Acanthaster planci embryos to ocean acidification and warming

The crown-of-thorns sea star Acanthaster planci is a key predator of corals and has had a major influence on the decrease in coral cover across the Indo-Pacific. To understand how this species may adapt to ocean warming and acidification, this study used a quantitative genetic approach to examine the response in offspring of 24 half-sib A. planci families raised in fully crossed treatment combinations of temperature (27, 29 and 31 °C) and pCO2 (450 and 900 ppm) to the gastrulation stage (26 h post-fertilisation). Interactions between genotype and environment were tested using a permutational multivariate ANOVA and restricted error maximum likelihood calculations of variance. High temperature (31 °C) significantly reduced normal (symmetrical, intact) development by ~15% at the 16-cell stage. Increased temperature (from 29 to 31 °C) reduced normal gastrulation from ~65 to ~30%. The extent to which each genotype was affected depended on sire identity, which explained 15% of variation. pCO2 did not significantly influence development at gastrulation. To explore the importance of individual mating pairs, response ratios were calculated for offspring of each family across all treatments. Response ratios demonstrated that the majority of genotypes experienced the highest percentage of normal development to gastrulation in the control treatment, and that family (sire × dam) is important in determining the response to ocean warming and acidification. A positive genetic correlation (overall r*G = 0.76) from sire × environment interactions, however, indicated that individuals which develop ‘better’ at both high temperature and high pCO2 may cope better with near-future predicted warm and acidified conditions for eastern Australia.

Continue reading ‘Paternal identity influences response of Acanthaster planci embryos to ocean acidification and warming’

A comparison of MgCO3 in individual sub-components of major skeletal structures of the common temperate sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus

The major skeletal structures (test, spines, Aristotle’s lantern) of a common regular sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus were analyzed for Mg-calcite composition to determine their relative vulnerability to ocean acidification. Percentage of MgCO3 in the test and several sub-components of the Aristotle’s lantern were generally similar to one another (mean range = 10.1-11.0 mol % MgCO3), and would be the most vulnerable to partial dissolution. Also vulnerable would be the teeth (mean = 8.8 mol % MgCO3) of the lantern. Primary spines (mean = 3.7 mol % MgCO3) are potentially the most resistant to dissolution, with significantly lower MgCO3 percentages than all other skeletal structures. Our results suggest that in near-future predicted levels of ocean acidification adult regular echinoids will retain their ability to defend themselves with their spines. However, feeding efficiency may be compromised should dissolution weaken the lantern and its associated teeth, decreasing grazing efficiency and/or increasing the energy investment of tooth replacement.

Continue reading ‘A comparison of MgCO3 in individual sub-components of major skeletal structures of the common temperate sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus’

Ocean acidification reduces spine mechanical strength in euechinoid but not in cidaroid sea urchins

Echinoderms are considered as particularly sensitive to ocean acidification (OA) as their skeleton is made of high-magnesium calcite, one of the most soluble forms of calcium carbonate. Recent studies have investigated effects of OA on the skeleton of “classical” sea urchins (euechinoids) but the impact of etching on skeleton mechanical properties is almost unknown. Furthermore, the integrity of the skeleton of cidaroids has never been assessed although their extracellular fluid is undersaturated with respect to their skeleton and the skeleton of their primary spines is in direct contact with seawater. In this study, we compared the dissolution of test plates and spines as well as the spine mechanical properties (two-points bending tests) in a cidaroid (Eucidaris tribuloides) and a euechinoid (Tripneustes ventricosus) submitted to a 5-weeks acidification experiment (pHT 8.1, 7.7, 7.4). Test plates of both species were not affected by dissolution. Spines of E. tribuloides showed no mechanical effects at pHSW-T 7.4 despite traces of corrosion on secondary spines. On the contrary, spines of the T. ventricosus were significantly etched at both pHSW-T 7.7 and 7.4 and their fracture force reduced by 16 to 35%, respectively. This increased brittleness is probably of little significance with regards to predation protection but has consequences in terms of energy allocation.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification reduces spine mechanical strength in euechinoid but not in cidaroid sea urchins’

The effects of salinity and pH on fertilization, early development, and hatching in the crown-of-thorns seastar

Understanding the influence of environmental factors on the development and dispersal of crown-of-thorns seastars is critical to predicting when and where outbreaks of these coral-eating seastars will occur. Outbreaks of crown-of-thorns seastars are hypothesized to be driven by terrestrial runoff events that increase nutrients and the phytoplankton food for the larvae. In addition to increasing larval food supply, terrestrial runoff may also reduce salinity in the waters where seastars develop. We investigated the effects of reduced salinity on the fertilization and early development of seastars. We also tested the interactive effects of reduced salinity and reduced pH on the hatching of crown-of-thorns seastars. Overall, we found that reduced salinity has strong negative effects on fertilization and early development, as shown in other echinoderm species. We also found that reduced salinity delays hatching, but that reduced pH, in isolation or in combination with lower salinity, had no detectable effects on this developmental milestone. Models that assess the positive effects of terrestrial runoff on the development of crown-of-thorns seastars should also consider the strong negative effects of lower salinity on early development including lower levels of fertilization, increased frequency of abnormal development, and delayed time to hatching.

Continue reading ‘The effects of salinity and pH on fertilization, early development, and hatching in the crown-of-thorns seastar’

Sensitivity of sea urchin fertilization to pH varies across a natural pH mosaic

In the coastal ocean, temporal fluctuations in pH vary dramatically across biogeographic ranges. How such spatial differences in pH variability regimes might shape ocean acidification resistance in marine species remains unknown. We assessed the pH sensitivity of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus in the context of ocean pH variability. Using unique male–female pairs, originating from three sites with similar mean pH but different variability and frequency of low pH (pHT ≤ 7.8) exposures, fertilization was tested across a range of pH (pHT 7.61–8.03) and sperm concentrations. High fertilization success was maintained at low pH via a slight right shift in the fertilization function across sperm concentration. This pH effect differed by site. Urchins from the site with the narrowest pH variability regime exhibited the greatest pH sensitivity. At this site, mechanistic fertilization dynamics models support a decrease in sperm–egg interaction rate with decreasing pH. The site differences in pH sensitivity build upon recent evidence of local pH adaptation in S. purpuratus and highlight the need to incorporate environmental variability in the study of global change biology.

Continue reading ‘Sensitivity of sea urchin fertilization to pH varies across a natural pH mosaic’

Spatio-temporal environmental variation mediates geographical differences in phenotypic responses to ocean acidification

Phenotypic plasticity is expected to play a major adaptive role in the response of species to ocean acidification (OA), by providing broader tolerances to changes in pCO2 conditions. However, tolerances and sensitivities to future OA may differ among populations within a species because of their particular environmental context and genetic backgrounds. Here, using the climatic variability hypothesis (CVH), we explored this conceptual framework in populations of the sea urchin Loxechinus albus across natural fluctuating pCO2/pH environments. Although elevated pCO2 affected the morphology, physiology, development and survival of sea urchin larvae, the magnitude of these effects differed among populations. These differences were consistent with the predictions of the CVH showing greater tolerance to OA in populations experiencing greater local variation in seawater pCO2/pH. Considering geographical differences in plasticity, tolerances and sensitivities to increased pCO2 will provide more accurate predictions for species responses to future OA.

Continue reading ‘Spatio-temporal environmental variation mediates geographical differences in phenotypic responses to ocean acidification’


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