Posts Tagged 'field'

Biophysical feedbacks mediate carbonate chemistry in coastal ecosystems across spatiotemporal gradients

Ocean acidification (OA) projections are primarily based on open ocean environments, despite the ecological importance of coastal systems in which carbonate dynamics are fundamentally different. Using temperate tide pools as a natural laboratory, we quantified the relative contribution of community composition, ecosystem metabolism, and physical attributes to spatiotemporal variability in carbonate chemistry. We found that biological processes were the primary drivers of local pH conditions. Specifically, non-encrusting producer-dominated systems had the highest and most variable pH environments and the highest production rates, patterns that were consistent across sites spanning 11° of latitude and encompassing multiple gradients of natural variability. Furthermore, we demonstrated a biophysical feedback loop in which net community production increased pH, leading to higher net ecosystem calcification. Extreme spatiotemporal variability in pH is, thus, both impacting and driven by biological processes, indicating that shifts in community composition and ecosystem metabolism are poised to locally buffer or intensify the effects of OA.

Continue reading ‘Biophysical feedbacks mediate carbonate chemistry in coastal ecosystems across spatiotemporal gradients’

Taking the metabolic pulse of the world’s coral reefs

Worldwide, coral reef ecosystems are experiencing increasing pressure from a variety of anthropogenic perturbations including ocean warming and acidification, increased sedimentation, eutrophication, and overfishing, which could shift reefs to a condition of net calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolution and erosion. Herein, we determine the net calcification potential and the relative balance of net organic carbon metabolism (net community production; NCP) and net inorganic carbon metabolism (net community calcification; NCC) within 23 coral reef locations across the globe. In light of these results, we consider the suitability of using these two metrics developed from total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) measurements collected on different spatiotemporal scales to monitor coral reef biogeochemistry under anthropogenic change. All reefs in this study were net calcifying for the majority of observations as inferred from alkalinity depletion relative to offshore, although occasional observations of net dissolution occurred at most locations. However, reefs with lower net calcification potential (i.e., lower TA depletion) could shift towards net dissolution sooner than reefs with a higher potential. The percent influence of organic carbon fluxes on total changes in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) (i.e., NCP compared to the sum of NCP and NCC) ranged from 32% to 88% and reflected inherent biogeochemical differences between reefs. Reefs with the largest relative percentage of NCP experienced the largest variability in seawater pH for a given change in DIC, which is directly related to the reefs ability to elevate or suppress local pH relative to the open ocean. This work highlights the value of measuring coral reef carbonate chemistry when evaluating their susceptibility to ongoing global environmental change and offers a baseline from which to guide future conservation efforts aimed at preserving these valuable ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Taking the metabolic pulse of the world’s coral reefs’

Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions

Ocean warming and acidification (OA) may alter the fitness of species in marine pelagic ecosystems through community effects or direct physiological impacts. We used the zooplanktonic appendicularian, Oikopleura dioica, to assess temperature and pH effects at mesocosm and microcosm scales. In mesocosms, both OA and warming positively impacted O. dioica abundance over successive generations. In microcosms, the positive impact of OA, was observed to result from increased fecundity. In contrast, increased pH, observed for example during phytoplankton blooms, reduced fecundity. Oocyte fertility and juvenile development were equivalent under all pH conditions, indicating that the positive effect of lower pH on O. dioica abundance was principally due to increased egg number. This effect was influenced by food quantity and quality, supporting possible improved digestion and assimilation at lowered pH. Higher temperature resulted in more rapid growth, faster maturation and earlier reproduction. Thus, increased temperature and reduced pH had significant positive impacts on O. dioica fitness through increased fecundity and shortened generation time, suggesting that predicted future ocean conditions may favour this zooplankton species.

Continue reading ‘Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions’

Community composition in mangrove ponds with pulsed hypoxic and acidified conditions

The potential resilience of biological communities to accelerating rates of global change has received considerable attention. We suggest that some shallow aquatic ecosystems, where temperature, dissolved oxygen (DO), and pH can exhibit extreme variation on short timescales of hours or days, provide an opportunity to develop a mechanistic understanding of species persistence and community assembly under harsh environmental conditions. Extreme diel swings in DO and pH have been observed in eutrophic temperate ecosystems, and here, we describe a similar phenomenon consistently occurring across tropical sites that included relatively remote atolls on the Meso-American barrier reefs in Belize and oligotrophic coastal lagoons in Panama. In particular, we documented large daily swings in temperature, DO, and pH within shallow ponds of Caribbean mangrove forests. Water in seven of 13 ponds went hypoxic (<2 mg/L DO) during the multiday sampling period, and pH dipped nightly to low levels, falling below 7.0 in some ponds. Minimum pH and minimum DO were correlated, and showed a similar relationship in Belize and Panama, suggesting a common mechanism produced diel cycles. Remarkably, most ponds exhibited high abundance of macroalgae, macroinvertebrates, and fish, despite potentially stressful abiotic conditions. Although fish diversity was negatively correlated with pH range, our overall results from the ponds suggest that many species are sufficiently resistant such that a functionally complex community can persist in the midst of pulsed stressful conditions. We propose that the mangrove ponds could serve as a model ecosystem for investigating resistance and resilience of coastal marine communities to global change factors such as climate change, hypoxia, and ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Community composition in mangrove ponds with pulsed hypoxic and acidified conditions’

A mineralogical record of ocean change: decadal and centennial patterns in the California mussel

Ocean acidification, a product of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide, may already have affected calcified organisms in the coastal zone, such as bivalves and other shellfish. Understanding species’ responses to climate change requires the context of long-term dynamics. This can be particularly difficult given the longevity of many important species in contrast with the relatively rapid onset of environmental changes. Here, we present a unique archival dataset of mussel shells from a locale with recent environmental monitoring and historical climate reconstructions. We compare shell structure and composition in modern mussels, mussels from the 1970s, and mussel shells dating back to 1000–2420 years BP. Shell mineralogy has changed dramatically over the past 15 years, despite evidence for consistent mineral structure in the California mussel, Mytilus californianus, over the prior 2500 years. We present evidence for increased disorder in the calcium carbonate shells of mussels and greater variability between individuals. These changes in the last decade contrast markedly from a background of consistent shell mineralogy for centuries. Our results use an archival record of natural specimens to provide centennial-scale context for altered minerology and variability in shell features as a response to acidification stress and illustrate the utility of long-term studies and archival records in global change ecology. Increased variability between individuals is an emerging pattern in climate change responses, which may equally expose the vulnerability of organisms and the potential of populations for resilience.

Continue reading ‘A mineralogical record of ocean change: decadal and centennial patterns in the California mussel’

The relationship among environmental variables, jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton: a case study in the north of the Gulf of Oman

Processes underlying the temporal and spatial variations observed in the distribution of jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton in the Gulf of Oman are not well understood. This information gap is clearly a major issue in controlling the harmful blooms of jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton. Samples of jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton were collected from six stations in Chabahar Bay and three stations in Pozm Bay within four seasons. At each station, environmental variables were also recorded from bottom and surface water. A total of 83 individuals of medusae representing four species of Scyphozoa (i.e., Cyanea nozakii, Chrysaora sp., Pelagia noctiluca, Catostylus tagi) and species of Hydrozoa (i.e., Diphyes sp., Rhacostoma sp., Aequorea spp.) were observed in the study area. A total of 70,727.25 individuals/m−3 of non-gelatinous zooplankton dominated by copepods and cladocerans were collected in nine stations within the four seasons. The results of a RELATE analysis yielded no significant association between species composition for jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton. Among environmental variables, water transparency, nitrite concentration, water depth and temperature were better associated with the total variation in jellyfish species composition than with that of non-gelatinous zooplankton. Dissolved oxygen, pH, and phosphate concentration were significant environmental variables associated with the variation in the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of non-gelatinous zooplankton assemblages. Although some jellyfish species (i.e., Rhacostoma sp., Pelagia noctiluca, Catostylus tagi) occur independently of non-gelatinous zooplankton assemblages, other jellyfish (i.e., Chrysaora sp., Aequorea spp., Cyanea nozakii, Diphyes sp.) are strongly correlated with non-gelatinous zooplankton assemblages.

Continue reading ‘The relationship among environmental variables, jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton: a case study in the north of the Gulf of Oman’

Short-term spatial and temporal carbonate chemistry variability in two contrasting seagrass meadows: implications for pH buffering capacities

It has been hypothesized that highly productive coastal ecosystems, such as seagrass meadows, could lead to the establishment of ocean acidification (OA) refugia, or areas of elevated pH and aragonite saturation state (Ωa) compared to source seawater. However, seagrass ecosystems experience extreme variability in carbonate chemistry across short temporal and small spatial scales, which could impact the pH buffering capacity of these potential refugia. Herein, short-term (hourly to diel) and small-scale (across 0.01–0.14 km2) spatiotemporal carbonate chemistry variability was assessed within two seagrass meadows in order to determine their short-term potential to elevate seawater pH relative to source seawater. Two locations at similar latitudes were chosen in order to compare systems dominated by coarse calcium carbonate (Bailey’s Bay, Bermuda) and muddy silicate (Mission Bay, CA, USA) sediments. In both systems, spatial variability of pH across the seagrass meadow at any given time was often greater than diel variability (e.g., the average range over 24 h) at any one site, with greater spatial variability occurring at low tide in Mission Bay. Mission Bay (spatial ΔpH = 0.08 ± 0.08; diel ΔpH = 0.12 ± 0.01; mean ± SD) had a greater average range in both temporal and spatial seawater chemistry than Bailey’s Bay (spatial ΔpH = 0.02 ± 0.01; diel ΔpH = 0.03 ± 0.00; mean ± SD). These differences were most likely due to a combination of slower currents, a larger tidal range, and more favorable weather conditions for photosynthesis (e.g., sunny with no rain) in Mission Bay. In both systems, there was a substantial amount of time (usually at night) when seawater pH within the seagrass beds was lower relative to the source seawater. Future studies aimed at assessing the potential of seagrass ecosystems to act as OA refugia for marine organisms need to account for the small-scale, high-frequency carbonate chemistry variability in both space and time, as this variability will impact where and when OA will be buffered or intensified.

Continue reading ‘Short-term spatial and temporal carbonate chemistry variability in two contrasting seagrass meadows: implications for pH buffering capacities’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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