Posts Tagged 'fish'

Changes in fish communities due to benthic habitat shifts under ocean acidification conditions


• Ocean acidification-mediated habitat shifts and decreased complexity affect associated fish communities.

• Altered fish traits and reduced diversity occurred under near-future ocean acidification levels.

• Ocean acidification may oppose the poleward-shift of tropical fish species under warming.


Ocean acidification will likely change the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems over coming decades. Volcanic carbon dioxide seeps generate dissolved CO2 and pH gradients that provide realistic insights into the direction and magnitude of these changes. Here, we used fish and benthic community surveys to assess the spatio-temporal dynamics of fish community properties off CO2 seeps in Japan. Adding to previous evidence from ocean acidification ecosystem studies conducted elsewhere, our findings documented shifts from calcified to non-calcified habitats with reduced benthic complexity. In addition, we found that such habitat transition led to decreased diversity of associated fish and to selection of those fish species better adapted to simplified ecosystems dominated by algae. Our data suggest that near-future projected ocean acidification levels will oppose the ongoing range expansion of coral reef-associated fish due to global warming.

Continue reading ‘Changes in fish communities due to benthic habitat shifts under ocean acidification conditions’

Characterization of marine teleost ionocytes in the gill, skin, and inner ear epithelia and their implications for ocean acidification

Ionocytes are specialized epithelial cells that excrete or absorb ions across an epithelium to regulate ionic, osmotic and acid-base levels in internal fluids. These ionocytes perform a wide range of functions (e.g. osmoregulation, pH regulation, and calcification) across various organs (e.g. gill, skin, inner ear). As atmospheric CO2 levels rise and oceanic pH levels fall, teleosts may increase their investment on ionocytes to survive in future ocean conditions. But generally speaking, the gill, skin, and inner ear ionocytes within marine teleost are not well characterized. This dissertation contains research spanning five southern Californian teleosts: the Blacksmith Chromis punctipinnis, the Yellowfin Tuna Thunnus albacares, the White Seabass Atractoscion nobilis, the Pacific Mackerel Scomber japonicus, and the Splitnose Rockfish Sebastes diploproa. In Chapter II, I investigated the individual and group behavioral responses of the Blacksmith, a temperate damselfish, after exposure to CO2-induced low-pH conditions. In Chapter III, I describe a novel technique used to quantify skin ionocytes in larval fishes. In Chapter IV, I applied the Chapter III’s technique to document developmental patterns in the skin and gill ionocytes of larval Yellowfin Tuna. In Chapter V, I investigated larval White Seabass response to hypercapnia by monitoring oxygen consumption rate and quantifying ionocyte abundance and relative ionocyte area across development. In Chapter VI, I characterized two types of inner ear ionocytes responsible for otolith calcification in the Pacific Mackerel. In Chapter VII, I investigated whether future CO2 /pH conditions would affect the gill and inner ear ionocytes of Splitnose Rockfish. Altogether, this work across the multiple teleosts demonstrates that ionocytes 1) have the plasticity to respond to external pH stress, 2) are sufficient to maintain internal homeostasis despite significant differences in CO2/pH levels, and 3) differ greatly in protein, morphology, and function depending on the tissue in question.

Continue reading ‘Characterization of marine teleost ionocytes in the gill, skin, and inner ear epithelia and their implications for ocean acidification’

Resistance of seagrass habitats to ocean acidification via altered interactions in a tri-trophic chain

Despite the wide knowledge about prevalent effects of ocean acidification on single species, the consequences on species interactions that may promote or prevent habitat shifts are still poorly understood. Using natural CO2 vents, we investigated changes in a key tri-trophic chain embedded within all its natural complexity in seagrass systems. We found that seagrass habitats remain stable at vents despite the changes in their tri-trophic components. Under high pCO2, the feeding of a key herbivore (sea urchin) on a less palatable seagrass and its associated epiphytes decreased, whereas the feeding on higher-palatable green algae increased. We also observed a doubled density of a predatory wrasse under acidified conditions. Bottom-up CO2 effects interact with top-down control by predators to maintain the abundance of sea urchin populations under ambient and acidified conditions. The weakened urchin herbivory on a seagrass that was subjected to an intense fish herbivory at vents compensates the overall herbivory pressure on the habitat-forming seagrass. Overall plasticity of the studied system components may contribute to prevent habitat loss and to stabilize the system under acidified conditions. Thus, preserving the network of species interactions in seagrass ecosystems may help to minimize the impacts of ocean acidification in near-future oceans.

Continue reading ‘Resistance of seagrass habitats to ocean acidification via altered interactions in a tri-trophic chain’

Ocean acidification: fish physiology and behavior

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has led to increased levels of dissolved CO2 in the Earth’s oceans. This has generally decreased the pH of, or “acidified,” ocean water. Decreased pH, along with other chemical changes ultimately caused by an increase in dissolved CO2, could have direct effects on the physiology and behavior of fishes. (“Physiology” is the study of how an organism works; an organism’s physiology refers to the biological systems that allow it to function and respond to its environment.) Scientists have dedicated a lot of time and effort to studying the potential effects of OA on fish physiology and behavior. This publication will summarize the current state of our understanding on the topic, with special emphasis on Florida fishes. It will also address current challenges in understanding the real-world effects of a complex global process using data largely collected on isolated fish in laboratory experiments.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification: fish physiology and behavior’

Mercury in juvenile Solea senegalensis: linking bioaccumulation, seafood safety, and neuro-oxidative responses under climate change-related stressors

Mercury (Hg) is globally recognized as a persistent chemical contaminant that accumulates in marine biota, thus constituting an ecological hazard, as well as a health risk to seafood consumers. Climate change-related stressors may influence the bioaccumulation, detoxification, and toxicity of chemical contaminants, such as Hg. Yet, the potential interactions between environmental stressors and contaminants, as well as their impacts on marine organisms and seafood safety, are still unclear. Hence, the aim of this work was to assess the bioaccumulation of Hg and neuro-oxidative responses on the commercial flat fish species Solea senegalensis (muscle, liver, and brain) co-exposed to dietary Hg in its most toxic form (i.e., MeHg), seawater warming (ΔT°C = +4 °C), and acidification (pCO2 = +1000 µatm, equivalent to ΔpH = −0.4 units). In general, fish liver exhibited the highest Hg concentration, followed by brain and muscle. Warming enhanced Hg bioaccumulation, whereas acidification decreased this element’s levels. Neuro-oxidative responses to stressors were affected by both climate change-related stressors and Hg dietary exposure. Hazard quotient (HQ) estimations evidenced that human exposure to Hg through the consumption of fish species may be aggravated in tomorrow’s ocean, thus raising concerns from the seafood safety perspective.

Continue reading ‘Mercury in juvenile Solea senegalensis: linking bioaccumulation, seafood safety, and neuro-oxidative responses under climate change-related stressors’

Climate‐induced changes in the suitable habitat of cold‐water corals and commercially important deep‐sea fishes in the North Atlantic

The deep sea plays a critical role in global climate regulation through uptake and storage of heat and carbon dioxide. However, this regulating service causes warming, acidification and deoxygenation of deep waters, leading to decreased food availability at the seafloor. These changes and their projections are likely to affect productivity, biodiversity and distributions of deep‐sea fauna, thereby compromising key ecosystem services. Understanding how climate change can lead to shifts in deep‐sea species distributions is critically important in developing management measures. We used environmental niche modelling along with the best available species occurrence data and environmental parameters to model habitat suitability for key cold‐water coral and commercially important deep‐sea fish species under present‐day (1951–2000) environmental conditions and to project changes under severe, high emissions future (2081–2100) climate projections (RCP8.5 scenario) for the North Atlantic Ocean. Our models projected a decrease of 28%–100% in suitable habitat for cold‐water corals and a shift in suitable habitat for deep‐sea fishes of 2.0°–9.9° towards higher latitudes. The largest reductions in suitable habitat were projected for the scleractinian coral Lophelia pertusa and the octocoral Paragorgia arborea, with declines of at least 79% and 99% respectively. We projected the expansion of suitable habitat by 2100 only for the fishes Helicolenus dactylopterus and Sebastes mentella (20%–30%), mostly through northern latitudinal range expansion. Our results projected limited climate refugia locations in the North Atlantic by 2100 for scleractinian corals (30%–42% of present‐day suitable habitat), even smaller refugia locations for the octocorals Acanella arbuscula and Acanthogorgia armata (6%–14%), and almost no refugia for P. arborea. Our results emphasize the need to understand how anticipated climate change will affect the distribution of deep‐sea species including commercially important fishes and foundation species, and highlight the importance of identifying and preserving climate refugia for a range of area‐based planning and management tools.

Continue reading ‘Climate‐induced changes in the suitable habitat of cold‐water corals and commercially important deep‐sea fishes in the North Atlantic’

Effects of water acidification on Senegalese sole Solea senegalensis health status and metabolic rate: implications for immune responses and energy use

Increasing water CO2, aquatic hypercapnia, leads to higher physiological pCO2 levels in fish, resulting in an acidosis and compensatory acid-base regulatory response. Senegalese sole is currently farmed in super-intensive recirculating water systems where significant accumulation of CO2 in the water may occur. Moreover, anthropogenic releases of CO2 into the atmosphere are linked to ocean acidification. The present study was designed to assess the effects of acute (4 and 24 h) and prolonged exposure (4 weeks) to CO2 driven acidification (i.e., pH 7.9, 7.6, and 7.3) from normocapnic seawater (pH 8.1) on the innate immune status, gill acid-base ion transporter expression and metabolic rate of juvenile Senegalese sole. The acute exposure to severe hypercapnia clearly affected gill physiology as observed by an increase of NHE3b positive ionocytes and a decrease of cell shape factor. Nonetheless only small physiological adjustments were observed at the systemic level with (1) a modulation of both plasma and skin humoral parameters and (2) an increased expression of HIF-1 expression pointing to an adjustment to the acidic environment even after a short period (i.e., hours). On the other hand, upon prolonged exposure, the expression of several pro-inflammatory and stress related genes was amplified and gill cell shape factor was aggravated with the continued increase of NHE3b positive ionocytes, ultimately impacting fish growth. While these findings indicate limited effects on energy use, deteriorating immune system conditions suggest that Senegalese sole is vulnerable to changes in CO2 and may be affected in aquaculture where a pH drop is more prominent. Further studies are required to investigate how larval and adult Senegalese sole are affected by changes in CO2.

Continue reading ‘Effects of water acidification on Senegalese sole Solea senegalensis health status and metabolic rate: implications for immune responses and energy use’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book