Posts Tagged 'individualmodeling'

The primary controls on U/Ca and minor element proxies in a cold-water coral cultured under decoupled carbonate chemistry conditions

Culture experiments are uniquely suited for uncovering the fundamental factors controlling skeletal geochemistry because it is possible to explore conditions beyond what is found in the modern ocean and to decouple parameters that co-vary in nature. We cultured juvenile individuals of a cold-water coral (Balanophyllia elegans) in a set of experiments that decoupled carbonate chemistry parameters over a wide range of pH, DIC, and [CO32-] values. Using a multi-element mixed spike isotope dilution method we then analyzed cultured skeletons for U/Ca, which has been proposed as a potential proxy for seawater pH and [CO32-], as well as Sr/Ca, and Mg/Ca.

We find that U/Ca and Sr/Ca ratios in cultured B. elegans are most strongly correlated with solution DIC and not pH or [CO32-]. We also confirm previous observations that Metal/Calcium (Me/Ca) ratios follow the same correlated relationships between and among individuals across different experimental conditions. Interpretation of these robust Me/Ca patterns within the framework of a geochemical model of biomineralization allows us to identify two “rules” of skeletal growth for B. elegans. First, changes in seawater exchange rates can explain variability in B. elegans Me/Ca ratios, correlations between these ratios, and sensitivity of Me/Ca to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. Second, our model best fits our data if we assume that calcifying fluid pH for B. elegans remains constant across widely varying experimental seawater compositions. Our study has implications for the recently developed Sr-U paleothermometer because it refines our understanding of the environmental parameters affecting this proxy. Our model further demonstrates that while U/Ca is not a robust indicator of seawater pH or [CO32-]. Instead, U/Ca may record how calcifying fluid [CO32-] responds to changes in the environment or calcification dynamics, which may be useful in evaluating how corals respond to changes like ocean acidification. Measurements of U/Ca and additional Me/Ca ratios in other coral species, evaluated within a similar framework, may elucidate how those species respond to environmental change.

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Simulating fish population responses to elevated CO2: a case study using winter flounder

Scaling experimentally derived effects of CO2 on marine fauna to population responses is critical for informing management about potential ecological ramifications of ocean acidification. We used an individual-based model of winter flounder to extrapolate laboratory-derived effects of elevated CO2 assumed for early life stages of fish to long-term population dynamics. An offspring module with detailed hourly to daily representations of spawning, growth, and mortality that incorporates potential elevated CO2 effects was linked to an annual time-step parent module. We calibrated the model using a 40 yr reference simulation (1977 to 2016) that included gradual warming and then performed ‘Retrospective’ simulations that assumed a suite of elevated CO2 effects by changing fertilization rate, mortality rate of embryos due to developmental malformations, larval growth rate, and size-at-settlement. ‘Recovery’ simulations that started at low population size were then used to further explore possible interactions between the effects of CO2 and warming on population productivity. Warming had a major negative effect on the simulated winter flounder population abundance, and reduced larval growth had the largest single impact among the CO2 effects tested. When a combination of the assumed CO2 effects was imposed together, average annual recruitment and spawning stock biomass were reduced by half. In the Recovery simulations, inclusion of CO2 effects amplified the progressively decreasing population productivity with warming. Our analysis is speculative and a first step towards addressing the need for extrapolating from laboratory effects of ocean acidification to broader, ecologically relevant scales.

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Scaling the effects of ocean acidification on coral growth and coral–coral competition on coral community recovery

Ocean acidification (OA) is negatively affecting calcification in a wide variety of marine organisms. These effects are acute for many tropical scleractinian corals under short-term experimental conditions, but it is unclear how these effects interact with ecological processes, such as competition for space, to impact coral communities over multiple years. This study sought to test the use of individual-based models (IBMs) as a tool to scale up the effects of OA recorded in short-term studies to community-scale impacts, combining data from field surveys and mesocosm experiments to parameterize an IBM of coral community recovery on the fore reef of Moorea, French Polynesia. Focusing on the dominant coral genera from the fore reef, PocilloporaAcroporaMontipora and Porites, model efficacy first was evaluated through the comparison of simulated and empirical dynamics from 2010–2016, when the reef was recovering from sequential acute disturbances (a crown-of-thorns seastar outbreak followed by a cyclone) that reduced coral cover to ~0% by 2010. The model then was used to evaluate how the effects of OA (1,100–1,200 µatm pCO2) on coral growth and competition among corals affected recovery rates (as assessed by changes in % cover y−1) of each coral population between 2010–2016. The model indicated that recovery rates for the fore reef community was halved by OA over 7 years, with cover increasing at 11% y−1 under ambient conditions and 4.8% y−1 under OA conditions. However, when OA was implemented to affect coral growth and not competition among corals, coral community recovery increased to 7.2% y−1, highlighting mechanisms other than growth suppression (i.e., competition), through which OA can impact recovery. Our study reveals the potential for IBMs to assess the impacts of OA on coral communities at temporal and spatial scales beyond the capabilities of experimental studies, but this potential will not be realized unless empirical analyses address a wider variety of response variables representing ecological, physiological and functional domains.

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Morphological response accompanying size reduction of belemnites during an Early Jurassic hyperthermal event modulated by life history

One of the most common responses of marine ectotherms to rapid warming is a reduction in body size, but the underlying reasons are unclear. Body size reductions have been documented alongside rapid warming events in the fossil record, such as across the Pliensbachian-Toarcian boundary (PToB) event (~ 183 Mya). As individuals grow, parallel changes in morphology can indicate details of their ecological response to environmental crises, such as changes in resource acquisition, which may anticipate future climate impacts. Here we show that the morphological growth of a marine predator belemnite species (extinct coleoid cephalopods) changed significantly over the PToB warming event. Increasing robustness at different ontogenetic stages likely results from indirect consequences of warming, like resource scarcity or hypercalcification, pointing toward varying ecological tolerances among species. The results of this study stress the importance of taking life history into account as well as phylogeny when studying impacts of environmental stressors on marine organisms.

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Environmental legacy effects and acclimatization of a crustose coralline alga to ocean acidification

Prior exposure to variable environmental conditions is predicted to influence the resilience of marine organisms to global change. We conducted complementary 4-month field and laboratory experiments to understand how a dynamic, and sometimes extreme, environment influences growth rates of a tropical reef-building crustose coralline alga and its responses to ocean acidification (OA). Using a reciprocal transplant design, we quantified calcification rates of the Caribbean coralline Lithophyllum sp. at sites with a history of either extreme or moderate oxygen, temperature, and pH regimes. Calcification rates of in situ corallines at the extreme site were 90% lower than those at the moderate site, regardless of origin. Negative effects of corallines originating from the extreme site persisted even after transplanting to more optimal conditions for 20 weeks. In the laboratory, we tested the separate and combined effects of stress and variability by exposing corallines from the same sites to either ambient (Amb: pH 8.04) or acidified (OA: pH 7.70) stable conditions or variable (Var: pH 7.80-8.10) or acidified variable (OA-Var: pH 7.45-7.75) conditions. There was a negative effect of all pH treatments on Lithophyllum sp. calcification rates relative to the control, with lower calcification rates in corallines from the extreme site than from the moderate site in each treatment, indicative of a legacy effect of site origin on subsequent response to laboratory treatment. Our study provides ecologically relevant context to understanding the nuanced effects of OA on crustose coralline algae, and illustrates how local environmental regimes may influence the effects of global change.

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Ocean acidification amplifies multi-stressor impacts on global marine invertebrate fisheries

Elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing global ocean changes and drives changes in organism physiology, life-history traits, and population dynamics of natural marine resources. However, our knowledge of the mechanisms and consequences of ocean acidification (OA) – in combination with other climatic drivers (i.e., warming, deoxygenation) – on organisms and downstream effects on marine fisheries is limited. Here, we explored how the direct effects of multiple changes in ocean conditions on organism aerobic performance scales up to spatial impacts on fisheries catch of 210 commercially exploited marine invertebrates, known to be susceptible to OA. Under the highest CO2 trajectory, we show that global fisheries catch potential declines by as much as 12% by the year 2100 relative to present, of which 3.4% was attributed to OA. Moreover, OA effects are exacerbated in regions with greater changes in pH (e.g., West Arctic basin), but are reduced in tropical areas where the effects of ocean warming and deoxygenation are more pronounced (e.g., Indo-Pacific). Our results enhance our knowledge on multi-stressor effects on marine resources and how they can be scaled from physiology to population dynamics. Furthermore, it underscores variability of responses to OA and identifies vulnerable regions and species.

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Inorganic carbon fluxes and perturbations by ocean acidification estimated using a data-constrained, process-based model of coral physiology

Recognition that ocean acidification (OA) alters calcification rates in many tropical corals and photosynthetic processes in some has motivated research into coral’s carbon processing systems. Here, a multi-compartment coral model is used to assess inorganic carbon fluxes, accounting for carbon uptake, photosynthesis, transport across and between coral tissue and calcification. The increased complexity of this model is enabled by incorporating recent measurements of carbonic anhydrase activity and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) related photosynthetic parameters, allowing the model to respond to changes in external inorganic carbon chemistry. The model reproduced measured gross photosynthesis, calcification rates and calcifying fluid pH from Orbicella faveolata at current oceanic conditions. Model simulations representing OA conditions showed an increase in net photosynthesis and modest decreases in calcification which fall within trends seen in experimental data. Photosynthesis increased due to higher diffusive influx of CO2 into the oral tissue layers, increasing DIC where symbiotic algae reside. The model suggests that decreases in calcification result from increased fluxes of CO2 into the calcifying fluid from the aboral tissue layer and the bulk seawater, lowering its pH and reducing the aragonite saturation state. However, modeled pH drops in the calcifying fluid exceed those observed, pointing to the need for additional empirical constraints on DIC fluxes associated with calcification and coelenteron transport.

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Physiology, niche characteristics and extreme events: current and future habitat suitability of a rhodolith-forming species in the Southwestern Atlantic


  • Global climate change and local stressors are the main threats to reef-building organisms and habitats they build, such as rhodolith beds.
  • Through an experimental essay and ecological niche modelling, we were able to determine the environmental factors that determine the distribution and affect the physiology of an important rhodolith-forming species in the southwestern Atlantic.
  • Our results raise the possibility of some rhodolith-forming species being resilient to future environmental change based on our current understanding of their distributions, a perspective that will need to be further explored by future studies.
  • This information is helpful in informing policies for the conservation of priority areas, aiding the preservation of marine biodiversity in the South Atlantic.


Given the ecological and biogeochemical importance of rhodolith beds, it is necessary to investigate how future environmental conditions will affect these organisms. We investigated the impacts of increased nutrient concentrations, acidification, and marine heatwaves on the performance of the rhodolith-forming species Lithothamnion crispatum in a short-term experiment, including the recovery of individuals after stressor removal. Furthermore, we developed an ecological niche model to establish which environmental conditions determine its current distribution along the Brazilian coast and to project responses to future climate scenarios. Although L. crispatum suffered a reduction in photosynthetic performance when exposed to stressors, they returned to pre-experiment values following the return of individuals to control conditions. The model showed that the most important variables in explaining the current distribution of L. crispatum on the Brazilian coast were maximum nitrate and temperature. In future ocean conditions, the model predicted a range expansion of habitat suitability for this species of approximately 58.5% under RCP 8.5. Physiological responses to experimental future environmental conditions corroborated model predictions of the expansion of this species’ habitat suitability in the future. This study, therefore, demonstrates the benefits of applying combined approaches to examine potential species responses to climate-change drivers from multiple angles.

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Effect of coastal development on larval fish abundance in Klang Strait (Malaysia)


  • BACI model detects larval fish abundance before and after 30 years of development.
  • Lower larval diversity and abundance at impact than at offshore control stations.
  • The inshore-offshore cline in abundance can be related to lower SST and higher pH.
  • Total larval fish abundance increased despite changes in zooplankton composition.
  • 1st and 2nd stage larvae of certain families increased after development impact.


Changes in larval fish assemblages were studied before (1985-86) and after (2013–2014) rapid coastal development in the Klang Strait, Malaysia, based on a Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) experimental design. Fish larvae were sampled by bongo-nets along an 18-km transect from the impact station at the Kapar power station (KPS) to four control stations in increasingly offshore waters. Families Gobiidae, Clupeidae, Sciaenidae and Engraulidae were most abundant at both sampling periods, demonstrating their adaptability and resilience to the natural and anthropogenic disturbances. Coastal development has reduced larval fish abundance at KPS, inevitably shifting higher larval abundance to the control stations. This shift is related to lower sea surface temperature and higher pH. Despite the coastal disturbances, there was an overall increase in total larval fish abundance attributed to the preflexion stage of the Gobiidae, Sciaenidae, Engraulidae, Cynoglossidae and Callionymidae, and the yolk-sac and preflexion larvae of unidentified taxa.

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Nonlinearity, irreversibility, and surprise – managing Atlantic cod under climate change

Climate change is at the forefront of today’s global challenges with its potential to turn into a runaway process. Fishing pressure acts in concert and exacerbates the impacts of climate change. The North Atlantic Ocean is no exemption of the increasing anthropogenic stress with Atlantic cod, Gadus Morhua, one of its most prominent fish species, displaying the ocean’s state. Most Atlantic cod stocks have experienced high rates of fishing and biomass declines, leading to renovation of fishing regulations and the implementation of rebuilding strategies. Today, the cod stocks differ considerably in trends and commercial status with 8 stocks considered collapsed and 57 % of today’s landings supplied by one single stock, the North East Arctic cod. What drives the collapse and what drives the recovery of a stock? Elucidating drivers of Atlantic cod productivity at low abundance is inevitable for sustainably managing the species in its changing habitat. This thesis attempts a comprehensive study on climate change impacts by addressing rising ocean temperature (paper I-III), temperature variability (paper II), acidification (paper III) and uncertainty (of the biology and as risk in management under the precautionary approach [paper IV]). Individual and synergistic impacts of climate change are discussed with a particular focus on nonlinear dynamics, including the potential for Allee effects (paper I-III). Allee effects describe the decrease in per capita growth rate at small population size, which can hinder population recovery by reinforcing degradation. Such a shift in the underlying biology can be irreversible and demands proactive and precautionary management measures. Application of precautionary measures to protect the environment and manage risks in situations of high uncertainty is a central tenet of the “precautionary approach”, a guiding principle in fisheries management. The poor state of various commercial fish stocks worldwide stands in contrast to the precautionary approach and suggests a subordinate role of science in fisheries management. In paper IV, Canada’s fisheries policy and advisory process is contrasted with the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy in regard to the precautionary approach and the role of science, in order to identify policy and institutional constraints that have hindered sustainable, precautionary management practices. Drawing from insights on climate change driven productivity changes (paper I-III) and the importance of a policy and institutional framework that acknowledges these (paper IV), this thesis ends with suggestions for scientifically informed, precautionary and sustainable fisheries management practices that can speed up recovery and allow for a vital fishery in the future.

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Effects of triclosan exposure on the energy budget of Ruditapes philippinarum and R. decussatus under climate change scenarios


  • Environmental triclosan levels alter the reproductive output of R. philippinarum.
  • Environmental triclosan levels reduce body mass in R. philippinarum.
  • R. decussatus growth was resilient to environmental changes.
  • Worst case scenario (TCS and climate change) will affect Manila clam production.


We built a simulation model based on Dynamic Energy Budget theory (DEB) to assess the growth and reproductive potential of the native European clam Ruditapes decussatus and the introduced Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum under current temperature and pH conditions in a Portuguese estuary and under those forecasted for the end of the 21st c. The climate change scenario RCP8.5 predicts temperature increase of 3 °C and a pH decrease of 0.4 units. The model was run under additional conditions of exposure to the emerging contaminant triclosan (TCS) and in the absence of this compound. The parameters of the DEB model were calibrated with the results of laboratory experiments complemented with data from the literature available for these two important commercial shellfish resources. For each species and experimental condition (eight combinations), we used data from the experiments to produce estimates for the key parameters controlling food intake flux, assimilation flux, somatic maintenance flux and energy at the initial simulation time. The results showed that the growth and reproductive potential of both species would be compromised under future climate conditions, but the effect of TCS exposure had a higher impact on the energy budget than forecasted temperature and pH variations. The egg production of R. philippinarum was projected to suffer a more marked reduction with exposure to TCS, regardless of the climatic factor, while the native R. decussatus appeared more resilient to environmental causes of stress. The results suggest a likely decrease in the rates of expansion of the introduced R. philippinarum in European waters, and negative effects on fisheries and aquaculture production of exposure to emerging contaminants (e.g., TCS) and climate change.

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Online-coupling of widely-ranged timescales to model coral reef development


  • A biophysical model framework for coral reef evolution is developed.
  • The model can be used to predict the coral response to the environment via process-based relations.
  • The model bridges the gap in timescales of processes from seconds to millennia.
  • Model predictions are within the accuracy of climate projections.
  • The model is an efficient tool for forecasting coral reef development to inform policy makers.


The increasing pressure on Earth’s ecosystems due to climate change is becoming more and more evident and the impacts of climate change are especially visible on coral reefs. Understanding how climate change interacts with the physical environment of reefs to impact coral growth and reef development is critically important to predicting the persistence of reefs into the future. In this study, a biophysical model was developed including four environmental factors in a feedback loop with the coral’s biology: (1) light; (2) hydrodynamics; (3) temperature; and (4) pH. The submodels are online coupled, i.e. regularly exchanging information and feedbacks while the model runs. This ensures computational efficiency despite the widely-ranged timescales. The composed biophysical model provides a significant step forward in understanding the processes that modulate the evolution of coral reefs, as it is the first construction of a model in which the hydrodynamics are included in the feedback loop.

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Patterns of element incorporation in calcium carbonate biominerals recapitulate phylogeny for a diverse range of marine calcifiers

Elemental ratios in biogenic marine calcium carbonates are widely used in geobiology, environmental science, and paleoenvironmental reconstructions. It is generally accepted that the elemental abundance of biogenic marine carbonates reflects a combination of the abundance of that ion in seawater, the physical properties of seawater, the mineralogy of the biomineral, and the pathways and mechanisms of biomineralization. Here we report measurements of a suite of nine elemental ratios (Li/Ca, B/Ca, Na/Ca, Mg/Ca, Zn/Ca, Sr/Ca, Cd/Ca, Ba/Ca, and U/Ca) in 18 species of benthic marine invertebrates spanning a range of biogenic carbonate polymorph mineralogies (low-Mg calcite, high-Mg calcite, aragonite, mixed mineralogy) and of phyla (including Mollusca, Echinodermata, Arthropoda, Annelida, Cnidaria, Chlorophyta, and Rhodophyta) cultured at a single temperature (25°C) and a range of pCO2 treatments (ca. 409, 606, 903, and 2856 ppm). This dataset was used to explore various controls over elemental partitioning in biogenic marine carbonates, including species-level and biomineralization-pathway-level controls, the influence of internal pH regulation compared to external pH changes, and biocalcification responses to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. The dataset also enables exploration of broad scale phylogenetic patterns of elemental partitioning across calcifying species, exhibiting high phylogenetic signals estimated from both uni- and multivariate analyses of the elemental ratio data (univariate: λ = 0–0.889; multivariate: λ = 0.895–0.99). Comparing partial R2 values returned from non-phylogenetic and phylogenetic regression analyses echo the importance of and show that phylogeny explains the elemental ratio data 1.4–59 times better than mineralogy in five out of nine of the elements analyzed. Therefore, the strong associations between biomineral elemental chemistry and species relatedness suggests mechanistic controls over element incorporation rooted in the evolution of biomineralization mechanisms.

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Reviews and syntheses: spatial and temporal patterns in metabolic fluxes inform potential for seagrass to locally mitigate ocean acidification

As global change continues to progress, there is a growing interest in assessing any local levers that could be used to manage the social and ecological impacts of rising CO2 concentrations. While habitat conservation and restoration have been widely recognized for their role in carbon storage and sequestration at a global scale, the potential for managers to use vegetated habitats to mitigate CO2 concentrations at local scales in marine ecosystems facing the accelerating threat of ocean acidification (OA) has only recently garnered attention. Early studies have shown that submerged aquatic vegetation, such as seagrass beds, can locally draw down CO2 and raise seawater pH in the water column through photosynthesis, but empirical studies of local OA mitigation are still quite limited. Here, we leverage the extensive body of literature on seagrass community metabolism to highlight key considerations for local OA management through seagrass conservation or restoration. In particular, we synthesize the results from 62 studies reporting in situ rates of seagrass gross primary productivity, respiration, and/or net community productivity to highlight spatial and temporal variability in carbon fluxes. We illustrate that daytime net community production is positive overall, and similar across seasons and geographies. Full-day net community production rates, which illustrate the potential cumulative effect of seagrass beds on seawater biogeochemistry integrated over day and night, were also positive overall, but were higher in summer months in both tropical and temperate ecosystems. Although our analyses suggest seagrass meadows are generally autotrophic, the modeled effects on seawater pH are relatively small in magnitude. In addition, we illustrate that periods when full-day net community production is highest could be associated with lower nighttime pH and increased diurnal variability in seawater pCO2/pH. Finally, we highlight important areas for future research to inform the next steps for assessing the utility of this approach for management.

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Synthesis of thresholds of ocean acidification impacts on echinoderms

Assessing the vulnerability of marine invertebrates to ocean acidification (OA) requires an understanding of critical thresholds at which developmental, physiological, and behavioral traits are affected. To identify relevant thresholds for echinoderms, we undertook a three-step data synthesis, focused on California Current Ecosystem (CCE) species. First, literature characterizing echinoderm responses to OA was compiled, creating a dataset comprised of >12,000 datapoints from 41 studies. Analysis of this data set demonstrated responses related to physiology, behavior, growth and development, and increased mortality in the larval and adult stages to low pH exposure. Second, statistical analyses were conducted on selected pathways to identify OA thresholds specific to duration, taxa, and depth-related life stage. Exposure to reduced pH led to impaired responses across a range of physiology, behavior, growth and development, and mortality endpoints for both larval and adult stages. Third, through discussions and synthesis, the expert panel identified a set of eight duration-dependent, life stage, and habitat-dependent pH thresholds and assigned each a confidence score based on quantity and agreement of evidence. The thresholds for these effects ranged within pH from 7.20 to 7.74 and duration from 7 to 30 days, all of which were characterized with either medium or low confidence. These thresholds yielded a risk range from early warning to lethal impacts, providing the foundation for consistent interpretation of OA monitoring data or numerical ocean model simulations to support climate change marine vulnerability assessments and evaluation of ocean management strategies. As a demonstration, two echinoderm thresholds were applied to simulations of a CCE numerical model to visualize the effects of current state of pH conditions on potential habitat.

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Factors controlling coral skeletal U/Ca ratios with implications for their use as a proxy for past ocean conditions

Seawater temperature, salinity and carbonate chemistry have been shown to influence the uranium/calcium (U/Ca) ratios of scleractinian coral skeletons. This apparent sensitivity of U/Ca to multiple environmental parameters calls into question whether there is one environmental variable that most strongly controls coral U/Ca, and whether U/Ca can be straightforwardly applied as a paleoenvironmental proxy due to the tendency of environmental variables to covary in space and time. In this study, uranium concentration data from an existing compilation of tropical scleractinian coral U-series measurements is paired with environmental data from the World Ocean Atlas (WOA) and the Global Ocean Data Analysis Project (GLODAP) to examine the sensitivity of coral skeletal U/Ca to multiple seawater properties including temperature, salinity, pH, and saturation state. First, univariate linear regressions and multiple linear regressions were used to compare relationships between uranium and environmental parameters in the dataset with relationships observed in previous studies. Next, principal component analysis and regularized regression were used to identify the most likely predictors of coral U/Ca in order to create a multiple linear regression model. Results indicate that pH,  Ω, alkalinity, and temperature are all significant predictors of uranium concentrations in coral. The magnitude and strength of relationships between U/Ca and environmental variables also differ across different genera. Seawater properties with strong correlations and small ranges make interpretation of these results difficult. However, results of these analyses indicate that U/Ca is dependent on multiple environmental parameters and that previously developed univariate regressions may be insufficient to characterize the full range of variables that influence coral [238U].

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Impacts of hypoxic events surpass those of future ocean warming and acidification

Over the past decades, three major challenges to marine life have emerged as a consequence of anthropogenic emissions: ocean warming, acidification and oxygen loss. While most experimental research has targeted the first two stressors, the last remains comparatively neglected. Here, we implemented sequential hierarchical mixed-model meta-analyses (721 control–treatment comparisons) to compare the impacts of oxygen conditions associated with the current and continuously intensifying hypoxic events (1–3.5 O2 mg l−1) with those experimentally yielded by ocean warming (+4 °C) and acidification (−0.4 units) conditions on the basis of IPCC projections (RCP 8.5) for 2100. In contrast to warming and acidification, hypoxic events elicited consistent negative effects relative to control biological performance—survival (–33%), abundance (–65%), development (–51%), metabolism (–33%), growth (–24%) and reproduction (–39%)—across the taxonomic groups (mollusks, crustaceans and fish), ontogenetic stages and climate regions studied. Our findings call for a refocus of global change experimental studies, integrating oxygen concentration drivers as a key factor of ocean change. Given potential combined effects, multistressor designs including gradual and extreme changes are further warranted to fully disclose the future impacts of ocean oxygen loss, warming and acidification.

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Impact of temperature increase and acidification on growth and the reproductive potential of the clam Ruditapes philippinarum using DEB


  • A simulation model based on DEB theory was parameterized for the Manila clam.
  • The pH forecast in 2100 will limit the growth of Manila clam.
  • The temperature forecast in 2100 enhances the reproductive potential of Manila clam.


We built a simulation model based on Dynamic Energy Budget theory (DEB) to assess the growth and reproductive potential of the Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum under different temperature and pH conditions, based on environmental values forecasted for the end of the 21st c. under climate change scenarios. The parameters of the DEB model were calibrated with the results of seasonal growth experiments under two levels of temperature (ambient and plus 2–3 °C) and three levels of pH (8.1 used as control and 7.7 and 7.3 representing acidification). The results showed that R. philippinarum is expected to have moderate growth in length or individual body mass (ultimate length and body weight would be larger than current values by 2–3%) when taking into account only the effect of temperature increase. However, acidification is likely to have a deleterious effect on growth, with a decrease of 2–5% length or body weight under the pH value of 7.7 forecasted for the end of the 21st c, or 10–15% under a more extreme scenario (pH = 7.3). However, the aggregated reproductive potential, integrated along a lifetime of 10 years, is likely to increase by 30% with temperature increase. Decreasing pH would impact negatively on reproductive potential, but in all simulations under warmer conditions, reproductive potential values were higher than current, suggesting that temperature increase would compensate losses due to acidification. The results are discussed in relation to their possible impact on aquaculture and fisheries of this important commercial bivalve.

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Biogeography of ocean acidification: differential field performance of transplanted mussels to upwelling-driven variation in carbonate chemistry

Ocean acidification (OA) represents a serious challenge to marine ecosystems. Laboratory studies addressing OA indicate broadly negative effects for marine organisms, particularly those relying on calcification processes. Growing evidence also suggests OA combined with other environmental stressors may be even more deleterious. Scaling these laboratory studies to ecological performance in the field, where environmental heterogeneity may mediate responses, is a critical next step toward understanding OA impacts on natural communities. We leveraged an upwelling-driven pH mosaic along the California Current System to deconstruct the relative influences of pH, ocean temperature, and food availability on seasonal growth, condition and shell thickness of the ecologically dominant intertidal mussel Mytilus californianus. In 2011 and 2012, ecological performance of adult mussels from local and commonly sourced populations was measured at 8 rocky intertidal sites between central Oregon and southern California. Sites coincided with a large-scale network of intertidal pH sensors, allowing comparisons among pH and other environmental stressors. Adult California mussel growth and size varied latitudinally among sites and inter-annually, and mean shell thickness index and shell weight growth were reduced with low pH. Surprisingly, shell length growth and the ratio of tissue to shell weight were enhanced, not diminished as expected, by low pH. In contrast, and as expected, shell weight growth and shell thickness were both diminished by low pH, consistent with the idea that OA exposure can compromise shell-dependent defenses against predators or wave forces. We also found that adult mussel shell weight growth and relative tissue mass were negatively associated with increased pH variability. Including local pH conditions with previously documented influences of ocean temperature, food availability, aerial exposure, and origin site enhanced the explanatory power of models describing observed performance differences. Responses of local mussel populations differed from those of a common source population suggesting mussel performance partially depended on genetic or persistent phenotypic differences. In light of prior research showing deleterious effects of low pH on larval mussels, our results suggest a life history transition leading to greater resilience in at least some performance metrics to ocean acidification by adult California mussels. Our data also demonstrate “hot” (more extreme) and “cold” (less extreme) spots in both mussel responses and environmental conditions, a pattern that may enable mitigation approaches in response to future changes in climate.

Continue reading ‘Biogeography of ocean acidification: differential field performance of transplanted mussels to upwelling-driven variation in carbonate chemistry’

Controls on boron isotopes in a cold-water coral and the cost of resilience to ocean acidification

Coral skeletal growth is sensitive to environmental change and may be adversely impacted by an acidifying ocean. However, physiological processes can also buffer biomineralization from external conditions, providing apparent resilience to acidification in some species. These same physiological processes affect skeletal composition and can impact paleoenvironmental proxies. Understanding the mechanisms of coral calcification is thus crucial for predicting the vulnerability of different corals to ocean acidification and for accurately interpreting coral-based climate records. Here, using boron isotope (δ11B) measurements on cultured cold-water corals, we explain fundamental features of coral calcification and its sensitivity to environmental change. Boron isotopes are one of the most widely used proxies for past seawater pH, and we observe the expected sensitivity between δ11B and pH. Surprisingly, we also discover that coral δ11B is independently sensitive to seawater dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). We can explain this new DIC effect if we introduce boric acid diffusion across cell membranes as a new flux within a geochemical model of biomineralization. This model independently predicts the sensitivity of the δ11B-pH proxy, without being trained to these data, even though calcifying fluid pH (pHCF) is constant. Boric acid diffusion resolves why δ11B is a useful proxy across a range of calcifiers, including foraminifera, even when calcifying fluid pH differs from seawater. Our modeling shows that δ11B cannot be interpreted unequivocally as a direct tracer of pHCF. Constant pHCF implies similar calcification rates as seawater pH decreases, which can explain the resilience of some corals to ocean acidification. However, we show that this resilience has a hidden energetic cost such that calcification becomes less efficient in an acidifying ocean

Continue reading ‘Controls on boron isotopes in a cold-water coral and the cost of resilience to ocean acidification’

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