Calcified coralline algae are ecologically important in rocky habitats in the marine photic zone worldwide and there is growing concern that ocean acidification will severely impact them. Laboratory studies of these algae in simulated ocean acidification conditions have revealed wide variability in growth, photosynthesis and calcification responses, making it difficult to assess their future biodiversity, abundance and contribution to ecosystem function. Here, we apply molecular systematic tools to assess the impact of natural gradients in seawater carbonate chemistry on the biodiversity of coralline algae in the Mediterranean and the NW Pacific, link this to their evolutionary history and evaluate their potential future biodiversity and abundance. We found a decrease in the taxonomic diversity of coralline algae with increasing acidification with more than half of the species lost in high pCO2 conditions. Sporolithales is the oldest order (Lower Cretaceous) and diversified when ocean chemistry favoured low Mg calcite deposition; it is less diverse today and was the most sensitive to ocean acidification. Corallinales were also reduced in cover and diversity but several species survived at high pCO2; it is the most recent order of coralline algae and originated when ocean chemistry favoured aragonite and high Mg calcite deposition. The sharp decline in cover and thickness of coralline algal carbonate deposits at high pCO2 highlighted their lower fitness in response to ocean acidification. Reductions in CO2 emissions are needed to limit the risk of losing coralline algal diversity.
Ocean acidification has been broadly recognised to have effects on the structure and functioning of marine benthic communities. The selection of tolerant or vulnerable species can also occur during settlement phases, especially for calcifying organisms which are more vulnerable to low pH–high pCO2 conditions. Here, we use three natural CO2 vents (Castello Aragonese north and south sides, and Vullatura, Ischia, Italy) to assess the effect of a decrease of seawater pH on the settlement of Mollusca in Posidonia oceanica meadows, and to test the possible buffering effect provided by the seagrass. Artificial collectors were installed and collected after 33 days, during April–May 2019, in three different microhabitats within the meadow (canopy, bottom/rhizome level, and dead matte without plant cover), following a pH decreasing gradient from an extremely low pH zone (pH < 7.4), to ambient pH conditions (pH = 8.10). A total of 4659 specimens of Mollusca, belonging to 57 different taxa, were collected. The number of taxa was lower in low and extremely low pH conditions. Reduced mollusc assemblages were reported at the acidified stations, where few taxa accounted for a high number of individuals. Multivariate analyses revealed significant differences in mollusc assemblages among pH conditions, microhabitat, and the interaction of these two factors. Acanthocardia echinata, Alvania lineata, Alvania sp. juv, Eatonina fulgida, Hiatella arctica, Mytilys galloprovincialis, Musculus subpictus, Phorcus sp. juv, and Rissoa variabilis were the species mostly found in low and extremely low pH stations, and were all relatively robust to acidified conditions. Samples placed on the dead matte under acidified conditions at the Vullatura vent showed lower diversity and abundances if compared to canopy and bottom/rhizome samples, suggesting a possible buffering role of the Posidonia on mollusc settlement. Our study provides new evidence of shifts in marine benthic communities due to ocean acidification and evidence of how P. oceanica meadows could mitigate its effects on associated biota in light of future climate change.
In the oligotrophic waters of the Mediterranean Sea, during the stratification period, the microbial loop relies on pulsed inputs of nutrients through atmospheric deposition of aerosols from both natural (Saharan dust) and anthropogenic origins. While the influence of dust deposition on microbial processes and community composition is still not fully constrained, the extent to which future environmental conditions will affect dust inputs and the microbial response is not known. The impact of atmospheric wet dust deposition was studied both under present and future (warming and acidification) environmental conditions through experiments in 300 L climate reactors. Three dust addition experiments were performed with surface seawater collected from the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ionian Sea and Algerian basin in the Western Mediterranean Sea during the PEACETIME cruise in May–June 2017. Top-down controls on bacteria, viral processes and community, as well as microbial community structure (16S and 18S rDNA amplicon sequencing) were followed over the 3–4 days experiments. Different microbial and viral responses to dust were observed rapidly after addition and were most of the time higher when combined to future environmental conditions. The input of nutrients and trace metals changed the microbial ecosystem from bottom-up limited to a top-down controlled bacterial community, likely from grazing and induced lysogeny. The composition of mixotrophic microeukaryotes and phototrophic prokaryotes was also altered. Overall, these results suggest that the effect of dust deposition on the microbial loop is dependent on the initial microbial assemblage and metabolic state of the tested water, and that predicted warming, and acidification will intensify these responses, affecting food web processes and biogeochemical cycles.
After the industrial revolution, increasing anthropogenic CO2 emission causes a number of changes in seawater. These changes are known as ocean acidification and affect the seaweeds in various ways. Therefore, this study is aimed to determine the ecological succession of Ulva flexuosa Wulfen 1803 in future predicted CO2-induced low pH conditions alone and in combination with naturally relevant ultraviolet radiation (UVR). For this purpose, acidification experiments with and without UVR were conducted on U. flexuosa from the Mediterranean coast, and important physiological features of algae was investigated. In this study, the Fv/Fm ratios of U. flexuosa ranged from 0.718±0.01 to 0.754±0.009. While rETRmax values of samples exposed to elevated-CO2 were measured between 112.13 – 151.93 µmol e–m-2s-1, it was determined between 111.7 – 158.4 µmol e–m-2s-1 in samples exposed to ambient sea water. According to our results, increased CO2 concentration in seawater did not improve the photosynthetic efficiency of U. flexuosa. However, when the specimens were exposed to elevated-CO2, nitrate reductase activity of U. flexuosa was declined drastically. According to the results, it is suggested that the elevated CO2 may regulate the nitrogen preference of U. flexuosa. Besides, the data also show that U. flexuosa was not sensitive to UVR.
- Long-term exposure to reduced pH was performed with sea urchins from different sites
- Seawater acidification affected sea urchin physiological and behavioral parameters
- The effects of reduced pH were less evident in lagoon sea urchins than in coastal ones
- Sea urchin responses change over time possibly related to the gametogenic cycle
- Overall results suggested adaptability of P. lividus to future pH levels
CO2-driven ocean acidification affects many aspects of sea urchin biology. However, even in the same species, OA effects are often not univocal due to non-uniform exposure setups or different ecological history of the experimental specimens. In the present work, two groups of adult sea urchins Paracentrotus lividus from different environments (the Lagoon of Venice and a coastal area in the Northern Adriatic Sea) were exposed to OA in a long-term exposure. Animals were maintained for six months in both natural seawater (pHT 8.04) and end-of-the-century predicted condition (-0.4 units pH). Monthly, physiological (respiration rate, ammonia excretion, O:N ratio) and behavioural (righting, sheltering) endpoints were investigated. Both pH and time of exposure significantly influenced sea urchin responses, but differences between sites were highlighted, particularly in the first months. Under reduced pH, ammonia excretion increased and O:N decreased in coastal specimens. Righting and sheltering were impaired in coastal animals, whereas only righting decreased in lagoon ones. These findings suggested a higher adaptation ability in sea urchins from a more variable environment. Interestingly, as the exposure continued, animals from both sites were able to acclimate. Results revealed plasticity in the physiological and behavioural responses of sea urchins under future predicted OA conditions.
The seasonal variability of the carbonate system in the eastern Mediterranean Sea (EMed) was investigated based on discrete total alkalinity (AT), total dissolved inorganic carbon (CT), and pH measurements collected during three cruises around Crete between June 2018 and March 2019. This study presents a detailed description of this new carbonate chemistry dataset in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. We show that the North Western Levantine Basin (NWLB) is unique in terms of range of AT variation vs. CT variation in the upper water column over an annual cycle. The reasons for this singularity of the NWLB can be explained by the interplay between strong evaporation and the concomitant consumption of CT by autotrophic processes. The high range of AT variations, combined to temperature changes, has a strong impact on the variability of the seawater pCO2 (pCO2SW). Based on Argo float data, an entire annual cycle for pCO2SW in the NWLB has been reconstructed in order to estimate the temporal sequence of the potential “source” and “sink” of atmospheric CO2. By combining this dataset with previous observations in the NWLB, this study shows a significant ocean acidification and a decrease in the oceanic surface pHT25 of −0.0024 ± 0.0004 pHT25 units.a–1. The changes in the carbonate system are driven by the increase of atmospheric CO2 but also by unexplained temporal changes in the surface AT content. If we consider that the EMed will, in the future, encounter longer, more intense and warmer summer seasons, this study proposes some perspectives on the carbonate system functioning of the “future” EMed.
Lithogenic elements such as aluminum (Al), iron (Fe), rare earth elements (REEs), thorium (232Th and 230Th, given as Th) and protactinium (Pa) are often assumed to be insoluble. In this study, their dissolution from Saharan dust reaching Mediterranean seawater was studied through tank experiments over 3 to 4 d under controlled conditions including controls without dust addition as well as dust seeding under present and future climate conditions (+3 ∘C and −0.3 pH). Unfiltered surface seawater from three oligotrophic regions (Tyrrhenian Sea, Ionian Sea and Algerian Basin) were used. The maximum dissolution was low for all seeding experiments: less than 0.3 % for Fe, 1 % for 232Th and Al, about 2 %–5 % for REEs and less than 6 % for Pa. Different behaviors were observed: dissolved Al increased until the end of the experiments, Fe did not dissolve significantly, and Th and light REEs were scavenged back on particles after a fast initial release. The constant 230Th/232Th ratio during the scavenging phase suggests that there is little or no further dissolution after the initial Th release. Quite unexpectedly, comparison of present and future conditions indicates that changes in temperature and/or pH influence the release of Th and REEs in seawater, leading to lower Th release and a higher light REE release under increased greenhouse conditions.
The increased absorption of atmospheric CO2 by the ocean reduces pH and affects the carbonate chemistry of seawater, thus interfering with the shell formation processes of marine calcifiers. The present study aims to examine the effects of ocean acidification and warming on the shell morphological properties of two intertidal gastropod species, Nassarius nitidus and Columbella rustica. The experimental treatments lasted for 3 months and combined a temperature increase of 3°C and a pH reduction of 0.3 units. The selected treatments reflected the high emissions (RCP 8.5) “business as usual” scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change models for eastern Mediterranean. The morphological and architectural properties of the shell, such as density, thickness and porosity were examined using 3D micro-computed tomography, which is a technique giving the advantage of calculating values for the total shell (not only at specific points) and at the same time leaving the shells intact. Nassarius nitidus had a lower shell density and thickness and a higher porosity when the pH was reduced at ambient temperature, but the combination of reduced pH and increased temperature did not have a noticeable effect in comparison to the control. The shell of Columbella rustica was less dense, thinner and more porous under acidic and warm conditions, but when the temperature was increased under ambient pH the shells were thicker and denser than the control. Under low pH and ambient temperature, shells showed no differences compared to the control. The vulnerability of calcareous shells to ocean acidification and warming appears to be variable among species. Plasticity of shell building organisms as an acclimation action toward a continuously changing marine environment needs to be further investigated focusing on species or shell region specific adaptation mechanisms.
Effects of ocean acidification (OA) on the plant phenology and colonization/settlement pattern of the hydrozoan epibiont community of the leaves of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica have been studied at volcanic CO2 vents off Ischia (Italy). The study was conducted in shallow Posidonia stands (2.5–3.5 m depth), in three stations on the north and three on the south sides of the vent’s area (Castello Aragonese vents), distributed along a pH gradient. At each station, 10–15 P. oceanica shoots were collected every three months for one-year cycle (Sept 2009–2010). The shoot density of Posidonia beds in the most acidified stations along the gradient (pH < 7.4) was significantly higher than that in the control area (pH = 8.10). On the other hand, we recorded lower leaf lengths and widths in the acidified stations in the whole year of observations, compared to those in the control stations. However, the overall leaf surface (Leaf Area Index) available for epiphytes under ocean acidification conditions was higher on the south side and on both the most acidified stations because of the higher shoot density under OA conditions. The hydrozoan epibiont community on the leaf canopy accounted for seven species, three of which were relatively abundant and occurring all year around (Sertularia perpusilla, Plumularia obliqua, Clytia hemisphaerica). All hydroids species showed a clear tolerance to low pH levels, including chitinous and non-calcifying forms, likely favoured also by the absence of competition for substratum with the calcareous forms of epiphytes selected against OA.
- Coralline alga create a microhabitat with mitigating effect on ocean acidification
- Temperature is the major driver of changes in the invertebrate reef community
- Winter heatwaves and acidified conditions alter invertebrates community structure
- Algal reef communities become dominated by opportunistic taxa
In coastal marine ecosystems coralline algae often create biogenic reefs. These calcareous algal reefs affect their associated invertebrate communities via diurnal oscillations in photosynthesis, respiration and calcification processes. Little is known about how these biogenic reefs function and how they will be affected by climate change. We investigated the winter response of a Mediterranean intertidal biogenic reef, Ellisolandia elongate exposed in the laboratory to reduced pH conditions (i.e. ambient pH – 0.3, RCP 8.5) together with an extreme heatwave event (+1.4°C for 15 days). Response variables considered both the algal physiology (calcification and photosynthetic rates) and community structure of the associated invertebrates (at taxonomic and functional level). The combination of a reduced pH with a heatwave event caused Ellisolandia elongata to significantly increase photosynthetic activity. The high variability of calcification that occurred during simulated night time conditions, indicates that there is not a simple, linear relationship between these two and may indicate that it will resilient to future conditions of climate change.
In contrast, the associated fauna were particularly negatively affected by the heatwave event, which impoverished the communities as opportunistic taxa became dominant. Local increases in oxygen and pH driven by the algae can buffer the microhabitat in the algal fronds, thus favouring the survival of small invertebrates.
Anthropogenic carbon emissions are causing changes in seawater carbonate chemistry including a decline in the pH of the oceans. While its aftermath for calcifying microbes has been widely studied, the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on marine viruses and their microbial hosts is controversial, and even more in combination with another anthropogenic stressor, i.e., human-induced nutrient loads. In this study, two mesocosm acidification experiments with Mediterranean waters from different seasons revealed distinct effects of OA on viruses and viral-mediated prokaryotic mortality depending on the trophic state and the successional stage of the plankton community. In the winter bloom situation, low fluorescence viruses, the most abundant virus-like particle (VLP) subpopulation comprising mostly bacteriophages, were negatively affected by lowered pH with nutrient addition, while the bacterial host abundance was stimulated. High fluorescence viruses, containing cyanophages, were stimulated by OA regardless of the nutrient conditions, while cyanobacteria of the genus Synechococcus were negatively affected by OA. Moreover, the abundance of very high fluorescence viruses infecting small haptophytes tended to be lower under acidification while their putative hosts’ abundance was enhanced, suggesting a direct and negative effect of OA on viral–host interactions. In the oligotrophic summer situation, we found a stimulating effect of OA on total viral abundance and the viral populations, suggesting a cascading effect of the elevated pCO2 stimulating autotrophic and heterotrophic production. In winter, viral lysis accounted for 30 ± 16% of the loss of bacterial standing stock per day (VMMBSS) under increased pCO2 compared to 53 ± 35% in the control treatments, without effects of nutrient additions while in summer, OA had no significant effects on VMMBSS (35 ± 20% and 38 ± 5% per day in the OA and control treatments, respectively). We found that phage production and resulting organic carbon release rates significantly reduced under OA in the nutrient replete winter situation, but it was also observed that high nutrient loads lowered the negative effect of OA on viral lysis, suggesting an antagonistic interplay between these two major global ocean stressors in the Anthropocene. In summer, however, viral-mediated carbon release rates were lower and not affected by lowered pH. Eutrophication consistently stimulated viral production regardless of the season or initial conditions. Given the relevant role of viruses for marine carbon cycling and the biological carbon pump, these two anthropogenic stressors may modulate carbon fluxes through their effect on viruses at the base of the pelagic food web in a future global change scenario.
Concentration of ion carbonate has become the fifth measurable variable of the seawater CO2 system since the publication of the work by Byrne and Yao (2008) introducing a spectrophotometric method similar to the standard pH procedure. However, opposite to pH, the ion carbonate method has been refined and updated in a series of works(Easley et al., 2013; Patsavas et al., 2015; Sharp et al., 2017 and Sharp and Byrne, 2019) that introduced modifications in the equations relating the UV absorbance measurements and the final ion carbonate concentration, the reagent used and other details. Except for the USA seminal research group, and the two Spanish teams at the IEO A Coruña and IIM-CSIC, no other oceanographic group has published research data using the ion carbonate spectrophotometric methods. The work by Fajar et al. (2015) used a collection of Spanish cruises from 2009 to 2014 to compare the initial spectrophotometric ion carbonate methods by Byrne and Yao (2008) and Easley et al. (2013).
The current database comprises a set of 9 one-time cruises and one coastal time-series run by the above-mentioned Spanish CO2 research groups, expanding from 2009 to 2020, where ancillary and CO2 measurements (pH, total alkalinity and total inorganic carbon) have been performed, along with spectrophotometric measurements of ion carbonate, which followed the time evolution of the ion carbonate published approaches. The database compiles all the information (cruise identification, time, location, equipment used), measurements and analysis (pressure, temperature, salinity, pH, total alkalinity, total inorganic carbon, silicate and phosphate, UV absorbance ratios for spectrophotometric ion carbonate measurements from two different reagents [PbCl2 and Pb(ClO4)2] needed to perform any CO2 internal consistency analysis. All chemical analysis were assigned a quality indicator.
Although the rise of antibiotic and multidrug resistant bacteria is one of the biggest current threats to human health, our understanding of the mechanisms involved in antibiotic resistance selection remains scarce. We performed whole genome sequencing of 21 Pseudomonas strains, previously isolated from an active submarine volcano of Greece, the Kolumbo volcano. Our goal was to identify the genetic basis of the enhanced co-tolerance to antibiotics and acidity of these Pseudomonas strains. Pangenome analysis identified 10,908 Gene Clusters (GCs). It revealed that the numbers of phage-related GCs and sigma factors, which both provide the mechanisms of adaptation to environmental stressors, were much higher in the high tolerant Pseudomonas strains compared to the rest ones. All identified GCs of these strains were associated with antimicrobial and multidrug resistance. The present study provides strong evidence that the CO2-rich seawater of the volcano associated with low pH might be a reservoir of microorganisms carrying multidrug efflux-mediated systems and pumps. We, therefore, suggest further studies of other extreme environments (or ecosystems) and their associated physicochemical parameters (or factors) in the rise of antibiotic resistance.
Seagrass Cymodocea nodosa was sampled off the Vulcano island, in the vicinity of a submarine volcanic vent. Leaf samples were collected from plants growing in a naturally acidified site, influenced by the long-term exposure to high CO2 emissions, and compared with others collected in a nearby meadow living at normal pCO2 conditions. The differential accumulated proteins in leaves growing in the two contrasting pCO2 environments was investigated. Acidified leaf tissues had less total protein content and the semi-quantitative proteomic comparison revealed a strong general depletion of proteins belonging to the carbon metabolism and protein metabolism. A very large accumulation of proteins related to the cell respiration and to light harvesting process was found in acidified leaves in comparison with those growing in the normal pCO2 site. The metabolic pathways linked to cytoskeleton turnover also seemed affected by the acidified condition, since a strong reduction in the concentration of cytoskeleton structural proteins was found in comparison with the normal pCO2 leaves. Results coming from the comparative proteomics were validated by the histological and cytological measurements, suggesting that the long lasting exposure and acclimation of C. nodosa to the vents involved phenotypic adjustments that can offer physiological and structural tools to survive the suboptimal conditions at the vents vicinity.
Ocean acidification is one of the most dramatic effects of the massive atmospheric release of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution, although its effects on marine ecosystems are not well understood. Submarine volcanic hydrothermal fields have geochemical conditions that provide opportunities to characterise the effects of elevated levels of seawater CO2 on marine life in the field. Here, we review the geochemical aspects of shallow marine CO2-rich seeps worldwide, focusing on both gas composition and water chemistry. We then describe the geochemical effects of volcanic CO2 seepage on the overlying seawater column. We also present new geochemical data and the first synthesis of marine biological community changes from one of the best-studied marine CO2 seep sites in the world (off Vulcano Island, Sicily). In areas of intense bubbling, extremely high levels of pCO2 (> 10,000 μatm) result in low seawater pH (< 6) and undersaturation of aragonite and calcite in an area devoid of calcified organisms such as shelled molluscs and hard corals. Around 100–400 m away from the Vulcano seeps the geochemistry of the seawater becomes analogous to future ocean acidification conditions with dissolved carbon dioxide levels falling from 900 to 420 μatm as seawater pH rises from 7.6 to 8.0. Calcified species such as coralline algae and sea urchins fare increasingly well as sessile communities shift from domination by a few resilient species (such as uncalcified algae and polychaetes) to a diverse and complex community (including abundant calcified algae and sea urchins) as the seawater returns to ambient levels of CO2. Laboratory advances in our understanding of species sensitivity to high CO2 and low pH seawater, reveal how marine organisms react to simulated ocean acidification conditions (e.g., using energetic trade-offs for calcification, reproduction, growth and survival). Research at volcanic marine seeps, such as those off Vulcano, highlight consistent ecosystem responses to rising levels of seawater CO2, with the simplification of food webs, losses in functional diversity and reduced provisioning of goods and services for humans.
Over the past several decades, jellyfish blooms have intensified spatially and temporally, affecting functions and services of ecosystems worldwide. At the demise of a bloom, an enormous amount of jellyfish biomass sinks to the seabed and decomposes. This process entails reciprocal microbial and biogeochemical changes, typically enriching the water column and seabed with large amounts of organic and inorganic nutrients. Jellyfish decomposition was hypothesized to be particularly important in nutrient-impoverished ecosystems, such as the Eastern Mediterranean Sea – one of the most oligotrophic marine regions in the world. Since the 1970s, this region has been experiencing the proliferation of a notorious invasive scyphozoan jellyfish, Rhopilema nomadica. In this study, we estimated the short-term decomposition effects of R. nomadica on nutrient dynamics at the sediment-water interface. Our results show that the degradation of R. nomadica has led to increased oxygen demand and acidification of overlying water as well as high rates of dissolved organic nitrogen and phosphate production. These conditions favored heterotrophic microbial activity and bacterial biomass accumulation, and triggered a shift towards heterotrophic biodegrading bacterial communities, whereas autotrophic picophytoplankton abundance was moderately affected or reduced. This shift may further decrease primary production in the water column of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Deoxygenation, acidification, nutrient enrichment, and microbial community shifts at the sediment-water interface may have a detrimental impact on macrobenthic communities. Based on these findings, we suggest that jelly-falls and their decay may facilitate an additional decline in ecosystem functions and services.
Ocean Acidification (OA) produces manifest changes in the species assemblages of stable marine ecosystems, although the general levels of biodiversity may be partially conserved. In the case of decapod crustaceans, that represent an interesting taxon because it reacts both to direct and indirect effects of OA, a lowering of pH induces clear changes in the structure of species assemblages. In this study we collected decapod crustaceans at two sites at low pH located at Castello d’Ischia, two control sites at normal pH located at Castello d’Ischia and one external control site. The results confirm that a lower biodiversity characterizes the acidified zones over the year and indicate that key species, normally very abundant in normal conditions all over the year, exhibit impoverished populations associated to the Posidonia oceanica beds off the island of Ischia.
Phenotypic plasticity is expected to facilitate the persistence of natural populations as global change progresses. The attributes of fluctuating environments that favor the evolution of plasticity have received extensive theoretical investigation, yet empirical validation of these findings is still in its infancy. Here, we combine high-resolution environmental data with a laboratory-based experiment to explore the influence of habitat pH fluctuation dynamics on the plasticity of gene expression in two populations of the Mediterranean mussel, Mytilus galloprovincialis. We linked differences in the magnitude and predictability of pH fluctuations in two habitats to population-specific gene expression profiles in ambient and stressful pH treatments. Our results demonstrate population-based differentiation in gene expression plasticity, whereby mussels native to a habitat exhibiting a large magnitude of pH fluctuations with low predictability display reduced phenotypic plasticity between experimentally imposed pH treatments. This work validates recent theoretical findings on evolution in fluctuating environments, suggesting that the predictability of fluctuating selection pressures may play a predominant role in shaping the phenotypic variation observed across natural populations.
One of the most important pieces of climate change evidence is ocean acidification. Acidification effects on marine organisms are widely studied, while very little is known regarding its effects on assemblages’ β-diversity. In this framework, shallow hydrothermal vents within a Marine Protected Area (MPA) represent natural ecosystems acting as laboratory set-ups where the continuous carbon dioxide emissions affect assemblages with consequences that can be reasonably comparable to the effects of global water acidification. The aim of the present study is to test the impact of seawater acidification on the β-diversity of soft-bottom assemblages in a shallow vent field located in the Underwater Archeological Park of Baia MPA (Gulf of Naples, Mediterranean Sea). We investigated macro- and meiofauna communities of the ‘Secca delle fumose’ vent system in sites characterized by sulfurous (G) and carbon dioxide emissions (H) that are compared with control/inactive sites (CN and CS). Statistical analyses were performed on the most represented macrobenthic (Mollusca, Polychaeta, and Crustacea), and meiobenthic (Nematoda) taxa. Results show that the lowest synecological values are detected at H and, to a lesser extent, at G. Multivariate analyses show significant differences between hydrothermal vents (G, H) and control/inactive sites; the highest small-scale heterogeneities (measure of β-diversity) are detected at sites H and G and are mainly affected by pH, TOC (Total Organic Carbon), and cations concentrations. Such findings are probably related to acidification effects, since MPA excludes anthropic impacts. In particular, acidification markedly affects β-diversity and an increase in heterogeneity among sample replicates coupled to a decrease in number of taxa is an indicator of redundancy loss and, thus, of resilience capacity. The survival is assured to either tolerant species or those opportunistic taxa that can find good environmental conditions among gravels of sand.
Combined effects of the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac and lowered seawater pH were assessed on the physiological responses of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. Bivalves were exposed for 1 week to natural pH (8.1) and two reduced pH values (pH −0.4 units and pH −0.7 units), as predicted under a climate change scenario. After the first week, exposure continued for additional 2 weeks, both in the absence and in the presence of environmentally relevant concentrations of diclofenac (0.05 and 0.5 µg/L). Clearance rate, respiration rate, and excretion rate were measured after 7 days of exposure to pH only and after 14 (T1) and 21 (T2) days of exposure to the various pH*diclofenac combinations. At all sampling times, pH significantly affected all the biological parameters considered, whereas diclofenac generally exhibited a significant influence only at T2. Overall, results demonstrated that the physiological performance of M. galloprovincialis was strongly influenced by the experimental conditions tested, in particular by the interaction between the two stressors after 21 days of exposure. Further studies are needed to assess the combined effects of climate changes and emerging contaminants on bivalve physiology during different life stages, especially reproduction.