Posts Tagged 'Mediterranean'

Spring distribution of shelled pteropods across the Mediterranean Sea

Shelled pteropods represent an excellent sentinel for indicating exposure to ocean acidification (OA). Here, for the first time, we characterise spring pteropod distribution throughout the Mediterranean Sea, a region that has been identified as a climate change hot-spot. The presence of a west–east natural biogeochemical gradient makes this region a natural laboratory to investigate how the variability in environmental parameters may affect pteropod distribution. Results show that pteropod abundance is significantly higher in the eastern Mediterranean Sea where there is a higher aragonite saturation state (Ωar), showing that distribution is positively correlated with Ωar. We also observed a resilience of pteropods to higher temperatures and low nutrient conditions, including phosphorous limitation. The higher abundance of pteropods in ultra-oligotrophic conditions (eastern Mediterranean Sea) suggests that this organism can play an important role as the prime calcifying zooplankton within specific oligotrophic regions.

Continue reading ‘Spring distribution of shelled pteropods across the Mediterranean Sea’

The carbonate system in the Ligurian Sea

The study of the oceanic carbonate system is linked to two important environmental issues: ocean CO2 uptake and ocean acidification and its impact on organisms, ecosystems and ecosystem services. This chapter mainly focuses on the seasonal cycles and long‐term trends of the ocean carbonate system based on a synthesis of data collected in the Ligurian Sea from 1998 to 2016. In addition to the effect of potential T (theta) on CO2 solubility, the distribution of dissolved inorganic carbon CT in the water column is driven by the antagonistic effects of the biological carbon pump that increases the vertical gradient of CT (lowering CT at the surface and increasing it in the ocean interior) and the exchange of CO2 at the air–sea interface. The chapter also presents the seasonal cycle of the carbonate system and ancillary variables in the surface water.

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Are control of extracellular acid-base balance and regulation of skeleton genes linked to resistance to ocean acidification in adult sea urchins?


• Arbacia lixula and Paracentrotus lividus were differently affected by low pH exposure.

• P. lividus skeleton integrity was not affected by low pH.

• Arbacia lixula exposed to low pH near CO2 vent showed decreased skeletal integrity.

• pH exposure leads to changes in biomineralization-related genes expression.

• Acid-base regulation capacity is linked with a better tolerance to low pH.

Continue reading ‘Are control of extracellular acid-base balance and regulation of skeleton genes linked to resistance to ocean acidification in adult sea urchins?’

A high biodiversity mitigates the impact of ocean acidification on hard-bottom ecosystems

Biodiversity loss and climate change simultaneously threaten marine ecosystems, yet their interactions remain largely unknown. Ocean acidification severely affects a wide variety of marine organisms and recent studies have predicted major impacts at the pH conditions expected for 2100. However, despite the renowned interdependence between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, the hypothesis that the species’ response to ocean acidification could differ based on the biodiversity of the natural multispecies assemblages in which they live remains untested. Here, using experimentally controlled conditions, we investigated the impact of acidification on key habitat-forming organisms (including corals, sponges and macroalgae) and associated microbes in hard-bottom assemblages characterised by different biodiversity levels. Our results indicate that, at higher biodiversity, the impact of acidification on otherwise highly vulnerable key organisms can be reduced by 50 to >90%, depending on the species. Here we show that such a positive effect of a higher biodiversity can be associated with higher availability of food resources and healthy microbe-host associations, overall increasing host resistance to acidification, while contrasting harmful outbreaks of opportunistic microbes. Given the climate change scenarios predicted for the future, we conclude that biodiversity conservation of hard-bottom ecosystems is fundamental also for mitigating the impacts of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘A high biodiversity mitigates the impact of ocean acidification on hard-bottom ecosystems’

Temporal variability of the carbonate system and air-sea CO2 exchanges in a Mediterranean human-impacted coastal site


• First study of the variability of the carbonate system in the Bay of Marseille.

• The Bay of Marseille acts as a sink of atmospheric CO2 at the annual scale.

• Temperature is the main contributor to the air-sea CO2 exchange variability.


The temporal evolution of the carbonate system and air-sea CO2 fluxes are investigated for the first time in the Bay of Marseille (BoM – North Western Mediterranean Sea), a coastal system affected by anthropogenic forcing from the Marseille metropolis. This study presents a two-year time-series (between 2016 and 2018) of fortnightly measurements of AT, CT, pH and derived seawater carbonate parameters at the SOLEMIO station. On this land-ocean boundary area, no linear relationship between AT and salinity in surface water is observed due to sporadic intrusions of freshwater coming from the Rhone River. On an annual scale, the BoM acts as a sink of atmospheric CO2. This result is consistent with previous studies in the Mediterranean Sea. Mean daily air-sea CO2 fluxes range between −0.8 mmol C.m−2.d−1 and -2.2 mmol C.m−2.d−1 during the study period, depending on the atmospheric CO2 sampling site used for the estimates. This study shows that the pCO2 in the surface water is predominantly driven by temperature changes, even if partially counterbalanced by biological activity. Therefore, temperature is the main contributor to the air-sea CO2 exchange variability. Mean daily Net Ecosystem Production (NEP) estimates from CT budget shows an ecosystem in which autotrophic processes are associated with a sink of CO2. Despite some negative NEP values, the observed air-sea CO2 fluxes in the BoM are negative, suggesting that thermodynamic processes are the predominant drivers for these fluxes.

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Sperm motility impairment in free spawning invertebrates under near-future level of ocean acidification: uncovering the mechanism

Ocean acidification (OA) refers to the decrease in ocean water pH resulting from the increasing absorption of atmospheric CO2. This will cause changes in the ocean’s carbonate chemistry system with a resulting impact on reproduction of marine organisms. Reproduction is the fundamental process that allows the conservation of the species; in free-spawning marine invertebrates, this process is highly sensitive to changes in seawater quality and chemistry. To date, the majority of the studies concerned OA effects on reproduction has been focused on embryo and larval development. Despite several evidence for the impairment of reproductive success by environmental perturbations through altering gamete quality, sperm physiological responses to OA are poorly investigated. In this study, we evaluated the effects of exposure to acidified seawater (AcSW) (pH 7.8), which approximate the predicted global averages for oceanic surface waters at the end of this century, on sperm quality of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis and the ascidian Ciona robusta by evaluating several endpoints, such as motility, vitality, mitochondrial activity, oxidative state, and intracellular pH (pHi). Following sperm exposure to AcSW, the percentage of motile spermatozoa, mitochondrial activity and pHi decreased in comparison to the current seawater pH of 8.1, whereas vitality and oxidative state were unaffected by the low external pH in both the species. In broadcast spawners, a relationship between sperm intracellular pH and the initiation of motility are well known. Spermatozoa are immotile in the testes and motility is induced after the spermatozoa are released into seawater; the alkaline pH of seawater, in fact, increases the pHi activating motility and mitochondrial respiration. The results of this study suggest that the lowering of seawater pH as predicted to occur for 2100, through the inhibition of pHi increase, prevent sperm motility activation. Sperm motility is a key determinant of fertilization success; consequently, a corresponding drop in fertilization success would be expected with important implications for the fitness and the survival of marine invertebrates.

Continue reading ‘Sperm motility impairment in free spawning invertebrates under near-future level of ocean acidification: uncovering the mechanism’

Benthic alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon fluxes in the Rhône River prodelta generated by decoupled aerobic and anaerobic processes

Estuarine regions are generally considered a major source of atmospheric CO2, as a result of the high organic carbon (OC) mineralization rates in their water column and sediments. Despite this, the intensity of anaerobic respiration processes in the sediments tempered by the reoxidation of reduced metabolites near the sediment–water interface controls the flux of benthic alkalinity. This alkalinity may partially buffer metabolic CO2 generated by benthic OC respiration in sediments. Thus, sediments with high anaerobic respiration rates could contribute less to local acidification than previously thought. In this study, a benthic chamber was deployed in the Rhône River prodelta and the adjacent continental shelf (Gulf of Lion, northwestern Mediterranean) in late summer to assess the fluxes of total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) from the sediment. Concurrently, in situ O2 and pH micro-profiles, voltammetric profiles and pore water composition were measured in surface sediments to identify the main biogeochemical processes controlling the net production of alkalinity in these sediments. Benthic TA and DIC fluxes to the water column, ranging between 14 and 74 and 18 and 78 mmol m−2 d−1, respectively, were up to 8 times higher than dissolved oxygen uptake (DOU) rates (10.4±0.9 mmol m−2 d−1) close to the river mouth, but their intensity decreased offshore, as a result of the decline in OC inputs. In the zone close to the river mouth, pore water redox species indicated that TA and DIC were mainly produced by microbial sulfate and iron reduction. Despite the complete removal of sulfate from pore waters, dissolved sulfide concentrations were low and significant concentrations of FeS were found, indicating the precipitation and burial of iron sulfide minerals with an estimated burial flux of 12.5 mmol m−2 d−1 near the river mouth. By preventing reduced iron and sulfide reoxidation, the precipitation and burial of iron sulfide increases the alkalinity release from the sediments during the spring and summer months. Under these conditions, the sediment provides a net source of alkalinity to the bottom waters which mitigates the effect of the benthic DIC flux on the carbonate chemistry of coastal waters and weakens the partial pressure of CO2 increase in the bottom waters that would occur if only DIC was produced.

Continue reading ‘Benthic alkalinity and dissolved inorganic carbon fluxes in the Rhône River prodelta generated by decoupled aerobic and anaerobic processes’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book