Posts Tagged 'Mediterranean'



Intertidal Mediterranean coralline algae habitat is expecting a shift toward a reduced growth and a simplified associated fauna under climate change

Coralline algae represent the most important bioconstructors in the Mediterranean Sea and are currently impaired by the effects of climate change (CC), particularly by global warming and ocean acidification (OA). We studied the effects of these two drivers on Ellisolandia elongata, an intertidal coralline algae that is known to host a rich biodiversity of associated fauna. We cultured turfs of E. elongata in experimental conditions of increased temperature and OA (using the values of the IPCC scenario RCP- 8.5 expected for 2100: actual mean temperature +3°C and pH = 7.78), and estimated alteration of algal linear growth and community structure, focusing especially on peracarid crustaceans and annelids. Our findings revealed a decrease in linear growth, yet with no significant changes on structural integrity, and a simplification of associated community, in particular for peracarids. Our study contributes to understand community-level response to CC drivers, highlighting the vulnerability of the fauna associated to an important Mediterranean marine habitat.

Continue reading ‘Intertidal Mediterranean coralline algae habitat is expecting a shift toward a reduced growth and a simplified associated fauna under climate change’

Biogenic habitat shifts under long-term ocean acidification show nonlinear community responses and unbalanced functions of associated invertebrates

Experiments have shown that increasing dissolved CO2 concentrations (i.e. Ocean Acidification, OA) in marine ecosystems may act as nutrient for primary producers (e.g. fleshy algae) or a stressor for calcifying species (e.g., coralline algae, corals, molluscs). For the first time, rapid habitat dominance shifts and altered competitive replacement from a reef-forming to a non-reef-forming biogenic habitat were documented over one-year exposure to low pH/high CO2 through a transplant experiment off Vulcano Island CO2 seeps (NE Sicily, Italy). Ocean acidification decreased vermetid reefs complexity via a reduction in the reef-building species density, boosted canopy macroalgae and led to changes in composition, structure and functional diversity of the associated benthic assemblages. OA effects on invertebrate richness and abundance were nonlinear, being maximal at intermediate complexity levels of vermetid reefs and canopy forming algae. Abundance of higher order consumers (e.g. carnivores, suspension feeders) decreased under elevated CO2 levels. Herbivores were non-linearly related to OA conditions, with increasing competitive release only of minor intertidal grazers (e.g. amphipods) under elevated CO2 levels.
Our results support the dual role of CO2 (as a stressor and as a resource) in disrupting the state of rocky shore communities, and raise specific concerns about the future of intertidal reef ecosystem under increasing CO2 emissions. We contribute to inform predictions of the complex and nonlinear community effects of OA on biogenic habitats, but at the same time encourage the use of multiple natural CO2 gradients in providing quantitative data on changing community responses to long-term CO2 exposure.

Continue reading ‘Biogenic habitat shifts under long-term ocean acidification show nonlinear community responses and unbalanced functions of associated invertebrates’

Ocean acidification affects somatic and otolith growth relationship in fish: evidence from an in situ study

Ocean acidification (OA) may have varied effects on fish eco-physiological responses. Most OA studies have been carried out in laboratory conditions without considering the in situ pCO2/pH variability documented for many marine coastal ecosystems. Using a standard otolith ageing technique, we assessed how in situ ocean acidification (ambient, versus end-of-century CO2 levels) can affect somatic and otolith growth, and their relationship in a coastal fish. Somatic and otolith growth rates of juveniles of the ocellated wrasse Symphodus ocellatus living off a Mediterranean CO2 seep increased at the high-pCO2 site. Also, we detected that slower-growing individuals living at ambient pCO2 levels tend to have larger otoliths at the same somatic length (i.e. higher relative size of otoliths to fish body length) than faster-growing conspecifics living under high pCO2 conditions, with this being attributable to the so-called ‘growth effect’. Our findings suggest the possibility of contrasting OA effects on fish fitness, with higher somatic growth rate and possibly higher survival associated with smaller relative size of otoliths that could impair fish auditory and vestibular sensitivity.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification affects somatic and otolith growth relationship in fish: evidence from an in situ study’

Effects of light and darkness on pH regulation in three coral species exposed to seawater acidification

The resilience of corals to ocean acidification has been proposed to rely on regulation of extracellular calcifying medium pH (pHECM), but few studies have compared the capacity of coral species to control this parameter at elevated pCO2. Furthermore, exposure to light and darkness influences both pH regulation and calcification in corals, but little is known about its effect under conditions of seawater acidification. Here we investigated the effect of acidification in light and darkness on pHECM, calcifying cell intracellular pH (pHI), calcification, photosynthesis and respiration in three coral species: Stylophora pistillata, Pocillopora damicornis and Acropora hyacinthus. We show that S. pistillata was able to maintain pHECM under acidification in light and darkness, but pHECM decreased in P. damicornis and A. hyacinthus to a much greater extent in darkness than in the light. Acidification depressed calcifying cell pHI in all three species, but we identified an unexpected positive effect of light on pHI. Calcification rate and pHECM decreased together under acidification, but there are inconsistencies in their relationship indicating that other physiological parameters are likely to shape how coral calcification responds to acidification. Overall our study reveals interspecies differences in coral regulation of pHECM and pHI when exposed to acidification, influenced by exposure to light and darkness.

Continue reading ‘Effects of light and darkness on pH regulation in three coral species exposed to seawater acidification’

Effects of short-term and long-term exposure to ocean acidification on carbonic anhydrase activity and morphometric characteristics in the invasive polychaete Branchiomma boholense (Annelida: Sabellidae): a case-study from a CO2 vent system

Highlights
• Carbonic anhydrase activity remained unchanged after 30-days exposure to high pCO2.

• A significant decrease in weight was observed under short-term acclimatization to low pH.

• Enzyme activity and protein content showed a 50% increase under chronic exposure to OA.

• A significant variation in wet weight was detected under long-term exposure to low pH.

Abstract
The aim of this study was to test the effects of short- and long-term exposure to high pCO2 on the invasive polychaete Branchiomma boholense (Grube, 1878), (Sabellidae), through the implementation of a transplant experiment at the CO2 vents of the Castello Aragonese at the island of Ischia (Italy). Analysis of carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity, protein tissue content and morphometric characteristics were performed on transplanted individuals (short-term exposure) as well as on specimens resident to both normal and low pH/high pCO2 environments (long-term exposure). Results obtained on transplanted worms showed no significant differences in CA activity between individuals exposed to control and acidified conditions, while a decrease in weight was observed under short-term acclimatization to both control and low pH, although at low pH the decrease was more pronounced (∼20%). As regard individuals living under chronic exposure to high pCO2, the morphometric results revealed a significantly lower (70%) wet weight of specimens from the vents with respect to animals living in high pH/low pCO2 areas. Moreover, individuals living in the Castello vents showed doubled values of enzymatic activity and a significantly higher (50%) protein tissue content compared to specimens native from normal pH/low pCO2. The results of this study demonstrated that B. boholense is inclined to maintain a great homeostatic capacity when exposed to low pH, although likely at the energetic expense of other physiological processes such as growth, especially under chronic exposure to high pCO2.

Continue reading ‘Effects of short-term and long-term exposure to ocean acidification on carbonic anhydrase activity and morphometric characteristics in the invasive polychaete Branchiomma boholense (Annelida: Sabellidae): a case-study from a CO2 vent system’

Antioxidant efficiency of Platynereis spp. (Annelida, Nereididae) under different pH conditions at a vent’s system

Marine organisms are exposed to a pH decrease and to alteration of carbonate chemistry due to ocean acidification (OA) that can represent a source of oxidative stress which can significantly affect their antioxidant defence systems efficiency. The polychaetes Platynereis dumerilii and P. massiliensis (Nereididae) are key species of the benthic community to investigate the effect of OA due to their physiological and ecological characteristics that enable them to persist even in naturally acidified CO2 vent systems. Previous studies have documented the ability of these species to adapt to OA after short- and long-term translocation experiments, but no one has ever evaluated the basal antioxidant system efficiency comparing populations permanently living in habitat characterized by different pH conditions (acidified vs. control). Here, individuals of both Platynereis species, sampled from a natural CO2 vent system and from a nonventing “control” site in three different periods (April 2016, October 2016, and February 2017), were compared highlighting signals which suggested the ability of both species to acclimatize to high pCO2–low pH with slight seasonal variations of their antioxidant efficiency and the absence of disturbances of the oxidative status of Platynereis spp. tissues.

Continue reading ‘Antioxidant efficiency of Platynereis spp. (Annelida, Nereididae) under different pH conditions at a vent’s system’

Microbial strains isolated from CO2-venting Kolumbo submarine volcano show enhanced co-tolerance to acidity and antibiotics

Highlights

• The study investigates the effects of volcanic acidification to marine bacteria.

• Deep waters of Kolumbo submarine volcano are CO2-rich and more acidic.

• Pseudomonas strains from Kolumbo seafloor show higher tolerance to acidity.

• Strong correlation between acid and antibiotic tolerance of Pseudomonas species.

• Ocean acidification may lead to marine bacteria with increased antibiotic tolerance.

Abstract

As ocean acidification intensifies, there is growing global concern about the impacts that future pH levels are likely to have on marine life and ecosystems. By analogy, a steep decrease of seawater pH with depth is encountered inside the Kolumbo submarine volcano (northeast Santorini) as a result of natural CO2 venting, making this system ideal for ocean acidification research. Here, we investigated whether the increase of acidity towards deeper layers of Kolumbo crater had any effect on relevant phenotypic traits of bacterial isolates. A total of 31 Pseudomonas strains were isolated from both surface- (SSL) and deep-seawater layers (DSL), with the latter presenting a significantly higher acid tolerance. In particular, the DSL strains were able to cope with H+ levels that were 18 times higher. Similarly, the DSL isolates exhibited a significantly higher tolerance than SSL strains against six commonly used antibiotics and As(III). More importantly, a significant positive correlation was revealed between antibiotics and acid tolerance across the entire set of SSL and DSL isolates. Our findings imply that Pseudomonas species with higher resilience to antibiotics could be favored by the prospect of acidifying oceans. Further studies are required to determine if this feature is universal across marine bacteria and to assess potential ecological impacts.

Continue reading ‘Microbial strains isolated from CO2-venting Kolumbo submarine volcano show enhanced co-tolerance to acidity and antibiotics’


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