Posts Tagged 'mesocosms'

Susceptibility of two co-existing mytilid species to simulated predation under projected climate change conditions

Properties of the shells and byssus filaments secreted by marine mussels are affected by environmental and biotic factors. In this study, we investigated the effects of pH and temperature on shell and byssus in artificially created monospecific and mixed aggregations of the indigenous mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis and the invasive mussel Xenostrobus securis. The variability in the response of the mussels was mainly explained by species-specific interactions derived from the type of aggregation. In the mixed groups, acidic conditions caused a decrease in byssus strength in M. galloprovincialis, but an increase in byssus strength in X. securis. Increased temperature positively affected shell strength in X. securis, but only in mixed aggregations. Interactive effects of acidification and warming were only detected in the organic matter of shells, the strength of which decreased in M. galloprovincialis in mixed aggregations. Although the invasive mussel may be able to take advantage of changed conditions by enhancing byssal attachment, the effects that acidification has on shells may make this species more vulnerable to some predators. The study findings provide some insight into the responses of protective and attachment structures of mussels to biotic and abiotic stressors, highlighting how species interactions may shape the future of mytilid populations.

Continue reading ‘Susceptibility of two co-existing mytilid species to simulated predation under projected climate change conditions’

Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the diversity and the functioning of macroalgal communities (full thesis in French)

Predicted ocean acidification and warming for the end of the century may have drastic consequences on the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. However, a lack of knowledge persists on the impact of future changes on the response of marine communities. This thesis aims to provide new understanding of the impact of ocean acidification and warming at the community level. For this, two ecosystems have been considered: rockpools, characterized by high physico-chemical variations, and maerl beds, with smaller variations. In the laboratory, artificial assemblages were created from the main calcareous and fleshy macroalgal and grazer species present in these two ecosystems. Created assemblages have been subjected to ambient and future temperature and pCO2 conditions. Ocean acidification and warming altered the structure and functioning of maerl bed assemblages, through an increase in the productivity of non-calcareous macroalgae and a decline in maërl calcification rates. The physiology of grazers is negatively impacted by future changes, which altered assemblages’ trophic structure. On the other hand, ocean acidification and warming had no effect on the productivity of rockpool assemblages. The highly variable environment may thus increase the resistance of rockpool communities to future changes, compared to communities from more stable environments, such as maerl beds.

Continue reading ‘Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the diversity and the functioning of macroalgal communities (full thesis in French)’

Baltic Sea diazotrophic cyanobacterium is negatively affected by acidification and warming

Nitrogen fixation is a key source of nitrogen in the Baltic Sea which counteracts nitrogen loss processes in the deep anoxic basins. Laboratory and field studies have indicated that single-strain nitrogen-fixing (diazotrophic) cyanobacteria from the Baltic Sea are sensitive to ocean acidification and warming, 2 drivers of marked future change in the marine environment. Here, we enclosed a natural plankton community in 12 indoor mesocosms (volume ~1400 l) and manipulated partial pressure of carbon dioxide ( pCO2) in seawater to yield 6 CO2 treatments with 2 different temperature treatments (16.6°C and 22.4°C, pCO2 range = 360-2030 µatm). We followed the filamentous, heterocystous diazotrophic cyanobacteria community (Nostocales, primarily Nodularia spumigena) over 4 wk. Our results indicate that heterocystous diazotrophic cyanobacteria may become less competitive in natural plankton communities under ocean acidification. Elevated CO2 had a negative impact on Nodularia sp. biomass, which was exacerbated by warming. Our results imply that Nodularia sp. may contribute less to new nitrogen inputs in the Baltic Sea in the future.

Continue reading ‘Baltic Sea diazotrophic cyanobacterium is negatively affected by acidification and warming’

High CO2 under nutrient fertilization increases primary production and biomass in subtropical phytoplankton communities: a mesocosm approach

The subtropical oceans are home to one of the largest ecosystems on Earth, contributing to nearly one third of global oceanic primary production. Ocean warming leads to enhanced stratification in the oligotrophic ocean but also intensification in cross-shore wind gradients and thus in eddy kinetic energy across eastern boundary regions of the subtropical gyres. Phytoplankton thriving in a future warmer oligotrophic subtropical ocean with enhanced COlevels could therefore be patchily fertilized by increased mesoscale and submesoscale variability inducing nutrient pumping into the surface ocean. Under this premise, we have tested the response of three size classes (0.2–2, 2–20, and >20 μm) of subtropical phytoplankton communities in terms of primary production, chlorophyll and cell biomass, to increasing COconcentrations and nutrient fertilization during an in situ mesocosm experiment in oligotrophic waters off of the island of Gran Canaria. We found no significant CO2-related effect on primary production and biomass under oligotrophic conditions (phase I). In contrast, primary production, chlorophyll and biomass displayed a significant and pronounced increase under elevated CO2 conditions in all groups after nutrient fertilization, both during the bloom (phase II) and post-bloom (phase III) conditions. Although the relative increase of primary production in picophytoplankton (250%) was 2.5 higher than in microphytoplankton (100%) after nutrient fertilization, comparing the high and low CO2 treatments, microphytoplankton dominated in terms of biomass, contributing >57% to the total. These results contrast with similar studies conducted in temperate and cold waters, where consistently small phytoplankton benefitted after nutrient additions at high CO2, pointing to different CO2-sensitivities across plankton communities and ecosystem types in the ocean.

Continue reading ‘High CO2 under nutrient fertilization increases primary production and biomass in subtropical phytoplankton communities: a mesocosm approach’

Oxidative stress in the hydrocoral Millepora alcicornis exposed to CO2-driven seawater acidification

Global impacts are affecting negatively coral reefs’ health worldwide. Ocean acidification associated with the increasing CO2 partial pressure in the atmosphere can potentially induce oxidative stress with consequent cellular damage in corals and hydrocorals. In the present study, parameters related to oxidative status were evaluated in the hydrocoral Millepora alcicornis exposed to three different levels of seawater acidification using a mesocosm system. CO2-driven acidification of seawater was performed until reaching 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 pH units below the current pH of seawater pumped from the coral reef adjacent to the mesocosm. Therefore, treatments corresponded to control (pH 8.1), mild (pH 7.8), intermediate (pH 7.5) and severe (pH 7.2) seawater acidification. After 0, 16 and 30 d of exposure, hydrocorals were collected and the following parameters were analyzed in the holobiont: antioxidant capacity against peroxyl radicals (ACAP), total glutathione (GSHt) concentration, reduced (GSH) and oxidized (GSSG) glutathione ratio (GSH/GSSG), lipid peroxidation (LPO) and protein carbonyl group (PC) levels. ACAP was increased in hydrocorals after 16 d of exposure to intermediate levels of seawater acidification. GSHt and GSH/GSSG did not change over the experimental period. LPO was increased at any level of seawater acidification, while PC content was increased in hydrocorals exposed to intermediate and severe seawater acidification for 30 d. These findings indicate that the antioxidant defense system of M. alcicornis is capable of coping with acidic conditions for a short period of time (16 d). Additionally, they clearly show that a long-term (30 d) exposure to seawater acidification induces oxidative stress with consequent oxidative damage to lipids and proteins, which could compromise hydrocoral health.

Continue reading ‘Oxidative stress in the hydrocoral Millepora alcicornis exposed to CO2-driven seawater acidification’

Ocean acidification and warming impacts on native and non-native shellfish: a multidisciplinary assessment

Ocean acidification and warming have been shown to affect a wide range of marine organisms and impact assemblages and ecosystems. Many of the species experiencing negative biological effects provide valuable ecosystem services, yet it is unclear how these biological effects will affect ecosystem services provision. This thesis aimed to appraise the consequences of ocean acidification and warming on important shellfish species, from physiology to provision of ecosystem services, using a multidisciplinary approach. The responses to ocean acidification and warming of two ecologically and commercially important species of oysters – the native European Flat oyster Ostrea edulis, and the non-native Pacific oyster Magallana gigas – were assessed in laboratory mesocosms following long-term exposures to a range of scenarios predicted for 2050 and 2100.

Oysters provide numerous ecosystem services, including improvement of water quality, reef formation, and food provision, but are at risks from ocean acidification and other stressors due to negative impacts occurring at multiple life-stages and threatening reef maintenance and functioning (Chapter 1). The physiology of adult oysters appeared susceptible to ocean acidification and warming, with evident sub-lethal effects (Chapter 2). Magallana gigas experienced a greater degree of stress than O. edulis, displaying increased Standard Metabolic Rate, reduced Clearance Rate, and poorer Condition Indices. Reductions in Clearance Rates of M. gigas are especially concerning and may have important ecological impacts by limiting their ability to improve water quality in the future. The physiological changes experienced by individual oysters held important implications for the functioning of the reefs through changes in predation resistance. Again, M. gigas appeared to undergo more pronounced changes than O. edulis, displaying increased muscle strength but weakened shell strength. These changes are expected to alter its susceptibility to predators and influence community level interactions. Both O. edulis and M. gigas also underwent important changes to their biochemical composition with trends for impoverished nutritional quality, which holds direct implications on the provision of sea food. In particular, M. gigas contained lower lipid, carbohydrate, and protein levels, but higher contaminant concentration (copper); this change holds concerns for both future food security and future food safety. It was apparent that the physiological stress experienced (Chapter 2), led to significant energy reallocation from somatic growth to metabolism by depleting energetic reserves (Chapter 4), at the detriment of its nutritional quality. No negative effects on the eating quality of M. gigas (appearance, aroma, texture, taste, and overall acceptability) were recorded following a short-term exposure to ocean acidification and warming (Chapter 5), which was considered positive for the aquaculture sector. In order to secure future food provision and economic revenue, the UK aquaculture industry might need to reconsider its management strategy in the future, and encourage the production and consumption of O. edulis, in addition to the already popular M. gigas.

It is clear that the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on oysters are multifaceted and occurring at multiple scales and levels of organisation. The risks to oysters and oyster reefs appear species-specific; in the UK, introduced M. gigas may be more vulnerable than native O. edulis. To secure benefits and minimise costs related to the management of introduced species, these findings could be integrated into the current management and conservation measures in place for these species and the reefs they can form.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and warming impacts on native and non-native shellfish: a multidisciplinary assessment’

Shift towards larger diatoms in a natural phytoplankton assemblage under combined high-CO2 and warming conditions

An indoor mesocosm experiment was carried out to investigate the combined effects of ocean acidification and warming on the species composition and biogeochemical element cycling during a winter/spring bloom with a natural phytoplankton assemblage from the Kiel fjord, Germany. The experimental setup consisted of a “Control” (ambient temperature of ~4.8 °C and ~535 ± 25 μatm pCO2), a “High-CO2” treatment (ambient temperature and initially 1020 ± 45 μatm pCO2) and a “Greenhouse” treatment (~8.5 °C and initially 990 ± 60 μatm pCO2). Nutrient replete conditions prevailed at the beginning of the experiment and light was provided at in situ levels upon reaching pCO2 target levels. A diatom-dominated bloom developed in all treatments with Skeletonema costatum as the dominant species but with an increased abundance and biomass contribution of larger diatom species in the Greenhouse treatment. Conditions in the Greenhouse treatment accelerated bloom development with faster utilization of inorganic nutrients and an earlier peak in phytoplankton biomass compared to the Control and High CO2 but no difference in maximum concentration of particulate organic matter (POM) between treatments. Loss of POM in the Greenhouse treatment, however, was twice as high as in the Control and High CO2 treatment at the end of the experiment, most likely due to an increased proportion of larger diatom species in that treatment. We hypothesize that the combination of warming and acidification can induce shifts in diatom species composition with potential feedbacks on biogeochemical element cycling.

Continue reading ‘Shift towards larger diatoms in a natural phytoplankton assemblage under combined high-CO2 and warming conditions’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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