Posts Tagged 'mesocosms'

Combined effects of ocean acidification with morphology, water flow, and algal acclimation on metabolic rates of tropical coralline algae

Coral reefs are currently facing multiple stressors that threaten their health and function, including ocean acidification (OA). OA has been shown to negatively affect many reef calcifiers, such as coralline algae that provide many critical contributions to reef systems. Past studies have focused on how OA independently influences coralline algae, but more research is necessary as it is expected that the effects of OA on coralline algae will vary depending on many other factors. To better understand how algal morphology, water flow, and algal acclimation interact with OA to affect coralline algae, three studies were conducted in Moorea, French Polynesia, from June 2015 to July 2016. In January 2016, I tested the hypothesis that algal individuals with higher morphological complexity would exhibit faster metabolic rates under ambient pCO2 conditions, but would also demonstrate higher sensitivity to OA conditions. For three species of crustose coralline algae, Lithophyllum kotschyanum, Neogoniolithon frutescens, and Hydrolithon reinboldii, algal individuals with more complex morphologies demonstrated faster rates of calcification, photosynthesis, and respiration in the ambient pCO2 treatment than individuals with simpler morphological forms. There also appeared to be a relationship between morphology and sensitivity to OA conditions, with calcification rates negatively correlated with higher morphological complexity. In the summers of 2015 and 2016, I conducted three experiments examining the effects of water flow and OA on different morphologies of coralline algae to test the hypotheses that increased flow would enhance metabolic rates and mitigate the effects of OA, and that algae with more complex morphologies would be more responsive to increased water flow and more sensitive to OA conditions. A field experiment investigating the effects of water flow on Amphiroa fragilissima, L. kotschyanum, N. frutescens, and H. reinboldii detected enhanced rates of calcification, photosynthesis, and respiration with increased flow, and this relationship appeared to be the strongest for the crustose algal species with the highest structural complexity. A flume manipulation examining the combined effects of water flow and OA on A. fragilissima, L. kotschyanum, N. frutescens, H. reinboldii, and Porolithon onkodes suggested that coralline algal species with high structural complexity were the most sensitive to OA conditions. Finally, A. fragilissima and L. kotschyanum were maintained in different pCO2 and water flow conditions in a long-term mesocosm experiment, which indicated that flow was unable to mitigate the effects of OA on coralline algae. In the summer of 2016, I investigated the acclimation potential of A. fragilissima and L. kotschyanum to OA, and predicted that the original treatment conditions would induce phenotypic modifications that would influence algal responses to the end treatment. There were negative effects of long-term exposure of coralline algae to elevated pCO2 conditions on calcification and photosynthesis, though partial acclimation in calcification to OA was observed. The instantaneous exposure of elevated pCO2 had negative impacts on algal calcification, but had a nominal effect on photosynthesis. No effects of long-term or instantaneous exposure to elevated pCO2 were observed for respiration. The results of these studies indicate that the coralline algal response to OA conditions will likely be complex and depend on numerous factors including water flow, morphology, and acclimation potential. Therefore, it is critical that future studies further investigate the effects of these factors; specifically examining the mechanisms that underlie these responses in order to better predict the future of coralline algae and thus coral reef ecosystems in a more acidic ocean.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of ocean acidification with morphology, water flow, and algal acclimation on metabolic rates of tropical coralline algae’

Differing responses of the estuarine bivalve Limecola balthica to lowered water pH caused by potential CO2 leaks from a sub-seabed storage site in the Baltic Sea: an experimental study

Highlights

  • CO2-induced seawater acidification affected behavioral and physiological traits of Limecola balthica from the Baltic Sea.
  • In response to hypercapnia, the bivalves approached the sediment surface and increased respiration rates.
  • Lower seawater pH reduced shell weight and growth, and increased soft tissue weight that places L. balthica in a unique position among marine invertebrates.

Abstract

Sub-Seabed CCS is regarded as a key technology for the reduction of CO2 emissions, but little is known about the mechanisms through which leakages from storage sites impact benthic species. In this study, the biological responses of the infaunal bivalve Limecola balthica to CO2-induced seawater acidification (pH 7.7, 7.0, and 6.3) were quantified in 56-day mesocosm experiments. Increased water acidity caused changes in behavioral and physiological traits, but even the most acidic conditions did not prove to be fatal. In response to hypercapnia, the bivalves approached the sediment surface and increased respiration rates. Lower seawater pH reduced shell weight and growth, while it simultaneously increased soft tissue weight; this places L. balthica in a somewhat unique position among marine invertebrates.

Continue reading ‘Differing responses of the estuarine bivalve Limecola balthica to lowered water pH caused by potential CO2 leaks from a sub-seabed storage site in the Baltic Sea: an experimental study’

Ocean acidification causes no detectable effect on swimming activity and body size in a common copepod

Ocean acidification can impair an animal’s physiological performance and energetically demanding activities such as swimming. Behavioural abnormalities and changed activity in response to ocean acidification are reported in fish and crustacean species. We studied swimming activity in the calanoid copepod Pseudocalanus acuspes in response to near-future ocean acidification. Water and copepods were sampled from ten mesocosms deployed on the Swedish west coast. The experiments were conducted on animals reared in the mesocosms for 2 months during spring. Copepods were filmed after long-term (chronic) high-CO2, and after 20 h acute exposure to CO2. There was no significant effect of CO2 on copepods in chronic high-CO2, nor significant effect after the 20 h acute exposure. In addition, we measured prosome length from a large number of adult copepods, but no effect of acidification on body size was found. In this study, P. acuspes did not show sensitivity to near-future pCO2 levels. Even if a number of papers suggest that copepods seem robust to future ocean acidification, interaction between multiple stress factors, such as elevated temperature, hypoxia and salinity changes may impair a copepod’s ability to resist lowered pH.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification causes no detectable effect on swimming activity and body size in a common copepod’

Ecological performance of construction materials subject to ocean climate change

Artificial structures will be increasingly utilized to protect coastal infrastructure from sea-level rise and storms associated with climate change. Although it is well documented that the materials comprising artificial structures influence the composition of organisms that use them as habitat, little is known about how these materials may chemically react with changing seawater conditions, and what effects this will have on associated biota. We investigated the effects of ocean warming, acidification, and type of coastal infrastructure material on algal turfs. Seawater acidification resulted in greater covers of turf, though this effect was counteracted by elevated temperatures. Concrete supported a greater cover of turf than granite or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) under all temperature and pH treatments, with the greatest covers occurring under simulated ocean acidification. Furthermore, photosynthetic efficiency under acidification was greater on concrete substratum compared to all other materials and treatment combinations. These results demonstrate the capacity to maximise ecological benefits whilst still meeting local management objectives when engineering coastal defense structures by selecting materials that are appropriate in an ocean change context. Therefore, mitigation efforts to offset impacts from sea-level rise and storms can also be engineered to alter, or even reduce, the effects of climatic change on biological assemblages.

Continue reading ‘Ecological performance of construction materials subject to ocean climate change’

Ocean acidification experiments in large-scale mesocosms reveal similar dynamics of dissolved organic matter production and biotransformation

Dissolved organic matter (DOM) represents a major reservoir of carbon in the oceans. Environmental stressors such as ocean acidification (OA) potentially affect DOM production and degradation processes, e.g., phytoplankton exudation or microbial uptake and biotransformation of molecules. Resulting changes in carbon storage capacity of the ocean, thus, may cause feedbacks on the global carbon cycle. Previous experiments studying OA effects on the DOM pool under natural conditions, however, were mostly conducted in temperate and coastal eutrophic areas. Here, we report on OA effects on the existing and newly produced DOM pool during an experiment in the subtropical North Atlantic Ocean at the Canary Islands during an (1) oligotrophic phase and (2) after simulated deep water upwelling. The last is a frequently occurring event in this region controlling nutrient and phytoplankton dynamics. We manipulated nine large-scale mesocosms with a gradient of pCO2 ranging from ~350 up to ~1,030 μatm and monitored the DOM molecular composition using ultrahigh-resolution mass spectrometry via Fourier-transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR-MS). An increase of 37 μmol L−1 DOC was observed in all mesocosms during a phytoplankton bloom induced by simulated upwelling. Indications for enhanced DOC accumulation under elevated CO2 became apparent during a phase of nutrient recycling toward the end of the experiment. The production of DOM was reflected in changes of the molecular DOM composition. Out of the 7,212 molecular formulae, which were detected throughout the experiment, ~50% correlated significantly in mass spectrometric signal intensity with cumulative bacterial protein production (BPP) and are likely a product of microbial transformation. However, no differences in the produced compounds were found with respect to CO2 levels. Comparing the results of this experiment with a comparable OA experiment in the Swedish Gullmar Fjord, reveals similar succession patterns for individual compound pools during a phytoplankton bloom and subsequent accumulation of these compounds were observed. The similar behavior of DOM production and biotransformation during and following a phytoplankton bloom irrespective of plankton community composition and CO2 treatment provides novel insights into general dynamics of the marine DOM pool.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification experiments in large-scale mesocosms reveal similar dynamics of dissolved organic matter production and biotransformation’

Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)

Ocean acidification resulting from the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) by the ocean is considered a major threat to marine ecosystems. Here we examined the effects of ocean acidification on microbial community dynamics in the eastern Baltic Sea during the summer of 2012 when inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus were strongly depleted. Large-volume in situ mesocosms were employed to mimic present, future and far future CO2 scenarios. All six groups of phytoplankton enumerated by flow cytometry ( <  20 µm cell diameter) showed distinct trends in net growth and abundance with CO2 enrichment. The picoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups Pico-I and Pico-II displayed enhanced abundances, whilst Pico-III, Synechococcus and the nanoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups were negatively affected by elevated fugacity of CO2 (fCO2). Specifically, the numerically dominant eukaryote, Pico-I, demonstrated increases in gross growth rate with increasing fCO2 sufficient to double its abundance. The dynamics of the prokaryote community closely followed trends in total algal biomass despite differential effects of fCO2 on algal groups. Similarly, viral abundances corresponded to prokaryotic host population dynamics. Viral lysis and grazing were both important in controlling microbial abundances. Overall our results point to a shift, with increasing fCO2, towards a more regenerative system with production dominated by small picoeukaryotic phytoplankton.

Continue reading ‘Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)’

Community barcoding reveals little effect of ocean acidification on the composition of coastal plankton communities: Evidence from a long-term mesocosm study in the Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak

The acidification of the oceans could potentially alter marine plankton communities with consequences for ecosystem functioning. While several studies have investigated effects of ocean acidification on communities using traditional methods, few have used genetic analyses. Here, we use community barcoding to assess the impact of ocean acidification on the composition of a coastal plankton community in a large scale, in situ, long-term mesocosm experiment. High-throughput sequencing resulted in the identification of a wide range of planktonic taxa (Alveolata, Cryptophyta, Haptophyceae, Fungi, Metazoa, Hydrozoa, Rhizaria, Straminipila, Chlorophyta). Analyses based on predicted operational taxonomical units as well as taxonomical compositions revealed no differences between communities in high CO2mesocosms (~ 760 μatm) and those exposed to present-day CO2 conditions. Observed shifts in the planktonic community composition were mainly related to seasonal changes in temperature and nutrients. Furthermore, based on our investigations, the elevated CO2 did not affect the intraspecific diversity of the most common mesozooplankter, the calanoid copepod Pseudocalanus acuspes. Nevertheless, accompanying studies found temporary effects attributed to a raise in CO2. Differences in taxa composition between the CO2 treatments could, however, only be observed in a specific period of the experiment. Based on our genetic investigations, no compositional long-term shifts of the plankton communities exposed to elevated CO2 conditions were observed. Thus, we conclude that the compositions of planktonic communities, especially those in coastal areas, remain rather unaffected by increased CO2.

Continue reading ‘Community barcoding reveals little effect of ocean acidification on the composition of coastal plankton communities: Evidence from a long-term mesocosm study in the Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book