Posts Tagged 'mesocosms'

Temperature driven changes in benthic bacterial diversity influences biogeochemical cycling in coastal sediments

Marine sediments are important sites for global biogeochemical cycling, mediated by macrofauna and microalgae. However, it is the microorganisms that drive these key processes. There is strong evidence that coastal benthic habitats will be affected by changing environmental variables (rising temperature, elevated CO2), and research has generally focused on the impact on macrofaunal biodiversity and ecosystem services. Despite their importance, there is less understanding of how microbial community assemblages will respond to environmental changes. In this study, a manipulative mesocosm experiment was employed, using next-generation sequencing to assess changes in microbial communities under future environmental change scenarios. Illumina sequencing generated over 11 million 16S rRNA gene sequences (using a primer set biased toward bacteria) and revealed Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria dominated the total bacterial community of sediment samples. In this study, the sequencing coverage and depth revealed clear changes in species abundance within some phyla. Bacterial community composition was correlated with simulated environmental conditions, and species level community composition was significantly influenced by the mean temperature of the environmental regime (p = 0.002), but not by variation in CO2 or diurnal temperature variation. Species level changes with increasing mean temperature corresponded with changes in NH4 concentration, suggesting there is no functional redundancy in microbial communities for nitrogen cycling. Marine coastal biogeochemical cycling under future environmental conditions is likely to be driven by changes in nutrient availability as a direct result of microbial activity.

Continue reading ‘Temperature driven changes in benthic bacterial diversity influences biogeochemical cycling in coastal sediments’

Plankton community respiration and ETS activity under variable CO2 and nutrient fertilization during a mesocosm study in the subtropical North Atlantic

The enzymatic electron transport system (ETS) assay is frequently used as a proxy of respiratory activity in planktonic communities. It is thought to estimate the maximum overall activity of the enzymes associated with the respiratory ETS systems in both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. Thus, in order to derive actual respiration rates (R) from ETS it is necessary to determine empirical R/ETS conversion algorithms. In this study we explore the temporal development of R and ETS activity in natural plankton communities (from bacteria to large phytoplankton) enclosed in mesocosms, treated with different CO2 concentrations. The experiment lasted 30 days, during which abrupt changes in community structure and biomass occurred through a sharp transition from oligotrophy (phase I) to highly eutrophic conditions (phase II) after nutrient-induced fertilization (day 18). R and ETS did not show any response to CO2 under oligotrophic conditions, but R increased significantly more in the two high CO2 mesocosms after fertilization, coinciding with a sharp rise in large phytoplankton (mostly diatoms). R and ETS were significantly correlated only during the eutrophic phase. The R/ETS ranged more than 3 fold in magnitude during the experiment, with phase-averaged values significantly higher under oligotrophic conditions (0.7-1.1) than after nutrient fertilization (0.5-0.7). We did not find any significant relationship between R/ETS and community structure or biomass, although R correlated significantly with total biomass after fertilization in the four mesocosms. Multiple stepwise regression models show that large phytoplankton explains most of the variance in R during phases I (86%) and II (53%) and of ETS (86%) during phase II, while picophytoplankton contributes up to 73% to explain the variance in the ETS model during phase I. Our results suggest that R/ETS may be too variable in the ocean as to apply constant values to different communities living under contrasting environmental conditions. Controlled experiments with natural communities, like the present one, would help to constrain the range of variability of the R/ETS ratio, and to understand the factors driving it.

Continue reading ‘Plankton community respiration and ETS activity under variable CO2 and nutrient fertilization during a mesocosm study in the subtropical North Atlantic’

Contrasting effects of acidification and warming on dimethylsulfide concentrations during a temperate estuarine fall bloom mesocosm experiment

The effects of ocean acidification and warming on the concentrations of dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) and dimethylsulfide (DMS) were investigated during a mesocosm experiment in the Lower St. Lawrence Estuary (LSLE) in the fall of 2014. Twelve mesocosms covering a range of pHT (pH on the total hydrogen ion concentration scale) from 8.0 to 7.2, corresponding to a range of CO2 partial pressures (pCO2) from 440 to 2900µatm, at two temperatures (in situ and +5°C; 10°C and 15°C) was monitored during 13 days. All mesocosms were characterized by the rapid development of a diatom bloom dominated by Skeletonema costatum, followed by its decline upon the exhaustion of nitrate and silicic acid. Neither the acidification nor the warming resulted in a significant impact on the abundance of bacteria over the experiment. However, warming the water by 5°C resulted in a significant increase of the average bacterial production (BP) in all 15°C mesocosms as compared to 10°C, with no detectable effect of pCO2 on BP. Variations in total DMSP (DMSPt=particulate+dissolved DMSP) concentrations tracked the development of the bloom although the rise in DMSPt persisted for a few days after the peaks in chlorophyll a. Average concentrations of DMSPt were not affected by acidification or warming. Initially low concentrations of DMS (<1nmolL−1) increased to reach peak values ranging from 30 to 130nmolL−1 towards the end of the experiment. Increasing the pCO2 reduced the averaged DMS concentrations by 66% and 69% at 10°C and 15°C, respectively, over the duration of the experiment. On the other hand, a 5°C warming increased DMS concentrations by an average of 240% as compared to in situ temperature, resulting in a positive offset of the adverse pCO2 impact. Significant positive correlations found between bacterial production rates and concentrations of DMS throughout our experiment point towards temperature-associated enhancement of bacterial DMSP metabolism as a likely driver for the mitigating effect of warming on the negative impact of acidification on the net production of DMS in the LSLE and potentially the global ocean.

Continue reading ‘Contrasting effects of acidification and warming on dimethylsulfide concentrations during a temperate estuarine fall bloom mesocosm experiment’

Experimental assessment of the sensitivity of an estuarine phytoplankton fall bloom to acidification and warming (update)

We investigated the combined effect of ocean acidification and warming on the dynamics of the phytoplankton fall bloom in the Lower St. Lawrence Estuary (LSLE), Canada. Twelve 2600L mesocosms were set to initially cover a wide range of pHT (pH on the total proton scale) from 8.0 to 7.2 corresponding to a range of pCO2 from 440 to 2900µatm, and two temperatures (in situ and +5°C). The 13-day experiment captured the development and decline of a nanophytoplankton bloom dominated by the chain-forming diatom Skeletonema costatum. During the development phase of the bloom, increasing pCO2 influenced neither the magnitude nor the net growth rate of the nanophytoplankton bloom, whereas increasing the temperature by 5°C stimulated the chlorophyll a (Chl a) growth rate and maximal particulate primary production (PP) by 76% and 63%, respectively. During the declining phase of the bloom, warming accelerated the loss of diatom cells, paralleled by a gradual decrease in the abundance of photosynthetic picoeukaryotes and a bloom of picocyanobacteria. Increasing pCO2 and warming did not influence the abundance of picoeukaryotes, while picocyanobacteria abundance was reduced by the increase in pCO2 when combined with warming in the latter phase of the experiment. Over the full duration of the experiment, the time-integrated net primary production was not significantly affected by the pCO2 treatments or warming. Overall, our results suggest that warming, rather than acidification, is more likely to alter phytoplankton autumnal bloom development in the LSLE in the decades to come. Future studies examining a broader gradient of temperatures should be conducted over a larger seasonal window in order to better constrain the potential effect of warming on the development of blooms in the LSLE and its impact on the fate of primary production.

Continue reading ‘Experimental assessment of the sensitivity of an estuarine phytoplankton fall bloom to acidification and warming (update)’

Ocean warming and acidification affect the nutritional quality of the commercially-harvested turbinid snail Turbo militaris


• Turbo flesh proximate composition was unaffected by ocean warming or acidification.
• The relative proportion of saturated fatty acids increased with elevated temperature.
• Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids including EPA decreased at higher temperatures.
• Zinc increased under ocean warming but other elements in the flesh were unaffected.


Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide are driving ocean warming and acidification. This could cause stress resulting in decreases in nutritional quality of marine species for human consumption, if environmental changes go beyond the optimal range for harvested species. To evaluate this, we used ambient and near-future elevated temperatures and pCO2 to assess impacts on the proximate nutritional composition (moisture, ash, protein, and lipids), fatty acids and trace elements of the foot tissue of Turbo militaris, a commercially harvested marine snail from south-eastern Australia. In a fully orthogonal design, the snails were exposed to ambient seawater conditions (22 ± 0.2 °C, pH 8.13 ± 0.01–450 μatm pCO2), ocean warming (25 ± 0.05 °C), pCO2 ocean acidification (pH 7.85 ± 0.02, ∼880 μatm pCO2) or a combination of both in controlled flow-through seawater mesocosms for 38 days. Moisture, ash, protein and total lipid content of the foot tissue in the turban snails was unaffected by ocean warming or acidification. However, ocean warming caused a reduction in healthful polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) relative to saturated fatty acids (SFA). Under future warming and acidification conditions, there was a significant 3–5% decrease in n–3 fatty acids, which contributed to a decrease in the n–3/n–6 fatty acid ratio. The decrease in n–3 PUFAs, particularly Eicopentanoic acid (EPA), is a major negative outcome from ocean warming, because higher n–3/n–6 ratios in seafood are desirable for human health. Furthermore, ocean warming was found to increase levels of zinc in the tissues. Calcium, iron, macroelements, microelements and the composition of toxic elements did not appear to be affected by ocean climate change. Overall, the major impact from ocean climate change on seafood quality is likely to be a decrease in healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids at higher temperatures.

Continue reading ‘Ocean warming and acidification affect the nutritional quality of the commercially-harvested turbinid snail Turbo militaris’

Impacts of coral bleaching on pH and oxygen gradients across the coral concentration boundary layer: a microsensor study

Reef-building corals are surrounded by complex microenvironments (i.e. concentration boundary layers) that partially isolate them from the ambient seawater. Although the presence of such concentration boundary layers (CBLs) could potentially play a role in mitigating the negative impacts of climate change stressors, their role is poorly understood. Furthermore, it is largely unknown how heat stress-induced bleaching affects O2 and pH dynamics across the CBLs of coral, particularly in branching species. We experimentally exposed the common coral species Acropora aspera to heat stress for 13 d and conducted a range of physiological and daytime microsensor measurements to determine the effects of bleaching on O2 and pH gradients across the CBL. Heat stress equivalent to 24 degree heating days (3.4 degree heating weeks) resulted in visible bleaching and significant declines in photochemical efficiency, photosynthesis rates and photosynthesis to respiration (P/R) ratios, whereas dark respiration and calcification rates were not impacted. As a consequence, bleached A. aspera had significantly lower (− 13%) surface O2 concentrations during the day than healthy corals, with concentrations being lower than that of the ambient seawater, thus resulting in O2 uptake from the seawater. Furthermore, we show here that Acropora, and potentially branching corals in general, have among the lowest surface pH elevation of all corals studied to date (0.041 units), which could contribute to their higher sensitivity to ocean acidification. Additionally, bleached A. aspera no longer elevated their surface pH above ambient seawater values and, therefore, had essentially no [H+] CBL. These findings demonstrate that heat stress-induced bleaching has negative effects on pH elevation and [H+] CBL thickness, which may increase the overall susceptibility of coral to the combined impacts of ocean acidification and warming.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of coral bleaching on pH and oxygen gradients across the coral concentration boundary layer: a microsensor study’

Increased temperature but not pCO2 levels affect early developmental and reproductive traits of the economically important habitat-forming kelp Lessonia trabeculata


• Climate predictions suggest changes in temperature and pCO2 levels of the ocean.
• The effects of those changes on the kelp Lessonia trabeculata were studied.
• The pCO2 levels had no effects on most early developmental traits.
• Temperature increments affected female gametophyte growth and the kelp fertility.
• We suggest that mainly temperature increments affect the kelp recruitment.


The effects of ocean warming and ocean acidification on developmental and reproductive traits of Lessonia trabeculata were evaluated. Meiospores were cultured for 35 days in an experimental mesocosm where temperature (~15 and 19 °C) and partial CO2 pressure (pCO2, ~400 and 1300 μatm) were controlled. The results indicate that germination was reduced at 19 °C, whereas the increase of pCO2 only had effects at 15 °C. Likewise, the increase in temperature significantly affected the vegetative growth of female gametophytes. Sex ratio was not affected significantly by any of the variables studied. Fertility and reproductive success decreased by about 50% at 19 °C. The pCO2 levels had no significant effects on most early developmental traits. The results suggest that ocean warming or periodic warming events (e.g. an El Niño event) might affect the recruiting capacity of this or other similar species by affecting their early developmental stages.


Continue reading ‘Increased temperature but not pCO2 levels affect early developmental and reproductive traits of the economically important habitat-forming kelp Lessonia trabeculata’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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