Posts Tagged 'mesocosms'

Ocean acidification and hypoxia alter organic carbon fluxes in marine soft sediments

Anthropogenic stressors can alter the structure and functioning of infaunal communities, which are key drivers of the carbon cycle in marine soft sediments. Nonetheless, the compounded effects of anthropogenic stressors on carbon fluxes in soft benthic systems remain largely unknown. Here, we investigated the cumulative effects of ocean acidification (OA) and hypoxia on the organic carbon fate in marine sediments, through a mesocosm experiment. Isotopically labelled macroalgal detritus (13C) was used as a tracer to assess carbon incorporation in faunal tissue and in sediments under different experimental conditions. In addition, labelled macroalgae (13C), previously exposed to elevated CO2, were also used to assess the organic carbon uptake by fauna and sediments, when both sources and consumers were exposed to elevated CO2. At elevated CO2, infauna increased the uptake of carbon, likely as compensatory response to the higher energetic costs faced under adverse environmental conditions. By contrast, there was no increase in carbon uptake by fauna exposed to both stressors in combination, indicating that even a short‐term hypoxic event may weaken the ability of marine invertebrates to withstand elevated CO2 conditions. In addition, both hypoxia and elevated CO2 increased organic carbon burial in the sediment, potentially affecting sediment biogeochemical processes. Since hypoxia and OA are predicted to increase in the face of climate change, our results suggest that local reduction of hypoxic events may mitigate the impacts of global climate change on marine soft‐sediment systems.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and hypoxia alter organic carbon fluxes in marine soft sediments’

Restoring the flat oyster Ostrea angasi in the face of a changing climate

Across the globe, restoration efforts are stemming the loss of native oyster reefs and the ecosystem services they provide, but these efforts will need to consider climate change in order to be sustainable. South-eastern Australia is the focus of restoring the once abundant oyster Ostrea angasi. This region is also a climate change ‘hot spot’ where the ocean is warming rapidly, with the potential to be exacerbated by marine heatwaves and coastal acidification. In this study, the impact of near-future (~2050) elevated temperature and pCO2 on O. angasi was determined and considered in context with concerns for the long-term sustainability of oyster reef restoration efforts. Oysters were exposed to ambient and elevated pCO2 concentrations (mean ± SE: 408 ± 19.8 and 1070 ± 53.4 µatm) and ambient and elevated temperatures (22.78 ± 0.17 and 25.73 ± 0.21°C) for 10 wk in outdoor flow-through mesocosms. Shell growth, condition index, standard metabolic rate (SMR), extracellular pH and survival were measured. Elevated temperature caused high mortality (36%) and decreased the condition of oysters (33%). Elevated pCO2 increased SMR almost 4-fold and lowered the extracellular pH of O. angasi by a mean 0.29 pH units. In combination, elevated pCO2 and temperature ameliorated effects on SMR and survivorship of oysters. O. angasi appears to be living near the limits of its thermal tolerance. Restoration projects will need to account for the temperature sensitivity of this species and its changing habitat to ‘climate proof’ long-term restoration efforts.

Continue reading ‘Restoring the flat oyster Ostrea angasi in the face of a changing climate’

The combined effects of ocean acidification with fleshy macroalgae and filamentous turfs on tropical crustose coralline algae

Global climate change induces multiple stressors on tropical coral reefs that threaten their persistence. Ocean acidification decreases calcification in most dominant reef builders, such as crustose coralline algae (CCA). Climate change also has the potential to increase the biomass of fleshy macroalgae and filamentous turf in coral reef ecosystems. While fleshy macroalgae and turf may shade, abrade, and have otherwise negative consequences on CCA metabolism, their high rates of photosynthesis may mitigate OA locally through carbon uptake, resulting in a local increase in pH. This thesis explored the effects of OA, combined with the presence of either fleshy macroalgae or algal turfs, on Lithophyllum kotschyanum, an abundant species of CCA in Moorea, French Polynesia. In a mesocosm study, three canopy types, clear mimics, dark mimics, and S. pacificum, were crossed with two CO2 levels, ambient (400 μatm) and elevated (1000 μatm). The clear, dark, and S. pacificum canopies resulted in stepwise decreases in calcification of L. kotschyanum. This response suggests that shading and likely flow moderation decrease CCA calcification. To separate the effects of fleshy macroalgal metabolism from the effects of its physical structure, a subsequent mesocosm and field experiment were performed. In the mesocosm study, a header tank that provided S. pacificum-treated seawater to treatment tanks was used to determine the metabolic effect of S. pacificum on L. kotschyanum. In the field, S. pacificum canopies were attached to 20  30 cm grids, upstream from CCA samples. Data from the mesocosm study support a positive effect of carbon uptake by S. pacificum, but the metabolic effect did not translate into the field. Because S. pacificum was placed in closer proximity to CCA samples in the field than in lab, the difference in L. kotschyanum calcification between the mesocosm and field experiment may be due to physical effects of the canopy in the field, such as shading. The combined results of these two studies suggest that upstream macroalgal communities have the potential to mitigate the negative effects of OA to downstream calcifiers, but will not benefit understory calcifiers. Finally, a mesocosm experiment was conducted to address the combined effects of OA and the presence of epiphytic turf algae on host CCA. In a factorial experiment, L. kotschyanum samples with and without epiphytic turf algae were placed in flow through tanks where pCO2 was ambient (400 μatm) or elevated (1000 μatm). Results indicated a significant effect of elevated pCO2 on CCA calcification and a negative effect of turf presence, despite a higher pH in the presence of turf during light incubations. This indicates that any benefit of higher daytime pH within the DBL of L. kotschyanum was outweighed by the negative effects, such as shading, nighttime anoxia and low pH. Overall, these studies indicate that fleshy macroalgae and filamentous turfs can raise seawater pH locally, but any benefit of this effect is outweighed by the negative effects of fleshy macroalgae and turf presence. The only instance during which CCA may incur a net benefit from fleshy macroalgae occurs when calcifiers are situated downstream of a dense macroalgal community, entirely unaffected by its physical structure. Ultimately, fleshy macroalgae and turf affect CCA negatively, regardless of OA treatment.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of ocean acidification with fleshy macroalgae and filamentous turfs on tropical crustose coralline algae’

Acidification diminishes diatom silica production in the Southern Ocean

Diatoms, large bloom-forming marine microorganisms, build frustules out of silicate, which ballasts the cells and aids their export to the deep ocean. This unique physiology forges an important link between the marine silicon and carbon cycles. However, the effect of ocean acidification on the silicification of diatoms is unclear. Here we show that diatom silicification strongly diminishes with increased acidity in a natural Antarctic community. Analyses of single cells from within the community reveal that the effect of reduced pH on silicification differs among taxa, with several species having significantly reduced silica incorporation at CO2 levels equivalent to those projected for 2100. These findings suggest that, before the end of this century, ocean acidification may influence the carbon and silicon cycle by both altering the composition of the diatom assemblages and reducing cell ballasting, which will probably alter vertical flux of these elements to the deep ocean.

Continue reading ‘Acidification diminishes diatom silica production in the Southern Ocean’

Ocean acidification effects on in situ coral reef metabolism

The Anthropocene climate has largely been defined by a rapid increase in atmospheric CO2, causing global climate change (warming) and ocean acidification (OA, a reduction in oceanic pH). OA is of particular concern for coral reefs, as the associated reduction in carbonate ion availability impairs biogenic calcification and promotes dissolution of carbonate substrata. While these trends ultimately affect ecosystem calcification, scaling experimental analyses of the response of organisms to OA to consider the response of ecosystems to OA has proved difficult. The benchmark of ecosystem-level experiments to study the effects of OA is provided through Free Ocean CO2 Enrichment (FOCE), which we use in the present analyses for a 21-d experiment on the back reef of Mo’orea, French Polynesia. Two natural coral reef communities were incubated in situ, with one exposed to ambient pCO2 (393 µatm), and one to high pCO2 (949 µatm). Our results show a decrease in 24-h net community calcification (NCC) under high pCO2, and a reduction in nighttime NCC that attenuated and eventually reversed over 21-d. This effect was not observed in daytime NCC, and it occurred without any effect of high pCO2 on net community production (NCP). These results contribute to previous studies on ecosystem-level responses of coral reefs to the OA conditions projected for the end of the century, and they highlight potential attenuation of high pCO2 effects on nighttime net community calcification.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification effects on in situ coral reef metabolism’

Anthropogenic impacts on mangrove and saltmarsh communities in eastern Australia

The global phenomenon of mangrove encroachment into saltmarshes has been observed across five continents. It has been proposed that this encroachment is driven in part by rising atmospheric CO2 concentration and reduced salinity in saltmarshes resulting from rising sea levels enhancing the establishment success of mangrove seedlings. However, this is yet to be empirically tested at the community-level. In this study, we examined the effect of CO2 and salinity on seedling growth of two mangrove species, Aegiceras corniculatum and Avicennia
marina, grown individually and in a model saltmarsh community in a glasshouse experiment. We found that the shoot (210%) and root (91%) biomass of the saltmarsh species was significantly greater under elevated CO2. As a result, both mangrove species experienced a stronger competitive effect from the saltmarsh species under elevated CO2. Nevertheless, A. marina seedlings produced on average 48% more biomass under elevated CO2 when grown in competition with the saltmarsh species which they used to grow taller suggesting they were light
limited. In contrast, A. corniculatum growth did not significantly differ between CO2 treatments. However, it had on average 36% greater growth under seawater salinity compared to hypersaline conditions. Avicenna marina seedlings were not affected by salinity. From these results, we suggest that although CO2 and salinity are not universal drivers determining saltmarsh-mangrove boundaries, it is likely that rising atmospheric CO2 concentration and reduced salinity associated with sea level rise will enhance the establishment success of mangrove seedlings in saltmarshes, which may facilitate mangrove encroachment in the future.

Continue reading ‘Anthropogenic impacts on mangrove and saltmarsh communities in eastern Australia’

Metabolic responses to elevated pCO2 in the gills of the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) using a GC-TOF-MS-based metabolomics approach (update)

Rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), primarily from anthropogenic emissions, are resulting in increasing absorption of CO2 by the oceans, leading to a decline in oceanic pH in a process known as ocean acidification (OA). There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating the potential effect of OA on the energetics/physiology and consequently life-history traits of commensally important marine organisms. However, despite this little is known of how fundamental metabolic pathways that underpin changes in organismal physiology are affected by OA. Consequently, a gas chromatography time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GC-TOF-MS) based metabolic profiling approach was applied to examine the metabolic responses of Crassostrea gigas to elevated pCO2 levels, under otherwise natural field conditions. Oysters were exposed natural environmental pCO2 (~625.40 μatm) and elevated pCO2 (~1432.94 μatm) levels for 30 days. Results indicated that 36 differential metabolites were identified. Differential metabolites were mapped in the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) database to search for the related metabolic pathways. Pathway enrichment analysis indicates that alanine, aspartate and glutamate metabolism and glycine, serine and threonine metabolism were the most statistically enriched pathways. Further analysis suggested that elevated pCO2 disturb the TCA cycle via succinate accumulation and C. gigas most likely adjust their energy metabolic via alanine and GABA accumulation accordingly to cope with elevated pCO2. These findings provide an understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in modulating C. gigas metabolism under elevated pCO2.

Continue reading ‘Metabolic responses to elevated pCO2 in the gills of the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) using a GC-TOF-MS-based metabolomics approach (update)’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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