Posts Tagged 'mesocosms'

Distributions of volatile halocarbons and impacts of ocean acidification on their production in coastal waters of China


• Distributions of VHCs were measured in the Changjiang Estuary and its adjacent area.

• The environmental factors that influenced the distributions of VHCs were examined.

• The Changjiang Estuary and its adjacent area were a source of the atmospheric VHCs.

• Mesocosm experiments showed that elevated fCO2 had little impact on the VHCs.


The volatile halocarbons (VHCs) CH3I, C2HCl3, C2Cl4, and CH2Br2 were measured in the Changjiang Estuary and adjacent waters during autumn 2018. Results revealed that their concentrations in coastal waters were influenced by anthropogenic activities, biological release, and complex hydrographic features. The vertical distributions of VHCs were determined mostly by the mixing of water masses. By investigating the impacts of temperature, salinity, chlorophyll a, nutrients, and pH on the distributions of these trace gases we revealed that C2HCl3 and C2Cl4 were positively correlated with salinity and nutrient availability. The sea-to-air fluxes of CH3I, C2HCl3, C2Cl4, and CH2Br2 were estimated to be 27.62, 280.3, 221.73, and 142.41 nmol m−2 day−1, respectively, suggesting that the study area was a net source of these trace gases. The impact of elevated fCO2 on the production of the four volatile halocarbons was studied using mesocosms in Wu Yuan Bay, Xiamen. The results showed that elevated fCO2 had little impact on the VHCs. Positive relationships were observed between CH2Br2 and phytoplankton biomass when fCO2 was low, and between CH3I and phytoplankton biomass when fCO2 was high, suggesting that algal release was a significant source of both compounds.

Continue reading ‘Distributions of volatile halocarbons and impacts of ocean acidification on their production in coastal waters of China’

Effects of future climate on coral-coral competition

As carbon dioxide (CO2) levels increase, coral reefs and other marine systems will be affected by the joint stressors of ocean acidification (OA) and warming. The effects of these two stressors on coral physiology are relatively well studied, but their impact on biotic interactions between corals are poorly understood. While coral-coral interactions are less common on modern reefs, it is important to document the nature of these interactions to better inform restoration strategies in the face of climate change. Using a mesocosm study, we evaluated whether the combined effects of ocean acidification and warming alter the competitive interactions between the common coral Porites astreoides and two other mounding corals (Montastraea cavernosa or Orbicella faveolata) common in the Caribbean. After 7 days of direct contact, P. astreoides suppressed the photosynthetic potential of M. cavernosa by 100% in areas of contact under both present (~28.5°C and ~400 μatm pCO2) and predicted future (~30.0°C and ~1000 μatm pCO2) conditions. In contrast, under present conditions M. cavernosa reduced the photosynthetic potential of P. astreoides by only 38% in areas of contact, while under future conditions reduction was 100%. A similar pattern occurred between P. astreoides and O. faveolata at day 7 post contact, but by day 14, each coral had reduced the photosynthetic potential of the other by 100% at the point of contact, and O. faveolata was generating larger lesions on P. astreoides than the reverse. In the absence of competition, OA and warming did not affect the photosynthetic potential of any coral. These results suggest that OA and warming can alter the severity of initial coral-coral interactions, with potential cascading effects due to corals serving as foundation species on coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Effects of future climate on coral-coral competition’

Trophic pyramids reorganize when food web architecture fails to adjust to ocean change

As human activities intensify, the structures of ecosystems and their food webs often reorganize. Through the study of mesocosms harboring a diverse benthic coastal community, we reveal that food web architecture can be inflexible under ocean warming and acidification and unable to compensate for the decline or proliferation of taxa. Key stabilizing processes, including functional redundancy, trophic compensation, and species substitution, were largely absent under future climate conditions. A trophic pyramid emerged in which biomass expanded at the base and top but contracted in the center. This structure may characterize a transitionary state before collapse into shortened, bottom-heavy food webs that characterize ecosystems subject to persistent abiotic stress. We show that where food web architecture lacks adjustability, the adaptive capacity of ecosystems to global change is weak and ecosystem degradation likely.

Continue reading ‘Trophic pyramids reorganize when food web architecture fails to adjust to ocean change’

Warming, but not acidification, restructures epibacterial communities of the Baltic macroalga Fucus vesiculosus with seasonal variability

Due to ocean acidification and global warming, surface seawater of the western Baltic Sea is expected to reach an average of ∼1100 μatm pCO2 and an increase of ∼5°C by the year 2100. In four consecutive experiments (spanning 10–11 weeks each) in all seasons within 1 year, the abiotic factors temperature (+5°C above in situ) and pCO2 (adjusted to ∼1100 μatm) were tested for their single and combined effects on epibacterial communities of the brown macroalga Fucus vesiculosus and on bacteria present in the surrounding seawater. The experiments were set up in three biological replicates using the Kiel Outdoor Benthocosm facility (Kiel, Germany). Phylogenetic analyses of the respective microbiota were performed by bacterial 16S (V1-V2) rDNA Illumina MiSeq amplicon sequencing after 0, 4, 8, and 10/11 weeks per season. The results demonstrate (I) that the bacterial community composition varied in time and (II) that relationships between operational taxonomic units (OTUs) within an OTU association network were mainly governed by the habitat. (III) Neither single pCO2 nor pCO2:Temperature interaction effects were statistically significant. However, significant impact of ocean warming was detected varying among seasons. (IV) An indicator OTU (iOTU) analysis identified several iOTUs that were strongly influenced by temperature in spring, summer, and winter. In the warming treatments of these three seasons, we observed decreasing numbers of bacteria that are commonly associated with a healthy marine microbial community and—particularly during spring and summer—an increase in potentially pathogenic and bacteria related to intensified microfouling. This might lead to severe consequences for the F. vesiculosus holobiont finally affecting the marine ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘Warming, but not acidification, restructures epibacterial communities of the Baltic macroalga Fucus vesiculosus with seasonal variability’

Coccolithophore community response to ocean acidification and warming in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea: results from a mesocosm experiment

Mesocosm experiments have been fundamental to investigate the effects of elevated CO2 and ocean acidification (OA) on planktic communities. However, few of these experiments have been conducted using naturally nutrient-limited waters and/or considering the combined effects of OA and ocean warming (OW). Coccolithophores are a group of calcifying phytoplankton that can reach high abundances in the Mediterranean Sea, and whose responses to OA are modulated by temperature and nutrients. We present the results of the first land-based mesocosm experiment testing the effects of combined OA and OW on an oligotrophic Eastern Mediterranean coccolithophore community. Coccolithophore cell abundance drastically decreased under OW and combined OA and OW (greenhouse, GH) conditions. Emiliania huxleyi calcite mass decreased consistently only in the GH treatment; moreover, anomalous calcifications (i.e. coccolith malformations) were particularly common in the perturbed treatments, especially under OA. Overall, these data suggest that the projected increase in sea surface temperatures, including marine heatwaves, will cause rapid changes in Eastern Mediterranean coccolithophore communities, and that these effects will be exacerbated by OA.

Continue reading ‘Coccolithophore community response to ocean acidification and warming in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea: results from a mesocosm experiment’

Epiphytes provide micro-scale refuge from ocean acidification


• OA induced bleaching and reduced metabolism in non-epiphytized coralline.

• Epiphytized corallines were less susceptible to the detrimental effects of OA.

• Epiphytized corallines had thicker diffusive boundary layer than non-epiphytized.

• Non-calcifying epiphytes provide small scale refuge from OA.

• Epiphytic refugia may protect corallines under future OA conditions.


Coralline algae, a major calcifying component of coastal shallow water communities, have been shown to be one of the more vulnerable taxonomic groups to ocean acidification (OA). Under OA, the interaction between corallines and epiphytes was previously described as both positive and negative. We hypothesized that the photosynthetic activity and the complex structure of non-calcifying epiphytic algae that grow on corallines ameliorate the chemical microenvironmental conditions around them, providing protection from OA. Using mesocosm and microsensor experiments, we showed that the widespread coralline Ellisolandia elongata is less susceptible to the detrimental effects of OA when covered with non-calcifying epiphytic algae, and its diffusive boundary layer is thicker than when not covered by epiphytes. By modifying the microenvironmental carbonate chemistry, epiphytes, facilitated by OA, create micro-scale shield (and refuge) with more basic conditions that may allow the persistence of corallines associated with them during acidified conditions. Such ecological refugia could also assist corallines under near-future anthropogenic OA conditions.

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Oxidative stress and antioxidant defence responses in two marine copepods in a high CO2 experiment


• Temora revealed higher oxidative stress than Calanus in response to treatment CO2

• Food and predators may have controlled the stress levels, both in fjord and experiment

• Calanus migrating deeper than Temora seems more robust against environmental fluctuations


We collected samples for oxidative stress and antioxidants in a high CO2 mesocosm experiment for two weeks, focussing on two common crustacean copepods Calanus finmarchicus and Temora longicornis. The samples were collected during a field experiment campaign studying responses of plankton communities to future ocean acidification (OA), off the Norwegian coast south of Bergen. The main results showed that there were species-specific differences between Temora and Calanus, especially in antioxidant defences (glutathione system) and oxidative stress (lipid peroxidation and reduced:oxidised glutathione ratio). Regular monitoring of chlorophyll a and jellyfish abundances taking place during the field campaign revealed that both chl a and predators may have affected the eco-physiological response. Antioxidant and oxidative stress levels are known to respond sensitively to both the food quality and quantity and the predator pressure, apart from environmental (i.e., abiotic) changes. Calanus was more robust towards OA, perhaps due to its high tolerance to a wide range of vertical physical-chemical conditions. Both top-down and bottom-up factors seem to play a role for the outcome of copepod responses to future ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Oxidative stress and antioxidant defence responses in two marine copepods in a high CO2 experiment’

Emergent properties of branching morphologies modulate the sensitivity of coral calcification to high PCO2

Experiments with coral fragments (i.e. nubbins) have shown that net calcification is depressed by elevated PCO2. Evaluating the implications of this finding requires scaling of results from nubbins to colonies, yet the experiments to codify this process have not been carried out. Building from our previous research demonstrating that net calcification of Pocillopora verrucosa (2–13 cm diameter) was unaffected by PCO2 (400 and 1000 µatm) and temperature (26.5 and 29.7°C), we sought generality to this outcome by testing how colony size modulates PCO2 and temperature sensitivity in a branching acroporid. Together, these taxa represent two of the dominant lineages of branching corals on Indo-Pacific coral reefs. Two trials conducted over 2 years tested the hypothesis that the seasonal range in seawater temperature (26.5 and 29.2°C) and a future PCO2 (1062 µatm versus an ambient level of 461 µatm) affect net calcification of an ecologically relevant size range (5–20 cm diameter) of colonies of Acropora hyacinthus. As for P. verrucosa, the effects of temperature and PCO2 on net calcification (mg day−1) of A. verrucosa were not statistically detectable. These results support the generality of a null outcome on net calcification of exposing intact colonies of branching corals to environmental conditions contrasting seasonal variation in temperature and predicted future variation in PCO2. While there is a need to expand beyond an experimental culture relying on coral nubbins as tractable replicates, rigorously responding to this need poses substantial ethical and logistical challenges.

Continue reading ‘Emergent properties of branching morphologies modulate the sensitivity of coral calcification to high PCO2’

Plastic response of the oyster Ostrea chilensis to temperature and pCO2 within the present natural range of variability

Estuaries are characterized by high fluctuation of their environmental conditions. Environmental parameters measured show that the seawater properties of the Quempillén estuary (i.e. temperature, salinity, pCO2, pH and ΩCaCO3) were highly fluctuating and related with season and tide. We test the effects of increasing temperature and pCO2 in the seawater on the physiological energetics of the bivalve Ostrea chilensis. Juvenile oysters were exposed to an orthogonal combination of three temperatures (10, 15, and 20°C) and two pCO2 levels (~400 and ~1000 μatm) for a period of 60 days to evaluate the temporal effect (i.e. 10, 20, 30, 60 days) on the physiological rates of the oysters. Results indicated a significant effect of temperature and time of exposure on the clearance rate, while pCO2 and the interaction between pCO2 and the other factors studied did not show significant effects. Significant effects of temperature and time of exposure were also observed on the absorption rate, but not the pCO2 nor its interaction with other factors studied. Oxygen consumption was significantly affected by pCO2, temperature and time. Scope for growth was only significantly affected by time; despite this, the highest values were observed for individuals subject to to 20°C and to ~1000 μatm pCO2. In this study, Ostrea chilensis showed high phenotypic plasticity to respond to the high levels of temperature and pCO2 experienced in its habitat as no negative physiological effects were observed. Thus, the highly variable conditions of this organism’s environment could select for individuals that are more resistant to future scenarios of climate change, mainly to warming and acidification.

Continue reading ‘Plastic response of the oyster Ostrea chilensis to temperature and pCO2 within the present natural range of variability’

Regional and species level responses of Scleractinian corals under global change within the Caribbean Sea

Human-induced global change has caused rapid increases in ocean temperature (warming) and declines in seawater pH (acidification), and are expected to have negative impacts on tropical reef-building corals globally. Abnormally high seawater temperatures disrupt the symbiosis between corals and their algal endosymbiont in a process known as ‘coral bleaching.’ During such bleaching events, calcification rates decline and physiological processes deteriorate. Additionally, corals rely heavily on elevated seawater pH in order to support and maintain production of their calcium carbonate skeletons. Together, changes in ocean temperatures and seawater pH pose serious threats to coral reefs, foundational ecosystems that provide habitat for countless essential fisheries, while also acting as natural buffers from storms and providing major economic support for tropical coastal communities. Identifying how these global scale stressors impact Caribbean coral reefs is critical in understanding community composition and coral abundance on future reefs. This dissertation employs an interdisciplinary suite of techniques to assess the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on the growth and physiology of Caribbean corals to improve understandings of the responses of coral under projected global change, and provide a framework for similar future studies. Through the use of a meta-analysis (Chapter 1), I identified trends in coral calcification throughout the Greater Caribbean Sea in response to experimental ocean acidification and warming, and performed quantitative assessment of experimental design effects on coral calcification rates. I then conducted a 93- day simulated ocean acidification and warming mesocosm experiment to identify growth (Chapter 2, 4) and physiological (Chapter 3) responses of several species of common Caribbean corals. The results from this work highlight the diversity of responses of Caribbean corals to projected global change at individual and species levels, as well as between the coral host and algal endosymbiont. Overall, the variation in growth and physiological responses of these important Caribbean coral species under ocean acidification and warming is critical in predicting the future ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ of Caribbean reefs as global change unfolds.

Continue reading ‘Regional and species level responses of Scleractinian corals under global change within the Caribbean Sea’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book