Posts Tagged 'mesocosms'

High heritability of coral calcification rates and evolutionary potential under ocean acidification

Estimates of heritability inform evolutionary potential and the likely outcome of many management actions, but such estimates remain scarce for marine organisms. Here, we report high heritability of calcification rate among the eight most dominant Hawaiian coral species under reduced pH simulating future ocean conditions. Coral colonies were sampled from up to six locations across a natural mosaic in seawater chemistry throughout Hawaiʻi and fragmented into clonal replicates maintained under both ambient and high pCO2 conditions. Broad sense heritability of calcification rates was high among all eight species, ranging from a low of 0.32 in Porites evermanni to a high of 0.61 in Porites compressa. The overall results were inconsistent with short-term acclimatization to the local environment or adaptation to the mean or ideal conditions. Similarly, in ‘local vs. foreign’ and ‘home vs. away’ tests there was no clear signature of local adaptation. Instead, the data are most consistent with a protected polymorphism as the mechanism which maintains differential pH tolerance within the populations. Substantial individual variation, coupled with high heritability and large population sizes, imply considerable scope for natural selection and adaptive capacity, which has major implications for evolutionary potential and management of corals in response to climate change.

Continue reading ‘High heritability of coral calcification rates and evolutionary potential under ocean acidification’

The effect of elevated CO2 on the production and respiration of a Sargassum thunbergii community: a mesocosm study

Approximately one‐third of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is absorbed into the ocean and causes it to become more acidic. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested that the surface ocean pH, by the year 2100, would drop by a further 0.3 and 0.4 pH units under RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) 6.0 and 8.5 climate scenarios. The macroalgae communities that consisted of Sargassum thunbergii and naturally attached epibionts were exposed to fluctuations of ambient and manipulated pH (0.3–0.4 units below ambient pH). The production and respiration in S. thunbergii communities were calculated from dissolved oxygen time‐series recorded with optical dissolved oxygen sensors. The pH, irradiance, and dissolved oxygen occurred in parallel with diurnal (day/night) patterns. According to net mesocosm production – photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) model, the saturation and compensation PAR, the mean maximum gross mesocosm production (GMP), and daily mesocosm respiration were higher in the CO2 enrichment, than in the ambient condition, while the mean of photosynthetic coefficient was similar. In conclusion, elevated CO2 stimulated oxygen production and consumption of S. thunbergii communities in the mesocosm. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the GMP of the S. thunbergii community to irradiance was reduced, and achieved maximum production rate at higher PAR. These positive responses to CO2 enrichment suggest that S. thunbergii communities may thrive in under high CO2 conditions.

Continue reading ‘The effect of elevated CO2 on the production and respiration of a Sargassum thunbergii community: a mesocosm study’

Parental acclimation to future ocean conditions increases development rates but decreases survival in sea urchin larvae

Environmental conditions experienced by parents can have lasting effects on offspring. For some marine organisms, parental acclimation may attenuate the negative effects observed in offspring exposed to the same conditions. Here, development of the coral reef sea urchin Echinometra sp. A was examined in larvae derived from parents acclimated for 20 months in either present-day conditions or those predicted for the year 2100 (+ 2 °C/pH 7.8). Egg size was measured, and larval morphology, survival and respiration were quantified in larvae raised in present-day (26 °C/pH 8.1) and 2100 (28 °C/pH 7.8) treatments to near settlement to determine whether parental acclimation promotes greater resilience to climate change stressors. Although there was no difference in egg size, larvae from 2100 parents were generally larger and more developmentally advanced than those derived from present-day parents. However, negative carryover effects reduced survival in offspring of parents acclimated to 2100 conditions. At 15 days post-fertilization, survival of offspring derived from 2100 parents was 50.6% and 43.7% when raised in present-day and 2100 conditions, respectively, compared to 59.9% and 64.6% in offspring derived from present-day parents. When raised in 2100 conditions, respiration declined by 36.8% in larvae derived from present-day parents, while respiration rates of larvae from 2100 parents increased by 109%, suggesting that carryover effects may be associated with higher energy consumption and physiological stress in larvae from 2100 parents. Although parental acclimation enhanced growth of larvae in early development, overall, negative carryover effects outweighed potential benefits of parental acclimation to ocean warming and acidification in this species.

Continue reading ‘Parental acclimation to future ocean conditions increases development rates but decreases survival in sea urchin larvae’

Elevated carbon dioxide and reduced salinity enhance mangrove seedling establishment in an artificial saltmarsh community

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 theory 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. The seedlings tended to allocate this additional biomass to growing 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. Avicennia 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 ‘Elevated carbon dioxide and reduced salinity enhance mangrove seedling establishment in an artificial saltmarsh community’

Ocean acidification increases domoic acid contents during a spring to summer succession of coastal phytoplankton


• Long term mesocosm study (∼100 d) with simulated ocean acidification conditions.

• Increased levels of domoic acid in CO2 enriched mesocosm towards the end of the study.

• Occurrence of several classes of phycotoxins in the Gullmar Fjord, Sweden.


Enrichment of the oceans with CO2 may be beneficial for some marine phytoplankton, including harmful algae. Numerous laboratory experiments provided valuable insights into the effects of elevated pCO2 on the growth and physiology of harmful algal species, including the production of phycotoxins. Experiments close to natural conditions are the next step to improve predictions, as they consider the complex interplay between biotic and abiotic factors that can confound the direct effects of ocean acidification. We therefore investigated the effect of ocean acidification on the occurrence and abundance of phycotoxins in bulk plankton samples during a long-term mesocosm experiment in the Gullmar Fjord, Sweden, an area frequently experiencing harmful algal blooms. During the experimental period, a total of seven phycotoxin-producing harmful algal genera were identified in the fjord, and in accordance, six toxin classes were detected. However, within the mesocosms, only domoic acid and the corresponding producer Pseudo-nitzschia spp. was observed. Despite high variation within treatments, significantly higher particulate domoic acid contents were measured in the mesocosms with elevated pCO2. Higher particulate domoic acid contents were additionally associated with macronutrient limitation. The risks associated with potentially higher phycotoxin levels in the future ocean warrants attention and should be considered in prospective monitoring strategies for coastal marine waters.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification increases domoic acid contents during a spring to summer succession of coastal phytoplankton’

Photosynthetic responses of turf‐forming red macroalgae to high CO2 conditions

Seaweeds are important components of near‐shore ecosystems as primary producers, foundation species, and biogeochemical engineers. Seaweed communities are likely to alter under predicted climate change scenarios. We tested the physiological responses of three perennial, turf‐building, intertidal rhodophytes, Mastocarpus stellatus, Osmundea pinnatifida, and the calcified Ellisolandia elongata, to elevated pCO2 over 6 weeks. Responses varied between these three species. E. elongata was strongly affected by high pCO2, whereas non‐calcified species were not. Elevated pCO2 did not induce consistent responses of photosynthesis and respiration across these three species. While baseline photophysiology differed significantly between species, we found few clear effects of elevated pCO2 on this aspect of macroalgal physiology. We found effects of within‐species variation in elevated pCO2 response in M. stellatus, but not in the other species. Overall, our data confirm the sensitivity of calcified macroalgae to elevated pCO2, but we found no evidence suggesting that elevated pCO2 conditions will have a strong positive or negative impact on photosynthetic parameters in non‐calcified macroalgae.

Continue reading ‘Photosynthetic responses of turf‐forming red macroalgae to high CO2 conditions’

Season affects strength and direction of the interactive impacts of ocean warming and biotic stress in a coastal seaweed ecosystem

The plea for using more “realistic,” community‐level, investigations to assess the ecological impacts of global change has recently intensified. Such experiments are typically more complex, longer, more expensive, and harder to interpret than simple organism‐level benchtop experiments. Are they worth the extra effort? Using outdoor mesocosms, we investigated the effects of ocean warming (OW) and acidification (OA), their combination (OAW), and their natural fluctuations on coastal communities of the western Baltic Sea during all four seasons. These communities are dominated by the perennial and canopy‐forming macrophyte Fucus vesiculosus—an important ecosystem engineer Baltic‐wide. We, additionally, assessed the direct response of organisms to temperature and pH in benchtop experiments, and examined how well organism‐level responses can predict community‐level responses to the dominant driver, OW. OW affected the mesocosm communities substantially stronger than acidification. OW provoked structural and functional shifts in the community that differed in strength and direction among seasons. The organism‐level response to OW matched well the community‐level response of a given species only under warm and cold thermal stress, that is, in summer and winter. In other seasons, shifts in biotic interactions masked the direct OW effects. The combination of direct OW effects and OW‐driven shifts of biotic interactions is likely to jeopardize the future of the habitat‐forming macroalga F. vesiculosus in the Baltic Sea. Furthermore, we conclude that seasonal mesocosm experiments are essential for our understanding of global change impact because they take into account the important fluctuations of abiotic and biotic pressures.

Continue reading ‘Season affects strength and direction of the interactive impacts of ocean warming and biotic stress in a coastal seaweed ecosystem’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book