Posts Tagged 'MFcommunity'

Low recruitment due to altered settlement substrata as primary constraint for coral communities under ocean acidification

The future of coral reefs under increasing CO2 depends on their capacity to recover from disturbances. To predict the recovery potential of coral communities that are fully acclimatized to elevated CO2, we compared the relative success of coral recruitment and later life stages at two volcanic CO2 seeps and adjacent control sites in Papua New Guinea. Our field experiments showed that the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on coral recruitment rates were up to an order of magnitude greater than the effects on the survival and growth of established corals. Settlement rates, recruit and juvenile densities were best predicted by the presence of crustose coralline algae, as opposed to the direct effects of seawater CO2. Offspring from high CO2 acclimatized parents had similarly impaired settlement rates as offspring from control parents. For most coral taxa, field data showed no evidence of cumulative and compounding detrimental effects of high CO2 on successive life stages, and three taxa showed improved adult performance at high CO2 that compensated for their low recruitment rates. Our data suggest that severely declining capacity for reefs to recover, due to altered settlement substrata and reduced coral recruitment, is likely to become a dominant mechanism of how OA will alter coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Low recruitment due to altered settlement substrata as primary constraint for coral communities under ocean acidification’

The sounds of silence: regime shifts impoverish marine soundscapes


Regime shifts are well known for driving penetrating ecological change, yet we do not recognise the consequences of these shifts much beyond species diversity and productivity. Sound represents a multidimensional space that carries decision-making information needed for some dispersing species to locate resources and evaluate their quantity and quality.


Here we assessed the effect of regime shifts on marine soundscapes, which we propose has the potential function of strengthening the positive or negative feedbacks that mediate ecosystem shifts.


We tested whether biologically relevant cues are altered by regime shifts in kelp forests and seagrass systems and how specific such shifted soundscapes are to the type of driver; i.e. local pollution (eutrophication) vs. global change (ocean acidification).


Here, we not only provide the first evidence for regime-shifted soundscapes, but also reveal that the modified cues of shifted ecosystems are similar regardless of spatial scale and type of environmental driver. Importantly, biological sounds can act as functional cues for orientation by dispersing larvae, and observed shifts in soundscape loudness may alter this function.


These results open the question as to whether shifted soundscapes provide a functional role in mediating the positive or negative feedbacks that govern the arrival of species associated with driving change or stasis in ecosystem state.

Continue reading ‘The sounds of silence: regime shifts impoverish marine soundscapes’

Species-specific responses to climate change and community composition determine future calcification rates of Florida Keys reefs

Anthropogenic climate change compromises reef growth as a result of increasing temperatures and ocean acidification. Scleractinian corals vary in their sensitivity to these variables, suggesting species composition will influence how reef communities respond to future climate change. Because data are lacking for many species, most studies that model future reef growth rely on uniform scleractinian calcification sensitivities to temperature and ocean acidification. In order to address this knowledge gap, calcification of twelve common and understudied Caribbean coral species was measured for two months under crossed temperatures (27°C, 30.3°C) and CO2 partial pressures (pCO2) (400, 900, 1300 μatm). Mixed effects models of calcification for each species were then used to project community-level scleractinian calcification using Florida Keys reef composition data and IPCC AR5 ensemble climate model data. Three of the four most abundant species, Orbicella faveolata, Montastraea cavernosa, and Porites astreoides, had negative calcification responses to both elevated temperature and pCO2. In the business-as-usual CO2 emissions scenario, reefs with high abundances of these species had projected end-of-century declines in scleractinian calcification of >50% relative to present-day rates. Siderastrea siderea, the other most-common species, was insensitive to both temperature and pCO2 within the levels tested here. Reefs dominated by this species had the most stable end-of-century growth. Under more optimistic scenarios of reduced CO2 emissions, calcification rates throughout the Florida Keys declined <20% by 2100. Under the most extreme emissions scenario, projected declines were highly variable among reefs, ranging 10 to 100%. Without considering bleaching, reef growth will likely decline on most reefs, especially where resistant species like S. siderea are not already dominant. This study demonstrates how species composition influences reef community responses to climate change and how reduced CO2 emissions can limit future declines in reef calcification.

Continue reading ‘Species-specific responses to climate change and community composition determine future calcification rates of Florida Keys reefs’

Effect of inorganic and organic carbon enrichments (DIC and DOC) on the photosynthesis and calcification rates of two calcifying green algae from a Caribbean reef lagoon

Coral reefs worldwide are affected by increasing dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and organic carbon (DOC) concentrations due to ocean acidification (OA) and coastal eutrophication. These two stressors can occur simultaneously, particularly in near-shore reef environments with increasing anthropogenic pressure. However, experimental studies on how elevated DIC and DOC interact are scarce and fundamental to understanding potential synergistic effects and foreseeing future changes in coral reef function. Using an open mesocosm experiment, the present study investigated the impact of elevated DIC (pHNBS: 8.2 and 7.8; pCO2: 377 and 1076 μatm) and DOC (added as 833 μmol L-1 of glucose) on calcification and photosynthesis rates of two common calcifying green algae, Halimeda incrassata and Udotea flabellum, in a shallow reef environment. Our results revealed that under elevated DIC, algal photosynthesis decreased similarly for both species, but calcification was more affected in H. incrassata, which also showed carbonate dissolution rates. Elevated DOC reduced photosynthesis and calcification rates in H. incrassata, while in U. flabellum photosynthesis was unaffected and thalus calcification was severely impaired. The combined treatment showed an antagonistic effect of elevated DIC and DOC on the photosynthesis and calcification rates of H. incrassata, and an additive effect in U. flabellum. We conclude that the dominant sand dweller H. incrassata is more negatively affected by both DIC and DOC enrichments, but that their impact could be mitigated when they occur simultaneously. In contrast, U. flabellum can be less affected in coastal eutrophic waters by elevated DIC, but its contribution to reef carbonate sediment production could be further reduced. Accordingly, while the capacity of environmental eutrophication to exacerbate the impact of OA on algal-derived carbonate sand production seems to be species-specific, significant reductions can be expected under future OA scenarios, with important consequences for beach erosion and coastal sediment dynamics.

Continue reading ‘Effect of inorganic and organic carbon enrichments (DIC and DOC) on the photosynthesis and calcification rates of two calcifying green algae from a Caribbean reef lagoon’

Effects on the Pocillopora verrucosa microbiome when in contact with macroalgae under ocean acidification

Hard coral cover is in decline and this decline has generally coincided with macroalgal proliferation in coral reefs (Gardner et al. 2003, Cheal et al. 2010, De’ath et al. 2012). Coral degradation can be caused by many variables (Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 2007, Anthony et al. 2008, Mumby and Steneck 2008) but this study is focused on potential degradation due to direct competition with allelopathic macroalgae under the effects of future ocean acidification. Allelopathy is the use of chemicals for protection or competitive purposes. It has previously been shown that algae compete with corals through allelopathy, but not if allelopathy causes the microbiome of the coral to enter a diseased state, though there have been several cases of diseased microbiome states observed (Bourne et al. 2009, Mao-Jones et al. 2010, Meyer et al. 2014). As such, it is of interest to determine if the allelopathic competition from algae affects the coral microbiome, leading to a diseased state, and whether these interactions are exaggerated or effected by ocean acidification.

We hypothesize that macroalgal allelopathy effects the microbiome of the reefbuilding coral Pocillopora verrucosa and that these competitive interactions will be affected by the stressor of ocean acidification. We expect the latter because of previous evidence that increased pH causes stress to some species of corals (Anthony et al. 2008). To test this, we used a pre-established scale of algal allelopathy demonstrated in Rasher et al. (2011) and placed corals and algae in contact under ocean acidification conditions for 3 weeks before samples were processed for microbial taxonomy. The initial analyses have demonstrated no significant differences in the abundances of major microbial taxa compositions for the sampled coral microbiomes when in the presence of the various
allelopathic macroalgae, but these are preliminary findings. The data will require finer microbial analysis to determine whether or not there are any significant effects on the coral microbiomes.

Continue reading ‘Effects on the Pocillopora verrucosa microbiome when in contact with macroalgae under ocean acidification’

Interactive effects of ocean acidification and neighboring corals on the growth of Pocillopora verrucosa

The physical and chemical environment around corals, as well as their physiology, can be affected by interactions with neighboring corals. This study employed small colonies (4 cm diameter) of Pocillopora verrucosa and Acropora hyacinthus configured in spatial arrays at 7 cm s−1 flow speed to test the hypothesis that ocean acidification (OA) alters interactions among them. Interaction effects were quantified for P. verrucosa using three measures of growth: calcification (i.e., weight), horizontal growth, and vertical growth. The study was carried out in May–June 2014 using corals from 10 m depth on the outer reef of Moorea, French Polynesia. Colonies of P. verrucosa were placed next to conspecifics or heterospecifics (A. hyacinthus) in arrangements of two or four colonies (pairs and aggregates) that were incubated at ambient and high pCO2 (~1000 µatm) for 28 days. There was an effect of pCO2, and arrangement type on multivariate growth (utilizing the three measures of growth), but no interaction between the main effects. Conversely, arrangement and pCO2 had an interactive effect on calcification, with an overall 23 % depression at high pCO2 versus ambient pCO2 (i.e., pooled among arrangements). Within arrangements, there was a 34–45 % decrease in calcification for solitary and paired conspecifics, but no effect in conspecific aggregates, heterospecific pairs, or heterospecific aggregates. Horizontal growth was negatively affected by pCO2 and arrangement type, while vertical growth was positively affected by arrangement type. Together, our results show that conspecific aggregations can mitigate the negative effects of OA on calcification of colonies within an aggregation.

Continue reading ‘Interactive effects of ocean acidification and neighboring corals on the growth of Pocillopora verrucosa’

Contrasting physiological plasticity in response to environmental stress within different cnidarians and their respective symbionts

Given concerns surrounding coral bleaching and ocean acidification, there is renewed interest in characterizing the physiological differences across the multiple host–algal symbiont combinations commonly found on coral reefs. Elevated temperature and CO2 were used to compare physiological responses within the scleractinian corals Montipora hirsuta (Symbiodinium C15) and Pocillopora damicornis (Symbiodinium D1), as well as the corallimorph (a non-calcifying anthozoan closely related to scleractinians) Discosoma nummiforme (Symbiodinium C3). Several physiological proxies were affected more by temperature than CO2, including photochemistry, algal number and cellular chlorophyll a. Marked differences in symbiont number, chlorophyll and volume contributed to distinctive patterns of chlorophyll absorption among these animals. In contrast, carbon fixation either did not change or increased under elevated temperature. Also, the rate of photosynthetically fixed carbon translocated to each host did not change, and the percent of carbon translocated to the host increased in the corallimorph. Comparing all data revealed a significant negative correlation between photosynthetic rate and symbiont density that corroborates previous hypotheses about carbon limitation in these symbioses. The ratio of symbiont-normalized photosynthetic rate relative to the rate of symbiont-normalized carbon translocation (P:T) was compared in these organisms as well as the anemone, Exaiptasia pallida hosting Symbiodinium minutum, and revealed a P:T close to unity (D. nummiforme) to a range of 2.0–4.5, with the lowest carbon translocation in the sea anemone. Major differences in the thermal responses across these organisms provide further evidence of a range of acclimation potential and physiological plasticity that highlights the need for continued study of these symbioses across a larger group of host taxa.

Continue reading ‘Contrasting physiological plasticity in response to environmental stress within different cnidarians and their respective symbionts’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book