Posts Tagged 'molluscs'

Seawater acidification affects beta-diversity of benthic communities at a shallow hydrothermal vent in a Mediterranean marine protected area (underwater archaeological park of Baia, Naples, Italy)

One of the most important pieces of climate change evidence is ocean acidification. Acidification effects on marine organisms are widely studied, while very little is known regarding its effects on assemblages’ β-diversity. In this framework, shallow hydrothermal vents within a Marine Protected Area (MPA) represent natural ecosystems acting as laboratory set-ups where the continuous carbon dioxide emissions affect assemblages with consequences that can be reasonably comparable to the effects of global water acidification. The aim of the present study is to test the impact of seawater acidification on the β-diversity of soft-bottom assemblages in a shallow vent field located in the Underwater Archeological Park of Baia MPA (Gulf of Naples, Mediterranean Sea). We investigated macro- and meiofauna communities of the ‘Secca delle fumose’ vent system in sites characterized by sulfurous (G) and carbon dioxide emissions (H) that are compared with control/inactive sites (CN and CS). Statistical analyses were performed on the most represented macrobenthic (MolluscaPolychaeta, and Crustacea), and meiobenthic (Nematoda) taxa. Results show that the lowest synecological values are detected at H and, to a lesser extent, at G. Multivariate analyses show significant differences between hydrothermal vents (G, H) and control/inactive sites; the highest small-scale heterogeneities (measure of β-diversity) are detected at sites H and G and are mainly affected by pH, TOC (Total Organic Carbon), and cations concentrations. Such findings are probably related to acidification effects, since MPA excludes anthropic impacts. In particular, acidification markedly affects β-diversity and an increase in heterogeneity among sample replicates coupled to a decrease in number of taxa is an indicator of redundancy loss and, thus, of resilience capacity. The survival is assured to either tolerant species or those opportunistic taxa that can find good environmental conditions among gravels of sand.

Continue reading ‘Seawater acidification affects beta-diversity of benthic communities at a shallow hydrothermal vent in a Mediterranean marine protected area (underwater archaeological park of Baia, Naples, Italy)’

The impact of ocean acidification on the gonads of three key Antarctic benthic macroinvertebrates


• Ocean Acidification may act as an endocrine disruptor on invertebrate gonads

• Different species show different response to low pH in a simultaneous exposure

• Gametogenic stage and feeding condition affect the species response to low pH


CO2 atmospheric pressure is increasing since industrial revolution, leading to a lowering of the ocean surface water pH, a phenomenon known as ocean acidification, with several reported effects on individual species and cascading effects on marine ecosystems. Despite the great amount of literature on ocean acidification effects on calcifying organisms, the response of their reproductive system still remains poorly known. In the present study, we investigated the histopathological effects of low pH on the gonads of three key macroinvertebrates of the Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea) littoral area: the sea urchin Sterechinus neumayeri, the sea star Odontaster validus and the scallop Adamussium colbecki. After 1 month of exposure at control (8.12) and reduced (7.8 and 7.6) pH levels, we dissected the gonads and performed histological analyses to detect potential differences among treatments. Results showed significant effects on reproductive conditions of A. colbecki and S. neumayeri, while O. validus did not show any kind of alteration. Present results reinforce the need to focus on ocean acidification effects on soft tissues, particularly the gonads, whose damage may exert large effects on the individual fitness, with cascading effects on the population dynamic of the species.

Continue reading ‘The impact of ocean acidification on the gonads of three key Antarctic benthic macroinvertebrates’

Socioeconomic risk from ocean acidification and climate change impacts on Atlantic Canadian fisheries

Ocean acidification (OA) is an emerging consequence of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions. The full extent of the biological impacts are currently not well understood. However, it is expected that invertebrate species that rely on the mineral calcium carbonate will be among the first and most severely affected. Despite the limited understanding of impacts there is a need to identify potential pathways for human societies to be affected by OA. Research on these social implications is a small but developing field of literature. This thesis contributes to this field by using a risk assessment framework, informed by a biophysical model of future species distributions, to investigate Atlantic Canadian risk from changes in shellfish fisheries. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are expected to see declines in resource accessibility. While Newfoundland and Labrador and PEI are more socially vulnerable to losses in fisheries, they are expected to experience relatively minor changes in access.

Continue reading ‘Socioeconomic risk from ocean acidification and climate change impacts on Atlantic Canadian fisheries’

Giant clams and rising CO2: light may ameliorate effects of ocean acidification on a solar-powered animal

Global climate change and ocean acidification pose a serious threat to marine life. Marine invertebrates are particularly susceptible to ocean acidification, especially highly calcareous taxa such as molluscs, echinoderms and corals. The largest of all bivalve molluscs, giant clams, are already threatened by a variety of local pressures, including overharvesting, and are in decline worldwide. Several giant clam species are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and now climate change and ocean acidification pose an additional threat to their conservation. Unlike most other molluscs, giant clams are ‘solar-powered’ animals containing photosynthetic algal symbionts suggesting that light could influence the effects of ocean acidification on these vulnerable animals. In this study, juvenile fluted giant clams Tridacna squamosa were exposed to three levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) (control ~400, mid ~650 and high ~950 μatm) and light (photosynthetically active radiation 35, 65 and 304 μmol photons m-2 s-1). Elevated CO2 projected for the end of this century (~650 and ~950 μatm) reduced giant clam survival and growth at mid-light levels. However, effects of CO2 on survival were absent at high-light, with 100% survival across all CO2 levels. Effects of CO2 on growth of surviving clams were lessened, but not removed, at high-light levels. Shell growth and total animal mass gain were still reduced at high-CO2. This study demonstrates the potential for light to alleviate effects of ocean acidification on survival and growth in a threatened calcareous marine invertebrate. Managing water quality (e.g. turbidity and sedimentation) in coastal areas to maintain water clarity may help ameliorate some negative effects of ocean acidification on giant clams and potentially other solar-powered calcifiers, such as hard corals.

Continue reading ‘Giant clams and rising CO2: light may ameliorate effects of ocean acidification on a solar-powered animal’

Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis)

In order to assess the effects of ocean acidification and warming on the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis), specimens were reared in aquarium tanks and exposed to elevated conditions of temperature (+3 °C) and acidity (-0.3 pH units) for a period of 10 months. The whole system comprised a factorial experimental design with 4 treatments (3 aquaria per treatment): control, lowered pH, elevated temperature and lowered pH/elevated temperature. Mortality was estimated on a weekly basis and every 2 months, various biometrical parameters and physiological processes were measured: somatic and shell growth, metabolic rates and body fluid acid-base parameters. Mussels were highly sensitive to warming, with 100 % mortality observed under elevated temperature at the end of our experiment in October. Mortality rates increased drastically in summer, when water temperature exceeded 25 °C. In contrast, our results suggest that survival of this species will not be affected by a pH decrease of ~0.3 in the Mediterranean Sea. Somatic and shell growth did not appear very sensitive to ocean acidification and warming during most of the experiment, but were reduced, after summer, in the lowered pH treatment. This was consistent with measured shell net dissolution and observed loss of periostracum, as well as uncompensated extracellular acidosis in the lowered pH treatment indicating a progressive insufficiency in acid-base regulation capacity. However, based on the present dataset, we cannot elucidate if these decreases in growth and regulation capacities after summer are a consequence of lower pH levels during that period or a consequence of a combined effect of acidification and warming. To summarize, while ocean acidification will potentially contribute to lower growth rates, especially in summer when mussels are exposed to sub-optimal conditions, ocean warming will likely pose more serious threats to Mediterranean mussels in this region in the coming decades.

Continue reading ‘Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis)’

Role of squid in the Southern Ocean pelagic ecosystem and the possible consequences of climate change

Southern Ocean squid are important predators and prey and are a potential fishery resource. Their future under climate change is analysed from predictions of change by 2100 and assessments of the effects on squid biology. There are ~18 Antarctic species of Antarctic squid. Young feed primarily on crustaceans and switch later to fishes. They are preyed on by odontocetes, seals and seabirds – which together consume ~34×106 t yr−1 – and fish. As predators, squid are second to fish as biomass producers but recent evidence suggests predator consumption of squid needs to be reassessed. Fatty acid composition and stable nitrogen isotope ratios indicate some predators consume less squid in their diet than gut contents data suggest. Southern Ocean oceanography is unique in having circumpolar circulation and frontal systems and at high latitudes it is heavily influenced by sea ice. The Antarctic Peninsula is among the fastest warming regions worldwide but elsewhere the Southern Ocean is warming more slowly and the Ross Sea is probably cooling. Sea ice is receding in the Peninsula region and increasing elsewhere. Modelled predictions for 2100 suggest although the Southern Ocean will warm less than other oceans sea ice will reduce. The Antarctic Circumpolar Current may shift slightly southwards with intensification of westerly winds but resolution of the models is insufficient to predict mesoscale change. Globally, pH of seawater has decreased by 0.1 units since the mid-1900s and is predicted to decrease by another 0.5 units by 2100. Impact on calcifying organisms will be high in the cold Southern Ocean where solubility of calcium carbonate is high. Predicted temperature increases are unlikely to have major effects on squid other than changes in distribution near the limits of their range; acidification may have greater impact. Small changes in large scale circulation are unlikely to affect squid but changes in mesoscale oceanography may have high impact. Change in sea ice extent may not have a direct effect but consequent ecosystem changes could have a major impact. Cephalopods are ecological opportunists adapted to exploit favourable environmental conditions. Given their potential to evolve fast, change in the Southern Ocean pelagic ecosystem might act in their favour.

Continue reading ‘Role of squid in the Southern Ocean pelagic ecosystem and the possible consequences of climate change’

Growth of cultured giant clams (Tridacna spp.) in low pH, high-nutrient seawater: species-specific effects of substrate and supplemental feeding under acidification

Four species of giant clams, Tridacna maxima, T. squamosa, T. derasa and T. crocea, were cultured in outdoor raceways for 364 days at the Waikīkī Aquarium and the Oceanic Institute on the island of O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, USA.  Growth of each species was compared among individuals grown with and without supplemental phytoplankton feeding, and directly on the substrate or mounted on concrete plugs in low pH, high nutrient seawater.  Among clams cultured with and without supplemental phytoplankton (Chaetoceros spp.), feeding resulted in significantly lower mortality in all species but T. deresa, whereas growth was significantly higher among fed clams for all species except T. squamosa. Tridacna derasa showed roughly a three-fold increase in growth when fed (88.5 g ± 4.4 SD) than when unfed (26.0 g ± 2.1 SD), whereas T. maxima growth was substantially lower, but nearly 10-fold greater in response to feeding (9.0 g ± 1.9 SD). The overall mortality rate of juvenile clams was significantly lower in the fed (44.4 ± 10.0%) than the unfed (71.8 ± 9.6%) trials, with the greatest effect observed in mortality of T. maxima (fed 15% versus unfed 80%) and T. squamosa (fed 65% versus unfed 95%). None of the T. squamosa remained on concrete plugs for the duration of the experiment. Among the remaining three species, there was no difference in either wet weight or shell length for T. maxima and for wet weight only in T. derasa on (186.5 g ± 16.1 SD) and off (147.0 g ± 6.0 SD) the concrete plugs.  In contrast, T. crocea had significantly greater shell growth off the plugs (14.3 mm ± 1.0 SD versus 8.5 mm ± 1.7 SD) but significantly greater gain in wet weight on the concrete plugs (26.3 g ± 1.5 SD versus 58.5 g ± 2.5 SD).  The seawater wells used for this study are well characterized with elevated levels of inorganic nutrients and higher pCO2 relative to tropical ocean waters, roughly approximating predictions for future oceanic conditions under IPCC IS92a emission scenarios. In comparison to previous studies in natural seawater, T. derasa had a significantly higher shell growth rate in the high-nutrient, low-pH well water.  In contrast, T. maxima and T. squamosa had significantly lower growth rates in low pH, whereas growth of T. crocea was not significantly different between low pH and ambient seawater.  These experiments demonstrate species-specific differences with each treatment, which cautions against making broad generalizations regarding the effects of substrate type, feeding effects, nutrient enrichment, and ocean acidification on tridacnid culture and survival.

Continue reading ‘Growth of cultured giant clams (Tridacna spp.) in low pH, high-nutrient seawater: species-specific effects of substrate and supplemental feeding under acidification’

Temperature and pCO2 effect on the bioaccumulation of radionuclides and trace elements in the eggs of the common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis

The increasing release of CO2 by human activities leads to ocean acidification and global warming. Both those consequences (i.e., increase in seawater pCO2 and temperature) may drastically affect the physiology of marine organisms. The effects of low pH and elevated temperature on the bioaccumulation of radionuclides (241Am, 134Cs) and trace elements (60Co, 54Mn or 75Se) were studied during the embryonic development of the common cuttlefish Sepia officinalis. The lowered accumulation of essential 60Co and 54Mn with decreasing pH was larger at 16 °C than at 19 °C. Se was not detected in the embryo whereas it penetrated through the eggshell, suggesting that an alternative pathway ensures the supply of this essential metal for the embryo. 241Am was totally retained by the eggshell irrespective of pH and temperature. Finally, the amount of Cs found in the peri-vitelline fluid increased with decreasing pH likely because of an enhanced swelling of the cuttlefish egg under elevated CO2.

Continue reading ‘Temperature and pCO2 effect on the bioaccumulation of radionuclides and trace elements in the eggs of the common cuttlefish, Sepia officinalis’

Metabolically-induced pH fluctuations by some coastal calcifiers exceed projected 22nd century ocean acidification: a mechanism for differential susceptibility?

Anthropogenically-mediated decreases in pH, termed ocean acidification (OA), may be a major threat to marine organisms and communities. Research has focussed mainly on tropical coral reefs, but temperate reefs play a no less important ecological role in colder waters, where OA effects may first be manifest. Here, we report that trends in pH at the surface of three ecologically-important cold-water calcifiers (a primary producer and herbivores), under a range of fluid flows, differ substantially from one another, and for two of the three calcifiers the pH, during darkness, is lower than the mean projected pH due to OA for the surface waters of the global ocean beyond the year 2100. Using micro-optodes, we show that each calcifier had a different pH gradient between its surface and mainstream seawater, i.e. within the diffusion boundary layer which appears to act as an environmental buffer to mainstream pH. Abalone encountered only mainstream seawater pH, whereas pH at the sea urchins’ surface was reduced by ~0.35 units. For coralline algae, pH was ~0.5 units higher in the light and ~0.35 units lower under darkness than in ambient mainstream seawater. This wide range of pH within the DBL of some calcifiers will probably affect their performance under projected future reductions in pH due to OA. Differing exposure to a range of surface pH may result in differential susceptibility of calcifiers to OA. Such fluctuations are no doubt regulated by the interplay of water movement, morphology and metabolic rates (e.g. respiration, calcification and/or photosynthesis). Our study, by considering physics (flow regime), chemistry (pH gradients versus OA future projections) and biology (trophic level, physiology and morphology), reveals that predicting species-specific responses and subsequent ecosystem restructuring to OA is complex and requires a holistic, ecomechanical, approach.
Continue reading ‘Metabolically-induced pH fluctuations by some coastal calcifiers exceed projected 22nd century ocean acidification: a mechanism for differential susceptibility?’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book