Posts Tagged 'mollusks'

The future is now: marine aquaculture in the anthropocene

Aquaculture now produces more seafood than wild capture fisheries and this production is expected to at least double by 2050. Representing almost half of global production, marine aquaculture will contribute to sustainably feeding the growing humanity. However, climate change will undoubtedly challenge the future growth of marine aquaculture. Temperature and sea-level rise, shifts in precipitation, freshening from glacier melt, changing ocean productivity, and circulation patterns, increasing occurrence of extreme climatic events, eutrophication, and ocean acidification are all stressors that will influence marine aquaculture. The objective of this themed article set was to bring together contributions on the broad theme of the potential impacts, adaptation, and mitigation strategies of marine aquaculture to climate change. Here we present 14 papers covering a diverse set of approaches including experimentation, modelling, meta-analysis and review, and disciplines like biology, ecology, economics, and engineering. These articles focus on the impacts of climate change-related stressors on the aquaculture potential itself and on the resulting ecological interactions (e.g. parasitism and predation), on phenotypic plasticity and adaptation potential of species, and on measures to mitigate the effects of climate change on aquaculture and vice versa. Considering this, adaptation of the aquaculture sector relies on anticipating the biogeographical changes in the distribution of species, determining their potential for adaptation and selective breeding for resistance or tolerance to climate-induced stressors, and fostering ecosystem resilience by means of conservation, restoration, or remediation. By will or by force, aquaculture will contribute to the low carbon economy of tomorrow. Aquaculture must move towards a new paradigm where the carbon footprint and the analysis of the life cycle of products are at least as important as economic profitability.

Continue reading ‘The future is now: marine aquaculture in the anthropocene’

Effects of ocean acidification on calcification of the sub-Antarctic pteropod Limacina retroversa

Ocean acidification is expected to impact the high latitude oceans first, as CO2 dissolves more easily in colder waters. At the current rate of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, the sub-Antarctic Zone will start to experience undersaturated conditions with respect to aragonite within the next few decades, which will affect marine calcifying organisms. Shelled pteropods, a group of calcifying zooplankton, are considered to be especially sensitive to changes in carbonate chemistry because of their thin aragonite shells. Limacina retroversa is the most abundant pteropod in sub-Antarctic waters, and plays an important role in the carbonate pump. However, not much is known about its response to ocean acidification. In this study, we investigated differences in calcification between L. retroversa individuals exposed to ocean carbonate chemistry conditions of the past (pH 8.19; mid-1880s), present (pH 8.06), and near-future (pH 7.93; predicted for 2050) in the sub-Antarctic. After 3 days of exposure, calcification responses were quantified by calcein staining, shell weighing, and Micro-CT scanning. In pteropods exposed to past conditions, calcification occurred over the entire shell and the leading edge of the last whorl, whilst individuals incubated under present and near-future conditions mostly invested in extending their shells, rather than calcifying over their entire shell. Moreover, individuals exposed to past conditions formed larger shell volumes compared to present and future conditions, suggesting that calcification is already decreased in today’s sub-Antarctic waters. Shells of individuals incubated under near-future conditions did not increase in shell weight during the incubation, and had a lower density compared to past and present conditions, suggesting that calcification will be further compromised in the future. This demonstrates the high sensitivity of L. retroversa to relatively small and short-term changes in carbonate chemistry. A reduction in calcification of L. retroversa in the rapidly acidifying waters of the sub-Antarctic will have a major impact on aragonite-CaCO3 export from oceanic surface waters to the deep sea.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on calcification of the sub-Antarctic pteropod Limacina retroversa’

Invariant gametogenic response of dominant infaunal bivalves from the Arctic under ambient and near-future climate change conditions

Arctic marine ecosystems are undergoing a series of major rapid adjustments to the regional amplification of climate change, but there is a paucity of knowledge about how changing environmental conditions might affect reproductive cycles of seafloor organisms. Shifts in species reproductive ecology may influence their entire life-cycle, and, ultimately, determine the persistence and distribution of taxa. Here, we investigate whether the combined effects of warming and ocean acidification based on near-future climate change projections affects the reproductive processes in benthic bivalves (Astarte crenata and Bathyarca glacialis) from the Barents Sea. Both species present large oocytes indicative of lecithotrophic or direct larval development after ∼4 months exposure to ambient [<2°C, ∼400 ppm (CO2)] and near-future [3–5°C, ∼550 ppm (CO2)] conditions, but we find no evidence that the combined effects of acidification and warming affect the size frequency distribution of oocytes. Whilst our observations are indicative of resilience of this reproductive stage to global changes, we also highlight that the successful progression of gametogenesis under standard laboratory conditions does not necessarily mean that successful development and recruitment will occur in the natural environment. This is because the metabolic costs of changing environmental conditions are likely to be offset by, as is common practice in laboratory experiments, feeding ad libitum. We discuss our findings in the context of changing food availability in the Arctic and conclude that, if we are to establish the vulnerability of species and ecosystems, there is a need for holistic approaches that incorporate multiple system responses to change.

Continue reading ‘Invariant gametogenic response of dominant infaunal bivalves from the Arctic under ambient and near-future climate change conditions’

Extreme levels of ocean acidification restructure the plankton community and biogeochemistry of a temperate coastal ecosystem: a mesocosm study

The oceans’ uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) decreases seawater pH and alters the inorganic carbon speciation – summarized in the term ocean acidification (OA). Already today, coastal regions experience episodic pH events during which surface layer pH drops below values projected for the surface ocean at the end of the century. Future OA is expected to further enhance the intensity of these coastal extreme pH events. To evaluate the influence of such episodic OA events in coastal regions, we deployed eight pelagic mesocosms for 53 days in Raunefjord, Norway, and enclosed 56–61 m3 of local seawater containing a natural plankton community under nutrient limited post-bloom conditions. Four mesocosms were enriched with CO2 to simulate extreme pCO2 levels of 1978 – 2069 μatm while the other four served as untreated controls. Here, we present results from multivariate analyses on OA-induced changes in the phyto-, micro-, and mesozooplankton community structure. Pronounced differences in the plankton community emerged early in the experiment, and were amplified by enhanced top-down control throughout the study period. The plankton groups responding most profoundly to high CO2 conditions were cyanobacteria (negative), chlorophyceae (negative), auto- and heterotrophic microzooplankton (negative), and a variety of mesozooplanktonic taxa, including copepoda (mixed), appendicularia (positive), hydrozoa (positive), fish larvae (positive), and gastropoda (negative). The restructuring of the community coincided with significant changes in the concentration and elemental stoichiometry of particulate organic matter. Results imply that extreme CO2 events can lead to a substantial reorganization of the planktonic food web, affecting multiple trophic levels from phytoplankton to primary and secondary consumers.

Continue reading ‘Extreme levels of ocean acidification restructure the plankton community and biogeochemistry of a temperate coastal ecosystem: a mesocosm study’

The dual benefit of ocean acidification for the laminarialean kelp, Saccharina latissima: enhanced growth and reduced herbivory

The laminarialean kelp, Saccharina latissima, is a common macroalgae along rocky shorelines that is also frequently used in aquaculture. This study examined how ocean acidification may alter the growth of S. latissima as well as grazing on S. latissima by the gastropod, Lacuna vincta. Under elevated nutrients, S. latissima experienced significantly enhanced growth at pCO2 levels >1,200 µatm compared to ambient pCO2 (~400 µatm). Elevated pCO2 (>830 µatm) also significantly reduced herbivory of L. vincta grazing on S. latissima relative to ambient pCO2. There was no difference in grazing of S. latissima previously grown under elevated or ambient pCO2, suggesting lowered herbivory was due to harm to the gastropods rather than alteration of the biochemical composition of the kelp. Decreased herbivory was specifically elicited when L. vincta were exposed to elevated pCO2 in the absence of food for >18 h prior to grazing, with reduced grazing persisting 72 h. Elevated growth of S. latissima and reduced grazing by L. vincta at 1,200 µatm pCO2 combined to increase net growth rates of S. latissima by more than four-fold relative to ambient pCO2L. vincta consumed 70% of daily production by S. latissima under ambient pCO2 but only 38% and 9% at 800 µatm and 1,200 µatm, respectively. Collectively, decreased grazing by L. vincta coupled with enhanced growth of S. latissima under elevated pCO2 demonstrates that increased CO2 associated with climate change and/or coastal processes will dually benefit commercially and ecologically important kelps by both promoting growth and reducing grazing pressure. 

Continue reading ‘The dual benefit of ocean acidification for the laminarialean kelp, Saccharina latissima: enhanced growth and reduced herbivory’

A review of the potential effects of climate change on disseminated neoplasia with an emphasis on efficient detection in marine bivalve populations


  • Ocean warming is likely to favour disseminated neoplasia outbreaks.
  • The effect of seasonality on disseminated neoplasia seems species specific.
  • Detailed prevalence and environmental data are required to understand outbreak dynamics.
  • State of the art detection methods will be of key importance to obtain insights.


Climate change not only directly impacts marine environments by shifting water temperatures, salinity, pH and dissolved oxygen concentrations, but may also indirectly contribute to the emergence of additional ecosystem stressors, such as infectious diseases, including bivalve disseminated neoplasia. Disseminated neoplasia, a form of cancer found in some bivalves – recently discovered to be transmissible in at least six species – has been shown to impair bivalve health and fitness, with occasional mass outbreaks causing high levels of mortality. As the ability of the host bivalve to respond to disseminated neoplasia, and the survival and transmissibility of disseminated neoplasia both depend on environmental factors, it is crucial to understand the interaction between climate change and disseminated neoplasia epidemiology. Furthermore, with bivalves being species of high ecological and economic importance, there is a rising need for the development of efficient disseminated neoplasia detection tools in order to explore potential effects, mitigate and potentially prevent deleterious disseminated neoplasia outbreaks. Therefore, in this study, we reviewed the current knowledge of climate impacted environmental parameters on disseminated neoplasia and identified good practices and methodology for the detection of transmissible disseminated neoplasia in the wild. By exploring the potential effects changing climate has on disseminated neoplasia dynamics, we identified future research directions in order to advance the field. This included using state of the art disease detection methods and taking in account species’ ecological niches to understand the dynamic of disseminated neoplasia outbreaks in the wild and to investigate whether disseminated neoplasia is present in freshwater ecosystems. Finally, we provided a comprehensive step-by-step guideline for an evidence-based detection of this disease in marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘A review of the potential effects of climate change on disseminated neoplasia with an emphasis on efficient detection in marine bivalve populations’

The Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis: responses to climate change scenarios as a function of the original habitat

The impact of simulated seawater acidification and warming conditions on specimens of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis locally adapted to very distinct, widely separated sites in the Mediterranean Sea (Tunisia) and Atlantic Sea (Galicia, NW Spain) was evaluated in relation to key behavioral and eco-physiological parameters. Over the 2-month exposure to the experimental conditions, mussels were fed optimally to ensure that there are no synergistic interactions between climate change drivers and energetic status of the individuals. In general, regardless of origin (Atlantic or Mediterranean), the mussels were rather resilient to acidification for most of the parameters considered and they were able to grow in strongly acidified seawater through an increased feeding activity. However, shell strength decreased (40%) consistently in both mussel populations held in moderately and highly acidified seawater. The observed reduction in shell strength was not explained by slight alterations in organic matter, shell thickness or aragonite: calcite ratio. The combined effects of high acidification and warming on the key response of byssus strength caused a strong decline in mussel performance, although only in Galician mussels, in which the valve opening time decreased sharply as well as condition index (soft tissue state) and shell growth. By contrast, the observed negative effect of highly acidified scenario on the strength of Tunisian mussel shells was (partly but not totally) counterbalanced by the higher seawater temperature. Eco-physiological and behavioral interactions in mussels in relation to climate change are complex, and future scenarios for the ecology of the species and also the feasibility of cultivating them in Atlantic and Mediterranean zones are discussed.

Continue reading ‘The Mediterranean mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis: responses to climate change scenarios as a function of the original habitat’

A review and meta-analysis of potential impacts of ocean acidification on marine calcifiers from the southern Ocean

Understanding the vulnerability of marine calcifiers to ocean acidification is a critical issue, especially in the Southern Ocean (SO), which is likely to be the one of the first, and most severely affected regions. Since the industrial revolution, ~30% of anthropogenic CO2 has been absorbed by the global oceans. Average surface seawater pH levels have already decreased by 0.1 and are projected to decline by ~0.3 by the year 2100. This process, known as ocean acidification (OA), is shallowing the saturation horizon, which is the depth below which calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolves, likely increasing the vulnerability of many resident marine calcifiers to dissolution. The negative impact of OA may be seen first in species depositing more soluble CaCO3 mineral phases such as aragonite and high-Mg calcite (HMC). Ocean warming could further exacerbate the effects of OA in these particular species. Here we combine a review and a quantitative meta-analysis to provide an overview of the current state of knowledge about skeletal mineralogy of major taxonomic groups of SO marine calcifiers and to make projections about how OA might affect a broad range of SO taxa. We consider a species’ geographic range, skeletal mineralogy, biological traits, and potential strategies to overcome OA. The meta-analysis of studies investigating the effects of the OA on a range of biological responses such as shell state, development and growth rate illustrates that the response variation is largely dependent on mineralogical composition. Species-specific responses due to mineralogical composition indicate that taxa with calcitic, aragonitic, and HMC skeletons, could be at greater risk to expected future carbonate chemistry alterations, and low-Mg calcite (LMC) species could be mostly resilient to these changes. Environmental and biological control on the calcification process and/or Mg content in calcite, biological traits, and physiological processes are also expected to influence species-specific responses.

Continue reading ‘A review and meta-analysis of potential impacts of ocean acidification on marine calcifiers from the southern Ocean’

Ocean acidification decreases grazing pressure but alters morphological structure in a dominant coastal seaweed

Ocean acidification driven by anthropogenic climate change is causing a global decrease in pH, which is projected to be 0.4 units lower in coastal shallow waters by the year 2100. Previous studies have shown that seaweeds grown under such conditions may alter their growth and photosynthetic capacity. It is not clear how such alterations might impact interactions between seaweed and herbivores, e.g. through changes in feeding rates, nutritional value, or defense levels. Changes in seaweeds are particularly important for coastal food webs, as they are key primary producers and often habitat-forming species. We cultured the habitat-forming brown seaweed Fucus vesiculosus for 30 days in projected future pCO2 (1100 μatm) with genetically identical controls in ambient pCO2 (400 μatm). Thereafter the macroalgae were exposed to grazing by Littorina littorea, acclimated to the relevant pCO2-treatment. We found increased growth (measured as surface area increase), decreased tissue strength in a tensile strength test, and decreased chemical defense (phlorotannins) levels in seaweeds exposed to high pCO2-levels. The herbivores exposed to elevated pCO2-levels showed improved condition index, decreased consumption, but no significant change in feeding preference. Fucoid seaweeds such as Fvesiculosus play important ecological roles in coastal habitats and are often foundation species, with a key role for ecosystem structure and function. The change in surface area and associated decrease in breaking force, as demonstrated by our results, indicate that Fvesiculosus grown under elevated levels of pCO2 may acquire an altered morphology and reduced tissue strength. This, together with increased wave energy in coastal ecosystems due to climate change, could have detrimental effects by reducing both habitat and food availability for herbivores.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification decreases grazing pressure but alters morphological structure in a dominant coastal seaweed’

Boosted fish abundance associated with Posidonia oceanica meadows in temperate shallow CO2 vents


  • Ocean acidification (OA) may induce shifts in the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems
  • CO2 vents were used to assess the effects of OA on fish assemblages associated with Posidonia oceanica
  • Posidonia structure and associated fish assemblages were compared at vents and off-vents using underwater visual census
  • Posidonia density increases and fish show boosted abundance but not reduced diversity at vents
  • Mediterranean Posidonia fish assemblages may cope with OA under near-future acidification level


Ocean acidification (OA) may induce major shifts in the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems. Studies in volcanic CO2 vents, where seawater is naturally acidified, have reported an overall simplification of fish assemblages structure, while some primary producers are likely to increase their biomass under elevated concentration of CO2. Here we used temperate shallow CO2 vents located around the coast of Ischia island (Italy) to assess the effects of OA on necto-benthic fish assemblages associated with the foundation seagrass species Posidonia oceanica in the Mediterranean Sea. We compared P. oceanica meadow structure, its epiphytic community and the associated fish assemblage structure and diversity at vents with low pH sites and reference sites with ambient pH using underwater visual census strip transects, in two seasons (fall 2018 and summer 2019). Data were analysed using both univariate and multivariate statistical techniques. Results showed greater P. oceanica habitat complexity (i.e. shoot density) and lower abundance of epiphytic calcareous species (e.g. coralline algae) at the vents than reference sites. Total abundance of adult and juvenile fish was higher at vents than reference sites, while no differences were found for species richness and composition. Overall, the herbivore Sarpa salpa stands out among the species contributing the most to dissimilarity between vents and reference sites, showing higher abundances under OA conditions. This pattern could be explained by the combined effect of a positive response to the higher structural meadows complexity and the greater seagrasses palatability / nutritional value occurring at the vents, which may help herbivores to withstand the higher energetic cost to live under high pCO2 / low pH conditions. Our results indicate that necto-benthic fish assemblages associated with the Mediterranean P. oceanica ecosystem may cope with OA under the CO2 emission scenarios forecasted for the end of this century.

Continue reading ‘Boosted fish abundance associated with Posidonia oceanica meadows in temperate shallow CO2 vents’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book