Posts Tagged 'mollusks'

Rapid bioerosion in a tropical upwelling coral reef

Coral reefs persist in an accretion-erosion balance, which is critical for understanding the natural variability of sediment production, reef accretion, and their effects on the carbonate budget. Bioerosion (i.e. biodegradation of substrate) and encrustation (i.e. calcified overgrowth on substrate) influence the carbonate budget and the ecological functions of coral reefs, by substrate formation/consolidation/erosion, food availability and nutrient cycling. This study investigates settlement succession and carbonate budget change by bioeroding and encrusting calcifying organisms on experimentally deployed coral substrates (skeletal fragments of Stylophora pistillata branches). The substrates were deployed in a marginal coral reef located in the Gulf of Papagayo (Costa Rica, Eastern Tropical Pacific) for four months during the northern winter upwelling period (December 2013 to March 2014), and consecutively sampled after each month. Due to the upwelling environmental conditions within the Eastern Tropical Pacific, this region serves as a natural laboratory to study ecological processes such as bioerosion, which may reflect climate change scenarios. Time-series analyses showed a rapid settlement of bioeroders, particularly of lithophagine bivalves of the genus Lithophaga/Leiosolenus (Dillwyn, 1817), within the first two months of exposure. The observed enhanced calcium carbonate loss of coral substrate (>30%) may influence seawater carbon chemistry. This is evident by measurements of an elevated seawater pH (>8.2) and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag >3) at Matapalo Reef during the upwelling period, when compared to a previous upwelling event observed at a nearby site in distance to a coral reef (Marina Papagayo). Due to the resulting local carbonate buffer effect of the seawater, an influx of atmospheric CO2 into reef waters was observed. Substrates showed no secondary cements in thin-section analyses, despite constant seawater carbonate oversaturation (Ωarag >2.8) during the field experiment. Micro Computerized Tomography (μCT) scans and microcast-embeddings of the substrates revealed that the carbonate loss was primarily due to internal macrobioerosion and an increase in microbioerosion. This study emphasizes the interconnected effects of upwelling and carbonate bioerosion on the reef carbonate budget and the ecological turnovers of carbonate producers in tropical coral reefs under environmental change.

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Impact of environmental hypercapnia on fertilization success rate and the early embryonic development of the clam Limecola balthica (Bivalvia, Tellinidae) from the southern Baltic Sea – a potential CO2 leakage case study


• Fertilization success of Limecola balthica drops along decreasing pH gradient.
• Low pH causes delays of early embryonic development of the Baltic clam.
L. balthica embryos develop aberrations of early cleavages in CO2-rich environment.
• CO2 leakage from CCS site may affect population’s size by impeding its reproduction.


Carbon capture and storage technology was developed as a tool to mitigate the increased emissions of carbon dioxide by capture, transportation, injection and storage of CO2 into subterranean reservoirs. There is, however, a risk of future CO2 leakage from sub-seabed storage sites to the sea-floor sediments and overlying water, causing a pH decrease. The aim of this study was to assess effects of CO2-induced seawater acidification on fertilization success and early embryonic development of the sediment-burrowing bivalve Limecola balthica L. from the Baltic Sea. Laboratory experiments using a CO2 enrichment system involved three different pH variants (pH 7.7 as control, pH 7.0 and pH 6.3, both representing environmental hypercapnia). The results showed significant fertilization success reduction under pH 7.0 and 6.3 and development delays at 4 and 9 h post gamete encounter. Several morphological aberrations (cell breakage, cytoplasm leakages, blastomere deformations) in the early embryos at different cleavage stages were observed.

Continue reading ‘Impact of environmental hypercapnia on fertilization success rate and the early embryonic development of the clam Limecola balthica (Bivalvia, Tellinidae) from the southern Baltic Sea – a potential CO2 leakage case study’

Projected amplification of food web bioaccumulation of MeHg and PCBs under climate change in the Northeastern Pacific

Climate change increases exposure and bioaccumulation of pollutants in marine organisms, posing substantial ecophysiological and ecotoxicological risks. Here, we applied a trophodynamic ecosystem model to examine the bioaccumulation of organic mercury (MeHg) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in a Northeastern Pacific marine food web under climate change. We found largely heterogeneous sensitivity in climate-pollution impacts between chemicals and trophic groups. Concentration of MeHg and PCBs in top predators, including resident killer whales, is projected to be amplified by 8 and 3%, respectively, by 2100 under a high carbon emission scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5) relative to a no-climate change control scenario. However, the level of amplification increases with higher carbon emission scenario for MeHg, but decreases for PCBs. Such idiosyncratic responses are shaped by the differences in bioaccumulation pathways between MeHg and PCBs, and the modifications of food web dynamics between different levels of climate change. Climate-induced pollutant amplification in mid-trophic level predators (Chinook salmon) are projected to be higher (~10%) than killer whales. Overall, the predicted trophic magnification factor is ten-fold higher in MeHg than in PCBs under high CO2 emissions. This contribution highlights the importance of understanding the interactions with anthropogenic organic pollutants in assessing climate risks on marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Projected amplification of food web bioaccumulation of MeHg and PCBs under climate change in the Northeastern Pacific’

Little lasting impact of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum on shallow marine molluscan faunas

Global warming, acidification, and oxygen stress at the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) are associated with severe extinction in the deep sea and major biogeographic and ecologic changes in planktonic and terrestrial ecosystems, yet impacts on shallow marine macrofaunas are obscured by the incompleteness of shelf sections. We analyze mollusk assemblages bracketing (but not including) the PETM and find few notable lasting impacts on diversity, turnover, functional ecology, body size, or life history of important clades. Infaunal and chemosymbiotic taxa become more common, and body size and abundance drop in one clade, consistent with hypoxia-driven selection, but within-clade changes are not generalizable across taxa. While an unrecorded transient response is still possible, the long-term evolutionary impact is minimal. Adaptation to already-warm conditions and slow release of CO2 relative to the time scale of ocean mixing likely buffered the impact of PETM climate change on shelf faunas.

Continue reading ‘Little lasting impact of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum on shallow marine molluscan faunas’

Global change in marine aquaculture production potential under climate change

Climate change is an immediate and future threat to food security globally. The consequences for fisheries and agriculture production potential are well studied, yet the possible outcomes for aquaculture (that is, aquatic farming)—one of the fastest growing food sectors on the planet—remain a major gap in scientific understanding. With over one-third of aquaculture produced in marine waters and this proportion increasing, it is critical to anticipate new opportunities and challenges in marine production under climate change. Here, we model and map the effect of warming ocean conditions (Representative Concentration Pathway scenario 8.5) on marine aquaculture production potential over the next century, based on thermal tolerance and growth data of 180 cultured finfish and bivalve species. We find heterogeneous patterns of gains and losses, but an overall greater probability of declines worldwide. Accounting for multiple drivers of species growth, including shifts in temperature, chlorophyll and ocean acidification, reveals potentially greater declines in bivalve aquaculture compared with finfish production. This study addresses a missing component in food security research and sustainable development planning by identifying regions that will face potentially greater climate change challenges and resilience with regards to marine aquaculture in the coming decades. Understanding the scale and magnitude of future increases and reductions in aquaculture potential is critical for designing effective and efficient use and protection of the oceans, and ultimately for feeding the planet sustainably.

Continue reading ‘Global change in marine aquaculture production potential under climate change’

Habitat effects of macrophytes and shell on carbonate chemistry and juvenile clam recruitment, survival, and growth


• Field experiment testing two substrate treatments as OA adaptation strategies
• Clam growth increased in absence of macrophytes, regardless of shell hash treatment.
• Neither treatment improved clam recruitment or survival.
• pH in water column was higher during the day and outside eelgrass beds.
• Added shell hash improved carbonate chemistry in sediment pore-water.


Adverse habitat conditions associated with reduced seawater pH often, but not always, negatively affect bivalves in early life history phases. Improving our understanding of how habitat-specific parameters affect clam recruitment, survival, and growth could assist natural resource managers and researchers in developing appropriate adaptation strategies for increasingly acidified nearshore ecosystems. Two proposed adaptation strategies, the presence of macrophytes and addition of shell hash, have the potential to raise local seawater pH and aragonite saturation state and, therefore, to improve conditions for shell-forming organisms. This field study examined the effects of these two substrate treatments on biological and geochemical response variables. Specifically, we measured (1) recruitment, survival, and growth of juvenile clams (Ruditapes philippinarum) and (2) local water chemistry at Fidalgo Bay and Skokomish Delta, Washington, USA, in response to experimental manipulations. Results showed no effect of macrophyte or shell hash treatment on recruitment or survival of R. philippinarum. Contrary to expectations, clam growth was significantly greater in the absence of macrophytes, regardless of the presence or absence of shell hash. Water column pH was higher outside the macrophyte bed than inside at Skokomish Delta and higher during the day than at night at Fidalgo Bay. Additionally, pore-water pH and aragonite saturation state were higher in the absence of macrophytes and the presence of shell. Based on these results, we propose that with increasingly corrosive conditions shell hash may help provide chemical refugia under future ocean conditions. Thus, we suggest adaptation strategies target the use of shell hash and avoidance of macrophytes to improve carbonate chemistry conditions and promote clam recruitment, survival, and growth.

Continue reading ‘Habitat effects of macrophytes and shell on carbonate chemistry and juvenile clam recruitment, survival, and growth’

Effect of CO2–induced ocean acidification on the early development and shell mineralization of the European abalone (Haliotis tuberculata)

• Calcifying mollusks are among the most vulnerable invertebrates to (OA).
• Early life-history stages are particularly sensitive to pH changes.
• We investigated the effects of OA on larval development of the abalone H. tuberculata, a commercially important gastropod.
• Larval survival, development and shell calcification were affected by low pH conditions.
• OA may have potentially negative consequences for larval recruitment and persistence of abalone populations.


Ocean acidification is a major global stressor that leads to substantial changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, with potentially significant consequences for calcifying organisms. Marine shelled mollusks are ecologically and economically important species providing essential ecosystem services and food sources for other species. Because they use calcium carbonate (CaCO3) to produce their shells, mollusks are among the most vulnerable invertebrates to ocean acidification, with early developmental stages being particularly sensitive to pH changes. This study investigated the effects of CO2-induced ocean acidification on larval development of the European abalone Haliotis tuberculata, a commercially important gastropod species. Abalone larvae were exposed to a range of reduced pHs (8.0, 7.7 and 7.6) over the course of their development cycle, from early-hatched trochophore to pre-metamorphic veliger. Biological responses were evaluated by measuring the survival rate, morphology and development, growth rate and shell calcification. Larval survival was significantly lower in acidified conditions than in control conditions. Similarly, larval size was consistently smaller under low pH conditions. Larval development was also affected, with evidence of a developmental delay and an increase in the proportion of malformed or unshelled larvae. In shelled larvae, the intensity of birefringence decreased under low pH conditions, suggesting a reduction in shell mineralization. Since these biological effects were observed for pH values expected by 2100, ocean acidification may have potentially negative consequences for larval recruitment and persistence of abalone populations in the near future.

Continue reading ‘Effect of CO2–induced ocean acidification on the early development and shell mineralization of the European abalone (Haliotis tuberculata)’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book