Posts Tagged 'morphology'

The effects of ocean warming and acidification on seaweed growth and urchin grazing

Human produced carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are currently higher than previously recorded and are continuing to rise at alarming rates. This greenhouse gas is the primary driver for changing climate scenarios highlighted by an approximate 1°C increase in sea surface temperatures. In addition to driving global warming, CO2 is readily absorbed by the oceans, resulting in changes in seawater chemistry and a decrease in seawater pH (acidification). The singular effects of ocean warming and acidification are known to impact marine organisms; lesser known, however, are the combined effects of these stressors, particularly on biotic interactions. This study aimed to expand on the knowledge of how these abiotic stressors affect seaweed and seaweed-herbivore interactions by comparing seaweed growth and herbivore feeding rate and selectivity under combinations of current and modelled future temperature (18°C and 21°C) and pH (8.1 and 7.8) conditions. Growth rates of two seaweed species, a calcified red alga (Lithothrix aspergillum) and a non-calcified brown alga (giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera), were compared among manipulated seawater conditions. In addition, the feeding rates and feeding selectivity of a common sea urchin herbivore (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) for these two seaweeds were compared among water conditions. Lithothrix was not affected by the singular effects of pH or temperature but under combined future temperature and pH conditions, the seaweed performed poorly. While acidification is known to affect the ability of calcifying species to deposit calcium carbonate, Lithothrix appeared to only be impacted by acidification under temperature stress. Macrocystis, on the other hand, performed significantly better under future acidic conditions, regardless of temperature, as it likely experienced an increase in photosynthetic rate driven by high CO2 concentrations. Urchin herbivory rates were elevated for both seaweeds grown under acidification scenarios, possibly due to increased grazing susceptibility of Lithothrix during poor calcification/decalcification conditions and Macrocystis during new growth conditions. Feeding preference trials were inconsistent with feeding rate patterns as urchins exhibited low overall consumption and no selectivity for either seaweed under any water condition. Although the impacts of warming and acidification on growth of seaweeds and susceptibility to grazing by urchins are variable among taxa, potential future stressors are likely to alter seaweed population and seaweed-herbivore dynamics.

Continue reading ‘The effects of ocean warming and acidification on seaweed growth and urchin grazing’

Exposure history determines pteropod vulnerability to ocean acidification along the US West Coast

The pteropod Limacina helicina frequently experiences seasonal exposure to corrosive conditions (Ωar  < 1) along the US West Coast and is recognized as one of the species most susceptible to ocean acidification (OA). Yet, little is known about their capacity to acclimatize to such conditions. We collected pteropods in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) that differed in the severity of exposure to Ωar conditions in the natural environment. Combining field observations, high-CO2 perturbation experiment results, and retrospective ocean transport simulations, we investigated biological responses based on histories of magnitude and duration of exposure to Ωar < 1. Our results suggest that both exposure magnitude and duration affect pteropod responses in the natural environment. However, observed declines in calcification performance and survival probability under high CO2 experimental conditions do not show acclimatization capacity or physiological tolerance related to history of exposure to corrosive conditions. Pteropods from the coastal CCE appear to be at or near the limit of their physiological capacity, and consequently, are already at extinction risk under projected acceleration of OA over the next 30 years. Our results demonstrate that Ωar exposure history largely determines pteropod response to experimental conditions and is essential to the interpretation of biological observations and experimental results.

Continue reading ‘Exposure history determines pteropod vulnerability to ocean acidification along the US West Coast’

Combined impacts of ocean acidification and dysoxia on survival and growth of four agglutinating foraminifera

Agglutinated foraminifera create a shell by assembling particles from the sediment and comprise a significant part of the foraminiferal fauna. Despite their high abundance and diversity, their response to environmental perturbations and climate change is relatively poorly studied. Here we present results from a culture experiment with four different species of agglutinating foraminifera incubated in artificial substrate and exposed to different pCO2 conditions, in either dysoxic or oxic settings. We observed species-specific reactions (i.e., reduced or increased chamber formation rates) to dysoxia and/or acidification. While chamber addition and/or survival rates of Miliammina fusca and Trochammina inflata were negatively impacted by either dysoxia or acidification, respectively, Textularia tenuissima and Spiroplectammina biformis had the highest survivorship and chamber addition rates with combined high pCO2 (2000 ppm) and low O2 (0.7 ml/l) conditions. The differential response of these species indicates that not all agglutinating foraminifera are well-adapted to conditions induced by predicted climate change, which may result in a shift in foraminiferal community composition.

Continue reading ‘Combined impacts of ocean acidification and dysoxia on survival and growth of four agglutinating foraminifera’

Trade-offs in a high CO2 habitat on a subsea volcano: condition and reproductive features of a bathymodioline mussel

Northwest Eifuku submarine volcano (Mariana Volcanic Arc) emits very high concentrations of CO2 at a vent where the mussel Bathymodiolus septemdierum experiences pH as low as 5.2. We examined how this natural setting of high pCO2 influences shell, body, and reproductive condition. Calcification is highly compromised: at a given shell volume, shells from NW Eifuku weigh about half those from reference sites in the south Pacific, and dissolution of the inner shell is evident. However, the condition indices of some NW Eifuku mussels were equal to or higher than those from Lau back-arc basin and the New Hebrides Island Arc. NW Eifuku mussels in pH 5.2 fluids had the highest symbiont abundances in gill bacteriocytes, probably due to greater dissolved sulphide access. Excess energy demands imposed by high pCO2 conditions appears moderated by adequate food availability through symbiont chemosynthesis. In the sample with the lowest body condition, gametogenesis was lagging, although all mussels in high pCO2 had developing gonads and the complete gametogenic cycle was present in our samples. Gamete development is synchronous between sexes and is possibly periodic. While mussels are functionally dioecious, protogynous hermaphroditism can occur—a first record for the genus—which may be an adaptation to resource availability. B. septemdierum likely makes energy allocation trade-offs among calcification, body mass maintenance, reproduction and other processes to maximize fitness. We suggest that flexibility to divert energy from shell formation, combined with good food supply, can mitigate the manifestation of high CO2 stress on B. septemdierum.

Continue reading ‘Trade-offs in a high CO2 habitat on a subsea volcano: condition and reproductive features of a bathymodioline mussel’

Size-dependent response of foraminiferal calcification to seawater carbonate chemistry (update)

The response of the marine carbon cycle to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentrations will be determined, in part, by the relative response of calcifying and non-calcifying organisms to global change. Planktonic foraminifera are responsible for a quarter or more of global carbonate production, therefore understanding the sensitivity of calcification in these organisms to environmental change is critical. Despite this, there remains little consensus as to whether, or to what extent, chemical and physical factors affect foraminiferal calcification. To address this, we directly test the effect of multiple controls on calcification in culture experiments and core-top measurements of Globigerinoides ruber. We find that two factors, body size and the carbonate system, strongly influence calcification intensity in life, but that exposure to corrosive bottom waters can overprint this signal post mortem. Using a simple model for the addition of calcite through ontogeny, we show that variable body size between and within datasets could complicate studies that examine environmental controls on foraminiferal shell weight. In addition, we suggest that size could ultimately play a role in determining whether calcification will increase or decrease with acidification. Our models highlight that knowledge of the specific morphological and physiological mechanisms driving ontogenetic change in calcification in different species will be critical in predicting the response of foraminiferal calcification to future change in atmospheric pCO2.

Continue reading ‘Size-dependent response of foraminiferal calcification to seawater carbonate chemistry (update)’

Effect of ocean acidification and elevated temperature on growth of calcifying tubeworm shells (Spirorbis spirorbis): an in-situ benthocosm approach

The calcareous tubeworm Spirorbis spirorbis is a wide-spread serpulid species in the Baltic Sea, where it commonly grows as an epibiont on brown macroalgae (genus Fucus). It lives within a Mg-calcite shell and could be affected by ocean acidification and temperature rise induced by the predicted future atmospheric CO2 increase. However, Spirorbis tubes grow in a chemically modified boundary layer around the algae, which may mitigate acidification. In order to investigate how increasing temperature and rising pCO2 may influence S. spirorbis shell growth we carried out four seasonal experiments in the ‘Kiel Outdoor Benthocosms’ at elevated pCO2 and temperature conditions. Compared to laboratory batch culture experiments the benthocosm approach provides a better representation of natural conditions for physical and biological ecosystem parameters, including seasonal variations. We find that growth rates of S. spirorbis are significantly controlled by ontogenetic and seasonal effects. The length of the newly grown tube is inversely related to the initial diameter of the shell. Our study showed no significant difference of the growth rates between ambient atmospheric and elevated (1100 ppm) pCO2 conditions. No influence of daily average CaCO3 saturation state on the growth rates of S. spirorbiswas observed. We found, however, net growth of the shells even in temporarily undersaturated bulk solutions, under conditions that concurrently favored selective shell surface dissolution. The results suggest an overall resistance of S. spirorbis growth to acidification levels predicted for the year 2100 in the Baltic Sea. In contrast, S. spirorbis did not survive at mean seasonal temperatures exceeding 24 °C during the summer experiments. In the autumn experiments at ambient pCO2, the growth rates of juvenile S. spirorbis were higher under elevated temperature conditions. The results reveal that S. spirorbis may prefer moderately warmer conditions during their early life stages but will suffer from an excessive temperature increase and from increasing shell corrosion as a consequence of progressing ocean acidification.
Continue reading ‘Effect of ocean acidification and elevated temperature on growth of calcifying tubeworm shells (Spirorbis spirorbis): an in-situ benthocosm approach’

The development of contemporary European sea bass larvae (Dicentrarchus labrax) is not affected by projected ocean acidification scenarios

Ocean acidification is a recognized consequence of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emission in the atmosphere. Despite its threat to marine ecosystems, little is presently known about the capacity for fish to respond efficiently to this acidification. In adult fish, acid–base regulatory capacities are believed to be relatively competent to respond to hypercapnic conditions. However, fish in early life stage could be particularly sensitive to environmental factors as organs and important physiological functions become progressively operational during this period. In this study, the response of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) larvae reared under three ocean acidification scenarios, i.e., control (present condition, P CO 2   PCO2  = 590 µatm, pH total = 7.9), low acidification (intermediate IPCC scenario, P CO 2   PCO2  = 980 µatm, pH total = 7.7), and high acidification (most severe IPCC scenario, P CO 2   PCO2  = 1520 µatm, pH total = 7.5) were compared across multiple levels of biological organizations. From 2 to 45 days-post-hatching, the chronic exposure to the different scenarios had limited influence on the survival and growth of the larvae (in the low acidification condition only) and had no apparent effect on the digestive developmental processes. The high acidification condition induced both faster mineralization and reduction in skeletal deformities. Global (microarray) and targeted (qPCR) analysis of transcript levels in whole larvae did not reveal any significant changes in gene expression across tested acidification conditions. Overall, this study suggests that contemporary sea bass larvae are already capable of coping with projected acidification conditions without having to mobilize specific defense mechanisms.

Continue reading ‘The development of contemporary European sea bass larvae (Dicentrarchus labrax) is not affected by projected ocean acidification scenarios’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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