Posts Tagged 'morphology'

Fish brain development in a changing ocean

Unravelling how marine species invest in brain tissues (or brain regions) matching the fitness-relevant cognitive demands dictated by a changing environment is a priority in climate change-related (ocean warming and acidification) research. Within this context, this dissertation aimed to assess the combined effects of ocean warming (Δ 4 °C) and acidification (Δ 700 μatm pCO2 and Δ 0.4 pH) in the brain development (brain/body mass ratio and brain macro-region growth) of several juvenile fish species from different climate regions. Namely: three species adapted to a more stable (tropical) environment (clown anemonefish Amphiprion ocellaris, orchid dottyback Pseudochromis fridmani and neon goby Elacatinus oceanops), and other three adapted to a less stable (more seasonal; temperate) environment (seabream Diplodus sargus, flatfish Solea senegalensis and meagre Argyrosomus regius). The results show that the temperate species used in this study are only affected by ocean acidification in both total brain and specific brain regions, while the used tropical species are affected by ocean acidification, ocean warming and also by the interaction of ocean warming and ocean acidification. In fact, both total brain and every brain-region except for Telencephalon are affected by future conditions of ocean warming and ocean acidification differently according to each species. The lack of responses to ocean warming by the temperate species is here attributed to the widespread latitudinal distribution of those species, and thus the adaptation to a wider temperature range than tropical species. Curiously, all the significant interactions between the two studied stressors are antagonistic interactions with a cross-tolerance mechanism, meaning that under those interactions, the brain weight is closer to control levels than under each of the stressors separately. Possible behavioural and ecological implications of those results are also discussed. Despite the distinct dichotomic pattern between temperate and tropical habitats, the results among fish species and specific brain macro-regions do not exhibit a subjacent pattern. These different results highlight the idea of species-specific phenotypic responses to these climate change-related stressors.

Continue reading ‘Fish brain development in a changing ocean’

Boron isotope systematics of cultured brachiopods: response to acidification, vital effects and implications for palaeo-pH reconstruction

CO2-induced ocean acidification and associated decrease of seawater carbonate saturation state contributed to multiple environmental crises in Earth’s history, and currently poses a major threat for marine calcifying organisms. Owing to their high abundance and good preservation in the Phanerozoic geological record, brachiopods present an advantageous taxon of marine calcifiers for palaeo-proxy applications as well as studies on biological mechanism to cope with environmental change. To investigate the geochemical and physiological responses of brachiopods to prolonged low-pH conditions we cultured Magellania venosa, Terebratella dorsata and Pajaudina atlantica under controlled experimental settings over a period of more than two years. Our experiments demonstrate that brachiopods form their calcite shells under strong biological control, which enables them to survive and grow under low-pH conditions and even in seawater strongly undersaturated with respect to calcite (pH = 7.35, Ωcal = 0.6). Using boron isotope (δ11B) systematics including MC-ICP-MS as well as SIMS analyses, validated against in vivo microelectrode measurements, we show that this resilience is achieved by strict regulation of the calcifying fluid pH between the epithelial mantle and the shell. We provide a culture-based δ11B−pH calibration, which as a result of the internal pH regulatory mechanisms deviates from the inorganic borate ion to pH relationship, but confirms a clear yet subtle pH dependency for brachiopods. At a micro-scale level, the incorporation of 11B appears to be principally driven by a physiological gradient across the shell, where the δ11B values of the innermost calcite record the internal calcifying fluid pH while the composition of the outermost layers is also influenced by seawater pH. These findings are of consequence to studies on biomineralisation processes, physiological adaptations as well as past climate reconstructions.

Continue reading ‘Boron isotope systematics of cultured brachiopods: response to acidification, vital effects and implications for palaeo-pH reconstruction’

Diurnally fluctuating pCO2 modifies the physiological responses of coral recruits under ocean acidification

Diurnal pCO2 fluctuations have the potential to modulate the biological impact of ocean acidification (OA) on reef calcifiers, yet little is known about the physiological and biochemical responses of scleractinian corals to fluctuating carbonate chemistry under OA. Here, we exposed newly settled Pocillopora damicornis for 7 days to ambient pCO2, steady and elevated pCO2 (stable OA) and diurnally fluctuating pCO2 under future OA scenario (fluctuating OA). We measured the photo-physiology, growth (lateral growth, budding and calcification), oxidative stress and activities of carbonic anhydrase (CA), Ca-ATPase and Mg-ATPase. Results showed that while OA enhanced the photochemical performance of in hospite symbionts, it also increased catalase activity and lipid peroxidation. Furthermore, both OA treatments altered the activities of host and symbiont CA, suggesting functional changes in the uptake of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) for photosynthesis and calcification. Most importantly, only the fluctuating OA treatment resulted in a slight drop in calcification with concurrent up-regulation of Ca-ATPase and Mg-ATPase, implying increased energy expenditure on calcification. Consequently, asexual budding rates decreased by 50% under fluctuating OA. These results suggest that diel pCO2 oscillations could modify the physiological responses and potentially alter the energy budget of coral recruits under future OA, and that fluctuating OA is more energetically expensive for the maintenance of coral recruits than stable OA.

Continue reading ‘Diurnally fluctuating pCO2 modifies the physiological responses of coral recruits under ocean acidification’

Sporophytic photosynthesis and gametophytic growth of the kelp Ecklonia stolonifera affected by ocean acidification and warming

Juvenile sporophytes and gametophytes of Ecklonia stolonifera were incubated in combinations of three pCO2 levels (360, 720 and 980 ppmv) and two temperatures (10 and 15°C for sporophytes; 15 and 20°C for gametophytes) to examine potential effects of climate change on photosynthesis and growth. Sporophytes had significantly higher maximum quantum yields (Fv/Fm) and maximum relative electron transport rates (rETRmax) at 720 ppmv than 360 and 980 ppmv. Also, these parameters were significantly lower at higher temperature of 15°C than at 10°C. Growth of female gametophytes was maximal at 360 ppmv rather than enriched pCO2 levels. Female gametophytes had significantly lower growth at higher temperature of 20°C than at 15°C. These results indicate effects of elevated pCO2 varied between generations: stimulating sporophytic photosynthesis and inhibiting gametophytic growth. Ocean acidification and warming would constitute a grave threat to seedling cultivation of E. stolonifera caused by growth inhibition of gametophytes at high pCO2 levels and temperatures.

Continue reading ‘Sporophytic photosynthesis and gametophytic growth of the kelp Ecklonia stolonifera affected by ocean acidification and warming’

Ocean acidification and warming affect skeletal mineralization in a marine fish

Ocean acidification and warming are known to alter, and in many cases decrease, calcification rates of shell and reef building marine invertebrates. However, to date, there are no datasets on the combined effect of ocean pH and temperature on skeletal mineralization of marine vertebrates, such as fishes. Here, the embryos of an oviparous marine fish, the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea), were developmentally acclimatized to current and increased temperature and CO2 conditions as expected by the year 2100 (15 and 20°C, approx. 400 and 1100 µatm, respectively), in a fully crossed experimental design. Using micro-computed tomography, hydroxyapatite density was estimated in the mineralized portion of the cartilage in jaws, crura, vertebrae, denticles and pectoral fins of juvenile skates. Mineralization increased as a consequence of high CO2 in the cartilage of crura and jaws, while temperature decreased mineralization in the pectoral fins. Mineralization affects stiffness and strength of skeletal elements linearly, with implications for feeding and locomotion performance and efficiency. This study is, to my knowledge, the first to quantify a significant change in mineralization in the skeleton of a fish and shows that changes in temperature and pH of the oceans have complex effects on fish skeletal morphology.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and warming affect skeletal mineralization in a marine fish’

Calcium carbonate unit realignment under acidification: A potential compensatory mechanism in an edible estuarine oyster


• Impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on edible oyster shells were investigated.

• Microstructure, crystallography and the mechanical properties were quantified.

• OA altered shell microstructure and crystal orientation.

• The mechanical properties, however, were not affected under moderately low pH.

• Altered crystallography appeared to be a potential compensatory mechanism.


Ocean acidification (OA) is well-known for impairing marine calcification; however, the end response of several essential species to this perturbation remains unknown. Decreased pH and saturation levels (Ω) of minerals under OA is projected to alter shell crystallography and thus to reduce shell mechanical properties. This study examined this hypothesis using a commercially important estuarine oyster Magallana hongkongensis. Although shell damage occurred on the outmost prismatic layer and the undying myostracum at decreased pH 7.6 and 7.3, the major foliated layer was relatively unharmed. Oysters maintained their shell hardness and stiffness through altered crystal unit orientation under pH 7.6 conditions. However, under the undersaturated conditions (ΩCal ~ 0.8) at pH 7.3, the realigned crystal units in foliated layer ultimately resulted in less stiff shells which indicated although estuarine oysters are mechanically resistant to unfavorable calcification conditions, extremely low pH condition is still a threat to this essential species.

Continue reading ‘Calcium carbonate unit realignment under acidification: A potential compensatory mechanism in an edible estuarine oyster’

Bottom-up effects on biomechanical properties of the skeletal plates of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (Lamarck, 1816) in an acidified ocean scenario


  • Biomechanical properties of sea urchin test have a great importance in their individual fitness.
  • Combined effect of decreased pH and macroalgal diet highlights potential cascading effects.
  • No direct short-term effect of decreased pH and macroalgal diet on plate mechanical properties.
  • Longer term exposure needed to observe substantial differences on skeletal plate structure.


Sea urchins, ecologically important herbivores of shallow subtidal temperate reefs, are considered particularly threatened in a future ocean acidification scenario, since their carbonate structures (skeleton and grazing apparatus) are made up of the very soluble high-magnesium calcite, particularly sensitive to a decrease in pH. The biomechanical properties of their skeletal structures are of great importance for their individual fitness, because the skeleton provides the means for locomotion, grazing and protection from predators. Sea urchin skeleton is composed of discrete calcite plates attached to each other at sutures by organic ligaments. The present study addressed the fate of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (Lamarck, 1816) skeleton in acidified oceans, taking into account the combined effect of reduced pH and macroalgal diet, with potential cascading consequences at the ecosystem level. A breaking test on individual plates of juvenile specimens fed different macroalgal diets has been performed, teasing apart plate strength and stiffness from general robustness. Results showed no direct short-term effect of a decrease in seawater pH nor of the macroalgal diet on single plate mechanical properties. Nevertheless, results from apical plates, the ones presumably formed during the experimental period, provided an indication of a possible diet-mediated response, with sea urchins fed the more calcified macroalga sustaining higher forces before breakage than the one fed the non-calcified algae. This, on the long term, may produce bottom-up effects on sea urchins, leading to potential shifts in the ecosystem equilibrium under an ocean acidified scenario.

Continue reading ‘Bottom-up effects on biomechanical properties of the skeletal plates of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (Lamarck, 1816) in an acidified ocean scenario’

Subscribe to the RSS feed

Powered by FeedBurner

Follow AnneMarin on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 1,135,385 hits


Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book