Posts Tagged 'morphology'

Divergent responses of Atlantic cod to ocean acidification and food limitation

In order to understand the effect of global change on marine fishes, it is imperative to quantify the effects on fundamental parameters such as survival and growth. Larval survival and recruitment of the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) was found to be heavily impaired by end‐of‐century levels of ocean acidification. Here, we analysed larval growth among 35‐36 days old surviving larvae, along with organ development and ossification of the skeleton. We combined CO2‐treatments (ambient: 503 μatm, elevated: 1179 μatm) with food availability in order to evaluate the effect of energy limitation in addition to the ocean acidification stressor. As expected, larval size (as a proxy for growth) and skeletogenesis were positively affected by high food availability. We found significant interactions between acidification and food availability. Larvae fed ad libitum showed little difference in growth and skeletogenesis due to the CO2 treatment. Larvae under energy limitation were significantly larger and had further developed skeletal structures in the elevated CO2 treatment compared to the ambient CO2 treatment. However, the elevated CO2 group revealed impairments in critically important organs, such as the liver, and had comparatively smaller functional gills indicating a mismatch between size and function. It is therefore likely that individual larvae that had survived acidification treatments, will suffer from impairments later during ontogeny. Our study highlights important allocation trade‐off between growth and organ development, which is critically important to interpret acidification effects on early life‐stages of fish.

Continue reading ‘Divergent responses of Atlantic cod to ocean acidification and food limitation’

Phenotypic plasticity at the edge: contrasting population‐level responses at the overlap of the leading and rear edges of the geographical distribution of two Scurria limpets

To examine the role of ocean temperature and chemistry as drivers of interpopulation differences in multiple phenotypic traits between rear and leading edge populations of two species of limpet.

The coast of north‐central Chile, western South America.

Mollusca, Gastropoda (Lottidae).

We used field and laboratory experiments to study the ecology and physiology of individuals from populations located at the overlap of the rear and leading edges of their respective geographical distributions. At the same time, we characterized local environmental regimes, measuring seawater physical and chemical properties.

Towards the edge of their range, individuals from the leading edge species gradually reduced their shell length, metabolic rate and thermal response capacity, and increased carbonate content in their shells. Individuals of the rear edge species showed dissimilar responses between sites. Contrasting behavioural responses to experimental heating reconciled observations of an unintuitive higher maximal critical temperature and a smaller thermal safety margin for individuals of the rear edge populations. Physical–chemical characterization of seawater properties at the site located on the core of the upwelling centre showed extreme environmental conditions, with low oxygen concentration, high pCO2 and the episodic presence of corrosive seawater. These challenging environmental conditions were reflected in reduced growth for both species.

Main conclusions
We found different spatial patterns of phenotypic plasticity in two sister species around the leading and trailing edges of their distributions. Our results provide evidence that environmental conditions around large upwelling centres can maintain biogeographical breaks through metabolic constraints on the performance of calcifying organisms. Thus, local changes in seawater chemistry associated with coastal upwelling circulation emerge as a previously overlooked driver of marine range edges.

Continue reading ‘Phenotypic plasticity at the edge: contrasting population‐level responses at the overlap of the leading and rear edges of the geographical distribution of two Scurria limpets’

Effects of ocean acidification on the transcriptome of larval Atlantic cod and impacts of parental acclimation

Ocean acidification, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, is impacting many marine organisms. This dissertation investigated the effects of direct exposure and parental acclimation to simulated ocean acidification on the larval stages of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua, L.). For this, ocean acidification levels predicted for the year 2100 were applied on cod eggs from hatch to 36 days post hatch in in vivo laboratory experiments. The direct exposure experiment clearly showed that Atlantic cod larvae were severely affected by simulated ocean acidification on a phenotypic level (chapter 1). Changes in growth, bone and gill development as well as increased frequency of organ damages were observed under predicted ocean acidification levels compared to controls. Then, the underlying molecular phenotype was assessed, using whole transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq), to couple transcriptomic mechanisms to the observed phenotypes (chapter 2). Transcriptome analysis revealed 1413 differentially expressed genes in late larval stages, corresponding to the observed changes in growth and developmental patterns, leading to the conclusion that these changes represent an accelerated development under ocean acidification. Surprisingly, only few genes (3 and 16, respectively) were differentially expressed in the early larval stages. An experiment set to address the effects of long-term parental acclimation (5 month) was performed to assess whether or not this kind of acclimation can mediate the identified detrimental direct effects on the larvae (chapter 3). However, none of the previously observed phenotypes under ocean acidification were found in this experiment, making it impossible to draw any conclusion on the effectiveness of parental acclimation on larval susceptibility to simulated ocean acidification. A concluding meta-analysis between experiments shows that the larvae of Atlantic Cod are to be considered vulnerable to simulated ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on the transcriptome of larval Atlantic cod and impacts of parental acclimation’

Ocean pH fluctuations affect mussel larvae at key developmental transitions

Coastal marine ecosystems experience dynamic fluctuations in seawater carbonate chemistry. The importance of this variation in the context of ocean acidification requires knowing what aspect of variability biological processes respond to. We conducted four experiments (ranging from 3 to 22 days) with different variability regimes (pHT 7.4–8.1) assessing the impact of diel fluctuations in carbonate chemistry on the early development of the mussel Mytilus galloprovincialis. Larval shell growth was consistently correlated to mean exposures, regardless of variability regimes, indicating that calcification responds instantaneously to seawater chemistry. Larval development was impacted by timing of exposure, revealing sensitivity of two developmental processes: development of the shell field, and transition from the first to the second larval shell. Fluorescent staining revealed developmental delay of the shell field at low pH, and abnormal development thereof was correlated with hinge defects in D-veligers. This study shows, for the first time, that ocean acidification affects larval soft-tissue development, independent from calcification. Multiple developmental processes additively underpin the teratogenic effect of ocean acidification on bivalve larvae. These results explain why trochophores are the most sensitive life-history stage in marine bivalves and suggest that short-term variability in carbonate chemistry can impact early larval development.

Continue reading ‘Ocean pH fluctuations affect mussel larvae at key developmental transitions’

Impact of increased seawater pCO2 on the host and symbiotic algae of juvenile giant clam Tridacna crocea

Increases in atmospheric CO2 cause decreases in calcium carbonate saturation, which is predicted to affect the calcification process of most marine calcifiers. At the same time, the increase of seawater pCO2 is also known to increase the productivity of primary producers. Giant clams host symbiotic dinoflagellates (‘zooxanthellae’: Symbiodinium spp.) that provide nutrition and use CO2 as their primary source for photosynthesis. This leads to the hypothesis that increased seawater pCO2 rise could positively affect the production of giant clam zooxanthellae, and dampen effects of CO2 on host giant clams. To test this hypothesis, we measured the shell growth rate, photosynthesis rate, respiration rate and zooxanthellae density of the juvenile Tridacna crocea reared under three different pCO2 conditions. Results revealed that negative shell growth of juvenile Tridacna crocea was observed once seawater Ωarag reached less than 2.33. Additionally, although zooxanthellae density in T. crocea increased with seawater pCO2 rise, zooxanthellae productivity did not change, suggesting that the productivity per zooxanthella decreased in high pCO2 seawater. Our findings suggest future seawater pCO2 rise will not increase productivity of zooxanthellae, thus giant clam will be negatively impacted in the coming centuries.

Continue reading ‘Impact of increased seawater pCO2 on the host and symbiotic algae of juvenile giant clam Tridacna crocea’

Low and variable pH decreases recruitment efficiency in populations of a temperate coral naturally present at a CO2 vent

Atmospheric carbon dioxide enrichment alters seawater carbonate chemistry, thus threatening calcifying organisms such as corals. Coral populations at carbon dioxide vents are natural acidification experiments that mimic organism responses to seawater pH values projected for 2100. Even if demographic traits are paramount information to assess ecological relationships and habitat suitability, population dynamics studies on corals thriving under acidified conditions are lacking. Here, we investigate the demography and reproduction of populations of the solitary, symbiotic, temperate coral Balanophyllia europaea naturally living along a pH gradient at a Mediterranean CO2 vent. Gametogenesis and larval production were unaffected while recruitment efficiency collapsed at low and variable pH, contributing to coral abundance decline and suggesting that life stages between larval release and early polyp growth are hindered by acidification. Exploring these processes is crucial to assess coral fate in the forthcoming acidified oceans, to preserve coral ecosystems and the socioeconomic services they provide.

Continue reading ‘Low and variable pH decreases recruitment efficiency in populations of a temperate coral naturally present at a CO2 vent’

Ability of eelgrass to alter oyster growth and physiology is spatially limited and offset by increasing predation risk

Marine foundation species have strong effects on sympatric species, but the strength may vary along environmental gradients. Climate change is shifting the distribution and magnitude of environmental gradients, making identification of when and where foundation species effects occur necessary for effective management. We reviewed existing work to identify expected mechanisms by which seagrass affect suspension feeding bivalves, then tested whether these effects shifted across estuarine conditions for two species of oysters (native Ostrea lurida and non-native Crassostrea gigas) grown in and out of eelgrass (Zostera marina) at six estuarine sites in Washington state. Hypothesized mechanisms of eelgrass influence include reduced predation pressure, reduced or altered food availability, and amelioration of environmental (pH) stress. We analyzed oyster survival, shell and tissue growth, shell strength, and stable isotope (SI) and fatty acid (FA) biomarkers. Oyster survival was > 20% lower in eelgrass at lower-estuary sites, but not up-estuary sites. Both species grew faster in eelgrass at one low-estuary (higher pH) site, but not elsewhere. Shell strength in eelgrass increased by 21.1% for native but decreased by 12.6% for non-native oysters. FA and SI biomarkers only differed in eelgrass at one site but correlated significantly to growth among individuals. No measurement showed a consistent response to eelgrass across estuarine conditions and taxa, and responses were often opposite of expectations based on published literature. These results have important implications for management and restoration of oysters in areas with eelgrass.

Continue reading ‘Ability of eelgrass to alter oyster growth and physiology is spatially limited and offset by increasing predation risk’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book