Posts Tagged 'morphology'

Historical shell form variation in Lottia subrugosa from southeast Brazilian coast: possible responses to anthropogenic pressures


•Shell alterations have been used as proxies of environmental disturbances.

•Both biometric and morphometric parameters were used to detect shell alterations.

•Limpet shells sampled during the last 7 decades were assessed.

•Shell morphology alterations were detected at least after 40 years interval.

•Shell alterations were atributed to contamination increase and to climate change.


Mollusk shells can provide important information regarding environmental parameters. It is known that shell morphology is affected by both natural and anthropogenic factors. However, few studies have investigated alterations in shell morphology over a historical perspective and considering chemical contamination and climate changes. The present study assessed shell form (shape and size) variations of limpet (Lottia subrugosa) shells sampled from 1950 to 1981 (past) in comparison with organisms obtained in 2018 (present). Differences between shells from the past and present (2018) were detected, being shell weight and height the two most important affected parameters. The differences observed were attributed to the possible increase in contamination over the years due to human population growth and to climate change. Additionally, when shells from the past were evaluated according to the decade they were sampled, results indicate that it was necessary an interval of 40 years to shell form be altered within populations.

Continue reading ‘Historical shell form variation in Lottia subrugosa from southeast Brazilian coast: possible responses to anthropogenic pressures’

Ocean warming and acidification may drag down the commercial Arctic cod fishery by 2100

The Arctic Ocean is an early warning system for indicators and effects of climate change. We use a novel combination of experimental and time-series data on effects of ocean warming and acidification on the commercially important Northeast Arctic cod (Gadus morhua) to incorporate these physiological processes into the recruitment model of the fish population. By running an ecological-economic optimization model, we investigate how the interaction of ocean warming, acidification and fishing pressure affects the sustainability of the fishery in terms of ecological, economic, social and consumer-related indicators, ranging from present day conditions up to future climate change scenarios. We find that near-term climate change will benefit the fishery, but under likely future warming and acidification this large fishery is at risk of collapse by the end of the century, even with the best adaptation effort in terms of reduced fishing pressure.

Continue reading ‘Ocean warming and acidification may drag down the commercial Arctic cod fishery by 2100’

Planktonic stages of the ecologically important sea urchin, Diadema africanum: larval performance under near future ocean conditions

Diadema africanum is a recently described sea urchin from the Eastern Atlantic archipelagos, and adults play a major ecological role mediating the transition between two alternative ecosystem states: macroalgal beds and urchin barrens. The aim of this study was to describe for the first time the egg characteristics, fertilization and larval development. To determine basic life-history characteristics for this species, we reared larvae through to metamorphic competence under an energy shortage experiment and temperature–pH experiments to characterize the morphological plasticity of larval responses to actual and future oceanic conditions. D. africanum produces eggs that are larger both in diameter (82.7 μm) and volume (0.30 nl) than the eggs of both Diadema antillarum (70.0 μm, 0.18 nl) and Diadema mexicanum (68.0 μm, 0.16 nl). Larval development is similar to other species within the Family Diadematidae, with a Echinopluteus transversus larval type morphology. The combined effects of the climate change-related environmental factors resulted in a reduction in fitness of D. africanum at the warmer limit of its thermal range when combined with low pH. Results suggest that the egg and larval life-history characteristics of D. africanum may have evolved to facilitate long-distance oceanic transport; however, near-future oceanic conditions may compromise larval survival.

Continue reading ‘Planktonic stages of the ecologically important sea urchin, Diadema africanum: larval performance under near future ocean conditions’

Effects of ocean acidification on phenology and epiphytes of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica at two CO2 vent systems of Ischia (Italy)

Morphological features of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile and its epiphyte community were studied in three acidified stations located in two CO2 vents systems and one control station under normal pH conditions off the island of Ischia (Italy) to highlight the possible effects of ocean acidification. Plant phenology was analyzed every two months for a year cycle (June 2016–April 2017), while epiphytes were studied in the period of highest development of both the leaf canopy and the epiphytic community (June, August, and October 2016). The shoot density of Posidonia beds in the acidified stations of the studied sites was significantly higher than that in the control area. Significant differences in the mean leaf length according to the pH condition, month, and the interaction of these two factors were observed (PERMANOVA); the mean leaf width differed also among pH conditions and months. We recorded lower leaf lengths and widths in the acidified stations in all the considered months, compared to those in the control station. These differences are consistent with the higher impact of grazing by the herbivorous fish Sarpa salpa observed on the leaves in the acidified stations. However, the overall leaf surface available for epiphytes was similar among stations because of the higher shoot density under ocean acidification conditions. Overall, the composition and structure of the epiphytic community on the Posidonia leaves showed significant differences in relation to acidification: in both acidified sites, all the calcareous forms, both encrusting red algae (Corallinales) and animals (bryozoans, foraminiferans, and spirorbids), disappeared or were strongly reduced, in favor of encrusting or erect fleshy algae, and non-calcifying invertebrates (hydrozoans, tunicates) which dominated the assemblage. Coralline algae are early species in the epiphytic colonization of P. oceanica and therefore their absence can further modify the pattern of leaf colonization by other species. Therefore, the changes found in the epiphyte community in low pH areas could have potential cascading effects on the seagrass trophic network and the functioning of the system.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on phenology and epiphytes of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica at two CO2 vent systems of Ischia (Italy)’

Effects of pH on salicylic acid toxicity in terms of biomarkers determined in the marine gastropod Gibbula umbilicalis


• Physiological alterations were enhanced under SA exposure at lower pH levels.

• Lipid peroxidation increased after seawater acidification.

• Neurotoxic effects were reported under SA exposure.

• Prostaglandins biosynthesis pathway inhibited by SA absorption at lower pH levels.


Alterations of the physical-chemical properties of the oceans due to anthropogenic activities are, at present, one of the most concerning environmental issues studied by researchers. One of these issues is ocean acidification, mainly caused by overproduction and release of carbon dioxide (CO2) from anthropogenic sources. Another component of environmental degradation is related to the production and release of potential toxic compounds, namely active pharmaceutical ingredients, into the aquatic environment that, combined with oceanic acidification, can cause unpredictable and never before considered deleterious effects on non-target marine organisms. Regarding this issue, the hereby study used predictions of future ocean acidification to simulate realistic scenarios of environmental exposure to a common therapeutic drug, salicylic acid (SA), in the marine gastropod Gibbula umbilicalis under different pH values. This species was exposed to a range of pH values (8.2, 7.9 and 7.6), and to already reported environmentally realistic concentrations (5, 25 and 125 μg/L) of SA. To evaluate the effects of these environmental stressors, key physiological biomarkers (GSTs, CAT, TBARS, AChE and COX) and shell hardness (SH) were quantified. Results from the present study showed that CAT and GSTs activities were enhanced by SA under water acidification; increased lipid peroxidation was also observed in organisms exposed to SA in more acidic media. In addition, the hereby study demonstrated the neurotoxic effects of SA through the inhibition of AChE. Effects were also observed in terms of COX activity, showing that SA absorption may be affected by water acidification. In terms of SH, the obtained data suggest that SA may alter the physical integrity of shells of exposed organisms. It is possible to conclude that the combination of seawater acidification and exposure to toxic xenobiotics (namely to the drug SA) may be strenuous to marine communities, making aquatic biota more susceptible to xenobiotics, and consequently endangering marine life in an unpredictable extent.

Continue reading ‘Effects of pH on salicylic acid toxicity in terms of biomarkers determined in the marine gastropod Gibbula umbilicalis’

Molecular response of a coral reef fish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus) to climate change

Marine ecosystems are already threatened by the effects of climate change through increases in ocean temperatures and pCO2 levels due to increasing atmospheric CO2. Marine fish living close to their thermal maximum have been shown to be especially vulnerable to temperatures exceeding that threshold, and even relatively small increases in elevated pCO2 levels have led to behavioral impairments with amplified predation risks. These ongoing threats highlight the need for further understanding of how these changes will impact fish and if any potential for adaptation or acclimation exists. The coral reef fish, Acanthochromis polyacanthus, has been well studied in response to singular environmental changes both through its phenotype and molecular expression profiles within and across generations. However, key questions regarding transgenerational heritability and molecular responses to multiple environmental changes have not been addressed. To further understand A. polyacanthus I examined the mechanisms behind heritability of behavioral tolerance to elevated pCO2 in an attempt to determine the maternal and paternal contributions to this phenotype. There was a strong impact of parental phenotype on the expression profiles of their offspring regardless of environmental exposure. Offspring from both parental pairs expressed mechanisms involved in tolerance to ocean acidification suggesting this phenotype is reliant on input from both parents. Creation of a new proteomic resource, a SWATH spectral library, delivered a closer examination of the link between phenotypic and expression changes. Analysis on different constructed libraries led to the use of an organism whole library combined with study specific data to analyze proteomic changes in A. polyacanthus under the combined environmental changes of ocean acidification and warming. With direct comparisons to transcriptomic changes in the same individuals I identified an additive effect of elevated pCO2 and temperature associated with decreases in growth and development. However, a strong role of parental identity on the expression profiles of offspring reinforced the high genetic variability of this species. This thesis provides novel insights into the heritability of phenotypic traits and the molecular responses to combined stressors in A. polyacanthus, as well as presenting a new resource for proteomic studies in this fish and other non-model species.

Continue reading ‘Molecular response of a coral reef fish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus) to climate change’

Ocean acidification and dynamic energy budget models: parameterisation and simulations for the green-lipped mussel


• A dynamic energy budget (DEB) model for the green-lipped mussel.

• Experiments at future projected pCO2/pH levels, simulating ocean acidification (OA).

• Higher respiration rates and less growth at elevated pCO2 (reduced pH).

• Key DEB parameters modified for OA scenarios projected for 2050 and 2100.

• DEB predicts reduced growth, biomass and reproductive capacity with OA.


Ocean acidification (OA), the change in ocean chemistry caused by carbon dioxide emissions, poses a serious imminent threat to marine organisms, especially those with calcium carbonate shells. The green-lipped mussel (Perna canaliculus), endemic to New Zealand, is common in coastal ecosystems and is an economically important aquaculture species. As a step towards supporting aquaculture management in a changing environment, we used a dynamic energy budget (DEB) model to investigate the potential influence of OA on growth and reproduction of the mussel. Zero-variate and growth data from local mussel farms were used to parameterise the model with the AmP method. The parameter estimation showed an acceptable goodness of fit, with a low mean relative error of 0.143 and the symmetric mean squared error of 0.125. The model was subsequently modified to estimate parameter values under OA conditions, based on data obtained from laboratory experiments where mussels were grown at future projected reduced pH (elevated pCO2) levels. The maintenance ([ṗM]) and volume-specific cost for growth ([EG]) were identified as the key parameters in response to OA. The model was then applied to simulate mussel energetics under pCO2 scenarios projected for 2050 and 2100. The model predicts that decreasing pH would cause reductions in shell length growth, flesh weight and reproductive capacity. As well as providing a quantitative tool for understanding the influence of OA on mussel physiology, this DEB model is also an important component of individual-based population and ecosystem models, enabling simulation of complex population and ecosystem level responses to OA.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and dynamic energy budget models: parameterisation and simulations for the green-lipped mussel’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book