Posts Tagged 'mortality'

Natural analogues in pH variability and predictability across the coastal Pacific estuaries: extrapolation of the increased oyster dissolution under increased pH amplitude and low predictability related to ocean acidification

Coastal-estuarine habitats are rapidly changing due to global climate change, with impacts influenced by the variability of carbonate chemistry conditions. However, our understanding of the responses of ecologically and economically important calcifiers to pH variability and temporal variation is limited, particularly with respect to shell-building processes. We investigated the mechanisms driving biomineralogical and physiological responses in juveniles of introduced (Pacific; Crassostrea gigas) and native (Olympia; Ostrea lurida) oysters under flow-through experimental conditions over a six-week period that simulate current and future conditions: static control and low pH (8.0 and 7.7); low pH with fluctuating (24-h) amplitude (7.7 ± 0.2 and 7.7 ± 0.5); and high-frequency (12-h) fluctuating (8.0 ± 0.2) treatment. The oysters showed physiological tolerance in vital processes, including calcification, respiration, clearance, and survival. However, shell dissolution significantly increased with larger amplitudes of pH variability compared to static pH conditions, attributable to the longer cumulative exposure to lower pH conditions, with the dissolution threshold of pH 7.7 with 0.2 amplitude. Moreover, the high-frequency treatment triggered significantly greater dissolution, likely because of the oyster’s inability to respond to the unpredictable frequency of variations. The experimental findings were extrapolated to provide context for conditions existing in several Pacific coastal estuaries, with time series analyses demonstrating unique signatures of pH predictability and variability in these habitats, indicating potentially benefiting effects on fitness in these habitats. These implications are crucial for evaluating the suitability of coastal habitats for aquaculture, adaptation, and carbon dioxide removal strategies.

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Transcriptomic responses of adult versus juvenile Atlantids to ocean acidification

Shelled holoplanktonic gastropods are among the most vulnerable calcifiers to ocean acidification. They inhabit the pelagic environment and build thin and transparent shells of aragonite, a metastable form of calcium carbonate. While shelled pteropods have received considerable attention and are widely regarded as bioindicators of ocean acidification, atlantids have been much less studied. In the open ocean, atlantids are uniquely positioned to address the effects of ocean acidification at distinct trophic levels. From juvenile to adult, they undergo dramatic metamorphosis. As adults they are predatory, feeding primarily on shelled pteropods, copepods and other zooplankton, while as juveniles they feed on algae. Here we investigated the transcriptome and the impact of a three-day CO2 exposure on the gene expression of adults of the atlantid Atlanta ariejansseni and compared these to results previously obtained from juveniles. Individuals were sampled in the Southern Subtropical Convergence Zone (Atlantic Ocean) and exposed to ocean chemistry simulating past (~mid-1960s), present (ambient) and future (2050) conditions. In adults we found that the changes in seawater chemistry had significantly affected the expression of genes involved in biomineralization and the immune response, although there were no significant differences in shell growth between the three conditions. In contrast, juveniles experienced substantial changes in shell growth and a broader transcriptomic response. In adults, 1170 genes had the same direction of expression in the past and future treatments when compared to the ambient. Overall, this type of response was more common in adults (8.6% of all the genes) than in juveniles (3.9%), whereas a linear response with decreasing pH was more common in juveniles (7.7%) than in adults (4.5%). Taken together, these results suggest that juveniles are more sensitive to increased acidification than adults. However, experimental limitations including short incubation times, one carboy used for each treatment and two replicates for transcriptome analysis, require us to be cautious about these conclusions. We show that distinct transcriptome profiles characterize the two life stages, with less than 50% of shared transcripts. This study provides an initial framework to understand how ocean acidification may affect the molecular and calcification responses of adult and juvenile atlantids.

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Understanding the impacts of environment and parasitism on Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) vulnerability to ocean acidification

The global process of ocean acidification caused by the absorption of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases the concentration of carbonate ions and reduces the associated seawater saturation state (ΩCaCO3) – making it more energetically costly for marine calcifying organisms to build their shells or skeletons. Bivalves are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of ocean acidification on calcification, and they inhabit estuaries and coastal zones – regions most susceptible to ocean acidification. However, the response of an individual to elevated pCO2 can depend on the carbonate chemistry dynamics of its current environment and the environment of its parents. Additionally, an organism’s response to ocean acidification can depend on its ability to control the chemistry at the site of calcification. Biotic and abiotic stressors can modify bivalves’ control of calcifying fluid chemistry – known as extrapallial fluid (EPF). Understanding the responses of bivalves – which are foundation species – to ocean acidification is essential for predicting the impacts of oceanic change on marine communities. This dissertation uses a culturally, ecologically, and economically important bivalve in the northwest Atlantic – the Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) – to explore the effects of environment and species interactions on responses to elevated pCO2.

Chapter 2 describes a field study that characterized diurnal and seasonal carbonate chemistry dynamics of two estuaries in the Gulf of Maine that support Eastern oyster populations. The estuaries were monitored at high temporal resolution (half-hourly) over four years (2018-2021) using pH and conductivity loggers. Measured pH, salinity, and temperature were used to calculate carbonate chemistry parameters. Both estuaries exhibited strong seasonal and diurnal fluctuations in carbonate chemistry. They also experienced pCO2 values that greatly exceeded current atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and those projected for the year 2100.

Chapter 3 describes a laboratory experiment that examined the capacity of intergenerational exposure to mitigate the adverse effects of ocean acidification on larval growth, shell morphology, and survival. Adult oysters were cultured in control or elevated pCO2 conditions for 30 days then crossed using a North Carolina II cross design. Larvae were grown for three days under control and elevated pCO2 conditions. Intergenerational exposure to elevated pCO2 conditions benefited early larval growth and shell morphology, but not survival. However, parental exposure was insufficient to completely counteract the adverse effects of the elevated pCO2 treatment on shell formation and survival.

Chapter 4 describes a laboratory experiment that examined the interplay between ocean acidification and parasite-host dynamics. Eastern oysters infested and not infested with bioeroding sponge (Cliona sp.) were cultured under three pCO2 conditions (539, 1040, 3294 ppm) and two temperatures (23, 27˚C) for 70 days to assess oyster control of EPF chemistry, growth, and survival. Bioeroding sponge infestation and elevated pCO2 reduced oyster net calcification and EPF pH but did not affect condition or survival. Infested oyster EPF pH was consistently lower than seawater pH, while EPF dissolved inorganic carbon was consistently elevated relative to seawater. These findings suggested that infested oysters effectively precipitated repair shell to prevent seawater intrusion into extrapallial fluid through bore holes across all treatments.

Chapter 5 characterizes the concentration of a suite of 56 elements normalized to calcium in EPF and shell of Crassostrea virginica grown under three pCO2 conditions (570, 990, 2912 ppm) and sampled at four timepoints (days 2, 9, 79, 101) to assess effects of pCO2 on organismal control of EPF and shell elemental composition and EPF-to-shell elemental partitioning. Elevated pCO2 significantly influenced the relative abundance of elements in the EPF (29) and shell (13) and altered EPF-to-shell elemental partitioning for 45 elements. Importantly, elevated pCO2 significantly influenced the concentration of several elements in C. virginica shell that are used in other biogenic carbonates as paleo-proxies for other environmental parameters. This result suggests that elevated pCO2 could influence the accuracy of paleo reconstructions.

Overall, this dissertation provides insights that can help improve our understanding of past, present, and future ocean environments. Understanding current local carbonate chemistry dynamics and the capacity for C. virginica to acclimate intergenerationally to elevated pCO2 can inform site and stock selection for aquaculture and restoration efforts. Studying parasite-host environment interactions provides critical insights into the potential for parasitism to alter responses to future ocean acidification. Finally, exploring the impact of elevated pCO2 on elemental composition of EPF and shell allowed us to understand better biomineralization processes, identify potential proxies for seawater pCO2 in bivalves, and offer insights that could help improve the accuracy of paleo reconstructions.

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Effect of different pCO2 concentrations in seawater on meiofauna: abundance of communities in sediment and survival rate of harpacticoid copepods

The amount of CO2 dissolved in the ocean has been increasing continuously, and the results using climate change models show that the CO2 concentration of the ocean will increase by over 1000 ppm by 2100. Ocean acidification is expected to have a considerable impact on marine ecosystems. To find out about the impacts of ocean acidification on meiofaunal communities and copepod groups, we analyzed the differences in the abundance of meiofauna communities in sediment and the survival rate of harpacticoid copepod assemblages separated from the sediment, between 400 and 1000 ppm pCO2 for a short period of 5 days. In experiments with communities in sediments exposed to different pCO2 concentrations, there was no significant difference in the abundance of total meiofauna and nematodes. However, the abundance of the harpacticoid copepod community was significantly lower at 1000 ppm than that at 400 ppm pCO2. On the other hand, in experiments with assemblages of harpacticoid copepods directly exposed to seawater, there was no significant difference in their survival rates between the two concentrations. Our findings suggest that a CO2 concentration of 1000 ppm in seawater can cause changes in the abundance of specific taxa such as harpacticoid copepods among the meiofauna communities in sediments.

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Caribbean king crab larvae and juveniles show tolerance to ocean acidification and ocean warming

Coastal habitats are experiencing decreases in seawater pH and increases in temperature due to anthropogenic climate change. The Caribbean king crab, Maguimithrax spinosissimus, plays a vital role on Western Atlantic reefs by grazing macroalgae that competes for space with coral recruits. Therefore, identifying its tolerance to anthropogenic stressors is critically needed if this species is to be considered as a potential restoration management strategy in coral reef environments. We examined the effects of temperature (control: 28 °C and elevated: 31 °C) and pH (control: 8.0 and reduced pH: 7.7) on the king crab’s larval and early juvenile survival, molt-stage duration, and morphology in a fully crossed laboratory experiment. Survival to the megalopal stage was reduced (13.5% lower) in the combined reduced pH and elevated temperature treatment relative to the control. First-stage (J1) juveniles delayed molting by 1.5 days in the reduced pH treatment, while second-stage (J2) crabs molted 3 days earlier when exposed to elevated temperature. Juvenile morphology did not differ among treatments. These results suggests that juvenile king crabs are tolerant to changes associated with climate change. Given the important role of the king crab as a grazer of macroalgae, its tolerance to climate stressors suggests that it could benefit restoration efforts aimed at making coral reefs more resilient to increasingly warm and acidic oceans into the future.

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Multigenerational life-history responses to pH in distinct populations of the copepod Tigriopus californicus

Intertidal zones are highly dynamic and harsh habitats: organisms that persist there must face many stressors, including drastic changes in seawater pH, which can be strongly influenced by biological processes. Coastal ecosystems are heterogeneous in space and time, and populations can be exposed to distinct selective pressures and evolve different capacities for acclimation to changes in pH. Tigriopus californicus is a harpacticoid copepod found in high-shore rock pools on the west coast of North America. It is a model system for studying population dynamics in diverse environments, but little is known about its responses to changes in seawater pH. I quantified the effects of pH on the survivorship, fecundity, and development of four T. californicus populations from San Juan Island, Washington, across three generations. For all populations and generations, copepod cultures had lower survivorship and delayed development under extended exposure to higher pH treatments (pH 7.5 and pH 8.0), whereas cultures maintained in lower pH (7.0) displayed stable population growth over time. Reciprocal transplants between treatments demonstrated that these pH effects were reversible. Life histories were distinct between populations, and there were differences in the magnitudes of pH effects on development and culture growth that persisted through multiple generations. These results suggest that T. californicus might not have the generalist physiology that might be expected of an intertidal species, and it could be adapted to lower average pH conditions than those that occur in adjacent open waters.

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Predicted changes in temperature, more than acidification, affect the shell morphology and survival of the girdled dogwhelk, Trochia cingulata (Linnaeus, 1771)

Despite the existing body of research that considers altered ocean temperature and acidification as co-occurring stressors, our understanding of the consequences of such shifts remains limited. This is particularly problematic in relation to predators such as whelks, as they can exert strong top-down control of communities yet, as calcifying ectotherms, they are likely to be vulnerable to climate change. This study assessed the effects of simultaneous changes in water temperature and pH on the South African girdled dogwhelk Trochia cingulata. For 12 weeks, whelks were exposed to three temperatures, 9 °C (cooling), 13 °C (current) and 17 °C (warming), each at three target pH levels, 8.0 (current), 7.7 (intermediate) and 7.5 (extreme). For each treatment shell thickness, strength and shape were measured after 6 and 12 weeks, while mortality was recorded daily. Survival was not affected by pH and was highest at 9 °C. Almost all whelks exposed to warming died within 2 weeks. After 6 weeks, shell strength declined significantly as acidity increased, regardless of temperature, and shells of whelks held at 9 °C were thinner. By 12 weeks, whelks exposed to cooling and extreme pH had the weakest shells. Notably, temperature no longer influenced shell thickness, but whelks held at 9 °C became globular in shape. These changes in shell morphology likely resulted from the increased cost of shell maintenance in cool, acidic conditions. The differences observed at 6 and 12 weeks demonstrate how responses can change over time, a point that should be kept in mind when assessing species sensitivities to changing environments. The dominant effect of temperature highlights that T. cingulata is particularly vulnerable to warming, while regional cooling may pose a challenge with respect to shell morphology.

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Ocean futures for the world’s largest yellowfin tuna population under the combined effects of ocean warming and acidification

The impacts of climate change are expected to have profound effects on the fisheries of the Pacific Ocean, including its tuna fisheries, the largest globally. This study examined the combined effects of climate change on the yellowfin tuna population using the ecosystem model SEAPODYM. Yellowfin tuna fisheries in the Pacific contribute significantly to the economies and food security of Pacific Island Countries and Territories and Oceania. We use an ensemble of earth climate models to project yellowfin populations under a high greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC RCP8.5) scenario, which includes, the combined effects of a warming ocean, increasing acidification and changing ocean chemistry. Our results suggest that the acidification impact will be smaller in comparison to the ocean warming impact, even in the most extreme ensemble member scenario explored, but will have additional influences on yellowfin tuna population dynamics. An eastward shift in the distribution of yellowfin tuna was observed in the projections in the model ensemble in the absence of explicitly accounting for changes in acidification. The extent of this shift did not substantially differ when the three-acidification induced larval mortality scenarios were included in the ensemble; however, acidification was projected to weaken the magnitude of the increase in abundance in the eastern Pacific. Together with intensive fishing, these potential changes are likely to challenge the global fishing industry as well as the economies and food systems of many small Pacific Island Countries and Territories. The modelling framework applied in this study provides a tool for evaluating such effects and informing policy development.

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A framework for assessing harvest strategy choice when considering multiple interacting fisheries and a changing environment: the example of eastern Bering Sea crab stocks

Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management aims to broaden the set of factors included in assessments and management decision making but progress with implementation remains limited. We developed a framework that examines the consequences of temporal changes in temperature and ocean pH on yield and profit of multiple interacting stocks including eastern Bering Sea (EBS) snow, southern Tanner, and red king crab. Our analyses integrate experimental work on the effects of temperature and ocean pH on growth and survival of larval and juvenile crab and monitoring data from surveys, fishery landings, and at-sea observer programs. The impacts of future changes in temperature and ocean pH on early life history have effects that differ markedly among stocks, being most pessimistic for Bristol Bay red king crab and most optimistic for EBS snow crab. Our results highlight that harvest control rules that aim to maximize yield lead to lower profits than those that aim to maximize profit. Similarly, harvest control rules that aim to maximize profit lead to lower yields than those that aim to maximize yield, but differences are less pronounced. Maximizing profits has conservation benefits, especially when the implemented harvest control rule reduces fishing mortality if population biomass is below a threshold level.

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Raw data concerning the carbonate system and the sensory behaviour of juvenile Dicentrarchus labrax in response to mechano-acoustic and visual cues under ocean warming and acidification

This data set is linked to a study that sought to investigate whether a mid-term 92-days exposure to warming and/or acidification alters the visual or mechano-acoustic sensory channels of the European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax when it comes to detect and avoid simulated avian predator cues. Juveniles, aged between 283 to 316 days post hatching, were challenged in separate behavioural trials to assess their reaction facing either a shadow (visual cue) or a falling object (mechano-acoustic cue). These cues were intended to mimic an overflying bird or a bird swoop attack, respectively.

To follow the best practices of ocean acidification, the 1st and 2nd tabs show daily measurements of temperature and pH (in NIST scale). The 3rd tab shows weekly measurements of temperature and pH (in NIST and total scale), salinity, oxygen and total alkalinity that were used to calculate the carbonate system parameters, which is also shown in the 3rd tab.

Total body length (in cm, from the nose tip to end of caudal fin) was measured in a sample of 74 alive individuals upon arrival (4th tab) or in 379 dead individuals once the behavioural tests were ended (5th tab).

Abbreviations for the kinematic behavioural variables evaluated during the behavioural tests are available in the 6th tab. Data set for both the visual behavioural tests (7th tab) and the mechano-acoustic behavioural tests (8th tab) were used to run the linear mixed-effects models.

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Partial raw data of the carbonate system after years of transgenerational exposure to ocean acidification in the European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax


This data set is linked to a study that sought to investigate the impacts of long-term ocean acidification on the olfactory rosette transcriptome of the European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and on viral resistance.  We exposed two generations of the D. labrax to end-of-century predicted pH levels (IPCC RCP8.5), with parents being exposed for 53 months (F1) and their offspring for 18 months (F2). Our design included a transcriptomic analysis of the olfactory rosette (collected from the F2) and a viral challenge (exposing F2 to betanodavirus) where we assessed survival rates.
This data set contains physico-chemical parameters of the rearing sea water including the carbonate system components as well as survival data and temperature measurements during the viral challenge.
The rearing periods extends as follows:
F1 parents: 24 October 2013 – 26 March 2018; in duplica tanks per treatment
F2 eggs phase: 27 March 2018 – 31 March 2018; in a simplica per treatment
F2 larval phase: 1 April 2018 – 1 June 2018; in triplica tanks per treatment
F2 juvenile phase: 2 April 2018 – 17 October 2019; in a duplica per treatment
However, since this study extends over 7 years, some data is not available in digital form but in paper form. Therefore, here we provide digitalized data for the following periods.
F1 parents: 8 February 2016 – 6 March 2018; monthly data showing physico-chemical and carbonate parameters of the sea water
F2 eggs phase: 27 March 2018 – 31 March 2018; daily data showing the pH and temperature of the sea water
F2 larval phase: 1 April 2018 – 1 June 2018; monthly data showing physico-chemical and carbonate parameters of the sea water and daily data showing the pH and temperature of the sea water
F2 juvenile phase:   2 April 2018 – 24 October 2018; daily data showing the pH and temperature of the sea water
F2 juvenile phase:   2 April 2018 – 11 February 2019; monthly data showing physico-chemical and carbonate parameters of the sea water
pH in NIST scale and temperature were daily measured with a WTW 3110 pH meter (Xylem Analytics Germany, Weilheim, Germany; with electrode: WTW Sentix 41) calibrated daily with pH4.0 and pH7.0 buffers (WTW, Germany). Total alkalinity was measured following the adapted protocol of Strickland and Parsons: a 50 ml sample of filtered tank seawater was mixed with 15 ml HCl (0.01 M) and pH was measured immediately. The software CO2SYS using the constants from Mehrbach et al. refitted by Dickson and Millero were used to calculate pH in NIST scale to total scale and the carbonate chemistry components.
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CO2 induced seawater acidification impacts survival and development of European eel embryos

Fish embryos may be vulnerable to seawater acidification resulting from anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions or from excessive biological CO2 production in aquaculture systems. This study investigated CO2 effects on embryos of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla), a catadromous fish that is considered at risk from climate change and that is targeted for hatchery production to sustain aquaculture of the species. Eel embryos were reared in three independent recirculation systems with different pH/CO2 levels representing “control” (pH 8.1, 300 μatm CO2), end-of-century climate change (“intermediate”, pH 7.6, 900 μatm CO2) and “extreme” aquaculture conditions (pH 7.1, 3000 μatm CO2). Sensitivity analyses were conducted at 4, 24, and 48 hours post-fertilization (hpf) by focusing on development, survival, and expression of genes related to acute stress response (crhr1crfr2), stress/repair response (hsp70hsp90), water and solute transport (aqp1aqp3), acid-base regulation (nkcc1ancccar15), and inhibitory neurotransmission (GABAAα6bGabra1). Results revealed that embryos developing at intermediate pH showed similar survival rates to the control, but egg swelling was impaired, resulting in a reduction in egg size with decreasing pH. Embryos exposed to extreme pH had 0.6-fold decrease in survival at 24 hpf and a 0.3-fold change at 48 compared to the control. These observed effects of acidification were not reflected by changes in expression of any of the here studied genes. On the contrary, differential expression was observed along embryonic development independent of treatment, indicating that the underlying regulating systems are under development and that embryos are limited in their ability to regulate molecular responses to acidification. In conclusion, exposure to predicted end-of-century ocean pCO2 conditions may affect normal development of this species in nature during sensitive early life history stages with limited physiological response capacities, while extreme acidification will negatively influence embryonic survival and development under hatchery conditions.

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The coral reef-dwelling Peneroplis spp. shows calcification recovery to ocean acidification conditions

Large Benthic Foraminifera are a crucial component of coral-reef ecosystems, which are currently threatened by ocean acidification. We conducted culture experiments to evaluate the impact of low pH on survival and test dissolution of the symbiont-bearing species Peneroplis spp., and to observe potential calcification recovery when specimens are placed back under reference pH value (7.9). We found that Peneroplis spp. displayed living activity up to 3 days at pH 6.9 (Ωcal < 1) or up to 1 month at pH 7.4 (Ωcal > 1), despite the dark and unfed conditions. Dissolution features were observed under low Ωcal values, such as changes in test density, peeled extrados layers, and decalcified tests with exposed organic linings. A new calcification phase started when specimens were placed back at reference pH. This calcification’s resumption was an addition of new chambers without reparation of the dissolved parts, which is consistent with the porcelaneous calcification pathway of Peneroplis spp. The most decalcified specimens displayed a strong survival response by adding up to 8 new chambers, and the contribution of food supply in this process was highlighted. These results suggest that porcelaneous LBF species have some recovery abilities to short exposure (e.g., 3 days to 1 month) to acidified conditions. However, the geochemical signature of trace elements in the new calcite was impacted, and the majority of the new chambers were distorted and resulted in abnormal tests, which might hinder the specimens’ reproduction and thus their survival on the long term.

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Acidification impacts and acclimation potential of foraminifera

Ocean acidification is expected to negatively affect many ecologically important organisms. Here we explored the response of Caribbean benthic foraminiferal communities to naturally discharging low-pH waters similar to expected future projections for the end of the 21st century. At low-pH (~ 7.7 pH units), low calcite saturation, agglutinated and symbiont-bearing species were relatively more abundant, indicating higher resistance to potential carbonate chemistry changes. Diversity and other taxonomical metrics declined steeply with decreasing pH despite exposure of this ecosystem for millennia to low pH conditions, suggesting that tropical foraminifera communities will be negatively impacted under acidification scenarios SSP3-7.0 and SSP5-8.5. The species Archaias angulatus, a major contributor to sediment production in the Caribbean was able to calcify at conditions more extreme than those projected for the late 21st century (7.1 pH units), but the calcified tests were of lower density than those exposed to high-pH ambient conditions (7.96 pH units), indicating that reef foraminiferal carbonate budget might decrease. Smaller foraminifera were highly sensitive to decreasing pH and our results demonstrate their potential as indicators to monitor increasing OA conditions.

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How do fungi survive in the sea and respond to climate change?

With the over 2000 marine fungi and fungal-like organisms documented so far, some have adapted fully to life in the sea, while some have the ability to tolerate environmental conditions in the marine milieu. These organisms have evolved various mechanisms for growth in the marine environment, especially against salinity gradients. This review highlights the response of marine fungi, fungal-like organisms and terrestrial fungi (for comparison) towards salinity variations in terms of their growth, spore germination, sporulation, physiology, and genetic adaptability. Marine, freshwater and terrestrial fungi and fungal-like organisms vary greatly in their response to salinity. Generally, terrestrial and freshwater fungi grow, germinate and sporulate better at lower salinities, while marine fungi do so over a wide range of salinities. Zoosporic fungal-like organisms are more sensitive to salinity than true fungi, especially Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. Labyrinthulomycota and marine Oomycota are more salinity tolerant than saprolegniaceous organisms in terms of growth and reproduction. Wide adaptability to saline conditions in marine or marine-related habitats requires mechanisms for maintaining accumulation of ions in the vacuoles, the exclusion of high levels of sodium chloride, the maintenance of turgor in the mycelium, optimal growth at alkaline pH, a broad temperature growth range from polar to tropical waters, and growth at depths and often under anoxic conditions, and these properties may allow marine fungi to positively respond to the challenges that climate change will bring. Other related topics will also be discussed in this article, such as the effect of salinity on secondary metabolite production by marine fungi, their evolution in the sea, and marine endophytes.

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The symbiotic relationship between the Antarctic limpet, Nacella concinna, and epibiont coralline algae

The Antarctic limpet, Nacella concinna, is one of the most abundant benthic marine invertebrates found in the intertidal zone of King George Island, Antarctica. The shell of N. concinna is often encrusted with the coralline algae Clathromorphum obtectulum. In this study, to reveal the relationship between the limpet and coralline algae, we examined how the coralline algae affect the physical condition (survival and health) and morphology of the limpet. We cultured the limpets for 22 days and compared mortality, weight, condition factor (CF), fatty acid content, and the structure of the shell surface between limpets both with and without coralline algae in the laboratory. We also measured the environmental factors (i.e., temperature, pH, and salinity) of the seawater at each sampling site and the CF of the limpets and correlated them with coverage of coralline algae. The presence of coralline algae significantly increased the mortality of the limpets by 40% and the shell weight by 1.4-fold but did not affect the CF. Additionally, coralline algae altered the fatty acid profiles related to the limpet’s lipid metabolism (saturated fatty acids (SFA) and some polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA)). Specifically, C16:0, C17:0, C18:0, and total SFA increased, whereas C18:2 and C18:3 decreased. However, observations with a scanning electron microscope showed that shell damage in limpets with coralline algae was much less than in limpets without coralline algae, suggesting that coralline algae may provide protection against endolithic algae. The area of coralline algae on the limpet shell was positively correlated with the pH and temperature of the seawater. The results suggest that although coralline algae are generally assumed to be parasitical, the relationship between N. concinna and coralline algae may change to mutualism under certain conditions.

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Impaired hatching exacerbates the high CO2 sensitivity of embryonic sand lance Ammodytes dubius

Rising oceanic pCO2 levels could affect many traits in fish early life stages, but only few species to date have shown direct CO2-induced survival reductions. This might partly be because species from less CO2-variable, offshore environments in higher latitudes are currently underrepresented in the literature. We conducted new experimental work on northern sand lance Ammodytes dubius, a keystone forage fish on offshore Northwest Atlantic sand banks, which was recently suggested to be highly CO2-sensitive. In two complementary trials, we produced embryos from wild, Gulf of Maine (GoM) spawners and reared them at several pCO2 levels (~400–2000 µatm) in combination with static (6, 7, 10°C) and dynamic (10 → 5°C) temperature treatments. Again, we consistently observed large, CO2-induced reductions in hatching success (–23% at 1000 µatm, -61% at ~2000 µatm), and the effects were temperature-independent. To distinguish pCO2 effects during development from potential impacts on hatching itself, some embryos were switched between high and control pCO2 treatments just prior to hatch. This indeed altered hatching patterns consistent with the CO2-impaired hatching hypothesis. High CO2 also delayed the day of first hatch in one trial and peak hatch in the other, where later-hatched larvae were of similar size but with progressively less endogenous energy reserves. For context, we extracted seasonal pCO2 projections for Stellwagen Bank (GoM) from regional ensemble simulations, which indicated a CO2-induced reduction in sand lance hatching success to 71% of contemporary levels by 2100. The species’ unusual CO2 sensitivity has large ecological and scientific ramifications that warrant future in-depth research.

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Pelagic calcifiers face increased mortality and habitat loss with warming and ocean acidification

Global change is impacting the oceans in an unprecedented way with resulting changes in species distributions or species loss. There is increasing evidence that multiple environmental stressors act together to constrain species habitat more than expected from single stressor. Here, we conducted a comprehensive study of the combined impact of ocean warming and acidification (OWA) on a global distribution of pteropods, ecologically important pelagic calcifiers and an indicator species for ocean change. We co-validated three different approaches to evaluate the impact of OWA on pteropod survival and distribution. First, we used co-located physical, chemical, and biological data from oceanographic cruises and regional time-series; second, we conducted multifactorial experimental incubations using OWA to evaluate survival; and third, we validated pteropod distributions using global carbonate chemistry and observation datasets. Habitat suitability indices and global distributions suggest that a multi-stressor framework is essential for understanding distributions of this pelagic calcifier.

Continue reading ‘Pelagic calcifiers face increased mortality and habitat loss with warming and ocean acidification’

Predicted future changes in ocean temperature and pH do not affect prey selection by the girdled dogwhelk Trochia cingulata

Predator–prey relationships can drive community dynamics in marine systems, but it remains unclear how future changes in seawater temperatures and pH will influence these relationships. This study assessed the effect of predicted future temperatures and pH on the prey choice of the girdled dogwhelk Trochia cingulata (family Muricidae) when offered native (Aulacomya atraChoromytilus meridionalis) and alien (Semimytilus algosus) mussels. Whelks were exposed to three pH levels: 8.0 (current), 7.7 (intermediate) and 7.5 (extreme), at each of three temperatures: 9 °C (cooling), 13 °C (current) and 17 °C (warming) for 6 weeks. Thereafter, the prey preference and predation rate were compared among treatments. Within two weeks, 98% of whelks exposed to warming died, precluding assessment of how warming affects their prey preference. Despite high mortality, the highest predation rates were recorded at 17 °C regardless of the pH level, likely reflecting increased energy costs and ingestion rates associated with warming. In the remaining treatments whelks preferred S. algosus irrespective of the levels of seawater cooling or acidification. These results align with previous work that demonstrated a preference by T. cingulata for S. algosus and suggest that the predator–prey relationship between this whelk and its mussel prey is unlikely to be disrupted under future marine conditions.

Continue reading ‘Predicted future changes in ocean temperature and pH do not affect prey selection by the girdled dogwhelk Trochia cingulata’

Severe seawater acidification causes a significant reduction in pulse rate, bell diameter, and acute deterioration in feeding apparatus in the scyphozoan medusa Cassiopeia sp

The detrimental effect of ocean acidification (OA) on marine animals with carbonate exoskeletons or shells is an issue drawing increased attention in marine biology and ecology, yet few studies have focused on the impact on gelatinous organisms like scyphozoan medusae. Here, we examined the physiological tolerance of Cassiopea sp., an abundant genus of scyphozoans valuable for their role as bioindicators and for having similarities to other cnidarians, to OA by conducting three, 12-week trials using CO2 diffusers and electronic pH controllers to incrementally lower the water to test pHs of 7.5 and 7.0. The impact of reduced pH on the survival, pulse rate, bell diameter, and reorientation and settlement abilities of Cassiopea sp. medusae were measured weekly. Cassiopea sp. was tolerant to pH 7.5 while further reduction of the pH to 7.0 resulted in 22.22% mortality rate, which was significantly different from the control and treatment pH 7.5. Significant differences between the treatment pH 7.0 and control first occurred on day 23.5 with a 50% reduction in the pulse rate, and on day 36 with a 16.6% reduction in bell diameter, while pH 7.5 had no effect. By the final time point of 66 days in treatment pH 7.0, there was an 87% reduction in pulse rate and a 36% reduction in bell diameter versus control. Reduced pH 7.0 caused bell malformations, inhibited swimming abilities, and deterioration of the oral arm feeding apparatus, but had no effect on the orientation and settlement assay. Observations indicate that asexual reproduction via planuloid production and strobilation was unaffected by pH reduction, though polyps in treatment pH 7.0 gave rise to ephyrae with inverted bells. Combined, findings from this study demonstrate Cassiopea sp. to be resilient to the end of century ocean acidity prediction of pH 7.6, and vulnerable to more severe OA to pH 7.0.

Continue reading ‘Severe seawater acidification causes a significant reduction in pulse rate, bell diameter, and acute deterioration in feeding apparatus in the scyphozoan medusa Cassiopeia sp’

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