Posts Tagged 'mortality'

Early development and metabolic physiology of the temperate lesser spotted shark (Scyliorhinus canicula) under high CO2 levels

Although sharks thrive in many different kinds of habitats and evolved to fill many ecological niches across a wide range of habitats, these animals are characterized by the limited capability to adapt rapidly to future climate change. Thus, the objective of the present dissertation was to analyze the potential impact of seawater acidification (OA, high CO2 levels ~1000 μatm) on the early development and physiology of the temperate shark Scyliorhinus canicula. More specifically, we evaluated OA effects on: i) development time and first feed, ii) Fulton condition of the newborns, iii) survival, iv) routine metabolic rate (RMR), v) maximum metabolic rate (MMR), and vi) aerobic scope (AS). The duration of embrygenesis ranged from 118 to 125 days, and after hatching, the mean number of days to start feeding (i.e. first feeding) varied between 4 and 6 days. In both endpoints there were no significant differences among treatments (i.e. normocapnia and hypercapnia; p >0.05). Juvenile survival (after 150 days post-hatching) also did no change significantly under high CO2 levels (p >0.05). Regarding energy expenditure rates and aerobic window, there were no significant differences in RMR, MMR, and AS among treatments (p-value > 0.005). In the overall, we argue that these findings are associated to the fact that S. canicula is a benthic, cosmopolitan and temperate shark usually exposed to great variations of abiotic factors, like those experienced in the highly-dynamic western Portuguese coast (with seasonal upwelling events). Although the present dissertation only investigated acclimation processes, it is plausible to assume that this shark species will not be greatly affected by future acidification conditions.

Continue reading ‘Early development and metabolic physiology of the temperate lesser spotted shark (Scyliorhinus canicula) under high CO2 levels’

Indirect effects of ocean warming and acidification on the realized recruitment of Agaricia agaricites

Over the past few decades, coral cover has declined worldwide due to overfishing, disease, and storms, and these effects have been exacerbated by ocean warming and acidification. Corals are extremely susceptible to these changes because they are already living close to their thermal and aragonite saturation thresholds. Ocean warming and acidification (OAW) may also impact coral survival and growth by impacting their settlement cues. Coral larvae use crustose coralline algae (CCA) and their associated biofilms as cues for settlement, i.e., habitat selection. Settlement cues can also be negatively affected by increased water temperature and acidity. It was hypothesized that the impacts of OAW on settlement substrate can further threaten coral persistence by altering/inhibiting larval settlement and potentially decreasing the post-settlement survival and growth of coral recruits. In this study, we 1) assessed the effect of substrate quality (substrate conditioned in ambient or OAW conditions) on settlement of A. agaricites larvae, 2) determined the effect of substrate quality on post-settlement survival and growth of A. agaricites recruits, and 3) determined the effect of ocean warming and acidification on the post-settlement survival and growth of A. agaricites recruits. Aragonite settlement tiles were placed offshore for one month to accrue CCA and associated biofilms, and were then conditioned in either ambient (29°C, 8.2 pH) or predicted future oceanic conditions (31°C, 7.9 pH) conditions for 7 – 10 days. Agaricia agaricites larvae were then introduced to the settlement tiles, and their settlement percentage was calculated. Once a week for 12 weeks after larval settlement, the size, survival, and pigmentation of A. agaricites recruits was recorded. Larvae settled marginally more on optimally conditioned tiles than on tiles previously exposed to OAW conditions (p=0.053). The survival of coral recruits in OAW conditions was greatly reduced, their growth was very limited, and they became paler over time. When reared in ambient conditions, recruits on OAW treated substrate initially displayed higher survival rates than recruits on ambient treated substrate. After 3 weeks in ambient conditions, however, survival rates were similar for recruits on ambient and OAW treated substrate; their growth curves were very similar, and coral recruits became more pigmented over time. Ocean warming and acidification conditions not only directly impacted the growth, survival, and pigmentation of A. agaricites recruits, but it also indirectly affected larval 5 settlement by likely altering microbial composition in bacterial biofilms on the settlement tiles. These results indicate that future conditions of ocean warming and acidification can be deleterious for A. agaricites, particularly after settlement. If the early life stages of scleractinian corals are negatively affected by OAW conditions, successful recruitment throughout the Caribbean and Florida Reef Tract could decrease. As a result, recovery from disturbances could be hindered, thus compromising the sustainability of many coral species and other marine ecosystems that depend on coral reefs for protection, habitat, and food.

Continue reading ‘Indirect effects of ocean warming and acidification on the realized recruitment of Agaricia agaricites’

Context-dependence of abiotic and biotic factors influencing performance of juvenile clams


• We found site-level variability in performance of two sizes of juvenile Manila clams.

• Field experiments concurrently assessed the roles of biotic and abiotic variables.

• Performance was particularly impaired at one site with hot summer porewater temperatures.

• Under greater abiotic stress, smaller clams suffered more losses than large.

• Salinity, elevation, and pH were less important to survival than was predator density.


Post-settlement survival and growth of bivalves can be limited by abiotic and biotic factors, both of which are spatially variable. Rarely has the importance of these factors been tested concurrently in the field. Our study spanned three spatial scales in estuarine waters of Washington state (Region: north vs. south; Within-region: fresher vs. saline; Within-site: mid- vs. low-tidal elevation). Predator access and sediment conditions were manipulated in a crossed experimental design, with juvenile (3-mm and 6-mm) Manila clams (Ruditapes philippinarum) outplanted in open- or closed-top mesh tubes. We found differences between treatments that appeared only at sites with cancrid crabs, suggesting that predators, rather than emigration, likely reduced numbers of clams in open tubes. We had hypothesized that clams at lower tidal elevations, which experience longer immersion times, would show improved growth but reduced survivorship because of greater exposure to marine predators. However, these patterns were evident at only one of three sites (lower-elevation treatments were lost at the fourth). The larger size class of clams was more tolerant of abiotic stressors at all sites, but the magnitude of difference in survival between size classes was sometimes dependent on other treatments. The maximum predator effect on survival was 74% (north, high salinity, low-intertidal site), whereas the maximum abiotic effect appeared as 62% lower survival and 59% slower growth for 3-mm clams at another site (north, fresher). In laboratory trials, high water temperatures (28–32 °C) and low salinity (5–15) acted synergistically to cause juvenile clam (6–12 mm) mortality, whereas clams tolerated each of these stressors alone. Context-dependence in the relative importance of predation and abiotic stressors was apparent in our results, but contrary to expectations, abiotic stressors did not characterize southern or fresher sites. Instead, extreme high temperatures occurred at the site with the wide tidal flat rather than in the south, and the within-region salinity differences appeared not to exceed tolerances of juvenile clams.

Continue reading ‘Context-dependence of abiotic and biotic factors influencing performance of juvenile clams’

Diel CO2 cycles and parental effects have similar benefits to growth of a coral reef fish under ocean acidification

Parental effects have been shown to buffer the negative effects of within-generation exposure to ocean acidification (OA) conditions on the offspring of shallow water marine organisms. However, it remains unknown if parental effects will be impacted by the presence of diel CO2 cycles that are prevalent in many shallow water marine habitats. Here, we examined the effects that parental exposure to stable elevated (1000 µatm) and diel-cycling elevated (1000 ± 300 µatm) CO2 had on the survival and growth of juvenile coral reef anemonefish, Amphiprion melanopus. Juvenile survival was unaffected by within-generation exposure to either elevated CO2 treatment but was significantly increased (8%) by parental exposure to diel-cycling elevated CO2. Within-generation exposure to stable elevated CO2 caused a significant reduction in juvenile growth (10.7–18.5%); however, there was no effect of elevated CO2 on growth when diel CO2 cycles were present. Parental exposure to stable elevated CO2 also ameliorated the negative effects of elevated CO2 on juvenile growth, and parental exposure to diel CO2 cycles did not alter the effects of diel CO2 cycles on juveniles. Our results demonstrate that within-generation exposure to diel-cycling elevated CO2 and parental exposure to stable elevated CO2 had similar outcomes on juvenile condition. This study illustrates the importance of considering natural CO2 cycles when predicting the long-term impacts of OA on marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Diel CO2 cycles and parental effects have similar benefits to growth of a coral reef fish under ocean acidification’

Ocean warming and acidification may challenge the riverward migration of glass eels

The dramatic decline of European eel (Anguilla anguilla) populations over recent decades has attracted considerable attention and concern. Furthermore, little is known about the sensitivity of the early stages of eels to projected future environmental change. Here, we investigated, for the first time, the potential combined effects of ocean warming (OW; Δ + 4°C; 18°C) and acidification (OA; Δ − 0.4 pH units) on the survival and migratory behaviour of A. anguilla glass eels, namely their preference towards riverine cues (freshwater and geosmin). Recently arrived individuals were exposed to isolated and combined OW and OA conditions for 100 days, adjusting for the salinity gradients associated with upstream migration. A two-choice test was used to investigate migratory activity and shifts in preference towards freshwater environments. While OW decreased survival and increased migratory activity, OA appears to hinder migratory response, reducing the preference for riverine cues. Our results suggest that future conditions could potentially favour an early settlement of glass eels, reducing the proportion of fully migratory individuals. Further research into the effects of climate change on eel migration and habitat selection is needed to implement efficient conservation plans for this critically endangered species.

Continue reading ‘Ocean warming and acidification may challenge the riverward migration of glass eels’

Developmental carryover effects of ocean warming and acidification in corals from a potential climate refugium, the Gulf of Aqaba

Coral reefs are degrading from the effects of anthropogenic activities, including climate change. Under these stressors, their ability to survive depends upon existing phenotypic plasticity, but also transgenerational adaptation. Parental effects are ubiquitous in nature, yet empirical studies of these effects in corals are scarce, particularly in the context of climate change. This study exposed mature colonies of the common reef-building coral Stylophora pistillata from the Gulf of Aqaba to seawater conditions likely to occur just beyond the end of this century during the peak planulae brooding season (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5: pH −0.4 and +5°C beyond present day). Parent and planulae physiology were assessed at multiple time points during the experimental incubation. After 5 weeks of incubation, the physiology of the parent colonies exhibited limited treatment-induced changes. All significant time-dependent changes in physiology occurred in both ambient and treatment conditions. Planulae were also resistant to future ocean conditions, with protein content, symbiont density, photochemistry, survival and settlement success not significantly different compared with under ambient conditions. High variability in offspring physiology was independent of parental or offspring treatments and indicate the use of a bet-hedging strategy in this population. This study thus demonstrates weak climate-change-associated carryover effects. Furthermore, planulae display temperature and pH resistance similar to those of adult colonies and therefore do not represent a larger future population size bottleneck. The findings add support to the emerging hypothesis that the Gulf of Aqaba may serve as a coral climate change refugium aided by these corals’ inherent broad physiological resistance.

Continue reading ‘Developmental carryover effects of ocean warming and acidification in corals from a potential climate refugium, the Gulf of Aqaba’

Modeling impact of varying pH due to carbondioxide on the dynamics of prey–predator species system

In this paper, we have considered a nonlinear mathematical model to investigate the effect of pH on prey–predator dynamics with Holling type II functional response. In the model, capture rate, handling time, growth rate and death rate are considered to be pH dependent. From the analysis of the model, it has been observed that as pH level goes below the normal tolerance limit of prey species then the equilibrium density of prey population decreases due to increase in capture rate and decrease in handling time by predator. Further, we have shown that as the growth rate of prey population decreases due to lowering of pH then the density of predator population also decreases and both the populations may tend to extinction if growth rate of prey population becomes negative due to lowering of pH on account of elevated carbondioxide concentration in the aquatic body. Moreover, it is noticed from the simulation that if the mortality of predator population increases because of decrease in pH level then the prey population gets advantage and in-turn their population increases.

Continue reading ‘Modeling impact of varying pH due to carbondioxide on the dynamics of prey–predator species system’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book