Posts Tagged 'mortality'

Effects of sediment and water column acidification on growth, survival, burrowing behaviour, and GABAA receptor function of benthic invertebrates

In coastal regions, sediment-dwelling animals are exposed to a high degree of variability in seawater and sediment pH and pH is expected to decline due to anthropogenic effects. The impacts of 6-week exposure to reduced-pH seawater on length, weight, and survival of two species of molluscs that inhabit mudflats, juvenile soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) and adult mud snails (Tritia obsoleta), were examined in two laboratory trials (2017 and 2018). The interactive effects of this prior exposure to water column acidification and subsequent sediment acidification on burrowing behaviour were then investigated for these mollusc species and adults of the amphipod Corophium volutator. In a separate experiment, the potential involvement of GABAA receptors in changes in burrowing behaviour in reduced-pH conditions was tested by exposing three species: C. volutatorT. obsoleta, and the Baltic clam Limecola balthica to sediment acidification and the neuroinhibitor gabazine. Reduced-pH water conditions only decreased the shell length of T. obsoleta in 2017 while all other morphometric metrics were not significantly impacted for this species in either year or for M. arenaria. The burrowing of T. obsoleta was reduced by 13% in acidified sediments in one of the two years but not by prior exposure to water column acidification. The burrowing of M. arenaria was not affected by either factor. The burrowing of C. volutator was impacted by the interaction of water column exposure and sediment acidification in 2017 with the acidified water, control sediment treatment having 14% higher burrowing then the remaining treatment combinations. In 2018, C. volutator burrowing was reduced in acidified sediment by 30%. The presence of gabazine only had an interactive effect on the burrowing of one species, C. volutator. The presence of gabazine increased the proportion of C. volutator individuals burrowed in the acidified water treatment by almost 30%, suggesting that GABAA neuroreceptors are involved in the mechanism for the impact of sediment acidification on burrowing in this species. The results of our experiments indicate that there is taxonomic variation in species’ responses of benthic invertebrates to ocean and sediment acidification with respect to growth, survival, and burrowing behaviour.

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Costs and mechanisms associated with resilience to acidification in marine bivalves

The unprecedented flux of CO2 into the ocean and the resulting chemical reactions has led to a reduction in pH, carbonate concentration, and saturation states of calcium carbonate, known as ocean acidification (OA). These conditions make it more difficult to precipitate biogenic calcium carbonate to mineralize shells because of the reduction in available carbonate ions. This represents a serious and growing threat to the future of commercially and ecologically important species, such as the northern quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria) and eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica). But clams and oysters are found in heterogeneous coastal environments and are already exposed to reductions in pH surpassing predictions for the decrease in open ocean pH for the end of the century (with pH dropping below 7 under ambient conditions). These bivalves have shown high levels of resilience to fluctuations in pH and a capacity to respond to altered carbonate chemistry. However, the accelerated pace of these changes requires additional understanding of how or if species and populations will be able to acclimate or adapt to such swift environmental alterations. Future acidification might result in reduction in average pH, changes in the scale of variability, more occurrences of extreme acidification, and less periods of relief, exceeding thresholds of tolerance.

Thus far, the majority of studies have focused on the physiological effects of elevated pCO2 on bivalve larvae. While important, this leaves a substantial gap in knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of resilience to elevated pCO2 or the effect of acidification on different life history stages. To fill this gap in our understanding, this dissertation aims to uncover the mechanisms of resilience to elevated pCO2 in clams and oysters at different stages of their life.

This study combined physiological assays with ‘omic’ approaches (transcriptomics, genomics, proteomics) to assess the susceptibility of clams and oysters to acidification and the factors conferring resilience. Mechanisms enabling bivalves to respond to elevated pCO2 (from the organism level to individual genes) were investigated, taking into consideration the potential costs of resilience to elevated pCO2. Gene silencing experiments (RNAi) and chemical inhibition were used to confirm the protective role of candidate genes (perlucin and carbonic anhydrase, respectively) associated with resilience to elevated pCO2. While there were consequences for surviving under stressful acidification conditions, demonstrated by a marked reduction in immunity, depletion of energy resources, and inability to remineralize damaged shell, M. mercenaria and C. virginica, having already been exposed to natural fluctuations in pH and carbonate chemistry for generations, appear to be capable of implementing strategies to mitigate the negative impacts of elevated pCO2 (acclimation). While acclimation can be costly, the potential for adaptation was also investigated, and there was evidence to suggest genetic selection for OA-resilient genotypes enabling clams and oysters to persist under future climate regimes.

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Risk assessment of a coastal ecosystem from SW Spain exposed to CO2 enrichment conditions

The Weight-of-Evidence (WOE) approach uses multiple lines of evidence to analyze the adverse effects associated with CO2 enrichment in two stations from the Gulf of Cádiz (Spain) with different contamination degrees. Sediment contamination and metal (loid) mobility, toxicity, ecological integrity, and bioaccumulation from the samples exposed to different acidification scenarios (pH gradient from 8.0 to 6.0) were used in the WOE. The experiments were conducted under laboratory conditions using a CO2-bubbling system. Different integration approaches such as multivariate analyses were used to evaluate the results. The results indicated that the adverse biological effects under pH 6.5 were related to the mobility of dissolved elements (As, Fe, Cu, Ni, and Zn). Furthermore, the pH reduction was correlated to the increase of bioaccumulation of As, Cr, Cu, Fe, and Ni in the tissues of mussels at pH 7.0. The noncontaminated sediment showed environmental degradation related to the acidification at pH values of 7.0; whereas the sediment moderately contaminated showed both environmental risks, caused by acidification and the presence and the increase of the bioavailability of contaminants. The WOE approach supposes an effective tool to identify and distinguish the causes of adverse effects related to the enrichment of CO2 in marine environments.

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Effects of anthropogenic stressorson Helgoland’s lobsters(Homarus gammarus)

As meroplankton, lobsters make up a great portion of both benthic communities and planktonic fauna in the water column. Furthermore, they represent a mayor food source across the marine food web and a vital source of protein for humans. As an economically important species, lobsters are highly susceptible to anthropogenic stressors (e.g habitat destruction, over-fishing, noise pollution). Moreover, climate change may magnify the impact of human activities on lobsters’ fitness. The collapse of the population of European lobster (Homarus gammarus) around Helgoland constitutes a good example and prompted a largescale restocking program. Yet, the question arises if recruitment of remaining natural individuals and program released specimens could be stunted by ongoing climate change and human activities.

In my thesis I investigate the effect of several anthropogenic stressors that could potentially be affecting the route to recovery of Helgoland’s lobsters.

Owing to the difficulties in catching lobster larvae in the field, I used larvae from lobster-rearing facilities to study the effects of anthropogenic stress on larval development and physiology. Studies on the effects of climate change on European lobster larvae have mostly focused on the isolated effect of ocean acidification or warming. Acidification treatments were based on two shared socio-economic pathways emitted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) regarding the amount of atmospheric CO2 for the end of the century. This study is the first to provide a more complete picture of the thermal limits at different levels of biological organization of lobster larvae under acidification by including a ten-level temperature gradient setup (13-24°C) The results show temperature was positively correlated with growth and energy metabolism; while, pCO2 had a negative impact on survival and morphology. Thus, climate change could potentially stunt the European lobster restocking efforts taking place on the island.

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Separate and combined effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on the branching reef corals Acropora digitifera and Montipora digitata

Ocean acidification (OA) and warming (OW) are major global threats to coral reef ecosystems; however, studies on their combined effects (OA + OW) are scarce. Therefore, we evaluated the effects of OA, OW, and OA + OW in the branching reef corals Acropora digitifera and Montipora digitata, which have been found to respond differently to environmental changes. Our results indicate that OW has a greater impact on A. digitifera and M. digitata than OA and that the former species is more vulnerable to OW than the latter. OW was the main stressor for increased mortality and decreased calcification in the OA + OW group, and the effect of OA + OW was additive in both species. Our findings suggest that the relative abundance and cover of M. digitata are expected to increase whereas those of A. digitifera may decrease in the near future in Okinawa.

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Acidification and hypoxia drive physiological trade-offs in oysters and partial loss of nutrient cycling capacity in oyster holobiont


Reef building oysters provide vast ecological benefits and ecosystem services. A large part of their role in driving ecological processes is mediated by the microbial communities that are associated with the oysters; together forming the oyster holobiont. While changing environmental conditions are known to alter the physiological performance of oysters, it is unclear how multiple stressors may alter the ability of the oyster holobiont to maintain its functional role.


Here, we exposed oysters to acidification and hypoxia to examine their physiological responses (molecular defense and immune response), changes in community structure of their associated microbial community, and changes in water nutrient concentrations to evaluate how acidification and hypoxia will alter the oyster holobiont’s ecological role.


We found clear physiological stress in oysters exposed to acidification, hypoxia, and their combination but low mortality. However, there were different physiological trade-offs in oysters exposed to acidification or hypoxia, and the combination of stressors incited greater physiological costs (i.e., >600% increase in protein damage and drastic decrease in haemocyte counts). The microbial communities differed depending on the environment, with microbial community structure partly readjusted based on the environmental conditions. Microbes also seemed to have lost some capacity in nutrient cycling under hypoxia and multi-stressor conditions (~50% less nitrification) but not acidification.


We show that the microbiota associated to the oyster can be enriched differently under climate change depending on the type of environmental change that the oyster holobiont is exposed to. In addition, it may be the primary impacts to oyster physiology which then drives changes to the associated microbial community. Therefore, we suggest the oyster holobiont may lose some of its nutrient cycling properties under hypoxia and multi-stressor conditions although the oysters can regulate their physiological processes to maintain homeostasis on the short-term.

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Long-term physiological responses to combined ocean acidification and warming show energetic trade-offs in an asterinid starfish

While organismal responses to climate change and ocean acidification are increasingly documented, longer-term (> a few weeks) experiments with marine organisms are still sparse. However, such experiments are crucial for assessing potential acclimatization mechanisms, as well as predicting species-specific responses to environmental change. Here, we assess the combined effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on organismal metabolism, mortality, righting activity, and calcification of the coral reef-associated starfish Aquilonastra yairi. Specimens were incubated at two temperature levels (27 °C and 32 °C) crossed with three pCO2 regimes (455 µatm, 1052 µatm, and 2066 µatm) for 90 days. At the end of the experiment, mortality was not altered by temperature and pCO2 treatments. Elevated temperature alone increased metabolic rate, accelerated righting activity, and caused a decline in calcification rate, while high pCO2 increased metabolic rate and reduced calcification rate, but did not affect the righting activity. We document that temperature is the main stressor regulating starfish physiology. However, the combination of high temperature and high pCO2 showed nonlinear and potentially synergistic effects on organismal physiology (e.g., metabolic rate), where the elevated temperature allowed the starfish to better cope with the adverse effect of high pCO2 concentration (low pH) on calcification and reduced skeletal dissolution (antagonistic interactive effects) interpreted as a result of energetic trade-offs.

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Evidence for an effective defence against ocean acidification in the key bioindicator pteropod Limacina helicina

The pteropod Limacina helicina has become an important bioindicator species for the negative impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine ecosystems. However, pteropods diversified during earlier high CO2 periods in Earth history and currently inhabit regions that are naturally corrosive to their shells, suggesting that they possess mechanisms to survive unfavourable conditions. Recent work, which is still under considerable debate, has proposed that the periostracum, a thin organic coating on the outer shell, protects pteropods from shell dissolution. Here, we provide direct evidence that shows that damage to the L. helicina periostracum results in dissolution of the underlying shell when exposed to corrosive water for ∼8 d, while an intact periostracum protects the shell from dissolution under the same conditions. This important first line of defence suggests that pteropods are more resistant to OA-induced shell dissolution than is generally accepted.

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Impacts of ocean acidification and warming on post-larval growth and metabolism in two populations of the great scallop (Pecten maximus L.) 

Ocean acidification and warming are key stressors for many marine organisms. Some organisms display physiological acclimatisation or plasticity, but this may vary across species ranges, especially if populations are adapted to local climatic conditions. Understanding how acclimatisation potential varies among populations is therefore important in predicting species responses to climate change. We carried out a common garden experiment to investigate how different populations of the economically important great scallop (Pecten maximus) from France and Norway responded to variation in temperature and pCO2 concentration. After acclimation, post-larval scallops (spat) were reared for 31 days at one of two temperatures (13°C and 19°C) under either ambient or elevated pCO2 (pH 8.0 and pH 7.7). We combined measures of proteomic, metabolic, and phenotypic traits to produce an integrative picture of how physiological plasticity varies between the populations. The proteome of French spat showed significant sensitivity to environmental variation, with 12 metabolic, structural and stress-response proteins responding to temperature and/or pCO2. Principal component analysis revealed seven energy metabolism proteins in French spat that were consistent with countering ROS stress under elevated temperature. Oxygen uptake in French spat did not change under elevated temperature, but increased under elevated pCO2. In contrast, Norwegian spat reduced oxygen uptake under both elevated temperature and pCO2. Metabolic plasticity seemingly allowed French scallops to maintain greater energy availability for growth than Norwegian spat. However, increased physiological plasticity and growth in French spat may come at a cost, as French (but not Norwegian) spat showed reduced survival under elevated temperature.

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The effects of the “deadly trio” (warming, acidification, and deoxygenation) on fish early ontogeny

The interaction between increased dissolved carbon dioxide, rising temperatures, and oxygen loss – the so-called “deadly trio” – is expected to strongly affect marine biota over the coming years, potentially undermining ocean services and uses. Nonetheless, no study has so far scrutinized the cumulative impact of these three stressors on fish embryonic and larval stages, known to be particularly vulnerable to environmental stress. To fill this knowledge gap, we implemented a fully multi-factorial design to investigate the effects of acute warming (Δ + 4°C; 22 ºC), acidification (Δ − 0.4 pH units; ~ 7.7 pCO2) and deoxygenation (Δ − 60% O2 saturation, ~ 3 mg O2 l− 1) over a comprehensive array of physiological (hatching success, survival rates, deformities rates, and heart rates) and behavioural responses (larvae responsiveness and phototaxis) across the early ontogeny of the temperate gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata). Deoxygenation was the main driver of negative impacts in the hatching success (64.25%), survival (46.71%), and heart rates (31.99%) of recently hatched larvae, being generally further exacerbated when warming and acidification co-occurred. On the other hand, acidification was the only factor to induce a significant decrease in the proportion of phototactic behaviour (50%). The behavioural and physiological responses showed to be highly correlated across experimental treatments, specifically, phototaxis was negatively correlated with the incidence of malformations, and positively correlated with heart rates. Overall, our findings indicate that the interaction between warming, acidification, and deoxygenation is markedly detrimental to fish early developmental stages, impacting several key features at this critical life stage that may eventually cause adverse carry-over effects. Importantly, our analysis highlights the need to assess the concurrent impacts of stressors’ interaction on marine taxa to better predict future ecosystem responses to ocean changes.

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Acid times in physiology: a systematic review of the effects of ocean acidification on calcifying invertebrates

The reduction in seawater pH from rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the oceans has been recognized as an important force shaping the future of marine ecosystems. Therefore, numerous studies have reported the effects of ocean acidification (OA) in different compartments of important animal groups, based on field and/or laboratory observations. Calcifying invertebrates have received considerable attention in recent years. In the present systematic review, we have summarized the physiological responses to OA in coral, echinoderm, mollusk, and crustacean species exposed to predicted ocean acidification conditions in the near future. The Scopus, Web of Science, and PubMed databases were used for the literature search, and 75 articles were obtained based on the inclusion criteria. Six main physiological responses have been reported after exposure to low pH. Growth (21.6%), metabolism (20.8%), and acid-base balance (17.6%) were the most frequent among the phyla, while calcification and growth were the physiological responses most affected by OA (>40%). Studies show that the reduction of pH in the aquatic environment, in general, supports the maintenance of metabolic parameters in invertebrates, with redistribution of energy to biological functions, generating limitations to calcification, which can have severe consequences for the health and survival of these organisms. It should be noted that the OA results are variable, with inter and/or intraspecific differences. In summary, this systematic review offers important scientific evidence for establishing paradigms in the physiology of climate change in addition to gathering valuable information on the subject and future research perspectives.

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Water quality and the CO2-carbonate system during the preconditioning of Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) in a recirculating aquaculture system

The continued increase of the demand for seed of the Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) has driven the aquaculture industry to produce land-based hatcheries using broodstock conditioning. This has led to the need to create closed systems to control the main factors involved in reproduction (temperature and food). Additionally, reproductive synchronization of broodstocks may be considered to ensure homogeneous maturation and spawning among the organisms. In this work, we synchronized the broodstock reproductive stage of Pacific oysters in a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) using a “preconditioning” process and evaluated the effect of the water quality and the CO2-carbonate system on preconditioned broodstock. The oysters were kept at 12 °C for 45 days in a RAS containing a calcium reactor (C2) or without a calcium reactor (C1, control). Water quality parameters were measured daily, and the oyster’s condition and reproductive development were monitored using condition index, biometrics, and histology, on Days 0, 20, and 45. C1 and C2 systems kept the water quality within the ranges reported as favorable for bivalves. The calcium reactor kept the pH (8.03–8.10), alkalinity (200 mg/L as CaCO3), CO32− (≤ 80 µmol/kg), and Ω aragonite (≤ 1) closer to the ranges reported as optimal for bivalves. However, no significant differences were detected in the total weight and the condition index in C1 and C2. The preconditioning allowed to maintain the organisms in early reproductive development, allowing gametogenesis synchronization to start maturation.

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Oxidative stress and apoptosis in disk abalone (Haliotis discus hannai) caused by water temperature and pH changes

Ocean warming and acidification can induce oxidative stress in marine species, resulting in cellular damage and apoptosis. However, the effects of pH and water temperature conditions on oxidative stress and apoptosis in disk abalone are poorly understood. This study investigated, for the first time, the effects of different water temperatures (15, 20, and 25 °C) and pH levels (7.5 and 8.1) on oxidative stress and apoptosis in disk abalone by estimating levels of H2O2, malondialdehyde (MDA), dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and the apoptosis-related gene caspase-3. We also visually confirmed apoptotic effects of different water temperatures and pH levels via in situ hybridization and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling assays. The levels of H2O2, MDA, SOD, CAT, and caspase-3 increased under low/high water temperature and/or low pH conditions. Expression of the genes was high under high temperature and low pH conditions. Additionally, the apoptotic rate was high under high temperatures and low pH conditions. These results indicate that changes in water temperature and pH conditions individually and in combination trigger oxidative stress in abalone, which can induce cell death. Specifically, high temperatures induce apoptosis by increasing the expression of the apoptosis-related gene caspase-3.

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Addressing the joint impact of temperature and pH on Vibrio harveyi adaptation in the time of climate change

Global warming and acidification of the global ocean are two important manifestations of the ongoing climate change. To characterize their joint impact on Vibrio adaptation and fitness, we analyzed the temperature-dependent adaptation of Vibrio harveyi at different pHs (7.0, 7.5, 8.0, 8.3 and 8.5) that mimic the pH of the world ocean in the past, present and future. Comparison of V. harveyi growth at 20, 25 and 30 °C show that higher temperature per se facilitates the logarithmic growth of V. harveyi in nutrient-rich environments in a pH-dependent manner. Further survival tests carried out in artificial seawater for 35 days revealed that cell culturability declined significantly upon incubation at 25 °C and 30 °C but not at 20 °C. Moreover, although acidification displayed a negative impact on cell culturability at 25 °C, it appeared to play a minor role at 30 °C, suggesting that elevated temperature, rather than pH, was the key player in the observed reduction of cell culturability. In addition, analyses of the stressed cell morphology and size distribution by epifluorescent microscopy indicates that V. harveyi likely exploits different adaptation strategies (e.g., acquisition of coccoid-like morphology) whose roles might differ depending on the temperature–pH combination.

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Effects of dissolved carbon dioxide on growth and vertebral column of hybrid marine grouper (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus × E. lanceolatus) early advanced larvae


  • Ocean acidification negatively impacted the early advanced larvae of the marine hybrid tiger grouper × giant grouper (TG × GG).
  • Worst growth, survival, weight, food consumption, and conversion rates at 1000 ppm CO2.
  • Deformed vertebral columns were observed at 1000 ppm CO2, while normal vertebral column observed at 400 ppm CO2.
  • This study provides guidelines for future studies on TG × GG larvae or other marine fish larvae under elevated CO2 concentrations.


This study investigated the effects of different dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations (400, 700, and 1000 ppm) on the growth and vertebral column formation of hybrid tiger grouper × giant grouper (TG × GG) in their advanced larval stage under controlled laboratory conditions for 12 weeks. Growth parameters, including specific growth rate (SGR), survival rate, food consumption (FC), and food conversion rate (FCR), were calculated at the end of the experiment. Vertebral column formation was analysed using X-radiography and osteology methods. The results showed that all growth parameters were significantly affected by CO2 concentration, with the best performances observed under 400 ppm CO2. The highest statistically significant (p < 0.05) SGR, survival rate, and FC were observed under 400 ppm CO2, whereas the lowest was observed under 1000 ppm CO2. The lowest FCR (0.40, p < 0.05) was observed in 400 ppm CO2 and the highest was observed at 1000 ppm CO2 (0.59, p < 0.05). Furthermore, larvae without vertebral column malformations were observed in 400 ppm CO2, while larvae with small angles of kyphosis were observed in 700 ppm CO2, and larvae with kyphosis, lordosis, and vertebral compression were observed in 1000 ppm CO2. Only six spine measurements out of 31 obtained under different CO2 concentrations were significantly different (p < 0.05). Overall, the results suggest that CO2 concentration plays a crucial role in the growth and vertebral column formation of TG × GG in their advanced larval stage. The optimal CO2 concentration for the aquaculture of TG × GG in their advanced larval stage was found to be 400 ppm or lower. This study highlights the importance of maintaining optimal CO2 concentrations to enhance the growth and health of fish in aquaculture systems…

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From marine snails to marine spatial planning : the science of human impacts and relationships with marine ecosystems

Extractive human systems are driving unprecedented biodiversity loss and exacerbating social inequity. The magnitude of the intertwined climate, biodiversity, and social inequity crises has prompted the development of interdisciplinary research approaches to address these complex problems. One such approach, social-ecological systems (SES), aims to understand the relationships between coupled human and ecological systems. This thesis applies an SES lens to understand the science of human impacts on and relationships with marine ecosystems and inform characterizations of system vulnerability. First, I examined the sensitivity of marine ectothermic animals to climate change by conducting a meta-analysis of the effects of ocean acidification and warming. My synthesis of nearly five hundred factorial studies demonstrates the negative effects of these two drivers, identifies specific taxonomic groups (molluscs), life- history traits (adults, sessile), and latitudes (tropical and temperate) that are more sensitive, and refutes two common assumptions about the drivers’ interactive effects. Next, I tested whether populations of a marine snail vary in their vulnerability to ocean warming based on thermal sensitivity and local rates of ocean warming. Using coupled lab and field experiments with snails from two regions in the middle of their range that differ in thermal characteristics, I found that snails from the warmer Salish Sea, an urban sea, showed greater vulnerability to ocean warming than those from the cooler central coast of British Columbia, Canada. Finally, to inform how humans can mitigate our impacts while sustaining complex relationships with the ocean, I partnered with the Sḵwx̲wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and regional stewardship organizations on a marine spatial planning project in the Salish Sea. I employed a mixed- methods community-based participatory mapping approach to characterize place-based values and outline opportunities to decolonize research and mapping processes. The results contribute important social data about place-based values, reveal value interactions, reflect knowledge system plurality, and identify avenues to advance reconciliation. Overall, this thesis highlights the vulnerability of marine life, particularly life within urban seas, to climate change and provides a roadmap for researchers and decision-makers to meaningfully steward the health and well-being of coastal social-ecological systems.

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How ocean warming and acidification affect the life cycle of six worldwide commercialised sea urchin species: a review

Ongoing global changes are expected to affect the worldwide production of many fisheries and aquaculture systems. Because invertebrates represent a relevant industry, it is crucial to anticipate challenges that are resulting from the current environmental alterations. In this review, we rely on the estimated physiological limits of six commercialised species of sea urchins (Loxechinus albusMesocentrotus franciscanusParacentrotus lividus, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensisStrongylocentrotus intermedius and Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) to define the vulnerability (or resilience) of their populations facing ocean warming and acidification (OW&A). Considering that coastal systems do not change uniformly and that the populations’ response to stressors varies depending on their origin, we investigate the effects of OW&A by including studies that estimate future environmental mutations within their distribution areas. Cross-referencing 79 studies, we find that several sea urchin populations are potentially vulnerable to the predicted OW&A as environmental conditions in certain regions are expected to shift beyond their estimated physiological limit of tolerance. Specifically, while upper thermal thresholds seem to be respected for L. albus along the SW American coast, M. franciscanus and S. purpuratus southern populations appear to be vulnerable in NW America. Moreover, as a result of the strong warming expected in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, the local productivity of S. droebachiensis is also potentially largely affected. Finally, populations of S. intermedius and P. lividus found in northern Japan and eastern Mediterranean respectively, are supposed to decline due to large environmental changes brought about by OW&A. This review highlights the status and the potential of local adaptation of a number of sea urchin populations in response to changing environmental conditions, revealing possible future challenges for various local fishing industries.

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Ocean acidification enhances the embryotoxicity of CuO nanoparticles to Oryzias melastigma

Concerns are raised towards individual effects of ocean acidification (OA) and engineered nanoparticles (NPs) on marine organisms. However, there are scarce studies regarding nanotoxicity under OA conditions. We investigated the combined effects of OA (pHs, 7.70 and 7.40) and CuO NPs on the embryotoxicity of marine medaka Oryzias melastigma and the bioavailability of CuO NPs in embryos. The results showed that OA alleviated the aggregation of CuO NPs and promoted the dissolution of CuO NPs in seawater (increased by 0.010 and 0.029 mg/L under pHs 7.70 and 7.40, respectively). Synergistic effects of OA with CuO NPs on medaka embryos were observed as indicated by much higher mortality and oxidative damage. Importantly, the enhanced toxicity of CuO NPs to medaka embryos under OA conditions mainly originated from the higher bioavailability of particulate CuO (e.g., 30.28 mg/kg at pH 7.40) rather than their released Cu2+ ions (e.g. 3.04 mg/kg at pH 7.40). The weaker aggregation of NPs under OA conditions resulted in higher penetration of individual particles (or small aggregates) into embryos through the micropyle and chorionic pores, causing enhanced bioavailability of NPs. The obtained results provided underlying insights into understanding the risk of NPs to marine ecosystem under OA conditions.

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Effect of ocean acidification on the growth, response and hydrocarbon degradation of coccolithophore-bacterial communities exposed to crude oil

Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria, which can be found living with eukaryotic phytoplankton, play a pivotal role in the fate of oil spillage to the marine environment. Considering the susceptibility of calcium carbonate-bearing phytoplankton under future ocean acidification conditions and their oil-degrading communities to oil exposure under such conditions, we investigated the response of non-axenic E. huxleyi to crude oil under ambient versus elevated CO2 concentrations. Under elevated CO2 conditions, exposure to crude oil resulted in the immediate decline of E. huxleyi, with concomitant shifts in the relative abundance of Alphaproteobacteria and Gammaproteobacteria. Survival of E. huxleyi under ambient conditions following oil enrichment was likely facilitated by enrichment of oil-degraders Methylobacterium and Sphingomonas, while the increase in relative abundance of Marinobacter and unclassified Gammaproteobacteria may have increased competitive pressure with E. huxleyi for micronutrient acquisition. Biodegradation of the oil was not affected by elevated CO2 despite a shift in relative abundance of known and putative hydrocarbon degraders. While ocean acidification does not appear to affect microbial degradation of crude oil, elevated mortality responses of E. huxleyi and shifts in the bacterial community illustrates the complexity of microalgal-bacterial interactions and highlights the need to factor these into future ecosystem recovery projections.

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Increased food resources help eastern oyster mitigate the negative impacts of coastal acidification

Oceanic absorption of atmospheric CO2 results in alterations of carbonate chemistry, a process coined ocean acidification (OA). The economically and ecologically important eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is vulnerable to these changes because low pH hampers CaCO3 precipitation needed for shell formation. Organisms have a range of physiological mechanisms to cope with altered carbonate chemistry; however, these processes can be energetically expensive and necessitate energy reallocation. Here, the hypothesis that resilience to low pH is related to energy resources was tested. In laboratory experiments, oysters were reared or maintained at ambient (400 ppm) and elevated (1300 ppm) pCO2 levels during larval and adult stages, respectively, before the effect of acidification on metabolism was evaluated. Results showed that oysters exposed to elevated pCO2 had significantly greater respiration. Subsequent experiments evaluated if food abundance influences oyster response to elevated pCO2. Under high food and elevated pCO2 conditions, oysters had less mortality and grew larger, suggesting that food can offset adverse impacts of elevated pCO2, while low food exacerbates the negative effects. Results also demonstrated that OA induced an increase in oyster ability to select their food particles, likely representing an adaptive strategy to enhance energy gains. While oysters appeared to have mechanisms conferring resilience to elevated pCO2, these came at the cost of depleting energy stores, which can limit the available energy for other physiological processes. Taken together, these results show that resilience to OA is at least partially dependent on energy availability, and oysters can enhance their tolerance to adverse conditions under optimal feeding regimes.

Continue reading ‘Increased food resources help eastern oyster mitigate the negative impacts of coastal acidification’

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