Posts Tagged 'multiple factors'

Transcriptomic stability or lability explains sensitivity to climate stressors in coralline algae


Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are calcifying red macroalgae that play important ecological roles including stabilisation of reef frameworks and provision of settlement cues for a range of marine invertebrates. Previous research into the responses of CCA to ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA) have found magnitude of effect to be species-specific. Response to OW and OA could be linked to divergent underlying molecular processes across species.


Here we show Sporolithon durum, a species that exhibits low sensitivity to climate stressors, had little change in metabolic performance and did not significantly alter the expression of any genes when exposed to temperature and pH perturbations. In contrast, Porolithon onkodes, a major coral reef builder, reduced photosynthetic rates and had a labile transcriptomic response with over 400 significantly differentially expressed genes, with differential regulation of genes relating to physiological processes such as carbon acquisition and metabolism. The differential gene expression detected in P. onkodes implicates possible key metabolic pathways, including the pentose phosphate pathway, in the stress response of this species.


We suggest S. durum is more resistant to OW and OA than P. onkodes, which demonstrated a high sensitivity to climate stressors and may have limited ability for acclimatisation. Understanding changes in gene expression in relation to physiological processes of CCA could help us understand and predict how different species will respond to, and persist in, future ocean conditions predicted for 2100.

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Ocean warming and acidification affect the transitional element and macromolecular accumulation in harmful raphidophyte Heterosigma akashiwo

Despite ocean warming and acidification being expected to increase the harmful algal species worldwide, the raphidophyte Heterosigma akashiwo is reported to have decreased. However, it is unknown on the transitional scale how this species physically and metabolically modifies its elements, and macromolecular accumulation leads to such condition. With 1st,10th, and 20th culture generation under present (21℃; pCO2 400ppm [LTLC]) and projected (25℃; pCO2 1000ppm [HTHC]) ocean conditions we examined these elemental and macromolecular changes along with transcriptome sequencing. Results showed that compared to HTHC (1st generation), the (20th generation) cells showed large decreases in carbon (QC:40%), nitrogen (QN:36%), and phosphorus-quotas (QP:43%), reflected in their reduction of overall DNA and RNA quantity. Decreased metabolic pathways in photosynthesis, carbon fixation, and lipid accumulation were coincident with changes in photosynthetic efficiency, carbon, and lipid quantity with long-term (20th generation) exposure to HTHC conditions. We observed that these variations of internal metabolic changes are caused by external changes in temperature by activating the (Ca+) signaling pathway and external changes in pCO2 by altering the (proton exchange) pathways. Our results suggest that H. akashiwo in the future ocean will undergo severe changes in its elemental and macromolecular properties, leading to programmed cell death.

Continue reading ‘Ocean warming and acidification affect the transitional element and macromolecular accumulation in harmful raphidophyte Heterosigma akashiwo

Thalassiosira weissflogii grown in various Zn levels shows different ecophysiological responses to seawater acidification


  • Zn deficient encouraged cellular silicon and sinking rate under normal pCO2.
  • Higher pCO2 decreased cellular silicon and sinking rate of Zn-deficient T. weissflogii.
  • Higher pCO2 increased cellular silicon and sinking rate in Zn-replete T. weissflogii.
  • Silica and carbon cycle could be impacted by acidification and Zn levels.


The presence of zinc (Zn), a vital element for algal physiological functions, coupled with the silicification of diatoms implies that it plays an integral role in the carbon and silicon cycles of the sea. In this study, we examined the effects of different pCO2 and Zn levels on growth rate, elemental compositions and silicification by Thalassiosira weissflogii. The results showed that under normal pCO2 (400 μatm), cultures of T. weissflogii were depressed for growth rate and silica incorporation rate, but encouraged for cellular silicon content, Si/C, Si/N, and sinking rate when Zn deficient (0.3 pmol L−1). However, cellular silicon and sinking rate of Zn-deficient and Zn-replete (25 pmol L−1T. weissflogii were decreased and increased at higher pCO2 (800 μatm), respectively. Thus, acidification may affect diatoms significantly differently depending on the Zn levels of the ocean and then alter the biochemical cycling of carbon and silica.

Continue reading ‘Thalassiosira weissflogii grown in various Zn levels shows different ecophysiological responses to seawater acidification’

Intestinal microbiota perturbations in the gastropod Trochus niloticus concurrently exposed to ocean acidification and environmentally relevant concentrations of sulfamethoxazole

Graphical abstract.


  • Exposure to OA leads to the microbiota dysbiosis in the intestine of T. niloticus.
  • Exposure to SMX barely affected the intestinal microbiota of T. niloticus.
  • Exposure to SMX accelerated spread of sulfonamide ARGs.


Ocean acidification (OA) and antibiotic pollution pose severe threats to the fitness of keystone species in marine ecosystems. However, the combined effects of OA and antibiotic pollution on the intestinal microbiota of marine organisms are still not well known. In this study, we exposed the herbivorous gastropod Trochus niloticus, a keystone species to maintains the stability of coral reef ecosystems, to acidic seawater (pH 7.6) and/or sulfamethoxazole (SMX, 100 ng/L, 1000 ng/L) for 28 days and determined their impacts on (1) the accumulation of SMX in the intestine of T. niloticus; (2) the characteristics of the intestinal microbiota in T. niloticus; (3) the relative abundances of sulfonamide resistance genes (i.e., sul1 and sul2) and intI1 in the intestinal microbiota of T. niloticus. Our results show that OA exposure leads to dramatic microbiota dysbiosis in the intestine of T. niloticus, including changes in bacterial community diversity and structure, decreased abundances of dominant species, existences of characteristic taxa, and altered functional predictions. In addition, SMX exposure at environmentally relevant concentrations had little effect on the intestinal microbiota of T. niloticus, whether in isolation or in combination with OA. However, after exposure to the higher SMX concentration (1000 ng/L), the accumulation of SMX in the intestine of T. niloticus could induce an increase in the copies of sul2 in the intestinal microbiota. These results suggest that the intestinal health of T. niloticus might be affected by OA and SMX, which might lead to fitness loss of the keystone species in coral reef ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Intestinal microbiota perturbations in the gastropod Trochus niloticus concurrently exposed to ocean acidification and environmentally relevant concentrations of sulfamethoxazole’

Impacts of seawater pH buffering on the larval microbiome and carry-over effects on later-life disease susceptibility in Pacific oysters

Ocean acidification upwelling events and the resulting lowered aragonite saturation state of seawater have been linked to high mortality of marine bivalve larvae in hatcheries. Major oyster seed producers along North America’s west coast have mitigated impacts via seawater pH buffering (e.g., addition of soda ash). However, little consideration has been given to whether such practice may impact the larval microbiome, with potential carry-over effects on immune competency and disease susceptibility in later-life stages. To investigate possible impacts, Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) were reared under soda ash pH buffered or ambient pH seawater conditions for the first 24 h of development. Both treatment groups were then reared under ambient pH conditions for the remainder of the developmental period. Larval microbiome, immune status (via gene expression), growth, and survival were assessed throughout the developmental period. Juveniles and adults arising from the larval run were then subjected to laboratory-based disease challenges to investigate carry-over effects. Larvae reared under buffered conditions showed an altered microbiome, which was still evident in juvenile animals. Moreover, reduced survival was observed in both juveniles and adults of the buffered group under a simulated marine heatwave and Vibrio exposure compared with those reared under ambient conditions. Results suggest that soda ash pH buffering during early development may compromise later-life stages under stressor conditions, and illustrate the importance of a long-view approach with regard to hatchery husbandry practices and climate change mitigation.

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Could acidified environments intensify illicit drug effects on the reproduction of marine mussels?

The increasing oceanic uptake is a direct response to the increasing atmospheric burden of CO2. Oceans are experiencing both physical and biogeochemical changes. This increase in CO2 hosts in oceans promotes changes in pH and seawater chemistry that can modify the speciation of compounds, largely due to dependent element speciation on physicochemical parameters (salinity, pH, and redox potential). So, ocean acidification can trigger enhanced toxicity of illicit drugs to non-target marine organisms due to the combined effects of crack cocaine and low pH (from 8.3 to 7.0 pH values) on the reproduction of the marine mussel Perna perna. Fertilization rate and embryo–larval development were used as endpoints to assess the effects of crack-cocaine concentrations (6.25, 12.5, 25, 50, and 100 mg L−1) and its association with pH values variation (8.3, 8.0, 7.5, and 7.0). The IC50 was calculated from the results of an embryo–larval assay in different methods of acidification (CO2 and HCl), which evidenced that HCl treatment was more toxic than CO2 treatment for the same drug concentrations. Results showed that the gametes of P. perna react to acidification when exposed to crack-cocaine concentration and pH reductions.

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Cascading effects augment the direct impact of CO2 on phytoplankton growth in a biogeochemical model

Atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations are rising at an unprecedented rate. Laboratory studies indicate a positive effect of rising CO2 on phytoplankton growth until an optimum is reached, after which the negative impact of accompanying acidification dominates. Here, we implemented carbonate system sensitivities of phytoplankton growth into our global biogeochemical model FESOM-REcoM and accounted explicitly for coccolithophores as the group most sensitive to CO2. In idealized simulations in which solely the atmospheric CO2 mixing ratio was modified, changes in competitive fitness and biomass are not only caused by the direct effects of CO2, but also by indirect effects via nutrient and light limitation as well as grazing. These cascading effects can both amplify or dampen phytoplankton responses to changing ocean pCO2 levels. For example, coccolithophore growth is negatively affected both directly by future pCO2 and indirectly by changes in light limitation, but these effects are compensated by a weakened nutrient limitation resulting from the decrease in small-phytoplankton biomass. In the Southern Ocean, future pCO2 decreases small-phytoplankton biomass and hereby the preferred prey of zooplankton, which reduces the grazing pressure on diatoms and allows them to proliferate more strongly. In simulations that encompass CO2-driven warming and acidification, our model reveals that recent observed changes in North Atlantic coccolithophore biomass are driven primarily by warming and not by CO2. Our results highlight that CO2 can change the effects of other environmental drivers on phytoplankton growth, and that cascading effects may play an important role in projections of future net primary production.

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Phosphate limitation intensifies negative effects of ocean acidification on globally important nitrogen fixing cyanobacterium

Growth of the prominent nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium Trichodesmium is often limited by phosphorus availability in the ocean. How nitrogen fixation by phosphorus-limited Trichodesmium may respond to ocean acidification remains poorly understood. Here, we use phosphate-limited chemostat experiments to show that acidification enhanced phosphorus demands and decreased phosphorus-specific nitrogen fixation rates in Trichodesmium. The increased phosphorus requirements were attributed primarily to elevated cellular polyphosphate contents, likely for maintaining cytosolic pH homeostasis in response to acidification. Alongside the accumulation of polyphosphate, decreased NADP(H):NAD(H) ratios and impaired chlorophyll synthesis and energy production were observed under acidified conditions. Consequently, the negative effects of acidification were amplified compared to those demonstrated previously under phosphorus sufficiency. Estimating the potential implications of this finding, using outputs from the Community Earth System Model, predicts that acidification and dissolved inorganic and organic phosphorus stress could synergistically cause an appreciable decrease in global Trichodesmium nitrogen fixation by 2100.

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Life-history traits in the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas are robust to ocean acidification under two thermal regimes

Ocean acidification and warming (OAW) are pressing contemporary issues affecting marine life and specifically calcifying organisms. Here, we investigated the direct effects of OAW on life-history traits of the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas, the most cultivated bivalve species worldwide. We also tested whether parental conditioning history shaped the phenotypic characters of their progenies (intergenerational carryover effects). Adult oysters and their offspring were exposed to two temperatures (18°C, +3°C) under ambient pH conditions or under an end-of-century acidification scenario (−0.33 pH unit). In adults, we monitored standard biometric and reproductive parameters, stress response by quantifying neuroendocrine metabolites and gamete quality. In larvae, we measured hatching rate, size, biochemical quality, and behavior. We found that reducing pH reduced growth rate and activated the serotonin system, but increasing temperature attenuated these effects. There was no effect of pH on reproduction at either temperature, and no intergenerational carryover effects. Larval characteristics were similar between treatments, regardless of parental conditioning history. Thus, the Pacific oyster seems robust to changes in pH, and increasing temperature is not an aggravating factor. We emphasize that the use of neuroendocrine indicators holds promise for revealing sublethal impacts of environmental changes.

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Effects of hypoxia and acidification on Calanus pacificus: behavioral changes in response to stressful environments

Copepods, which play major roles in marine food webs and biogeochemical cycling, frequently undergo diel vertical migration (DVM), swimming downwards during the day to avoid visual predation and upwards at night to feed. Natural water columns that are stratified with chemical stressors at depth, such as hypoxia and acidification, are increasing with climate change. Understanding behavioral responses of copepods to these stresses—in particular, whether copepods alter their natural migration—is important to anticipating impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. We conducted laboratory experiments using stratified water columns to measure the effects of bottom water hypoxia and pH on mortality, distribution, and swimming behaviors of the calanoid copepod Calanus pacificus. When exposed to hypoxic (0.65 mg O2 l-1) bottom waters, the height of C. pacificus from the bottom increased 20% within hypoxic columns, and swimming speed decreased 46% at the bottom of hypoxic columns and increased 12% above hypoxic waters. When exposed to low pH (7.48) bottom waters, swimming speeds decreased by 8 and 9% at the base of the tanks and above acidic waters, respectively. Additionally, we found a 118% increase in ‘moribund’ (immobile on the bottom) copepods when exposed to hypoxic, but not acidic, bottom waters. Some swimming statistics differed between copepods collected from sites with versus without historical hypoxia and acidity. Observed responses suggest potential mechanisms underlying in situ changes in copepod population distributions when exposed to chemical stressors at depth.

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pCO2-driven seawater acidification affects aqueous-phase copper toxicity in juvenile flounder Paralichthys olivaceus: metal accumulation, antioxidant defenses and biodetoxification in livers

Graphical abstract.


  • SA and Cu interact during hepatic antioxidant defenses and biodetoxification.
  • Moderate SA helps alleviate Cu exposure-induced LPO, but extreme SA exacerbates it.
  • Thiols respond actively to cope with Cu toxicity in acidified seawater.
  • SOD, CAT, EROD and GST sensitively respond to SA and Cu coexposure.
  • Pearson’s correlation coefficient and PCA usefully integrate biomarker responses.


Ocean acidification potentially influences the biotoxicity of metals and the antioxidant defense systems of marine organisms. This study investigated how pCO2-driven seawater acidification (SA) affected aqueous-phase copper (Cu) toxicity in the juvenile flounder Paralichthys olivaceus from the perspective of hepatic oxidative stress and damage to better understand the mechanisms underlying the biological effects produced by the two stressors. Fish were exposed to aqueous-phase Cu at relevant ambient and polluted concentrations (0, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 200 μg L−1) at different pH levels (no SA: pH 8.10; moderate SA: pH 7.70, pCO2 ∼1353.89 μatm; extreme SA: pH 7.30, pCO2 ∼3471.27 μatm) for 28 days. A battery of biomarkers in the livers was examined to investigate their roles in antioxidant defense and biodetoxification in response to coexposure. Hepatic Cu accumulation (30.22–184.90 mg kg−1) was positively correlated with Cu concentrations. The biomarkers responded adaptively to different redox states following SA and Cu exposure. In unacidified seawater, increases in Cu concentrations significantly induced hepatic lipid peroxidation (LPO, by up to 27.03 %), although compensatory responses in antioxidant defenses and biodetoxification were activated. Moderate SA helped maintain hepatic redox homeostasis and alleviated LPO through different defense strategies, depending on Cu concentrations. Under extreme SA, antioxidant-based defenses were activated to cope with oxidative stress at ambient-low Cu concentrations but failed to defend against Cu toxicity at polluted Cu levels, and LPO (by up to 63.90 %) was significantly induced. Additionally, thiols (GSH and MT) responded actively to cope with Cu toxicity under SA. SOD, CAT, EROD, and GST were also sensitively involved in defending against hepatic oxidative stress during coexposure. These findings highlight the notable interactive effects of SA and Cu and provide a basis for understanding antioxidant-based defenses in marine fish confronting environmental challenges.

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Do global environmental drivers’ ocean acidification and warming exacerbate the effects of oil pollution on the physiological energetics of Scylla serrata?

Global climate change–induced ocean warming and acidification have complex reverberations on the physiological functioning of marine ectotherms. The Sundarbans estuarine system has been under threat for the past few decades due to natural and anthropogenic disturbances. In recent years, petroleum products’ transportation and their usage have increased manifold, which causes accidental oil spills. The mud crab (Scylla serrata) is one of the most commercially exploited species in the Sundarbans. The key objective of this study was to delineate whether rearing under global environmental drivers (ocean acidification and warming) exacerbates the effect of a local driver (oil pollution) on the physiological energetics of mud crab (Scylla serrata) from the Sundarbans estuarine system. Animals were reared separately for 30 days under (a) the current climatic scenario (pH 8.1, 28°C) and (b) the predicted climate change scenario (pH 7.7, 34°C). After rearing for 30 days, 50% of the animals from each treatment were exposed to 5 mg L−1 of marine diesel oil for the next 24 h. Physiological energetics (ingestion rate, absorption rate, respiration rate, excretion rate, and scope for growth), thermal performance, thermal critical maxima (CTmax), acclimation response ratio (ARR), Arrhenius activation energy (AAE), temperature coefficient (Q10), warming tolerance (WT), and thermal safety margin (TSM) were evaluated. Ingestion and absorption rates were significantly reduced, whereas respiration and ammonia excretion rates significantly increased in stressful treatments, resulting in a significantly lower scope for growth. A profound impact on thermal performance was also noticed, leading to a downward shift in CTmax value for stress-acclimated treatment. The present results clearly highlighted the detrimental combined effect of global climatic stressors and pollution on the physiological energetics of crabs that might potentially reduce their population and affect coastal aquaculture in forthcoming years.

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High sclerobiont calcification in marginal reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific

Graphical abstract.

A sclerobiont is any organism capable of fouling hard substrates. Sclerobionts have recently received attention due to their notable calcium carbonate contributions to reef structures and potential to offset drops in carbonate budgets in degraded reefs. However, due to their encrusting nature, it is difficult to quantify net calcium carbonate production at the level of individual taxonomic groups, and knowledge regarding the main environmental factors that regulate their spatial distributions is limited. In addition, the material types used to create experimental substrates, their orientations, and their overall deployment times can influence settlement and the composition of the resulting communities. Thus, comparative evaluations of these variables are necessary to improve future research efforts. In this study, we used calcification accretion units (CAUs) to quantify the calcium carbonate contributions of sclerobionts at the taxonomic group level and evaluated the effects of two frequently used materials [i.e., polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and terracotta (TCT) tiles] on the recruitment and calcification of the sclerobiont community in the tropical Mexican Pacific and the Midriff Island Region of the Gulf of California over 6 and 15 months [n = 40; 5 CAUs x site (2) x deployment time (2) x material type (2)]. The net sclerobiont calcification rate (mean ± SD) reached maximum values at six months and was higher in the Mexican Pacific (2.15 ± 0.99 kg m−2 y−1) than in the Gulf of California (1.70 ± 0.67 kg m−2 y−1). Moreover, the calcification rate was slightly higher on the PVC-CAUs compared to that of the TCT-CAUs, although these differences were not consistent at the group level. In addition, cryptic microhabitats showed low calcification rates when compared to those of exposed microhabitatsCrustosecoralline algae and barnacles dominated the exposed experimental surfaces, while bryozoans, mollusks, and serpulid polychaetes dominated cryptic surfaces. Regardless of the site, deployment time, or material type, barnacles made the greatest contributions to calcimass production (between 41 and 88%). Our results demonstrate that the orientation of the experimental substrate, and the material to a lesser extent, influence the sclerobiont community and the associated calcification rate. Upwelling-induced surface nutrient levels, low pH levels, and the aragonite saturation state (ΩAr) limit the early cementation of reef-building organisms in the tropical Mexican Pacific and promote high bioerosion rates in corals of the Gulf of California. Our findings demonstrate that sclerobionts significantly contribute to calcium carbonate production even under conditions of high environmental variability.

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Threats to Australia’s oceans and coasts: a systematic review

Graphical abstract.


  • Threats to Australia’s oceans and coasts described in the academic literature from 2010 to 2020 were systematically reviewed.
  • 307 threats were identified across three categories, with most threats in the group “environmental and human-induced threats”.
  • Threats were described as impacting environmental (68%), economic (14%), socio-cultural (12%), and Indigenous (6%) values.
  • Only 45 of the 226 papers (20%) discussed multiple threats.
  • Findings highlight the cumulative and multi-faceted threats facing Australian oceans and coasts that must be addressed.


Oceans and coasts provide important ecosystem, livelihood, and cultural values to humans and the planet but face current and future compounding threats from anthropogenic activities associated with expanding populations and their use of and reliance on these environments. To respond to and mitigate these threats, there is a need to first systematically understand and categorise them. This paper reviewed 226 articles from the period 2010–2020 on threats to Australia’s oceans and coasts, resulting in the identification of a total of 307 threats. Threats were grouped into three broad categories — threats from use and extraction; environmental and human-induced threats; and policy and socio-political threats —then ranked by frequency. The most common ‘threats from use and extraction’ were recreational activities, non-point source pollution, and urban development; the most common ‘environmental and human-induced threat’ was increased temperatures; and the most common ‘policy and socio-political threat’ was policy gaps and failures (e.g., a lack of coastal climate adaptation policies). The identification of threats across all three categories increased over time; however, the identification of ‘threats from use and extraction’ increased most rapidly over the last four years (2017–2020). Threats were most often described for their impacts on environmental values (68%), followed by economic (14%), socio-cultural (12%), and Indigenous (6%) values. Only 45 of the 226 papers (20%) discussed multiple threats. The threats facing Australia’s oceans and coasts are rising, cumulative, and multi-faceted, and the inherent tensions between varied uses, along with intensification of uses that derive short-term anthropogenic benefit, will continue to degrade the ecological sustainability of ocean and coastal systems if actions are not taken.

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Gastropods underwent a major taxonomic turnover during the end-Triassic marine mass extinction event

Based on an exhaustive database of gastropod genera and subgenera during the Triassic–Jurassic transition, origination and extinction percentages and resulting diversity changes are calculated, with a particular focus on the end-Triassic mass extinction event. We show that gastropods suffered a loss of 56% of genera and subgenera during this event, which was higher than the average of marine life (46.8%). Among molluscs, gastropods were more strongly affected than bivalves (43.4%) but less than ammonoids, which were nearly annihilated. However, there were also pronounced differences among gastropod subclasses. The most strongly affected subclass was the Neritimorphia, which lost 72.7% of their Rhaetian genera; on the other extreme, the Heterobranchia remained nearly unaffected (11% loss). We analysed this extinction pattern with respect to larval development, palaeobiogeography, shell size, and anatomy and found that putative feeding of the pelagic larval stage, adaptation to tropical-temperate water temperatures, and flexibility of the mantle attachment were among the factors that might explain extinction resilience of heterobranchs during the end-Triassic crisis. Among molluscs, extinction magnitude roughly correlates with locomotion activity and thus metabolic rates. We suggest three potential kill mechanisms that could account for these observations: global warming, ocean acidification, and extinction of marine plankton. The end-Triassic extinction of gastropods therefore fits to proposed extinction scenarios for this event, which invoke the magmatic activity of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province as the ultimate cause of death. With respect to gastropods, the effect of the end-Triassic mass extinction was comparable to that of the end-Permian mass extinction. Notably, Heterobranchia was relatively little affected by both events; the extinction resilience of this subclass during times of global environmental changes was therefore possibly a key aspect of their subsequent evolutionary success.

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Impact of climate change on Arctic macroalgal communities

The Arctic region faces a warming rate that is more than twice the global average. Seaice loss, increase in precipitation and freshwater discharge, changes in underwater light, and amplification of ocean acidification modify benthic habitats and the communities they host. Here we synthesize existing information on the impacts of climate change on the macroalgal communities of Arctic coasts. We review the shortand long-term changes in environmental characteristics of shallow hard-bottomed Arctic coasts, the floristics of Arctic macroalgae (description, distribution, life-cycle, adaptations), the responses of their biological and ecological processes to climate change, the resulting winning and losing species, and the effects on ecosystem functioning. The focus of this review is on fucoid species, kelps, and coralline algae which are key ecosystem engineers in hard-bottom shallow areas of the Arctic, providing food, substrate, shelter, and nursery ground for many species. Changes in seasonality, benthic functional diversity, food-web structure, and carbon cycle are already occurring and are reshaping Arctic benthic ecosystems. Shallow communities are projected to shift from invertebrate-to algal-dominated communities. Fucoid and several kelp species are expected to largely spread and dominate the area with possible extinctions of native species. A considerable amount of functional diversity could be lost impacting the processing of land-derived nutrients and organic matter and significantly altering trophic structure and energy flow up to the apex consumers. However, many factors are not well understood yet, making it difficult to appreciate the current situation and predict the future coastal Arctic ecosystem. Efforts must be made to improve knowledge in key regions with proper seasonal coverage, taking into account interactions between stressors and across species.

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Crustacean ecology in a changing climate

Whilst crustaceans occupy a diversity of ecological niches and have adapted to many environmental challenges, relatively little is known on how the predicted changes associated with climate change will impact individuals, communities, species and ecosystems globally. Direct oceanic change to seawater temperature, pH, alkalinity, oxygen level and salinity and indirect impacts on weather, seasonality, food availability and changes in ecological networks will put pressure upon crustaceans to acclimate. There is now emerging evidence that behaviour, physiology, fitness and ultimately reproduction and survival of coastal crustaceans is altered under experimental climate change conditions, with most studies showing negative impacts. Nevertheless measurable endpoints, multigenerational and ecosystem studies are to date extremely rare and the full impact of climate change stress upon crustaceans is nowhere near fully understood.

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Gadolinium ecotoxicity is enhanced in a warmer and acidified changing ocean as shown by the surf clam Spisula solida through a multibiomarker approach


  • Spisula solida accumulated Gd after just one day.
  • Climate change did not impact Gd accumulation and elimination.
  • Gd was not proficiently eliminated in 7 days.
  • Lipid peroxidation was greater in clams exposed to warming and Gd.
  • Gd showed enhanced ecotoxicity in climate change conditions.


Humans have exhaustively combusted fossil fuels, and released pollutants into the environment, at continuously faster rates resulting in global average temperature increase and seawater pH decrease. Climate change is forecasted to exacerbate the effects of pollutants such as the emergent rare earth elements. Therefore, the objective of this study was to assess the combined effects of rising temperature (Δ = + 4 °C) and decreasing pH (Δ = − 0.4 pH units) on the bioaccumulation and elimination of gadolinium (Gd) in the bioindicator bivalve species Spisula solida (Surf clam). We exposed surf clams to 10 µg L−1 of GdCl3 for seven days, under warming, acidification, and their combination, followed by a depuration phase lasting for another 7 days and investigated the Gd bioaccumulation and oxidative stress-related responses after 1, 3 and 7 days of exposure and the elimination phase. Gadolinium accumulated after just one day with values reaching the highest after 7 days. Gadolinium was not eliminated after 7 days, and elimination is further hampered under climate change scenarios. Warming and acidification, and their interaction did not significantly impact Gd concentration. However, there was a significant interaction on clam’s biochemical response. The augmented total antioxidant capacity and lipid peroxidation values show that the significant impacts of Gd on the oxidative stress response are enhanced under warming while the increased superoxide dismutase and catalase values demonstrate the combined impact of Gd, warming & acidification. Ultimately, lipid damage was greater in clams exposed to warming & Gd, which emphasizes the enhanced toxic effects of Gd in a changing ocean.

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Climate change and species facilitation affect the recruitment of macroalgal marine forests

Marine forests are shrinking globally due to several anthropogenic impacts including climate change. Forest-forming macroalgae, such as Cystoseira s.l. species, can be particularly sensitive to environmental conditions (e.g. temperature increase, pollution or sedimentation), especially during early life stages. However, not much is known about their response to the interactive effects of ocean warming (OW) and acidification (OA). These drivers can also affect the performance and survival of crustose coralline algae, which are associated understory species likely playing a role in the recruitment of later successional species such as forest-forming macroalgae. We tested the interactive effects of elevated temperature, low pH and species facilitation on the recruitment of Cystoseira compressa. We demonstrate that the interactive effects of OW and OA negatively affect the recruitment of C. compressa and its associated coralline algae Neogoniolithon brassica-florida. The density of recruits was lower under the combinations OW and OA, while the size was negatively affected by the temperature increase but positively affected by the low pH. The results from this study show that the interactive effects of climate change and the presence of crustose coralline algae can have a negative impact on the recruitment of Cystoseira s.l. species. While new restoration techniques recently opened the door to marine forest restoration, our results show that the interactions of multiple drivers and species interactions have to be considered to achieve long-term population sustainability.

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Cell wall organic matrix composition and biomineralization across reef-building coralline algae under global change

Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are one of the most important benthic substrate consolidators on coral reefs through their ability to deposit calcium carbonate on an organic matrix in their cell walls. Discrete polysaccharides have been recognized for their role in biomineralization, yet little is known about the carbohydrate composition of organic matrices across CCA taxa and whether they have the capacity to modulate their organic matrix constituents amidst environmental change, particularly the threats of ocean acidification (OA) and warming. We simulated elevated pCO2 and temperature (IPCC RCP 8.5) and subjected four mid-shelf Great Barrier Reef species of CCA to two months of experimentation. To assess the variability in surficial monosaccharide composition and biomineralization across species and treatments, we determined the monosaccharide composition of the polysaccharides present in the cell walls of surficial algal tissue and quantified calcification. Our results revealed dissimilarity among species’ monosaccharide constituents, which suggests that organic matrices are composed of different polysaccharides across CCA taxa. We also found that species differentially modulate composition in response to ocean acidification and warming. Our findings suggest that both variability in composition and ability to modulate monosaccharide abundance may play a crucial role in surficial biomineralization dynamics under the stress of OA and global warming.

Continue reading ‘Cell wall organic matrix composition and biomineralization across reef-building coralline algae under global change’

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