Posts Tagged 'nematodes'

The combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on shallow-water meiofaunal assemblages


  • Higher seawater temperature did not effect meiofaunal abundance.
  • Lower seawater pH did reduce meiofaunal abundance and species richness.
  • Nematode assemblages showed increased dominance under a future OW/OA scenario.


Climate change due to increased anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is causing an increase in seawater temperatures referred to as ocean warming and a decrease in seawater pH, referred to as ocean acidification. The meiofauna play an important role in the ecology of marine ecosystems and the functions they provide. Using microcosms, meiofaunal assemblages were exposed to two temperatures (15 and 19 °C) and two pHs (pCO2 of 400 and 1000 ppm), both individually and in combination, for a period of 90 days. The hypothesis that increased temperature will increase meiofaunal abundance was not supported. The hypothesis that a reduced pH will reduce meiofaunal abundance and species richness was supported. The combination of future conditions of temperature and pH (19 °C and pCO2 of 1000 ppm) did not affect overall abundance but the structure of the nematode assemblage changed becoming dominated by a few opportunistic species.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on shallow-water meiofaunal assemblages’

Short-term CO2 exposure and temperature rise effects on metazoan meiofauna and free-living nematodes in sandy and muddy sediments: Results from a flume experiment

Global concern over increasing CO2 emissions, and the resultant CO2 driven temperature rises and changes in seawater chemistry, necessitates the advancement of understanding into how these changes will affect marine life now and in the future. Here we report on an experimental investigation into the effects of increased CO2concentration and elevated temperature on sedimentary meiofaunal communities. Cohesive (muddy) and non-cohesive (sandy) sediments were collected from the Eden Estuary in St. Andrews, Scotland, UK, placed within a flume setup and exposed to 2 levels of CO2 concentration (380 and 750 ppmv, current at the time of the experiment, and predicted CO2 concentration by 2100, respectively) and 2 temperature levels (12 °C and 16 °C, current in-situ and predicted temperature by 2100, respectively). We investigated the metazoan meiofauna and nematode communities before and after 28 days of exposure under these experimental conditions. The most determinative factor for abundance, diversity and community structure of meiofauna and nematodes was sediment type: on all levels, communities were significantly different between sand and mud sediments which agrees with what is generally known about the influence of sediment structure on meiofaunal organisms. Few CO2 and temperature effects were observed, suggesting that meiofauna and nematodes are generally much less responsive than, for instance, microbial communities and macrofauna to these environmental changes in estuarine environments, where organisms are naturally exposed to a fluctuating environment. This was corroborated by the observed effects related to the different seasons in which the samples were taken from the field to run the experiment. After 28 days, meiofauna and nematode communities in muddy sediments showed a greater response to increased CO2 concentration and temperature rise than in sandy sediments. However, further study is needed to investigate the underlying mechanisms and meiofauna species-specific resilience and responses to ocean acidification and warming, and their interactions with other biota, to understand what such changes may mean for meiofauna communities and the ecosystem processes and functions they contribute to.

Continue reading ‘Short-term CO2 exposure and temperature rise effects on metazoan meiofauna and free-living nematodes in sandy and muddy sediments: Results from a flume experiment’

Impact of predicted climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community

Changes in marine communities in response to elevated CO2 have been reported but information on how representatives of the benthic lower trophic levels will be impacted remains scarce. A laboratory experiment was conducted to evaluate the impact of different climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community. Samples of the meiofauna community were collected from the coral reef subtidal zone of Serrambi beach (Ipojuca, Pernambuco, Brazil), using artificial substrate units. The units were exposed to control treatments and to three climate change scenarios, and collected after 15 and 29 d. Important changes in the meiofauna community structure were observed after 15 d of exposure. The major meiofauna groups exhibited divergent responses to the various scenarios. Although polychaetes were negatively affected after 29 d in the most severe scenario (Scenario III), harpacticoid copepods were negatively affected in Scenarios II and III after 15 and 29 d. Harpacticoid nauplii were strongly and negatively affected in all scenarios. In contrast, Nematoda exhibited higher densities in all scenarios. To the best of our knowledge, this community-based study was the first to observe how meiofauna organisms from a coral reef environment react to the synergetic effects of reductions in seawater pH and increased temperature.

Continue reading ‘Impact of predicted climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community’

Simulated leakage of high pCO2 water negatively impacts bivalve dominated infaunal communities from the Western Baltic Sea

Carbon capture and storage is promoted as a mitigation method counteracting the increase of atmospheric CO2 levels. However, at this stage, environmental consequences of potential CO2 leakage from sub-seabed storage sites are still largely unknown. In a 3-month-long mesocosm experiment, this study assessed the impact of elevated pCO2 levels (1,500 to 24,400 μatm) on Cerastoderma edule dominated benthic communities from the Baltic Sea. Mortality of C. edule was significantly increased in the highest treatment (24,400 μatm) and exceeded 50%. Furthermore, mortality of small size classes (0–1 cm) was significantly increased in treatment levels ≥6,600 μatm. First signs of external shell dissolution became visible at ≥1,500 μatm, holes were observed at >6,600 μatm. C. edule body condition decreased significantly at all treatment levels (1,500–24,400 μatm). Dominant meiofauna taxa remained unaffected in abundance. Densities of calcifying meiofauna taxa (i.e. Gastropoda and Ostracoda) decreased in high CO2 treatments (>6,600 μatm), while the non – calcifying Gastrotricha significantly increased in abundance at 24,400 μatm. In addition, microbial community composition was altered at the highest pCO2 level. We conclude that strong CO2 leakage can alter benthic infauna community composition at multiple trophic levels, likely due to high mortality of the dominant macrofauna species C. edule.

Continue reading ‘Simulated leakage of high pCO2 water negatively impacts bivalve dominated infaunal communities from the Western Baltic Sea’

Effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on an intertidal meiobenthic community

In the near future, the marine environment is likely to be subjected to simultaneous increases in temperature and decreased pH. The potential effects of these changes on intertidal, meiofaunal assemblages were investigated using a mesocosm experiment. Artificial Substrate Units containing meiofauna from the extreme low intertidal zone were exposed for 60 days to eight experimental treatments (four replicates for each treatment) comprising four pH levels: 8.0 (ambient control), 7.7 & 7.3 (predicted changes associated with ocean acidification), and 6.7 (CO2 point-source leakage from geological storage), crossed with two temperatures: 12 °C (ambient control) and 16 °C (predicted). Community structure, measured using major meiofauna taxa was significantly affected by pH and temperature. Copepods and copepodites showed the greatest decline in abundance in response to low pH and elevated temperature. Nematodes increased in abundance in response to low pH and temperature rise, possibly caused by decreased predation and competition for food owing to the declining macrofauna density. Nematode species composition changed significantly between the different treatments, and was affected by both seawater acidification and warming. Estimated nematode species diversity, species evenness, and the maturity index, were substantially lower at 16 °C, whereas trophic diversity was slightly higher at 16 °C except at pH 6.7. This study has demonstrated that the combination of elevated levels of CO2 and ocean warming may have substantial effects on structural and functional characteristics of meiofaunal and nematode communities, and that single stressor experiments are unlikely to encompass the complexity of abiotic and biotic interactions. At the same time, ecological interactions may lead to complex community responses to pH and temperature changes in the interstitial environment.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on an intertidal meiobenthic community’

Effects of seawater acidification on a coral reef meiofauna community

Despite the increasing risk that ocean acidification will modify benthic communities, great uncertainty remains about how this impact will affect the lower trophic levels, such as members of the meiofauna. A mesocosm experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of water acidification on a phytal meiofauna community from a coral reef. Community samples collected from the coral reef subtidal zone (Recife de Fora Municipal Marine Park, Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil), using artificial substrate units, were exposed to a control pH (ambient seawater) and to three levels of seawater acidification (pH reductions of 0.3, 0.6, and 0.9 units below ambient) and collected after 15 and 30 d. After 30 d of exposure, major changes in the structure of the meiofauna community were observed in response to reduced pH. The major meiofauna groups showed divergent responses to acidification. Harpacticoida and Polychaeta densities did not show significant differences due to pH. Nematoda, Ostracoda, Turbellaria, and Tardigrada exhibited their highest densities in low-pH treatments (especially at the pH reduction of 0.6 units, pH 7.5), while harpacticoid nauplii were strongly negatively affected by low pH. This community-based mesocosm study supports previous suggestions that ocean acidification induces important changes in the structure of marine benthic communities. Considering the importance of meiofauna in the food web of coral reef ecosystems, the results presented here demonstrate that the trophic functioning of coral reefs is seriously threatened by ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Effects of seawater acidification on a coral reef meiofauna community’

The response of abyssal organisms to low pH conditions during a series of CO2-release experiments simulating deep-sea carbon sequestration

The effects of low-pH, high-pCO2 conditions on deep-sea organisms were examined during four deep-sea CO2 release experiments simulating deep-ocean C sequestration by the direct injection of CO2 into the deep sea. We examined the survival of common deep-sea, benthic organisms (microbes; macrofauna, dominated by Polychaeta, Nematoda, Crustacea, Mollusca; megafauna, Echinodermata, Mollusca, Pisces) exposed to low-pH waters emanating as a dissolution plume from pools of liquid carbon dioxide released on the seabed during four abyssal CO2-release experiments. Microbial abundance in deep-sea sediments was unchanged in one experiment, but increased under environmental hypercapnia during another, where the microbial assemblage may have benefited indirectly from the negative impact of low-pH conditions on other taxa. Lower abyssal metazoans exhibited low survival rates near CO2 pools. No urchins or holothurians survived during 30–42 days of exposure to episodic, but severe environmental hypercapnia during one experiment (E1; pH reduced by as much as ca. 1.4 units). These large pH reductions also caused 75% mortality for the deep-sea amphipod, Haploops lodo, near CO2 pools. Survival under smaller pH reductions (ΔpH<0.4 units) in other experiments (E2, E3, E5) was higher for all taxa, including echinoderms. Cephalopods, gastropods, and fish were more tolerant than most other taxa. The gastropod Mohnia vernalis and octopus Benthoctopus sp. survived exposure to pH reductions that episodically reached −0.3 pH units. Ninety percent of abyssal zoarcids (Pachycara bulbiceps) survived exposure to pH changes reaching ca. −0.3 pH units during 30–42 day-long experiments.

Continue reading ‘The response of abyssal organisms to low pH conditions during a series of CO2-release experiments simulating deep-sea carbon sequestration’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book