Posts Tagged 'North Atlantic'

Multidecadal fCO2 increase along the United States southeast coastal margin

Coastal margins could be hotspots for acidification due to terrestrial-influenced CO2 sources. Currently there are no long-term (>20 years) records from biologically important coastal environments that could demonstrate sea surface CO2 fugacity (fCO2) and pH trends. Here, multi-decadal fCO2 trends are calculated from underway and moored time series observations along the United States southeast coastal margin, also referred to as the South Atlantic Bight (SAB). fCO2 trends across the SAB, derived from ∼26 years of cruises and ∼9.5 years from a moored time series, range from 3.0 to 4.5 µatm y−1, and are greater than the open ocean increases. The pH decline related to the fCO2 increases could be as much as -0.004 y−1; a rate greater than that expected from atmospheric-influenced pH alone. We provide evidence that fCO2 increases and pH decreases on an ocean margin can be faster than those predicted for the open ocean from atmospheric influence alone. We conclude that a substantial fCO2 increase across the marginal SAB is due to both increasing temperature on the middle and outer shelves, but to lateral land-ocean interactions in the coastal zone and on inner shelf.

Continue reading ‘Multidecadal fCO2 increase along the United States southeast coastal margin’

Competitive interactions moderate the effects of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 on the health and functioning of oysters

Global increases in sea temperatures and atmospheric concentrations of CO2 may affect the health of calcifying shellfish. Little is known, however, about how competitive interactions within and between species may influence how species respond to multiple stressors. We experimentally assessed separate and combined effects of temperature (12 or 16°C) and atmospheric CO2 concentrations (400 and 1000 ppm) on the health and biological functioning of native (Ostrea edulis) and invasive (Crassostrea gigas) oysters held alone and in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. We found evidence of reduced phagocytosis under elevated CO2 and, when combined with increased temperature, a reduction in the number of circulating haemocytes. Generally, C. gigas showed lower respiration rates relative to O. edulis when the species were in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. In contrast, O. edulis showed a higher respiration rate relative to C. gigas when held in an interspecific mixture and exhibited lower clearance rates when held in intraspecific or interspecific mixtures. Overall, clearance rates of C. gigas were consistently greater than those of O. edulis. Collectively, our findings indicate that a species’ ability to adapt metabolic processes to environmental conditions can be modified by biotic context and may make some species (here, C. gigas) competitively superior and less vulnerable to future climatic scenarios at local scales. If these conclusions are generic, the relative role of species interactions, and other biotic parameters, in altering the outcomes of climate change will require much greater research emphasis.

Continue reading ‘Competitive interactions moderate the effects of elevated temperature and atmospheric CO2 on the health and functioning of oysters’

Environmental controls on modern scleractinian coral and reef-scale calcification

Modern reef-building corals sustain a wide range of ecosystem services because of their ability to build calcium carbonate reef systems. The influence of environmental variables on coral calcification rates has been extensively studied, but our understanding of their relative importance is limited by the absence of in situ observations and the ability to decouple the interactions between different properties. We show that temperature is the primary driver of coral colony (Porites astreoides and Diploria labyrinthiformis) and reef-scale calcification rates over a 2-year monitoring period from the Bermuda coral reef. On the basis of multimodel climate simulations (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) and assuming sufficient coral nutrition, our results suggest that P. astreoides and D. labyrinthiformis coral calcification rates in Bermuda could increase throughout the 21st century as a result of gradual warming predicted under a minimum CO2 emissions pathway [representative concentration pathway (RCP) 2.6] with positive 21st-century calcification rates potentially maintained under a reduced CO2 emissions pathway (RCP 4.5). These results highlight the potential benefits of rapid reductions in global anthropogenic CO2 emissions for 21st-century Bermuda coral reefs and the ecosystem services they provide.

Continue reading ‘Environmental controls on modern scleractinian coral and reef-scale calcification’

Effects of pH and temperature on egg hatching success of the marine planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus

Calanus finmarchicus is a predominant planktonic copepod in the northern North Atlantic Ocean, where it is a fundamental link in the transfer of energy from phytoplankton to fish. Here, we investigate whether ocean acidification at present-day and future levels will cause a significant decrease in the egg hatching success (HS) of C. finmarchicus in the Gulf of Maine. Eggs spawned by female C. finmarchicus collected from the coastal Gulf of Maine were incubated in seawater acidified by addition of CO2 to selected pH levels at 3.5 °C (in a single experiment), 6 °C and 14–15 °C (in multiple experiments). HS was unaffected by pH between 6.58 and 8.0 at 3.5 and 6 °C, and between 7.1 and 8.0 when incubated at 15 °C. A significant interactive effect between temperature and pH on HS was found using a two-way ANOVA of the data from experiments at 6 °C and 14–15 °C, temperatures that are experienced in summer in the Gulf of Maine. HS of eggs spawned from C. finmarchicus females immediately after capture from a coastal station was significantly reduced at pH ≤ 7.0 when incubated at 14–15 °C, although HS of eggs collected from well-fed females in the laboratory in water from the Damariscotta Estuary was not significantly reduced at pH levels as low as 6.6 at 15 °C. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that parental history and possibly maternal provisioning can influence capability of eggs to adjust to lower pH environments. While an interaction between pH and temperatures experienced by C. finmarchicus at the southern edge of its biogeographic range was observed, the pH at which this interaction occurred is substantially lower than pH levels predicted for the surface ocean over the surface ocean.

Continue reading ‘Effects of pH and temperature on egg hatching success of the marine planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus’

Differences in neurochemical profiles of two gadid species under ocean warming and acidification


Exposure to future ocean acidification scenarios may alter the behaviour of marine teleosts through interference with neuroreceptor functioning. So far, most studies investigated effects of ocean acidification on the behaviour of fish, either isolated or in combination with environmental temperature. However, only few physiological studies on this issue were conducted despite the putative neurophysiological origin of the CO2-induced behavioural changes. Here, we present the metabolic consequences of long-term exposure to projected ocean acidification (396–548 μatm PCO2 under control and 915–1272 μatm under treatment conditions) and parallel warming in the brain of two related fish species, polar cod (Boreogadus saida, exposed to 0 °C, 3 °C, 6 °C and 8 °C) and Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua, exposed to 3 °C, 8 °C, 12 °C and 16 °C). It has been shown that B. saida is behaviourally vulnerable to future ocean acidification scenarios, while G. morhua demonstrates behavioural resilience.


We found that temperature alters brain osmolyte, amino acid, choline and neurotransmitter concentrations in both species indicating thermal responses particularly in osmoregulation and membrane structure. In B. saida, changes in amino acid and osmolyte metabolism at the highest temperature tested were also affected by CO2, possibly emphasizing energetic limitations. We did not observe changes in neurotransmitters, energy metabolites, membrane components or osmolytes that might serve as a compensatory mechanism against CO2 induced behavioural impairments. In contrast to B. saida, such temperature limitation was not detected in G. morhua; however, at 8 °C, CO2 induced an increase in the levels of metabolites of the glutamate/GABA-glutamine cycle potentially indicating greater GABAergic activity in G.morhua. Further, increased availability of energy-rich substrates was detected under these conditions.


Our results indicate a change of GABAergic metabolism in the nervous system of Gadus morhua close to the optimum of the temperature range. Since a former study showed that juvenile G. morhua might be slightly more behaviourally resilient to CO2 at this respective temperature, we conclude that the observed change of GABAergic metabolism could be involved in counteracting OA induced behavioural changes. This may serve as a fitness advantage of this respective species compared to B. saida in a future warmer, more acidified polar ocean.

Continue reading ‘Differences in neurochemical profiles of two gadid species under ocean warming and acidification’

Combined, short-term exposure to reduced seawater pH and elevated temperature induces community shifts in an intertidal meiobenthic assemblage

In future global change scenarios the surface ocean will experience continuous acidification and rising temperatures. While effects of both stressors on marine, benthic communities are fairly well studied, consequences of the interaction of both factors remain largely unknown. We performed a short-term microcosm experiment exposing a soft-bottom community from an intertidal flat in the Westerscheldt estuary to two levels of seawater pH (ambient pHT = 7.9, reduced pHT = 7.5) and temperature (10 °C ambient and 13 °C elevated temperature) in a crossed design. After 8 weeks, meiobenthic community structure and nematode staining ratios, as a proxy for mortality, were compared between treatments and structural changes were related to the prevailing abiotic conditions in the respective treatments (pore water pHT, sediment grain size, total organic matter content, total organic carbon and nitrogen content, phytopigment concentrations and carbonate concentration). Pore water pHT profiles were significantly altered by pH and temperature manipulations and the combination of elevated temperature and reduced pH intensified the already more acidic porewater below the oxic zone. Meiofauna community composition was significantly affected by the combination of reduced pH and elevated temperature resulting in increased densities of predatory Platyhelminthes, reduced densities of Copepoda and Nauplii and complete absence of Gastrotricha compared to the experimental control. Furthermore, nematode staining ratio was elevated when seawater pH was reduced pointing towards reduced degradation rates of dead nematode bodies. The observed synergistic interactions of pH and temperature on meiobenthic communities and abiotic sediment characteristics underline the importance of multistressor experiments when addressing impacts of global change on the marine environment.

Continue reading ‘Combined, short-term exposure to reduced seawater pH and elevated temperature induces community shifts in an intertidal meiobenthic assemblage’

Fluctuating seawater pH/pCO2 regimes are more energetically expensive than static pH/pCO2 levels in the mussel Mytilus edulis

Ocean acidification (OA) studies typically use stable open-ocean pH or CO2 values. However, species living within dynamic coastal environments can naturally experience wide fluctuations in abiotic factors, suggesting their responses to stable pH conditions may not be reflective of either present or near-future conditions. Here we investigate the physiological responses of the mussel Mytilus edulis to variable seawater pH conditions over short- (6 h) and medium-term (2 weeks) exposures under both current and near-future OA scenarios. Mussel haemolymph pH closely mirrored that of seawater pH over short-term changes of 1 pH unit with acidosis or recovery accordingly, highlighting a limited capacity for acid–base regulation. After 2 weeks, mussels under variable pH conditions had significantly higher metabolic rates, antioxidant enzyme activities and lipid peroxidation than those exposed to static pH under both current and near-future OA scenarios. Static near-future pH conditions induced significant acid–base disturbances and lipid peroxidation compared with the static present-day conditions but did not affect the metabolic rate. These results clearly demonstrate that living in naturally variable environments is energetically more expensive than living in static seawater conditions, which has consequences for how we extrapolate future OA responses in coastal species.

Continue reading ‘Fluctuating seawater pH/pCO2 regimes are more energetically expensive than static pH/pCO2 levels in the mussel Mytilus edulis’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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