Posts Tagged 'North Atlantic'

Ocean acidification effects on mesozooplankton community development: Results from a long-term mesocosm experiment

Ocean acidification may affect zooplankton directly by decreasing in pH, as well as indirectly via trophic pathways, where changes in carbon availability or pH effects on primary producers may cascade up the food web thereby altering ecosystem functioning and community composition. Here, we present results from a mesocosm experiment carried out during 113 days in the Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak coast of Sweden, studying plankton responses to predicted end-of-century pCO2 levels. We did not observe any pCO2 effect on the diversity of the mesozooplankton community, but a positive pCO2 effect on the total mesozooplankton abundance. Furthermore, we observed species-specific sensitivities to pCO2 in the two major groups in this experiment, copepods and hydromedusae. Also stage-specific pCO2 sensitivities were detected in copepods, with copepodites being the most responsive stage. Focusing on the most abundant species, Pseudocalanus acuspes, we observed that copepodites were significantly more abundant in the high-pCO2 treatment during most of the experiment, probably fuelled by phytoplankton community responses to high-pCO2 conditions. Physiological and reproductive output was analysed on P. acuspes females through two additional laboratory experiments, showing no pCO2 effect on females’ condition nor on egg hatching. Overall, our results suggest that the Gullmar Fjord mesozooplankton community structure is not expected to change much under realistic end-of-century OA scenarios as used here. However, the positive pCO2 effect detected on mesozooplankton abundance could potentially affect biomass transfer to higher trophic levels in the future.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification effects on mesozooplankton community development: Results from a long-term mesocosm experiment’

Spatial patterns of phytoplankton composition and upper-ocean biogeochemistry do not follow carbonate chemistry gradients in north-west European Shelf seas

A key difficulty in ocean acidification (OA) research is to predict its impact after physiological, phenotypic and genotypic adaptation has had time to take place. Observational datasets can be a useful tool in addressing this issue. During a cruise in June-July 2011, measurements of upper-ocean biogeochemical variables, climatically active gases and plankton community composition were collected from northwestern European seas. We used various multivariate statistical techniques to assess the relative influences of carbonate chemistry and other environmental factors on these response variables. We found that the spatial patterns in plankton communities were driven more by nutrient availability and physical variables than by carbonate chemistry. The best subset of variables able to account for phytoplankton community structure was the euphotic zone depth, silicic acid availability, mixed layer average irradiance and nitrate concentration (59% of variance explained). The spatial variations in phytoplankton and coccolithophores species composition were both found to be more strongly associated with nutrients and physical variables than carbonate chemistry, with the latter only explaining 14% and 9% of the variance, respectively. The plankton community composition and contribution of calcifying organisms was not observed to change under lower calcite saturation state (B) conditions, although no regions of undersaturation (B < 1) were encountered during the cruise. Carbonate chemistry played a more prominent, but still secondary, role in determining dinoflagellate and diatom assemblage composition (20% and 13% of total variance explained, respectively). Nutrient and physical variables also explained more of the spatial variations of most climatically-active gases and selected biogeochemical response variables, although some also appeared to be influenced by carbonate chemistry. This observational study has demonstrated that ocean acidification research needs to be set in context with other environmental forcing variables to fully appreciate the primary, or indeed secondary, role that increasing fCO2 has on biological communities and associated biogeochemical rates.

Continue reading ‘Spatial patterns of phytoplankton composition and upper-ocean biogeochemistry do not follow carbonate chemistry gradients in north-west European Shelf seas’

Interactive effects of ocean acidification and warming on growth, fitness and survival of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa under different food availabilities

Cold-water corals are important bioengineers that provide structural habitat for a diverse species community. About 70 % of the presently known scleractinian cold-water corals are expected to be exposed to corrosive waters by the end of this century due to ocean acidification. At the same time, the corals will experience a steady warming of their environment. Studies on the sensitivity of cold-water corals to climate change mainly concentrated on single stressors in short-term incubation approaches, thus not accounting for possible long-term acclimatisation and the interactive effects of multiple stressors. Besides, preceding studies did not test for possible compensatory effects of a change in food availability. In this study a multifactorial long-term experiment (6 months) was conducted with end-of-the-century scenarios of elevated pCO2 and temperature levels in order to examine the acclimatisation potential of the cosmopolitan cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa to future climate change related threats. For the first time multiple ocean change impacts including the role of the nutritional status were tested on L. pertusa with regard to growth, ‘fitness’, and survival. Our results show that while L. pertusa is capable of calcifying under elevated CO2 and temperature, its condition (fitness) is more strongly influenced by food availability rather than changes in seawater chemistry. Whereas growth rates increased at elevated temperature (+ 4°C), they decreased under elevated CO2 concentrations (~ 800 µatm). No difference in net growth was detected when corals were exposed to the combination of increased CO2 and temperature compared to ambient conditions. A 10-fold higher food supply stimulated growth under elevated temperature, which was not observed in the combined treatment. This indicates that increased food supply does not compensate for adverse effects of ocean acidification and underlines the importance of considering the nutritional status in studies investigating organism responses under environmental changes.

Continue reading ‘Interactive effects of ocean acidification and warming on growth, fitness and survival of the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa under different food availabilities’

Intra-specific variation reveals potential for adaptation to ocean acidification in a cold-water coral from the Gulf of Mexico

Ocean acidification, the decrease in seawater pH due to the absorption of atmospheric CO2, profoundly threatens the survival of a large number of marine species. Cold-water corals are considered to be among the most vulnerable organisms to ocean acidification because they are already exposed to relatively low pH and corresponding low calcium carbonate saturation states (Ω). Lophelia pertusa is a globally distributed cold-water scleractinian coral that provides critical three-dimensional habitat for many ecologically and economically significant species. In this study, four different genotypes of L. pertusa were exposed to three pH treatments (pH=7.60, 7.75, and 7.90) over a short (two-week) experimental period, and six genotypes were exposed to two pH treatments (pH=7.60, and 7.90) over a long (six-month) experimental period. Their physiological response was measured as net calcification rate and the activity of carbonic anhydrase, a key enzyme in the calcification pathway. In the short-term experiment, net calcification rates did not significantly change with pH, although they were highly variable in the low pH treatment, including some genotypes that maintained positive net calcification in undersaturated conditions. In the six-month experiment, average net calcification was significantly reduced at low pH, with corals exhibiting net dissolution of skeleton. However, one of the same genotypes that maintained positive net calcification (+0.04% day-1) under the low pH treatment in the short-term experiment also maintained positive net calcification longer than the other genotypes in the long-term experiment, although none of the corals maintained positive calcification for the entire 6 months. Average carbonic anhydrase activity was not affected by pH, although some genotypes exhibited small, insignificant, increases in activity after the sixth month. Our results suggest that while net calcification in L. pertusa is adversely affected by ocean acidification in the long term, it is possible that some genotypes may prove to be more resilient than others, particularly to short perturbations of the carbonate system. These results provide evidence that populations of L. pertusa in the Gulf of Mexico may contain the genetic variability necessary to support an adaptive response to future ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Intra-specific variation reveals potential for adaptation to ocean acidification in a cold-water coral from the Gulf of Mexico’

Changes in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the Mauritanian-Cape Verde upwelling region between 2005 and 2012

Coastal upwelling along the eastern margins of major ocean basins represent regions of large economic importance due to the high biological productivity. However, the physical forcing of upwelling processes that favor the production in these areas are being affected by global warming, which will modify the intensity of the upwelling and, consequently, the carbon dioxide cycle. For this reason, the role of observations in addressing any climate change impacts on the global carbon cycle in areas of upwelling is of great importance. Monthly high resolution surface experimental data for temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the Mauritanian-Cape Verde upwelling region from 2005 to 2012 are shown. This data set provides direct evidence of seasonal and interannual changes in the physical and biochemical processes. They confirmed an upwelling intensification and an increase in the CO2 outgassing of 1 Tg a year in one of the four most important upwelling regions of the planet due to wind increase, even when primary production seems to also be reinforced. This increase in CO2 intake together with the observed decrease in sea surface temperature at the location of the Mauritanian Cape Blanc, 21º N, produced a pH decrease of −0.003 ± 0.001 per year.

Continue reading ‘Changes in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the Mauritanian-Cape Verde upwelling region between 2005 and 2012’

High levels of solar radiation offset impacts of ocean acidification on calcifying and non-calcifying strains of Emiliania huxleyi

Coccolithophores, a globally distributed group of marine phytoplankton, showed diverse responses to ocean acidification (OA) and to combinations of OA with other environmental factors. While their growth can be enhanced and calcification be hindered by OA under constant indoor light, fluctuation of solar radiation with ultraviolet irradiances might offset such effects. In this study, when a calcifying and a non-calcifying strain of Emiliania huxleyi were grown at 2 CO2 concentrations (low CO2 [LC]: 395 µatm; high CO2 [HC]: 1000 µatm) under different levels of incident solar radiation in the presence of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), HC and increased levels of solar radiation acted synergistically to enhance the growth in the calcifying strain but not in the non-calcifying strain. HC enhanced the particulate organic carbon (POC) and nitrogen (PON) productions in both strains, and this effect was more obvious at high levels of solar radiation. While HC decreased calcification at low solar radiation levels, it did not cause a significant effect at high levels of solar radiation, implying that a sufficient supply of light energy can offset the impact of OA on the calcifying strain. Our data suggest that increased light exposure, which is predicted to happen with shoaling of the upper mixing layer due to progressive warming, could counteract the impact of OA on coccolithophores distributed within this layer.

Continue reading ‘High levels of solar radiation offset impacts of ocean acidification on calcifying and non-calcifying strains of Emiliania huxleyi’

Marine fish intestine responds to ocean acidification producing more carbonate aggregates

Marine fish contribute to the carbon cycle by producing mineralized intestinal aggregates generated as by-products of their osmoregulation. Here we aimed at characterizing the control of intestinal aggregate production in the gilthead sea bream in response to near future increases of environmental CO2. Our results demonstrate that hypercapnia (800 and 1200 μatm CO2) elicits higher intestine epithelial HCO3- secretion and the subsequent parallel increase of intestinal aggregate production when compared to present values (400 μatm CO2). Intestinal gene expression analysis revealed the up-regulation of crucial transport mechanisms involved not only in the intestinal secretion cascade (Slc4a4, Slc26a3 and Slc26a6) of sea bream, but also in other mechanisms involved in intestinal ion uptake linked to water absorption such as NKCC2 and the Aquaporin 1b. These results highlight the important role of fish in the marine carbon cycle, and their potential growing impact of intestinal biomineralization processes in the scenario of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Marine fish intestine responds to ocean acidification producing more carbonate aggregates’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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