Posts Tagged 'North Pacific'

Ocean acidification alters the burrowing behaviour, Ca2+/Mg2+-ATPase activity, metabolism, and gene expression of a bivalve species, Sinonovacula constricta

Although the impacts of ocean acidification on fertilization, embryonic development, calcification, immune response, and behaviour have been well studied in a variety of marine organisms, the physiological and molecular mechanism manifesting acidification stress on behavioural response remains poorly understood. Therefore, the impacts of future ocean acidification scenarios (pH at 7.8, 7.6, and 7.4) on the burrowing behaviour, Ca2+/Mg2+-ATPase activity, metabolism, and expression of energy-producing-related genes of the razor clam Sinonovacula constricta were investigated in the present study. The results showed that elevated CO2 partial pressure ( pCO2) (pH at 7.6 and 7.4) led to a significant reduction in the digging depth of the razor clam. In addition, exposure to pCO2-acidified seawater depressed the metabolism and activity of Ca2+/Mg2+-ATPase, which may partially contribute to the reduced digging depth detected. Furthermore, the expression of energy-producing-related genes was generally induced by exposure to acidified seawater and could be accounted for by an increased energy demand under acidification stress. The results obtained suggest ocean acidification may exert a behavioural impact through altering physiological condition in the razor clam.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification alters the burrowing behaviour, Ca2+/Mg2+-ATPase activity, metabolism, and gene expression of a bivalve species, Sinonovacula constricta’

Effects of ocean acidification and eutrophication on the macroalgae Ulva spp.

Ocean acidification is the increased absorption of atmospheric CO2 in seawater and the consequent decrease in pH. This phenomenon is occurring throughout the global oceans while land use changes and large human populations near coasts are linked to increased nutrient concentrations in seawater. Ulva spp. blooms caused by nutrient enrichment occur regularly in some parts of the world and are known as green tides. There is concern that ocean acidification may increase green tides and intensify ecological and economic damages. Ulva spp. can utilize bicarbonate (HCO3-) as an inorganic carbon source, but this comes at an energetic cost as HCO3- must be converted to CO2 before it can be used for carbon fixation. Therefore, increased utilization of pCO2 with ocean acidification may benefit Ulva spp. Ocean acidification and eutrophication will occur simultaneously in many coastal ecosystems. The goal of the following investigations was to determine the effects of ocean acidification and nutrient enrichment alone and their interaction on photosynthetic, nutrient, and growth physiology of Ulva spp. In Chapter 2, the response of Ulva australis to pHT and ammonium (NH4+) enrichment were investigated in a seven day growth experiment using a range of pHT (7.56 – 7.84) and ambient and enriched NH4+ concentrations. I measured relative growth rates (RGRs), NH4+ uptake rates and pools, photosynthetic characteristics, and tissue carbon and nitrogen content. There was no interaction of pHT and NH4+ enrichment on the physiological parameters. The RGR was not affected by pHT, but was an average of two times higher in the enriched NH4+ treatment. rETRmax, total chlorophyll, and tissue nitrogen increased with both NH4+ enrichment and decreased pHT. The C:N ratio decreased with decreasing pH and with NH4+ enrichment. Although rETRmax increased and the C:N ratio decreased under decreased pH, these metabolic changes did not translate to higher growth rates. The results show that U. australis growth and physiology is more sensitive to NH4+ than it is to pH and that there is no interactive effect of NH4+ enrichment and decreasing pH. In Chapter 3, Ulva lactuca was grown for 22 days under a range of pCO2 and NH4+ concentrations and a multiple linear regression was used to analyze RGRs, NH4+ and NO3- pools, in situ NH4+ and NO3- uptake rates, tissue carbon and nitrogen content, carbohydrate and protein concentrations, and photosynthesis irradiance curves (P-I curves). The results from model selection and model-averaging techniques allowed me to make predictive models across a range of relevant ocean acidification and eutrophication scenarios and measure the effect sizes of pCO2, NH4+ enrichment, and their interaction. Overall, there was no effect of pCO2 and NH4+ on RGRs after day 5. However, there was a synergistic effect of pCO2 and NH4+ enrichment on the growth rates during days 0 – 5. When pCO2 and NH4+ concentrations increased simultaneously, NO3- uptake rates increased, which may have contributed to increased growth as seen in days 0 – 5. Maximum photosynthetic rates (Pmax) decreased with increasing pCO2 and there was a positive interaction of pCO2 and NH4+ on indicating CCMs were altered under these conditions. This shows that under high light intensities, Pmax was negatively affected by pCO2 and CCMs are not altered when nutrients are limited. Ultimately, there was no longer-term effect of ocean acidification and eutrophication on Ulva lactuca growth. Nutrient enrichment is a major cause of green tide blooms around the world and Ulva australis had the ability to enhance nutrient, photosynthetic, and growth physiology with NH4+ enrichment. Conversely, Ulva lactuca collected from a eutrophic environment, did not respond to NH4+ in terms of growth. Both chapters provided evidence that ocean acidification is unlikely to affect the growth rates of Ulva spp. However, the exception was a positive interactive effect of pCO2 and NH4+ enrichment on the growth rate of U. lactuca during the first five days, suggesting ocean acidification could play a role in initiating Ulva spp. blooms in a eutrophic environment. This could be an important consideration for determining how green tides will be affected by ocean acidification in coastal areas where nutrient enrichment occurs in pulses, resulting in transiently increased nitrogen concentrations.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification and eutrophication on the macroalgae Ulva spp.’

The effects of ocean warming and acidification on seaweed growth and urchin grazing

Human produced carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are currently higher than previously recorded and are continuing to rise at alarming rates. This greenhouse gas is the primary driver for changing climate scenarios highlighted by an approximate 1°C increase in sea surface temperatures. In addition to driving global warming, CO2 is readily absorbed by the oceans, resulting in changes in seawater chemistry and a decrease in seawater pH (acidification). The singular effects of ocean warming and acidification are known to impact marine organisms; lesser known, however, are the combined effects of these stressors, particularly on biotic interactions. This study aimed to expand on the knowledge of how these abiotic stressors affect seaweed and seaweed-herbivore interactions by comparing seaweed growth and herbivore feeding rate and selectivity under combinations of current and modelled future temperature (18°C and 21°C) and pH (8.1 and 7.8) conditions. Growth rates of two seaweed species, a calcified red alga (Lithothrix aspergillum) and a non-calcified brown alga (giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera), were compared among manipulated seawater conditions. In addition, the feeding rates and feeding selectivity of a common sea urchin herbivore (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) for these two seaweeds were compared among water conditions. Lithothrix was not affected by the singular effects of pH or temperature but under combined future temperature and pH conditions, the seaweed performed poorly. While acidification is known to affect the ability of calcifying species to deposit calcium carbonate, Lithothrix appeared to only be impacted by acidification under temperature stress. Macrocystis, on the other hand, performed significantly better under future acidic conditions, regardless of temperature, as it likely experienced an increase in photosynthetic rate driven by high CO2 concentrations. Urchin herbivory rates were elevated for both seaweeds grown under acidification scenarios, possibly due to increased grazing susceptibility of Lithothrix during poor calcification/decalcification conditions and Macrocystis during new growth conditions. Feeding preference trials were inconsistent with feeding rate patterns as urchins exhibited low overall consumption and no selectivity for either seaweed under any water condition. Although the impacts of warming and acidification on growth of seaweeds and susceptibility to grazing by urchins are variable among taxa, potential future stressors are likely to alter seaweed population and seaweed-herbivore dynamics.

Continue reading ‘The effects of ocean warming and acidification on seaweed growth and urchin grazing’

Exposure history determines pteropod vulnerability to ocean acidification along the US West Coast

The pteropod Limacina helicina frequently experiences seasonal exposure to corrosive conditions (Ωar  < 1) along the US West Coast and is recognized as one of the species most susceptible to ocean acidification (OA). Yet, little is known about their capacity to acclimatize to such conditions. We collected pteropods in the California Current Ecosystem (CCE) that differed in the severity of exposure to Ωar conditions in the natural environment. Combining field observations, high-CO2 perturbation experiment results, and retrospective ocean transport simulations, we investigated biological responses based on histories of magnitude and duration of exposure to Ωar < 1. Our results suggest that both exposure magnitude and duration affect pteropod responses in the natural environment. However, observed declines in calcification performance and survival probability under high CO2 experimental conditions do not show acclimatization capacity or physiological tolerance related to history of exposure to corrosive conditions. Pteropods from the coastal CCE appear to be at or near the limit of their physiological capacity, and consequently, are already at extinction risk under projected acceleration of OA over the next 30 years. Our results demonstrate that Ωar exposure history largely determines pteropod response to experimental conditions and is essential to the interpretation of biological observations and experimental results.

Continue reading ‘Exposure history determines pteropod vulnerability to ocean acidification along the US West Coast’

Defying dissolution: discovery of deep-sea scleractinian coral reefs in the North Pacific

Deep-sea scleractinian coral reefs are protected ecologically and biologically significant areas that support global fisheries. The absence of observations of deep-sea scleractinian reefs in the Central and Northeast Pacific, combined with the shallow aragonite saturation horizon (ASH) and high carbonate dissolution rates there, fueled the hypothesis that reef formation in the North Pacific was improbable. Despite this, we report the discovery of live scleractinian reefs on six seamounts of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands and Emperor Seamount Chain at depths of 535–732 m and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) values of 0.71–1.33. Although the ASH becomes deeper moving northwest along the chains, the depth distribution of the reefs becomes shallower, suggesting the ASH is having little influence on their distribution. Higher chlorophyll moving to the northwest may partially explain the geographic distribution of the reefs. Principle Components Analysis suggests that currents are also an important factor in their distribution, but neither chlorophyll nor the available current data can explain the unexpected depth distribution. Further environmental data is needed to elucidate the reason for the distribution of these reefs. The discovery of reef-forming scleractinians in this region is of concern because a number of the sites occur on seamounts with active trawl fisheries.

Continue reading ‘Defying dissolution: discovery of deep-sea scleractinian coral reefs in the North Pacific’

Trade-offs in a high CO2 habitat on a subsea volcano: condition and reproductive features of a bathymodioline mussel

Northwest Eifuku submarine volcano (Mariana Volcanic Arc) emits very high concentrations of CO2 at a vent where the mussel Bathymodiolus septemdierum experiences pH as low as 5.2. We examined how this natural setting of high pCO2 influences shell, body, and reproductive condition. Calcification is highly compromised: at a given shell volume, shells from NW Eifuku weigh about half those from reference sites in the south Pacific, and dissolution of the inner shell is evident. However, the condition indices of some NW Eifuku mussels were equal to or higher than those from Lau back-arc basin and the New Hebrides Island Arc. NW Eifuku mussels in pH 5.2 fluids had the highest symbiont abundances in gill bacteriocytes, probably due to greater dissolved sulphide access. Excess energy demands imposed by high pCO2 conditions appears moderated by adequate food availability through symbiont chemosynthesis. In the sample with the lowest body condition, gametogenesis was lagging, although all mussels in high pCO2 had developing gonads and the complete gametogenic cycle was present in our samples. Gamete development is synchronous between sexes and is possibly periodic. While mussels are functionally dioecious, protogynous hermaphroditism can occur—a first record for the genus—which may be an adaptation to resource availability. B. septemdierum likely makes energy allocation trade-offs among calcification, body mass maintenance, reproduction and other processes to maximize fitness. We suggest that flexibility to divert energy from shell formation, combined with good food supply, can mitigate the manifestation of high CO2 stress on B. septemdierum.

Continue reading ‘Trade-offs in a high CO2 habitat on a subsea volcano: condition and reproductive features of a bathymodioline mussel’

CO2-induced ocean acidification does not affect individual or group behaviour in a temperate damselfish

Open ocean surface CO2 levels are projected to reach approximately 800 µatm, and ocean pH to decrease by approximately 0.3 units by the year 2100 due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions and the subsequent process of ocean acidification (OA). When exposed to these CO2/pH values, several fish species display abnormal behaviour in laboratory tests, an effect proposed to be linked to altered neuronal GABA receptor function. Juvenile blacksmith (Chromis punctipinnis) are social fish that regularly experience CO2/pH fluctuations through kelp forest diurnal primary production and upwelling events, so we hypothesized that they might be resilient to OA. Blacksmiths were exposed to control conditions (pH ∼ 7.92; pCO2 ∼ 540 µatm), constant acidification (pH ∼ 7.71; pCO2 ∼ 921 µatm) and oscillating acidification (pH ∼ 7.91, pCO2 ∼ 560 µatm (day), pH ∼ 7.70, pCO2 ∼ 955 µatm (night)), and caught and tested in two seasons of the year when the ocean temperature was different: winter (16.5 ± 0.1°C) and summer (23.1 ± 0.1°C). Neither constant nor oscillating CO2-induced acidification affected blacksmith individual light/dark preference, inter-individual distance in a shoal or the shoal’s response to a novel object, suggesting that blacksmiths are tolerant to projected future OA conditions. However, blacksmiths tested during the winter demonstrated significantly higher dark preference in the individual light/dark preference test, thus confirming season and/or water temperature as relevant factors to consider in behavioural tests.

Continue reading ‘CO2-induced ocean acidification does not affect individual or group behaviour in a temperate damselfish’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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