Posts Tagged 'North Pacific'

Understanding feedbacks between ocean acidification and coral reef metabolism

Biogeochemical feedbacks from benthic metabolism have been hypothesized as a potential mechanism to buffer some effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs. The article in JGR-Oceans by DeCarlo et al. demonstrates the importance of benthic community health on this feedback from Dongsha Atoll in the South China Sea.

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Sensitivity of sea urchin fertilization to pH varies across a natural pH mosaic

In the coastal ocean, temporal fluctuations in pH vary dramatically across biogeographic ranges. How such spatial differences in pH variability regimes might shape ocean acidification resistance in marine species remains unknown. We assessed the pH sensitivity of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus in the context of ocean pH variability. Using unique male–female pairs, originating from three sites with similar mean pH but different variability and frequency of low pH (pHT ≤ 7.8) exposures, fertilization was tested across a range of pH (pHT 7.61–8.03) and sperm concentrations. High fertilization success was maintained at low pH via a slight right shift in the fertilization function across sperm concentration. This pH effect differed by site. Urchins from the site with the narrowest pH variability regime exhibited the greatest pH sensitivity. At this site, mechanistic fertilization dynamics models support a decrease in sperm–egg interaction rate with decreasing pH. The site differences in pH sensitivity build upon recent evidence of local pH adaptation in S. purpuratus and highlight the need to incorporate environmental variability in the study of global change biology.

Continue reading ‘Sensitivity of sea urchin fertilization to pH varies across a natural pH mosaic’

Quantitative analysis of anthropogenic influences on coastal water – A new perspective

Coastal environment has been disturbed by human activities for a long time, especially in the rapidly urbanizing and industrializing areas. Although the surrounding area has achieved great economic success in the past 30 years, Western Xiamen Bay (China) is seriously affected by pollutants and is facing increasing ecological pressure. Because of this, Xiamen was selected in 1994 as a demonstration site for implementing an integrated coastal management program, which included a series of measures for protecting the coastal environment. However, coastal environment is dynamic, complex and site-specific, and thus a scientific quantitative evaluation framework is necessary for environment quality analysis and effective coastal management. In this study, we used oceanographic knowledge together with quantitative methods (Bai-Perron’s structural break test) to analyze the long-term variations of water quality indices (pH, DO, COD, DIN, PO4-P and Oil) in Western Xiamen Bay. In addition, we compared with other coastal areas to identify the effectiveness of phosphorus-based nutrient management measures and predicted the probable variation trend in the future. The results show that in Western Xiamen Bay: (1) the concentrations of DO and Oil in seawater are effectively controlled by local coastal management measures; (2) seawater acidification will continue to worsen based on the present situation; and (3) the P-limitation treatment strategies are effective and PO4-P concentration starts to fall according to the multiple statistical analysis and Environmental Kuznets Curve. This paper hopes to provide an epitome of the conflicts and consolations between socioeconomic development and environmental quality in the past, and hints for coastal management in the future.

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Physiological response of a golden tide alga (Sargassum muticum) to the interaction of ocean acidification and phosphorus enrichment (update)

The development of golden tides is potentially influenced by global change factors, such as ocean acidification and eutrophication, but related studies are very scarce. In this study, we cultured a golden tide alga, Sargasssum muticum, at two levels of pCO2 (400 and 1000 µatm) and phosphate (0.5 and 40 µM) to investigate the interactive effects of elevated pCO2 and phosphate on the physiological properties of the thalli. Higher pCO2 and phosphate (P) levels alone increased the relative growth rate by 41 and 48 %, the net photosynthetic rate by 46 and 55 %, and the soluble carbohydrates by 33 and 62 %, respectively, while the combination of these two levels did not promote growth or soluble carbohydrates further. The higher levels of pCO2 and P alone also enhanced the nitrate uptake rate by 68 and 36 %, the nitrate reductase activity (NRA) by 89 and 39 %, and the soluble protein by 19 and 15 %, respectively. The nitrate uptake rate and soluble protein was further enhanced, although the nitrate reductase activity was reduced when the higher levels of pCO2 and P worked together. The higher pCO2 and higher P levels alone did not affect the dark respiration rate of the thalli, but together they increased it by 32 % compared to the condition of lower pCO2 and lower P. The neutral effect of the higher levels of pCO2 and higher P on growth and soluble carbohydrates, combined with the promoting effect on soluble protein and dark respiration, suggests that more energy was drawn from carbon assimilation to nitrogen assimilation under conditions of higher pCO2 and higher P; this is most likely to act against the higher pCO2 that caused acid–base perturbation via synthesizing H+ transport-related protein. Our results indicate that ocean acidification and eutrophication may not boost golden tide events synergistically, although each one has a promoting effect.

Continue reading ‘Physiological response of a golden tide alga (Sargassum muticum) to the interaction of ocean acidification and phosphorus enrichment (update)’

Skeletal dissolution kinetics and mechanical tests in response to morphology among coral genera

Ocean acidification is widely accepted as a primary threat to coral reef populations. Negative physiological effects include decreased calcification rates, heightened metabolic energy expenditure, and increased dissolution of coral skeletons. However, studies on the dissolution of coral skeletons structures under ocean acidification conditions and their implications on sediments remain scarce. In this work, we examined skeletal dissolution kinetics from four of the most representative hermatypic corals of the Eastern Pacific coasts (Pocillopora, Porites, Pavona, and Psammocora). Samples were treated with a highly acidic solution for defined periods of time, and measurements of dissolved calcium ([Ca+2]) were used to evaluate the kinetics of coral skeleton dissolution. All genera tests except Porites showed a zero reaction rate. Porites exhibited a first-order reaction and a faster reaction rate than other genera. Compression strength tests and skeletal density did not correlate with reaction rate. Pavona showed greater structural strength. Porites were the most susceptible to acidic dissolution compared to other genera tested due to their morphology, i.e., possession of the largest surface area, suggesting a high vulnerability under low-pH conditions. The hierarchical response in dissolution kinetics among coral genera tested suggests that the most soluble coral might act as a buffer under ocean acidification conditions.

Continue reading ‘Skeletal dissolution kinetics and mechanical tests in response to morphology among coral genera’

Kelp and carbon: pathways and barriers to acquisition and transport

Large brown algae in the class Phaeophyceae (Heterokontophyta) form the structural and energetic foundation of temperate and subtropical nearshore marine forests of high productivity and ecological diversity. This dissertation examines the carbon uptake and transport physiology of large brown algae with a particular focus on the plastic or adaptive responses of these physiological traits to their abiotic environment. Chapter 1 takes an anatomical and modeling approach to investigate the structure and function of photosynthate transport networks (analogous to phloem) in diverse members of the Laminariales. To evaluate the existence of scaling and optimization of the kelp vascular system, a model of optimized transport anatomy was developed and tested with a  diverse suite of kelp species in the Laminariales. Results revealed a surprising lack of universal scaling in the kelps and the presence of optimized transport anatomy in the giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) only. Chapter 2 focuses on the dynamics of carbon uptake in M. pyrifera, which can acquire both carbon dioxide and bicarbonate as carbon substrates for photosynthesis. To evaluate whether the proportion of carbon dioxide and bicarbonate utilized by M. pyrifera is constant or a variable function of their fluctuating environment, oxygen evolution experiments were carried out  n entire blades from several targeted populations in the Monterey Bay. Results indicated that M. pyrifera possesses a plastic carbon uptake physiology in which proportionally more bicarbonate is used in high irradiance and high flow conditions, but that local populations have not yet developed fixed genetic differences. Chapter 3 investigates the mechanism and patterns of carbon stable isotope discrimination in M. pyrifera. Results of a dual field and laboratory incubation approach indicate that 13C discrimination patterns are determined by a complex interaction of light intensity, dissolved inorganic carbon limitation, and fractionation occurring during transport of polysaccharides. Overall, this dissertation informs patterns and mechanisms of carbon uptake and transport in kelps, and highlights the many ways in which kelps may impact and structure their ecosystems.

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Assessment of ocean acidification and warming on the growth, calcification, and biophotonics of a California grass shrimp

Cryptic colouration in crustaceans, important for both camouflage and visual communication, is achieved through physiological and morphological mechanisms that are sensitive to changes in environmental conditions. Consequently, ocean warming and ocean acidification can affect crustaceans’ biophotonic appearance and exoskeleton composition in ways that might disrupt colouration and transparency. In the present study, we measured growth, mineralization, transparency, and spectral reflectance (colouration) of the caridean grass shrimp Hippolyte californiensis in response to pH and temperature stressors. Shrimp were exposed to ambient pH and temperature (pH 8.0, 17 °C), decreased pH (pH 7.5, 17 °C), and decreased pH/increased temperature (pH 7.5, 19 °C) conditions for 7 weeks. There were no differences in either Mg or Ca content in the exoskeleton across treatments nor in the transparency and spectral reflectance. There was a small but significant increase in percent growth in the carapace length of shrimp exposed to decreased pH/increased temperature. Overall, these findings suggest that growth, calcification, and colour of H. californiensis are unaffected by decreases of 0.5 pH units. This tolerance might stem from adaptation to the highly variable pH environment that these grass shrimp inhabit, highlighting the multifarious responses to ocean acidification, within the Crustacea.

Continue reading ‘Assessment of ocean acidification and warming on the growth, calcification, and biophotonics of a California grass shrimp’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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