Posts Tagged 'North Pacific'

Spatiotemporal variability in seawater carbon chemistry for a coral reef flat in Kāne‘ohe Bay, Hawai‘i

Coral reef community composition and ecosystem function may change in response to anthropogenic ocean acidification. However, the magnitude of acidification on reefs will be modified by natural spatial and temporal variability in seawater CO2 chemistry. Consequently, it is necessary to quantify the ecological, biogeochemical, and physical drivers of this natural variability before making robust predictions of future acidification on reefs. In this study, we measured temporal and spatial physiochemical variability on a reef flat in Kāne‘ohe Bay, O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, using autonomous sensors at sites with contrasting benthic communities and by sampling surface seawater CO2 chemistry across the reef flat at different times of the day during June and November. Mean and diurnal temporal variability of seawater CO2 chemistry was more strongly influenced by depth gradients (~ 0.5–10 m) on the reef rather than benthic community composition. Spatial CO2 chemistry gradients across the reef flat reflected the cumulative influence from benthic metabolism, bathymetry, and hydrodynamics. Based on graphical assessment of total alkalinity–dissolved inorganic carbon data, reef metabolism in November was dominated by organic carbon cycling over inorganic carbon cycling, while these processes were closely balanced in June. Overall, this study highlights the strong influence of depth on reef seawater CO2 chemistry variability through its effects on benthic biomass to seawater volume ratio, seawater flow rates, and residence time. Thus, the natural complexity of ecosystems where a combination of ecological and physical factors influence reef chemistry must be considered when predicting ecosystem biogeochemical responses to future anthropogenic changes in seawater CO2 chemistry.

Continue reading ‘Spatiotemporal variability in seawater carbon chemistry for a coral reef flat in Kāne‘ohe Bay, Hawai‘i’

El Niño-related thermal stress coupled with upwelling-related ocean acidification negatively impacts cellular to population-level responses in pteropods along the California Current System with implications for increased bioenergetic costs

Understanding the interactive effects of multiple stressors on pelagic mollusks associated with global climate change is especially important in highly productive coastal ecosystems of the upwelling regime, such as the California Current System (CCS). Due to temporal overlap between a marine heatwave, an El Niño event, and springtime intensification of the upwelling, pteropods of the CCS were exposed to co-occurring increased temperature, low Ωar and pH, and deoxygenation. The variability in the natural gradients during NOAA’s WCOA 2016 cruise provided a unique opportunity for synoptic study of chemical and biological interactions. We investigated the effects of in situ multiple drivers and their interactions across cellular, physiological, and population levels. Oxidative stress biomarkers were used to assess pteropods’ cellular status and antioxidant defenses. Low aragonite saturation state (Ωar) is associated with significant activation of oxidative stress biomarkers, as indicated by increased levels of lipid peroxidation (LPX), but the antioxidative activity defense might be insufficient against cellular stress. Thermal stress in combination with low Ωar additively increases the level of LPX toxicity, while food availability can mediate the negative effect. On the physiological level, we found synergistic interaction between low Ωar and deoxygenation and thermal stress (Ωar:T, O2:T). On the population level, temperature was the main driver of abundance distribution, with low Ωar being a strong driver of secondary importance. The additive effects of thermal stress and low Ωar on abundance suggest a negative effect of El Niño at the population level. Our study clearly demonstrates Ωar and temperature are master variables in explaining biological responses, cautioning the use of a single parameter in the statistical analyses. High quantities of polyunsaturated fatty acids are susceptible to oxidative stress because of LPX, resulting in the loss of lipid reserves and structural damage to cell membranes, a potential mechanism explaining extreme pteropod sensitivity to low Ωar. Accumulation of oxidative damage requires metabolic compensation, implying energetic trade-offs under combined thermal and low Ωar and pH stress. Oxidative stress biomarkers can be used as early-warning signal of multiple stressors on the cellular level, thereby providing important new insights into factors that set limits to species’ tolerance to in situ multiple drivers.

Continue reading ‘El Niño-related thermal stress coupled with upwelling-related ocean acidification negatively impacts cellular to population-level responses in pteropods along the California Current System with implications for increased bioenergetic costs’

Ability of eelgrass to alter oyster growth and physiology is spatially limited and offset by increasing predation risk

Marine foundation species have strong effects on sympatric species, but the strength may vary along environmental gradients. Climate change is shifting the distribution and magnitude of environmental gradients, making identification of when and where foundation species effects occur necessary for effective management. We reviewed existing work to identify expected mechanisms by which seagrass affect suspension feeding bivalves, then tested whether these effects shifted across estuarine conditions for two species of oysters (native Ostrea lurida and non-native Crassostrea gigas) grown in and out of eelgrass (Zostera marina) at six estuarine sites in Washington state. Hypothesized mechanisms of eelgrass influence include reduced predation pressure, reduced or altered food availability, and amelioration of environmental (pH) stress. We analyzed oyster survival, shell and tissue growth, shell strength, and stable isotope (SI) and fatty acid (FA) biomarkers. Oyster survival was > 20% lower in eelgrass at lower-estuary sites, but not up-estuary sites. Both species grew faster in eelgrass at one low-estuary (higher pH) site, but not elsewhere. Shell strength in eelgrass increased by 21.1% for native but decreased by 12.6% for non-native oysters. FA and SI biomarkers only differed in eelgrass at one site but correlated significantly to growth among individuals. No measurement showed a consistent response to eelgrass across estuarine conditions and taxa, and responses were often opposite of expectations based on published literature. These results have important implications for management and restoration of oysters in areas with eelgrass.

Continue reading ‘Ability of eelgrass to alter oyster growth and physiology is spatially limited and offset by increasing predation risk’

Individual and population level effects of ocean acidification on a predator−prey system with inducible defenses: bryozoan−nudibranch interactions in the Salish Sea

Ocean acidification (OA) from in creased oceanic CO2 concentrations imposes significant physiological stresses on many calcifying organisms. OA effects on individual organisms may be synergistically amplified or reduced by inter- and intraspecies interactions as they propagate up to population and community
levels, altering predictions by studies of calcifier responses in isolation. The calcifying colonial bryozoan Membranipora membranacea and the predatory nudibranch Corambe steinbergae comprise a trophic system strongly regulated by predator induced defensive responses and space limitation, presenting a unique system to investigate OA effects on these regulatory mechanisms at individual and population levels. We experimentally quantified OA effects across a range of pH from 7.0 to 7.9 on growth, calcification, senescence and predator-induced spine formation in Membranipora, with or without waterborne predator cue, and on zooid consumption rates in Corambe at Friday Harbor Laboratories, San Juan Island, WA. Membranipora exhibited maximum growth and calcification at moderately low pH (7.6), and continued spine formation in all pH treatments.
Spines reduced Corambe zooid consumption rates, with lower pH weakening this effect. Using a spatially explicit model of colony growth, where colony area
serves as a proxy for colony fitness, we assessed the population-level impacts of these experimentally determined individual-level effects in the context of
space limitation. The area-based fitness costs associated with defense measured at the individual level led to amplified effects predicted for the population level due to competition. Our coupled experimental and modeling results demonstrate the need to consider population-level processes when assessing ecological responses to stresses from changing environments.

Continue reading ‘Individual and population level effects of ocean acidification on a predator−prey system with inducible defenses: bryozoan−nudibranch interactions in the Salish Sea’

Physiological responses of whitespotted bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium plagiosum) to high CO2 levels

Sharks have been roaming the planet for 400 million years and are vital elements for the health of our oceans. Due to occurring changes in the food-web and anthropogenic pressure from fishing and habitat degradation, sharks populations are now declining sharply. Ocean acidification, caused by continuous release of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere, may represent an additional threat. Among other effects, it may cause physiological disturbances in the organisms and threaten marine ecosystems as we know them, especially the most vulnerable life stages. Hence, the present study focus on the effects that ocean acidification may have on the fitness, metabolism and swimming performance of juvenile whitespotted bamboo sharks (Chiloscyllium plagiosum). After hatching, sharks were placed in either control (pCO2 ~ 400 μatm, pH = 8.0) or high CO2 (pCO2 ~ 900 μatm, pH = 7.7) conditions, according to the pH levels expected by the end of the century. After an exposure of 45 days, several ecologically important traits were tested, namely their fitness [(i) Fulton condition], metabolic capacity [(i) routine metabolic rate (RMR), (ii) maximum metabolic rate (MMR), (iii) aerobic scope (AS)] and swimming performance [(i) maximum reached velocity, (ii) percentage of time swimming, (iii) number of bursts and (vi) pre and (vii) post-stress ventilation rates]. No changes were observed in their fitness, metabolism and the majority of the swimming performance end-points. Nevertheless, regarding the swimming performance, there was a decrease of the duration of swimming events and a decrease in the post-swimming ventilation rates. Over the past years, these cartilaginous fish have been coping with oscillations in the seawater chemistry and thus appear to be resilient to OA. However, this species’ conservation status is of concern, assessed as Near Threatened, and even the sub-lethal effects observed in this study may potentially reduce the organism’s overall fitness and ultimately impact population dynamics.

Continue reading ‘Physiological responses of whitespotted bamboo shark (Chiloscyllium plagiosum) to high CO2 levels’

Mineralogy of deep-sea coral aragonites as a function of aragonite saturation state

In an ocean with rapidly changing chemistry, studies have assessed coral skeletal health under projected ocean acidification (OA) scenarios by characterizing morphological distortions in skeletal architecture and measuring bulk properties, such as net calcification and dissolution. Few studies offer more detailed information on skeletal mineralogy. Since aragonite crystallography will at least partially govern the material properties of coral skeletons, such as solubility and strength, it is important to understand how it is influenced by environmental stressors. Here, we take a mineralogical approach using micro X-ray diffraction (XRD) and whole pattern Rietveld refinement analysis to track crystallographic shifts in deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa samples collected along a natural seawater aragonite saturation state gradient (Ωsw = 1.15–1.44) in the Gulf of Mexico. Our results reveal statistically significant linear relationships between rising Ωsw and increasing unit cell volume driven by an anisotropic lengthening along the b-axis. These structural changes are similarly observed in synthetic aragonites precipitated under various saturation states, indicating that these changes are inherent to the crystallography of aragonite. Increased crystallographic disorder via widening of the full width at half maximum of the main (111) XRD peaks trend with increased Ba substitutions for Ca, however, trace substitutions by Ba, Sr, and Mg do not trend with crystal lattice parameters in our samples. Instead, we observe a significant trend of increasing calcite content as a function of both decreasing unit cell parameters as well as decreasing Ωsw. This may make calcite incorporation an important factor to consider in coral crystallography, especially under varying aragonite saturation states (ΩAr). Finally, by defining crystallography-based linear relationships between ΩAr of synthetic aragonite analogs and lattice parameters, we predict internal calcifying fluid saturation state (Ωcf = 11.1–17.3 calculated from b-axis lengths; 15.2–25.2 calculated from unit cell volumes) for L. pertusa, which may allow this species to calcify despite the local seawater conditions. This study will ideally pave the way for future studies to utilize quantitative XRD in exploring the impact of physical and chemical stressors on biominerals.

Continue reading ‘Mineralogy of deep-sea coral aragonites as a function of aragonite saturation state’

Effects of ocean acidification and solar ultraviolet radiation on physiology and toxicity of dinoflagellate Karenia mikimotoi


• Combined OA and solar UVR were investigated on the HAB-forming dinoflagellate Karenia mikimotoi using outdoors incubations.

• This is the first study to consider the combined effects of OA and UVR on the toxicity of K. mikimotoi.

• OA and UVR resulted in decreased pigment contents and increased UV-absorbing compounds and hemolytic activity.

• The combination of OA and UVR had little effect on growth rates and toxicity of K. mikimotoi.


A batch culture experiment was conducted to study the interactive effects of ocean acidification (OA) and solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR, 280–400 nm) on the harmful dinoflagellate Karenia mikimotoi. Cells were incubated in 7-days trials under four treatments. Physiological (growth, pigments, UVabc) and toxicity (hemolytic activity and its toxicity to zebrafish embryos) response variables were measured in four treatments, representing two factorial combinations of CO2 (400 and 1000 μatm) and solar irradiance (with or without UVR). Toxic species K. mikimotoi showed sustained growth in all treatments, and there was not statistically significant difference among four treatments. Cell pigment content decreased, but UVabc and hemolytic activity increased in all HC treatments and PAB conditions. The toxicity to zebrafish embryos of K. mikimotoi was not significantly different among four treatments. All HC and UVR conditions and the combinations of HC*UVR (HC-PAB) positively affected the UVabc, hemolytic activity in comparison to the LC*P (LC-P) treatment, and negatively affected the pigments. Ocean acidification (OA) was probably the main factor that affected the chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) and UVabc, but UVR was the main factor that affected the carotenoid (Caro) and hemolytic activity. There were no significant interactive effects of OA*UVR on growth, toxicity to zebrafish embryos. If these results are extrapolated to the natural environment, it can be hypothesized that this strain (DP-C32) of K. mikimotoi cells have the efficient mechanisms to endure the combination of ocean acidification and solar UVR. It is assumed that this toxic strain could form harmful bloom and enlarge the threatening to coastal communities, marine animals, even human health under future conditions.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification and solar ultraviolet radiation on physiology and toxicity of dinoflagellate Karenia mikimotoi’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book