Posts Tagged 'nutrients'

Responses of the large centric diatom Coscinodiscus sp. to interactions between warming, elevated CO2, and nitrate availability

Marine ecosystems are facing multiple anthropogenic global changes, including ocean acidification, warming, and reduced nutrient supplies. Together, these will challenge phytoplankton including large centric diatoms such as Coscinodiscus sp., a group that is important to ocean food webs and carbon export. We investigated the interactive effects of warming, elevated CO2, and nitrate availability on Coscinodiscus growth, elemental stoichiometry, and Fe and C uptake rates in a four‐treatment factorial experiment combining two CO2 levels (∼400 ppm and 800 ppm) and two temperatures (16°C and 20°C) across seven nitrate concentrations (1–100 μmol L−1). Higher temperatures led to higher maximum growth rates (μmax), but also higher half‐saturation constants for nitrate (K1/2), while elevated CO2 increased K1/2 only at the warmer temperature. Lower μmax/K1/2 ratios under warming and rising CO2 indicated a higher nitrate requirement at these conditions. High temperature decreased cellular P and Si contents and consequently increased N : P and C : Si ratios, especially at ambient CO2. Fe : C uptake ratios responded positively to lower nitrate levels, lower CO2, and warming. Significant interactions between nitrate availability and temperature or CO2 were observed for specific growth rates, chlorophyll a and Si contents, Fe : C, N : P, and Si : C, while temperature and CO2 interactions were only significant for μmax/K1/2 and cellular P content. The mutual interactions among CO2 concentrations, temperature, and nitrate supply may all affect future growth, physiology, and carbon export by Coscinodiscus sp., however, in general warming and nitrate availability appear to be more influential than CO2.

Continue reading ‘Responses of the large centric diatom Coscinodiscus sp. to interactions between warming, elevated CO2, and nitrate availability’

Nutrient pollution disrupts key ecosystem functions on coral reefs

There is a long history of examining the impacts of nutrient pollution and pH on coral reefs. However, little is known about how these two stressors interact and influence coral reef ecosystem functioning. Using a six-week nutrient addition experiment, we measured the impact of elevated nitrate (NO−3) and phosphate (PO3−4) on net community calcification (NCC) and net community production (NCP) rates of individual taxa and combined reef communities. Our study had four major outcomes: (i) NCC rates declined in response to nutrient addition in all substrate types, (ii) the mixed community switched from net calcification to net dissolution under medium and high nutrient conditions, (iii) nutrients augmented pH variability through modified photosynthesis and respiration rates, and (iv) nutrients disrupted the relationship between NCC and aragonite saturation state documented in ambient conditions. These results indicate that the negative effect of NO−3 and PO3−4 addition on reef calcification is likely both a direct physiological response to nutrients and also an indirect response to a shifting pH environment from altered NCP rates. Here, we show that nutrient pollution could make reefs more vulnerable to global changes associated with ocean acidification and accelerate the predicted shift from net accretion to net erosion.

Continue reading ‘Nutrient pollution disrupts key ecosystem functions on coral reefs’

The interactive effects of ocean acidification, food availability, and source location on the growth and physiology of the California mussel

Research shows ocean acidification (OA) can have largely negative impacts on marine organisms and ecosystems. Prior laboratory studies show that shelled marine invertebrates (e.g., molluscs) exhibit reduced growth rates and weaker shells when experiencing OA-related stress. However, populations of the critical intertidal mussel species, Mytilus californianus, which experience naturally acidic water due to upwelling in certain parts of Northern California have been observed to have relatively stronger and thicker shells and higher growth rates than those that experience less frequent exposure to upwelling. To address the discrepancies between negative effects of OA exposure in the laboratory and seemingly positive effects off OA exposure in the field we collected juvenile mussels from four separate locations on the northern California coast that vary in exposure to upwelling-driven OA and raised them under ambient, constantly acidified, or intermittently acidified seawater conditions. Half of the mussels in each of the experimental treatments were given access to either ambient or elevated food concentrations. Although higher food availability increased shell and overall mussel growth, variation in mussel life-history traits among locations appears to be driven primarily by inherent differences (i.e. genetics or epigenetics). In particular, overall growth, soft tissue mass, and shell dissolution in mussels were associated with source-specific upwelling strength while adductor muscle mass along with shell growth and strength of mussels were associated with source-specific levels of predation risk. Oxygen consumption of mussels did not significantly vary among food, pH or source location treatments, suggesting that differences in growth rates were not due to differences in differences in metabolic or energetic efficiencies between individuals. Although not statistically significant, mussels from areas of high crab predation risk tended to survive crab attacks in the lab better than mussels from other areas. My data suggests that the adaptive potential of M. californianus to respond to future OA conditions is dependent on local environmental factors such as upwelling strength, food availability, and predation risk. My study addresses a significant gap in our understanding of the mechanism behind conflicting observations of increased growth in the field associated with low pH and previous laboratory results, demonstrating the importance of environmental context in shaping the organismal response to current and future OA conditions.

Continue reading ‘The interactive effects of ocean acidification, food availability, and source location on the growth and physiology of the California mussel’

Eutrophication may compromise the resilience of the Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata to global change


• Interactive effects of stressors are variable; coral reefs should be managed on a local scale in accordance with local data.
• Additive effects of nutrients and global stressors result in changes in coral symbionts leading to shifts in overall health.
• Gulf of Aqaba corals may be resilient to OA and warming, yet a rise in nutrients would severely impede the reef.


Environmental stressors are adversely affecting coral reef ecosystems. There is ample evidence that scleractinian coral growth and physiology may be compromised by reduced pH, and elevated temperature, and that this is exacerbated by local environmental stressors. The Gulf of Aqaba is considered a coral reef refuge from acidification and warming but coastal development and nutrient effluent may pose a local threat. This study examined the effects of select forecasted environmental changes (acidification, warming, and increased nutrients) individually and in combination on the coral holobiont Stylophora pistillata from the Gulf of Aqaba to understand how corals in a potential global climate change refugia may fare in the face of local eutrophication. The results indicate interactions between all stressors, with elevated nutrient concentrations having the broadest individual and additive impacts upon the performance of S. pistillata. These findings highlight the importance of maintaining oligotrophic conditions to secure these reefs as potential refugia.

Continue reading ‘Eutrophication may compromise the resilience of the Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata to global change’

Temperature, acidification, and food supply interact to negatively affect the growth and survival of the forage fish, Menidia beryllina (Inland Silverside), and Cyprinodon variegatus (Sheepshead Minnow)

Climate change processes are warming, acidifying, and promoting a reduction of plankton biomass within World oceans. While the effects of these stressors on marine fish have been studied individually, their combined and interactive impacts remain unclear. Here we present experiments investigating the interactive effects of increased pCO2, temperature, and food-limitation on the early life history traits of two species of marine schooling fish native to Northeast US estuaries, Menidia beryllina (inland silverside) and Cyprinodon variegatus (sheepshead minnow). While each stressor significantly altered hatching times, growth rates, and/or survival of fish, significant interactions between stressors resulted in impacts that could not have been predicted based upon exposures to individual stressors. Fish that were unaffected by high pCO2 when reared at ideal temperatures experienced significant declines in survivorship when exposed to elevated pCO2 at temperatures above or below their thermal optimum. Similarly, fish provided with less food were more vulnerable to elevated pCO2 than fish provided with adequate nutrition. These findings highlight the significance of incorporating multiple stressors in studies investigating the impacts of climate change stressors on marine life. Collectively, these results suggest that climate change stressors may interact to synergistically suppress the productivity of fisheries in coastal ecosystems and that these effects may intensify as climate changes continue.

Continue reading ‘Temperature, acidification, and food supply interact to negatively affect the growth and survival of the forage fish, Menidia beryllina (Inland Silverside), and Cyprinodon variegatus (Sheepshead Minnow)’

An integrated response of Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101 growth and photo-physiology to iron, CO2, and light intensity

We have assessed how varying CO2 (180, 380, and 720 μatm) and growth light intensity (40 and 400 μmol photons m−2 s−1) affected Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101 growth and photophysiology over free iron (Fe′) concentrations between 20 and 9,600 pM. We found significant iron dependencies of growth rate and the initial slope and maximal relative PSII electron transport rates (rPm). Under iron-limiting concentrations, high-light increased growth rates and rPm; possibly indicating a lower allocation of resources to iron-containing photosynthetic proteins. Higher CO2 increased growth rates across all iron concentrations, enabled growth to occur at lower Fe′ concentrations, increased rPm and lowered the iron half saturation constants for growth (Km). We attribute these CO2 responses to the operation of the CCM and the ATP spent/saved for CO2 uptake and transport at low and high CO2, respectively. It seems reasonable to conclude that T. erythraeum IMS101 can exhibit a high degree of phenotypic plasticity in response to CO2, light intensity and iron-limitation. These results are important given predictions of increased dissolved CO2 and water column stratification (i.e., higher light exposures) over the coming decades.

Continue reading ‘An integrated response of Trichodesmium erythraeum IMS101 growth and photo-physiology to iron, CO2, and light intensity’

Plankton responses to ocean acidification: the role of nutrient limitation


• Ocean acidification increases phytoplankton standing stock.
• This increase is more pronounced in smaller-sized taxa.
• Primary consumers reac differently depending on nutrient availability.
• Bacteria and micro-heterotrophs benefited under limiting conditions.
• In general, heterotrophs are negatively affected at nutrient replete periods.


In situ mesocosm experiments on the effect of ocean acidification (OA) are an important tool for investigating potential OA-induced changes in natural plankton communities. In this study we combined results from various in-situ mesocosm studies in two different ocean regions (Arctic and temperate waters) to reveal general patterns of plankton community shifts in response to OA and how these changes are modulated by inorganic nutrient availability. Overall, simulated OA caused an increase in phytoplankton standing stock, which was more pronounced in smaller-sized taxa. This effect on primary producers was channelled differently into heterotroph primary consumers depending on the inorganic nutrient availability. Under limiting conditions, bacteria and micro-heterotrophs benefited with inconsistent responses of larger heterotrophs. During nutrient replete periods, heterotrophs were in general negatively affected, although there was an increase of some mesozooplankton developmental stages (i.e. copepodites). We hypothesize that changes in phytoplankton size distribution and community composition could be responsible for these food web responses.

Continue reading ‘Plankton responses to ocean acidification: the role of nutrient limitation’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book