Posts Tagged 'otherprocess'

Sea surface carbonate dynamics at reefs of Bolinao, Philippines: seasonal variation and fish mariculture-induced forcing

Coral reefs are vulnerable to global ocean acidification (OA) and local human activities will continue to exacerbate coastal OA. In Bolinao, Philippines, intense unregulated fish mariculture has resulted in regional eutrophication. In order to examine the coastal acidification associated with this activity and the impact on nearby coral reefs, water quality and carbonate chemistry parameters were measured at three reef sites, a mariculture site and an offshore, minimally impacted control site during both the wet and dry season. Additionally, benthic community composition was characterized at reef sites, and both autonomous carbonate chemistry sampling and high-frequency pH measurements were used to characterize fine-scale (diel) temporal variability. Water quality was found to be poorer at all reefs during the wet season, when there was stronger outflow of waters from the mariculture area. Carbonate chemistry parameters differed significantly across the reef flat and between seasons, with more acidic conditions occurring during the dry season and increased primary production suppressing further acidification during the wet season. Significant relationships of both total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) with salinity across all stations may imply outflow of acidified water originating from the mariculture area where pH values as low as 7.78 were measured. This apparent mariculture-induced coastal acidification was likely due to organic matter respiration as sustained mariculture will continue to deliver organic matter. While TA-DIC vector diagrams indicate greater contribution of net primary production, net calcification potential in the nearest reef to mariculture area may already be diminished. The two farther reefs, characterized by higher coral cover, indicates healthier ecosystem functioning. Here we show that unregulated fish mariculture activities can lead to localized acidification and impact reef health. As these conditions at times approximate those projected to occur globally due to OA, our results may provide insight into reef persistence potential worldwide. These results also underscore the importance of coastal acidification and indicate that actions taken to mitigate OA on coral reefs should address not only global CO2 emissions but also local perturbations, in this case fish mariculture-induced eutrophication.

Continue reading ‘Sea surface carbonate dynamics at reefs of Bolinao, Philippines: seasonal variation and fish mariculture-induced forcing’

Impacts of seawater pH buffering on the larval microbiome and carry-over effects on later-life disease susceptibility in Pacific oysters

Ocean acidification upwelling events and the resulting lowered aragonite saturation state of seawater have been linked to high mortality of marine bivalve larvae in hatcheries. Major oyster seed producers along North America’s west coast have mitigated impacts via seawater pH buffering (e.g., addition of soda ash). However, little consideration has been given to whether such practice may impact the larval microbiome, with potential carry-over effects on immune competency and disease susceptibility in later-life stages. To investigate possible impacts, Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) were reared under soda ash pH buffered or ambient pH seawater conditions for the first 24 h of development. Both treatment groups were then reared under ambient pH conditions for the remainder of the developmental period. Larval microbiome, immune status (via gene expression), growth, and survival were assessed throughout the developmental period. Juveniles and adults arising from the larval run were then subjected to laboratory-based disease challenges to investigate carry-over effects. Larvae reared under buffered conditions showed an altered microbiome, which was still evident in juvenile animals. Moreover, reduced survival was observed in both juveniles and adults of the buffered group under a simulated marine heatwave and Vibrio exposure compared with those reared under ambient conditions. Results suggest that soda ash pH buffering during early development may compromise later-life stages under stressor conditions, and illustrate the importance of a long-view approach with regard to hatchery husbandry practices and climate change mitigation.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of seawater pH buffering on the larval microbiome and carry-over effects on later-life disease susceptibility in Pacific oysters’

Cascading effects augment the direct impact of CO2 on phytoplankton growth in a biogeochemical model

Atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations are rising at an unprecedented rate. Laboratory studies indicate a positive effect of rising CO2 on phytoplankton growth until an optimum is reached, after which the negative impact of accompanying acidification dominates. Here, we implemented carbonate system sensitivities of phytoplankton growth into our global biogeochemical model FESOM-REcoM and accounted explicitly for coccolithophores as the group most sensitive to CO2. In idealized simulations in which solely the atmospheric CO2 mixing ratio was modified, changes in competitive fitness and biomass are not only caused by the direct effects of CO2, but also by indirect effects via nutrient and light limitation as well as grazing. These cascading effects can both amplify or dampen phytoplankton responses to changing ocean pCO2 levels. For example, coccolithophore growth is negatively affected both directly by future pCO2 and indirectly by changes in light limitation, but these effects are compensated by a weakened nutrient limitation resulting from the decrease in small-phytoplankton biomass. In the Southern Ocean, future pCO2 decreases small-phytoplankton biomass and hereby the preferred prey of zooplankton, which reduces the grazing pressure on diatoms and allows them to proliferate more strongly. In simulations that encompass CO2-driven warming and acidification, our model reveals that recent observed changes in North Atlantic coccolithophore biomass are driven primarily by warming and not by CO2. Our results highlight that CO2 can change the effects of other environmental drivers on phytoplankton growth, and that cascading effects may play an important role in projections of future net primary production.

Continue reading ‘Cascading effects augment the direct impact of CO2 on phytoplankton growth in a biogeochemical model’

Phosphate limitation intensifies negative effects of ocean acidification on globally important nitrogen fixing cyanobacterium

Growth of the prominent nitrogen-fixing cyanobacterium Trichodesmium is often limited by phosphorus availability in the ocean. How nitrogen fixation by phosphorus-limited Trichodesmium may respond to ocean acidification remains poorly understood. Here, we use phosphate-limited chemostat experiments to show that acidification enhanced phosphorus demands and decreased phosphorus-specific nitrogen fixation rates in Trichodesmium. The increased phosphorus requirements were attributed primarily to elevated cellular polyphosphate contents, likely for maintaining cytosolic pH homeostasis in response to acidification. Alongside the accumulation of polyphosphate, decreased NADP(H):NAD(H) ratios and impaired chlorophyll synthesis and energy production were observed under acidified conditions. Consequently, the negative effects of acidification were amplified compared to those demonstrated previously under phosphorus sufficiency. Estimating the potential implications of this finding, using outputs from the Community Earth System Model, predicts that acidification and dissolved inorganic and organic phosphorus stress could synergistically cause an appreciable decrease in global Trichodesmium nitrogen fixation by 2100.

Continue reading ‘Phosphate limitation intensifies negative effects of ocean acidification on globally important nitrogen fixing cyanobacterium’

Effects of acidification on fish larval abundance at Teknaf coast, Bangladesh

The study aimed to investigate the effects of acidification on fish larvae abundance at the Teknaf coast. From January 8 to December 14, 2021, samples of fish larvae were collected at every month from the Teknaf coast. From the bottom to the surface, Bongo-Net with a 500 µm mesh size was being towed. A total of 1,120 larvae were gathered from the research area during the survey. In the study region, 93 larvae/1,000 m3 were found to be the mean density of all fish larvae. The hydrological parameters such as water temperature, pH, salinity, and total alkalinity were determined to find out the effects of these variables on the larvae abundance along the Teknaf coast. The average values of the parameters including water temperature, pH, salinity, and total alkalinity were found at 28.41°C, 8.36, 23.57 PSU, and 113.25 mg/l respectively. The ocean acidification factors including pCO2, HCO3-, CO32-, DIC, ΩAragonite, and ΩCalcite were also determined by using the “seacarb” package of R programming to find out the effects of these variables on the larvae abundance along the Teknaf coast. The average values of the factors including pCO2, HCO3-, CO32-, DIC, ΩAragonite, and ΩCalcite were found 128.72 µatm, 0.000751 mole/kg, 0.000138 mole/kg, 0.000892 mole/kg, 2.3544 and 3.7028 respectively. The results showed an insignificant relationship between pCO2 and fish larvae abundance throughout the Teknaf coast. However, there was a negative correlation between pCO2 and pH. The findings of this research indicate that OA affects fish larvae abundance at Teknaf coast. Regional fisheries management organizations will be better able to make decisions about the management of the extremely valuable fish larvae as a result of future population-level predictions of the impacts of ocean acidification.

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High sclerobiont calcification in marginal reefs of the eastern tropical Pacific

Graphical abstract.

A sclerobiont is any organism capable of fouling hard substrates. Sclerobionts have recently received attention due to their notable calcium carbonate contributions to reef structures and potential to offset drops in carbonate budgets in degraded reefs. However, due to their encrusting nature, it is difficult to quantify net calcium carbonate production at the level of individual taxonomic groups, and knowledge regarding the main environmental factors that regulate their spatial distributions is limited. In addition, the material types used to create experimental substrates, their orientations, and their overall deployment times can influence settlement and the composition of the resulting communities. Thus, comparative evaluations of these variables are necessary to improve future research efforts. In this study, we used calcification accretion units (CAUs) to quantify the calcium carbonate contributions of sclerobionts at the taxonomic group level and evaluated the effects of two frequently used materials [i.e., polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and terracotta (TCT) tiles] on the recruitment and calcification of the sclerobiont community in the tropical Mexican Pacific and the Midriff Island Region of the Gulf of California over 6 and 15 months [n = 40; 5 CAUs x site (2) x deployment time (2) x material type (2)]. The net sclerobiont calcification rate (mean ± SD) reached maximum values at six months and was higher in the Mexican Pacific (2.15 ± 0.99 kg m−2 y−1) than in the Gulf of California (1.70 ± 0.67 kg m−2 y−1). Moreover, the calcification rate was slightly higher on the PVC-CAUs compared to that of the TCT-CAUs, although these differences were not consistent at the group level. In addition, cryptic microhabitats showed low calcification rates when compared to those of exposed microhabitatsCrustosecoralline algae and barnacles dominated the exposed experimental surfaces, while bryozoans, mollusks, and serpulid polychaetes dominated cryptic surfaces. Regardless of the site, deployment time, or material type, barnacles made the greatest contributions to calcimass production (between 41 and 88%). Our results demonstrate that the orientation of the experimental substrate, and the material to a lesser extent, influence the sclerobiont community and the associated calcification rate. Upwelling-induced surface nutrient levels, low pH levels, and the aragonite saturation state (ΩAr) limit the early cementation of reef-building organisms in the tropical Mexican Pacific and promote high bioerosion rates in corals of the Gulf of California. Our findings demonstrate that sclerobionts significantly contribute to calcium carbonate production even under conditions of high environmental variability.

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Cell wall organic matrix composition and biomineralization across reef-building coralline algae under global change

Crustose coralline algae (CCA) are one of the most important benthic substrate consolidators on coral reefs through their ability to deposit calcium carbonate on an organic matrix in their cell walls. Discrete polysaccharides have been recognized for their role in biomineralization, yet little is known about the carbohydrate composition of organic matrices across CCA taxa and whether they have the capacity to modulate their organic matrix constituents amidst environmental change, particularly the threats of ocean acidification (OA) and warming. We simulated elevated pCO2 and temperature (IPCC RCP 8.5) and subjected four mid-shelf Great Barrier Reef species of CCA to two months of experimentation. To assess the variability in surficial monosaccharide composition and biomineralization across species and treatments, we determined the monosaccharide composition of the polysaccharides present in the cell walls of surficial algal tissue and quantified calcification. Our results revealed dissimilarity among species’ monosaccharide constituents, which suggests that organic matrices are composed of different polysaccharides across CCA taxa. We also found that species differentially modulate composition in response to ocean acidification and warming. Our findings suggest that both variability in composition and ability to modulate monosaccharide abundance may play a crucial role in surficial biomineralization dynamics under the stress of OA and global warming.

Continue reading ‘Cell wall organic matrix composition and biomineralization across reef-building coralline algae under global change’

Seaweeds cultivation methods and their role in climate mitigation and environmental cleanup

Seaweed cultivation is an emerging sector of food production that can full fill the future food demand of the growing population. Considering the importance, Asia is home to seven of the top ten seaweed-producing nations, and Asian countries contributed 99.1% of all seaweed cultivated for food. Besides, it can reduce the carbon budget of the ocean through seaweed farms and act as a CO2 sink. In the context of climate change mitigation, the seaweed culture is the energy crop, and during its entire life cycle can serve as a bio-filter and bio-extractor. The climate change effect can be reduced by farming seaweed on a commercial scale and it will protect the coastal area by decreasing the physical damage through damping wave energy. The seaweed can reduce eutrophication by removing excess nutrients from water bodies and releasing oxygen as a byproduct in return. The cultivation of seaweed plays an important role as the source of bioenergy for full fill the future energy requirement and it will act as clean energy through the establishment of algal biorefinery along with the seaweed cultivation site. Thus, the marine energy industrial sector moves further toward large-scale expansion of this sector by adopting energy devices to offer power for seaweed growth for biofuel operation. The current reviews provides the evidence of seaweed farming methodology adopted by different countries, as well as their production and output. To mitigate climate change by direct measures such as carbon sequestration, eutrophication risk reduction, and bioenergy, as well as through indirect measures like supplying food for cattle and reducing the strain on aquaculture. The US, Japan, and Germany lastly suggest the large-scale offshore commercial farming as a feasible climate change mitigation strategy.

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Benthic foraminifera and pore water carbonate chemistry on a tidal flat and salt marsh at Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

Graphical abstract

Highlights

  • Foraminifera and halophytes showed a relationship with pore water properties.
  • Soil salinity and evaporation are the governing environmental factors.
  • Agglutinated foraminifera were rather related to pore water pCO2 than to submergence time or elevation.
  • Calcareous foraminifera specialised to tolerate carbonate-corrosive conditions prevailed at lowest saturation levels.

Abstract

Benthic foraminifera showed a vertical zonation in tidally influenced salt marshes, which has been used for sea level reconstructions. Growing evidence suggested that freshwater influx, salinity, or the pH of interstitial waters has also an impact on the foraminiferal distribution. A tidal flat and salt marsh transect was investigated in the north-western Ria Formosa coastal lagoon, Algarve, Portugal, to constrain the relationship of benthic foraminifera, halophytes, and pore water properties. The dominance of saltworts from the subfamily Salicornioideae and landward increasing soil salinities depicted evaporation as governing environmental factor. The carbonate chemistry from lagoonal and pore waters identified anoxic tidal flat sediments of as main source of total alkalinity. The alkalinity was lower in the salt marsh, where the pCO2 was extremely high. Salt marsh pore waters showed a high variability of carbonate system parameters, which mirrored small-scale spatial heterogeneities in the soil. The distribution of textulariid salt marsh foraminifera was confined to the vegetated zones, where their abundance increased with elevation. Calcareous species were frequent on the tidal flat and in the highest salt marsh. Many of them were specialised to high salinities or to extreme and variable environmental conditions. Two levels of faunal change in the salt marsh coincide with vegetation zonal boundaries, mean tide or mean high water levels. The two other faunal changes were related to changes in calcite saturation state or organic carbon concentrations. The proportion of textulariids showed a negative correlation with submergence time or elevation, and a significant correlation with pore water pCO2. The faunal distribution, pore water calcite saturation, and Ammonia dissolution patterns indicated that calcareous species specialised to tolerate carbonate-corrosive conditions prevailed even at lowest saturation levels.

Continue reading ‘Benthic foraminifera and pore water carbonate chemistry on a tidal flat and salt marsh at Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal’

A look to the future acidified ocean through the eyes of the alien and invasive alga Caulerpa cylindracea (Chlorophyta, Ulvophyceae)

Underwater CO2 vents represent natural laboratories where the responses of marine organisms to ocean acidification can be tested. In a such context, we investigated the changes in the physiology, anatomy, and ultrastructure of the non-indigenous algal species Caulerpa cylindracea growing along a natural pH/CO2 gradient, by conducting a reciprocal transplant experiment between two populations from an acidified vs a non-acidified site. Stress effects in transplants from current to lowered pH conditions resulted in a decrease in the number of active chloroplasts together with an increased number of dilatations between thylakoid membranes and a higher amount of plastoglobules. These changes were consistent with a decrease in the chlorophyll content and in photosynthetic efficiency, matched by an increase in carotenoid content and non-photochemical yields. On the opposite side, transplants from low to current pH showed a recovery to original conditions. Unexpectedly, no significant difference was recorded between wild populations living at current and lowered pH. These results suggest an ongoing acclimation process to lowered pH in the C. cylindracea populations growing in the vent area. This confirms the high plasticity of this invasive species, able to cope not only with different light and temperature conditions but even with a new acidified scenario.

Continue reading ‘A look to the future acidified ocean through the eyes of the alien and invasive alga Caulerpa cylindracea (Chlorophyta, Ulvophyceae)’

Responses of elemental content and macromolecule of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi to reduced phosphorus availability and ocean acidification depend on light intensity

Global climate change leads to simultaneous changes in multiple environmental drivers in the marine realm. Although physiological characterization of coccolithophores have been studied under climate change, there is limited knowledge on the biochemical responses of this biogeochemically important phytoplankton group to changing multiple environmental drivers. Here we investigate the interactive effects of reduced phosphorus availability (4 to 0.4 μmol L–1), elevated pCO2 concentrations (426 to 946 μatm) and increasing light intensity (40 to 300 μmol photons m–2 s–1) on elemental content and macromolecules of the cosmopolitan coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. Reduced phosphorus availability reduces particulate organic nitrogen and protein contents under low light intensity, but not under high light intensity. Reduced phosphorus availability and ocean acidification act synergistically to increase particulate organic carbon (POC) and carbohydrate contents under high light intensity but not under low light intensity. Reduced phosphorus availability, ocean acidification and increasing light intensity act synergistically to increase the allocation of POC to carbohydrates. Under future ocean acidification and increasing light intensity, enhanced carbon fixation could increase carbon storage in the phosphorus-limited regions of the oceans where E. huxleyi dominates the phytoplankton assemblages. In each light intensity, elemental carbon to phosphorus (C : P) and nitrogen to phosphorus (N : P) ratios decrease with increasing growth rate. These results suggest that coccolithophores could reallocate chemical elements and energy to synthesize macromolecules efficiently, which allows them to regulate its elemental content and growth rate to acclimate to changing environmental conditions.

Continue reading ‘Responses of elemental content and macromolecule of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi to reduced phosphorus availability and ocean acidification depend on light intensity’

Ocean acidification drives global reshuffling of ecological communities

The paradigm that climate change will alter global marine biodiversity is one of the most widely accepted. Yet, its predictions remain difficult to test because laboratory systems are inadequate at incorporating ecological complexity, and common biodiversity metrics have varying sensitivity to detect change. Here, we test for the prevalence of global responses in biodiversity and community-level change to future climate (acidification and warming) from studies at volcanic CO2 vents across four major global coastal ecosystems and studies in laboratory mesocosms. We detected globally replicable patterns of species replacements and community reshuffling under ocean acidification in major natural ecosystems, yet species diversity and other common biodiversity metrics were often insensitive to detect such community change, even under significant habitat loss. Where there was a lack of consistent patterns of biodiversity change, these were a function of similar numbers of studies observing negative versus positive species responses to climate stress. Laboratory studies showed weaker sensitivity to detect species replacements and community reshuffling in general. We conclude that common biodiversity metrics can be insensitive in revealing the anticipated effects of climate stress on biodiversity—even under significant biogenic habitat loss—and can mask widespread reshuffling of ecological communities in a future ocean. Although the influence of ocean acidification on community restructuring can be less evident than species loss, such changes can drive the dynamics of ecosystem stability or their functional change. Importantly, species identity matters, representing a substantial influence of future oceans.

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Experimental evolution reveals the synergistic genomic mechanisms of adaptation to ocean warming and acidification in a marine copepod

Metazoan adaptation to global change relies on selection of standing genetic variation. Determining the extent to which this variation exists in natural populations, particularly for responses to simultaneous stressors, is essential to make accurate predictions for persistence in future conditions. Here, we identified the genetic variation enabling the copepod Acartia tonsa to adapt to experimental ocean warming, acidification, and combined ocean warming and acidification (OWA) over 25 generations of continual selection. Replicate populations showed a consistent polygenic response to each condition, targeting an array of adaptive mechanisms including cellular homeostasis, development, and stress response. We used a genome-wide covariance approach to partition the allelic changes into three categories: selection, drift and replicate-specific selection, and laboratory adaptation responses. The majority of allele frequency change in warming (57%) and OWA (63%) was driven by shared selection pressures across replicates, but this effect was weaker under acidification alone (20%). OWA and warming shared 37% of their response to selection but OWA and acidification shared just 1%, indicating that warming is the dominant driver of selection in OWA. Despite the dominance of warming, the interaction with acidification was still critical as the OWA selection response was highly synergistic with 47% of the allelic selection response unique from either individual treatment. These results disentangle how genomic targets of selection differ between single and multiple stressors and demonstrate the complexity that nonadditive multiple stressors will contribute to predictions of adaptation to complex environmental shifts caused by global change.

Continue reading ‘Experimental evolution reveals the synergistic genomic mechanisms of adaptation to ocean warming and acidification in a marine copepod’

Environmental memory gained from exposure to extreme pCO2 variability promotes coral cellular acid–base homeostasis

Ocean acidification is a growing threat to coral growth and the accretion of coral reef ecosystems. Corals inhabiting environments that already endure extreme diel pCO2 fluctuations, however, may represent acidification-resilient populations capable of persisting on future reefs. Here, we examined the impact of pCO2 variability on the reef-building coral Pocillopora damicornis originating from reefs with contrasting environmental histories (variable reef flat versus stable reef slope) following reciprocal exposure to stable (218 ± 9) or variable (911 ± 31) diel pCO2 amplitude (μtam) in aquaria over eight weeks. Endosymbiont density, photosynthesis and net calcification rates differed between origins but not treatment, whereas primary calcification (extension) was affected by both origin and acclimatization to novel pCO2 conditions. At the cellular level, corals from the variable reef flat exhibited less intracellular pH (pHi) acidosis and faster pHi recovery rates in response to experimental acidification stress (pH 7.40) than corals originating from the stable reef slope, suggesting environmental memory gained from lifelong exposure to pCO2 variability led to an improved ability to regulate acid–base homeostasis. These results highlight the role of cellular processes in maintaining acidification resilience and suggest that prior exposure to pCO2 variability may promote more acidification-resilient coral populations in a changing climate.

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Exposure to global change and microplastics elicits an immune response in an endangered coral

Global change is increasing seawater temperatures and decreasing oceanic pH, driving declines of coral reefs globally. Coral ecosystems are also impacted by local stressors, including microplastics, which are ubiquitous on reefs. While the independent effects of these global and local stressors are well-documented, their interactions remain less explored. Here, we examine the independent and combined effects of global change (ocean warming and acidification) and microplastics exposures on gene expression (GE) and microbial community composition in the endangered coral Acropora cervicornis. Nine genotypes were fragmented and maintained in one of four experimental treatments: 1) ambient conditions (ambient seawater, no microplastics; AMB); 2) microplastics treatment (ambient seawater, microplastics; MP); 3) global change conditions (warm and acidic conditions, no microplastics; OAW); and 4) multistressor treatment (warm and acidic conditions with microplastics; OAW+MP) for 22 days, after which corals were sampled for genome-wide GE profiling and ITS and 16S metabarcoding. Overall A. cervicornis GE responses to all treatments were subtle; however, corals in the multistressor treatment exhibited the strongest GE responses, and genes associated with innate immunity were overrepresented in this treatment, according to gene ontology enrichment analyses. 16S analyses revealed stable microbiomes dominated by the bacterial associate Aquarickettsia, suggesting that these A. cervicornis fragments exhibited remarkably low variability in bacterial community composition. Future work should focus on functional differences across microbiomes, especially Aquarickettsia and viruses, in these responses. Overall, results suggest that local stressors present a unique challenge to endangered coral species under global change.

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The effects of ocean acidification on the establishment and maintenance of a model cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis

Coral reefs are increasingly under threat from the effects of anthropogenic climate change, including rising sea surface temperatures and more acidified waters. At the foundation of these diverse and valuable ecosystems is the symbiotic relationship between calcifying corals and their endosymbiotic dinoflagellate algae, Symbiodiniaceae – one that is particularly sensitive to environmental stressors. Ocean acidification (OA) results in the lowering of pH and changes to carbonate chemistry and the inorganic carbon species available to marine organisms. Cnidarians such as reef-building corals may be particularly at risk from OA, as changes in pH and carbon availability can alter central physiological processes, including calcification, photosynthesis, acid-base regulation, metabolism and cell-cycle regulation. Yet, while responses to OA have been well researched at the physiological level, results have often been contradictory, and a clear understanding of the nature and extent of impacts on the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis remains equivocal. This thesis therefore aimed to provide further insights into the effects of OA on the establishment and maintenance of the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis. My research utilised the well-established model system for this symbiosis: the sea anemone Exaiptasia diaphana (‘Aiptasia’) and its native symbiont Breviolum minutum.

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Global change differentially modulates Caribbean coral physiology

Global change driven by anthropogenic carbon emissions is altering ecosystems at unprecedented rates, especially coral reefs, whose symbiosis with algal symbionts is particularly vulnerable to increasing ocean temperatures and altered carbonate chemistry. Here, we assess the physiological responses of three Caribbean coral (animal host + algal symbiont) species from an inshore and offshore reef environment after exposure to simulated ocean warming (28, 31°C), acidification (300–3290 μatm), and the combination of stressors for 93 days. We used multidimensional analyses to assess how a variety of coral physiological parameters respond to ocean acidification and warming. Our results demonstrate reductions in coral health in Siderastrea siderea and Porites astreoides in response to projected ocean acidification, while future warming elicited severe declines in Pseudodiploria strigosa. Offshore Ssiderea fragments exhibited higher physiological plasticity than inshore counterparts, suggesting that this offshore population was more susceptible to changing conditions. There were no plasticity differences in Pstrigosa and Pastreoides between natal reef environments, however, temperature evoked stronger responses in both species. Interestingly, while each species exhibited unique physiological responses to ocean acidification and warming, when data from all three species are modelled together, convergent stress responses to these conditions are observed, highlighting the overall sensitivities of tropical corals to these stressors. Our results demonstrate that while ocean warming is a severe acute stressor that will have dire consequences for coral reefs globally, chronic exposure to acidification may also impact coral physiology to a greater extent in some species than previously assumed. Further, our study identifies Ssiderea and Pastreoides as potential ‘winners’ on future Caribbean coral reefs due to their resilience under projected global change stressors, while Pstrigosa will likely be a ‘loser’ due to their sensitivity to thermal stress events. Together, these species-specific responses to global change we observe will likely manifest in altered Caribbean reef assemblages in the future.

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A method for identifying sensitivity of marine benthic invertebrates to ocean acidification through a biological traits approach

Ocean acidification poses a major threat to the structure and diversity of marine ecosystems. The marine seabed sustains important ecosystem functions, and so understanding the sensitivity to increased pCO2 within benthic invertebrates is critical for informing future management strategies. Here, we explore a traits-based approach for estimating the sensitivity of benthic taxa to ocean acidification, using data from the western area of the North Sea. We selected 56 taxa across 11 taxonomic groups representative of the various habitats found in the region. Biological traits considered sensitive to elevated pCO2 were identified from literature review, and the taxa were scored for each trait to produce a total relative sensitivity (TRS) index. We investigated differences in sensitivity between the taxa and across habitats and explored whether sensitivity was spatially aggregated. Our analyses indicated that benthic species are sensitive to acidification, with 51% of the taxa scoring in the top three TRS bands overall, and hot spots of sensitivity being more widely distributed across the region than corresponding “cold spots” (low sensitivity). The opportunities and limitations of the approach are discussed.

Continue reading ‘A method for identifying sensitivity of marine benthic invertebrates to ocean acidification through a biological traits approach’

Effects of the ocean acidification on the functional structure of coral reef nematodes

A mesocosm experiment was designed to study the effects of acidification on the phytal nematofauna of a coral reef. We hypothesized that phytal nematodes are responsive to different seawater acidification levels and that their assemblage structure and functional indicators (combination of maturity index and trophic diversity index) are useful to evaluate the effects of acidification. Artificial substrate units (ASU) were first colonized in a coral reef zone (Recife de Fora Municipal Marine Park, Porto Seguro, Bahia, Brazil) to obtain standardized assemblage samples. ASUs were transferred to laboratory and exposed to control and three levels of seawater acidification (pH reduced by 0.3, 0.6 and 0.9 units below field levels) and collected after 15 and 30 d. Contrary to our expectations that acidification may change the taxonomic structure of nematodes, while the functional structure may deviate from the expected under high levels of acidification, we found that univariate functional indicators of the community (index of trophic diversity and maturity index) did not show significant differences between the control and experimental treatments throughout the exposure period. It is probably because the frequent exposure of shallow-water nematodes to rather large environmental variations leads the faunal response to acidification to be complex and subtle. On the other hand, the density of the life-history strategy groups 3 and 4 and the structure of nematode assemblages were significantly affected by different pH levels throughout the exposure period. Both history strategy groups include all kinds of feeding groups. These results suggest that the impact of pH changes predicted by the years 2100 and 2300 may be strong enough to provide different traits or life-history strategies of nematodes to take advantage under changing conditions.

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Impacts of warming and acidification on coral calcification linked to photosymbiont loss and deregulation of calcifying fluid pH

Corals are globally important calcifiers that exhibit complex responses to anthropogenic warming and acidification. Although coral calcification is supported by high seawater pH, photosynthesis by the algal symbionts of zooxanthellate corals can be promoted by elevated pCO2. To investigate the mechanisms underlying corals’ complex responses to global change, three species of tropical zooxanthellate corals (Stylophora pistillataPocillopora damicornis, and Seriatopora hystrix) and one species of asymbiotic cold-water coral (Desmophyllum pertusum, syn. Lophelia pertusa) were cultured under a range of ocean acidification and warming scenarios. Under control temperatures, all tropical species exhibited increased calcification rates in response to increasing pCO2. However, the tropical species’ response to increasing pCO2 flattened when they lost symbionts (i.e., bleached) under the high-temperature treatments—suggesting that the loss of symbionts neutralized the benefit of increased pCO2 on calcification rate. Notably, the cold-water species that lacks symbionts exhibited a negative calcification response to increasing pCO2, although this negative response was partially ameliorated under elevated temperature. All four species elevated their calcifying fluid pH relative to seawater pH under all pCO2 treatments, and the magnitude of this offset (Δ[H+]) increased with increasing pCO2. Furthermore, calcifying fluid pH decreased along with symbiont abundance under thermal stress for the one species in which calcifying fluid pH was measured under both temperature treatments. This observation suggests a mechanistic link between photosymbiont loss (‘bleaching’) and impairment of zooxanthellate corals’ ability to elevate calcifying fluid pH in support of calcification under heat stress. This study supports the assertion that thermally induced loss of photosymbionts impairs tropical zooxanthellate corals’ ability to cope with CO2-induced ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of warming and acidification on coral calcification linked to photosymbiont loss and deregulation of calcifying fluid pH’

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