Posts Tagged 'oxygen'

An experimental evaluation of the sensitivity of coastal marine fishes to acidification, hypoxia, and warming

Ocean acidification (OA) during the coming century will impact marine ecosystems in profound ways. Laboratory studies have played a pioneering role in identifying biological vulnerabilities and have documented deleterious effects in taxonomically diverse fauna. The early life-stages of marine fish may be particularly sensitive to OA, thereby constituting a global threat to some of the world’s most important marine resources. Despite the rapid accumulation of experimental evidence, considerable uncertainty remains in estimating the scope of OA impacts. To date, most studies have relied on relatively short-term exposures to estimate effects of elevated pCO, while few have considered longer term OA effect across multiple life-stages. Additionally, while single-factor CO2 experiments are a necessary first step in identifying OA sensitivities, there is a growing understanding that OA will proceed concurrently with warming and deoxygenation, yet multi-stressor factorial experiments remain rare. Furthermore, meta-analyses of existing research have highlighted the large, and thus far unexplained variability in OA responses among taxa and populations. One promising mechanism which could explain this variability involves the role of local adaptation to existing pCO2fluctuations that characterizes marine habitats to different degrees. This framework remains untested in fish. The primary goal of this dissertation was to apply state-of-the-art experimental techniques to address the aforementioned knowledge gaps. By using two ecological important forage species, the Atlantic silverside (Menidia menidia) and Northern sand lance (Ammodytes dubius) with contrasting life-history characteristics, this dissertation provides novel insights into potential near-future climate impacts on fish. Chapter 1 summarizes a long-term OA experiment on M. menidia finding that elevated pCO2 exposure resulted in small but significant reductions in offspring size and condition factor. Chapter 2 tested CO2 × temperature effects in M. menidia offspring and found complex growth and survival responses. Chapter 3 reports on CO2 × temperature trials on offspring of A. dubius and documented precipitous reductions to survival and growth. Chapter 4 describes two CO2 × dissolved oxygen trials on M. menidia offspring that demonstrated a negative synergistic effect on embryonic survival. Together, this dissertation provides much needed baseline data and novel insights into climate effects in forage fish.

Continue reading ‘An experimental evaluation of the sensitivity of coastal marine fishes to acidification, hypoxia, and warming’

Combined effects of simulated acidification and hypoxia on the harmful dinoflagellate Amphidinium carterae

Hypoxia and acidification frequently co-occur in coastal marine ecosystems, and will likely become more intense and persistent with anthropogenic climate change. Although the separate effects of these stressors have previously been described, their combined effects on marine phytoplankton are currently unknown. In this novel study, multi-stressor incubation experiments using the harmful dinoflagellate, Amphidinium carterae, examined the effects of acidification and hypoxia both individually and in combination. Long-term (7 days) and short-term (6 h) experiments under controlled carbon dioxide (CO2) and oxygen (O2) conditions examined the interactive effects of the stressors and the physiological mechanisms driving their interaction. In the long-term experiment, synergistically negative effects were observed for A. carterae growth, photosynthesis, carbon fixation, nitrate uptake, and photosynthetic efficiency (Fv/Fm) under combined high CO2 (low pH) and low O2 conditions. In the short-term experiment, delayed recovery of photosystem II (PSII) reaction centers was observed following photoinhibition, suggesting that high CO2 and low O2 conditions negatively affect photosynthesis in A. carterae even after relatively short exposures. Although high CO2, low O2 conditions should decrease photorespiration and favor carbon fixation by the key photosynthetic enzyme ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate-carboxylase/oxygenase (RuBisCO), these findings demonstrate that the affinity of RuBisCO for CO2 relative to O2 alone does not predict phytoplankton responses to CO2 and O2 conditions in vivo, complicating predictions of phytoplankton community responses to hypoxia and acidification. Results of these experiments suggest that the combination of low pH and O2 concentrations may negatively impact the growth of some harmful dinoflagellates in coastal marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of simulated acidification and hypoxia on the harmful dinoflagellate Amphidinium carterae’

A new mesocosm system to study the effects of environmental variability on marine species and communities

Climate change will shift mean environmental conditions and also increase the frequency and intensity of extreme events, exerting additional stress on ecosystems. While field observations on extremes are emerging, experimental evidence of their biological consequences is rare. Here, we introduce a mesocosm system that was developed to study the effects of environmental variability of multiple drivers (temperature, salinity, pH, light) on single species and communities at various temporal scales (diurnal ‐ seasonal): the Kiel Indoor Benthocosms (KIBs). Both, real‐time offsets from field measurements or various dynamic regimes of environmental scenarios, can be implemented, including sinusoidal curve functions at any chosen amplitude or frequency, stochastic regimes matching in situ dynamics of previous years and modeled extreme events. With temperature as the driver in focus, we highlight the strengths and discuss limitations of the system. In addition, we examined the effects of different sinusoidal temperature fluctuation frequencies on mytilid mussel performance. High‐frequency fluctuations around a warming mean (+2°C warming, ± 2°C fluctuations, wavelength = 1.5 d) increased mussel growth as did a constant warming of 2°C. Fluctuations at a lower frequency (+2 and ± 2°C, wavelength = 4.5 d), however, reduced the mussels’ growth. This shows that environmental fluctuations, and importantly their associated characteristics (such as frequency), can mediate the strength of global change impacts on a key marine species. The here presented mesocosm system can help to overcome a major short‐coming of marine experimental ecology and will provide more robust data for the prediction of shifts in ecosystem structure and services in a changing and fluctuating world.

Continue reading ‘A new mesocosm system to study the effects of environmental variability on marine species and communities’

Transgenerational effects of short-term exposure to acidification and hypoxia on early developmental traits of the mussel Mytilus edulis


• Effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia on the early development of the mussel M. edulis were investigated.

• Positive carry-over effects of adult mussels exposed to low pH and hypoxia were observed on larvae performance.

• Low pH showed key negative effects on the early development of the mussel M. edulis.


Transgenerational effects of multiple stressors on marine organisms are emerging environmental themes. We thus experimentally tested for transgenerational effects of seawater acidification and hypoxia on the early development traits of the mussel Mytilus edulis. Fertilization rate, embryo deformity rate, and larval shell length were negatively impacted by acidification, while hypoxia had little effect except for increasing deformity rates under control pH conditions. Offspring from low pH/O2 parents were less negatively affected by low pH/O2 conditions than offspring from control parents; however, low pH/O2 conditions still negatively affected developmental traits in offspring from acclimated parents compared to control seawater conditions. Our results demonstrate that experimental seawater acidification and hypoxia can adversely affect early developmental traits of M. edulis and that parental exposure can only partially alleviate these impacts. If experimental observations hold true in nature, it is unlikely that parental exposure will confer larval tolerance to ocean acidification for M. edulis.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational effects of short-term exposure to acidification and hypoxia on early developmental traits of the mussel Mytilus edulis’

Individual and combined effects of low dissolved oxygen and low pH on survival of early stage larval blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus

A large number of coastal ecosystems globally are subjected to concurrent hypoxic and acidified conditions that will likely intensify and expand with continued climate change. In temperate regions, the spawning of many important organisms including the Atlantic blue crab Callinectes sapidus occurs during the summer months when the severity of coastal hypoxia and acidification is the greatest. While the blue crab earliest larval stage can be exposed to co-occurring hypoxia and acidification observed in many coastal ecosystems, the effects of these concurrent stressors on larval blue crab survival is unknown. This study investigated the individual and combined consequences of low dissolved oxygen (DO) and low pH on blue crab larvae survival through a series of short-term experiments. During 14-day experiments with moderately hypoxic conditions (117–127 μM O2 or 3.74–4.06 mg L-1) and acidified conditions (pH on total scale of 7.16–7.33), low DO and low pH individually and significantly reduced larval survival by 60% and 49%, respectively, with the combination of stressors reducing survival by 87% compared to the control treatment (210–269 μM O2 or 6.72–8.61 mg L-1, 7.91–7.94 DO and pH, respectively). During 4-day experiments with lower DO levels (68–83 μM O2 or 2.18–2.62 mg L-1) and comparable pH levels of 7.29–7.39, low DO individually reduced survival by >90% compared to the control (261–267 μM O2 or 8.35–8.54 mg L-1, 7.92–7.97 DO and pH, respectively), whereas low pH had no effect and there was no interaction between stressors. Over a 4-day period, the DO threshold at which 50% of the larval blue crab population died (LC50) was 121 μM O2 (3.86 mgL-1). In 14-day experiments, the DO and pH effects were additive, yielding survival rates lower than the individual treatments, and significantly correlated with DO and pH concentrations. Collectively, these findings indicate that blue crab sensitivity to both low DO and low pH are acute within the larval stage, depend on the intensity and duration of exposure, and leads to mortality, thereby potentially contributing to the interannual variability and possible regional declines of this fishery.

Continue reading ‘Individual and combined effects of low dissolved oxygen and low pH on survival of early stage larval blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus’

Quantifying sensitivity and adaptive capacity of shellfish in the Northern California Current Ecosystem to increasing prevalence of ocean acidification and hypoxia

The severity of carbonate chemistry changes from ocean acidification is predicted to increase greatly in the coming decades, with serious consequences for marine species-­ especially those reliant on calcium carbonate for structure and function (Fabry et al. 2008). The Northern California Current Ecosystem off the coast of US West Coast experiences seasonal variations in upwelling and downwelling patterns creating natural episodes of hypoxia and calcite/aragonite undersaturation, exacerbating global trends of increasing ocean acidification and hypoxia (OAH) (Chan et al. 2008) (Gruber et al. 2012). The goal of these experiments was to identify thresholds of tolerance and attempt to quantify a point at which variance in responses to stress collapses. This study focuses on two species: Cancer magister (Dungeness crab) and Haliotis rufescens (red abalone). These species were selected for this study based on their economic and ecological value, as well as their taxonomic differences. Respirometry was used as a proxy for metabolic activity at four different scenarios mimicking preindustrial, upwelling, contemporary upwelling, and distant future conditions by manipulating dissolved oxygen and inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations. Both species showed a decrease in mean respiration rate as OAH stressors increase, including an effect in contemporary upwelling conditions. These results suggest that current exposure to ocean acidification (OA) and hypoxia do not confer resilience to these stressors for either taxa. In teasing apart the effects of OAH as multiple stressors, it was found that Dungeness crab response was more strongly driven by concentration of dissolved oxygen, while red abalone data suggested a strong interactive effect between OA and hypoxia. Not only did these two different taxa exhibit different responses to a multiple stressors, but the fact that the Dungeness crab were secondarily impacted by acidification could suggest that current management concerns may need to be focus more strongly on deoxygenation.

Continue reading ‘Quantifying sensitivity and adaptive capacity of shellfish in the Northern California Current Ecosystem to increasing prevalence of ocean acidification and hypoxia’

Predator avoidance in the European Seabass after recovery from short-term hypoxia and different CO2 conditions

Short-term hypoxia that lasts just a few days or even hours is a major threat for the marine ecosystems. The single effect of the human-induced levels of hypoxia and other anthropogenic impacts such as elevated pCO2 can reduce the ability of preys to detect their predators across taxa. Moreover, both processes, hypoxia and elevated pCO2, are expected to co-occur in certain habitats, but the synergic consequences of both processes and the ability of fish to recover remain unknown. To provide empirical evidence to this synergy, we experimentally evaluated the risk-taking behavior in juveniles of the European seabass (Dicentrachus labrax), an important commercial fisheries species after recovering from short-term hypoxia and different pH scenarios. The behavior of seabass juveniles was monitored in an experimental arena before and after the exposure to a simulated predator and contrasted to control fish (BACI design) (current levels of hypoxia and elevated pCO2) using a mechanistic function-valued modeling trait approach. Results revealed that fish recovering from elevated pCO2, alone or combined with hypoxia, presented less avoidance behavior in failing to seek refuge when a simulated predator was present in the arena compared to those exposed to control pCO2 levels. Our results show that recovery from short-term exposure to acidification and hypoxia was not synergistic and suggest that recovery from acidification takes longer than from short-term hypoxia treatment through a potential effect on the sensorial and hence behavioral capacities of fish.

Continue reading ‘Predator avoidance in the European Seabass after recovery from short-term hypoxia and different CO2 conditions’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book