Posts Tagged 'oxygen'

O2 and CO2 responses of the synaptic period to under-ice phytoplankton bloom in the eutrophic Razdolnaya River estuary of Amur Bay, the Sea of Japan

Hydrological conditions are an important factor for aquatic ecosystems. Their contribution to stimulating phytoplankton bloom in eutrophic estuaries is not quite clear. We present the results of an outbreak of a phytoplankton bloom event observed in the eutrophic Razdolnaya R. estuary in 2022 from January 22 to February 23, when the estuary was covered by ice. The bloom spreads over 21 km from the river mouth bar to upstream in the near-bottom layer below the halocline. The Chl-a concentration in the bloom area increased from 15 to 100 μg/L, and the dissolved oxygen concentration from 350 to 567 μmol/kg at a rate of 11 μmol/(kg day) over the study period, while the CO2 partial pressure was reduced to 108 µatm in the most oxygen-supersaturated waters. The Thalassiosira nordenskioeldii Cleve sea diatom was the dominant phytoplankton species in the bloom area. The opposite trend was observed near the boundary of the saline water wedge penetration over 29 km from the river mouth bar to upstream where the dissolved oxygen concentration decreased from 140 to 53 μmol/kg over a month, and partial pressure of CO2 reached 4454 μatm. We also present the results obtained in February 2016 before and after a snowfall, when the ability of PAR to penetrate through the ice was impeded by a layer of snow. After the snowfall, photosynthesis in the under-ice water stopped and the oxygen concentration decreased to almost zero due to the microbiological destruction of the phytoplankton biomass. As such, the main effect of phytoplankton bloom is the formation of superoxia/hypoxia (depending on the light conditions), during the period of maximum ice thickness and minimum river discharge. Thus, this study demonstrates that the eutrophication in the future could lead to unstable ecosystems and large synoptic variations of dissolved oxygen and CO2 partial pressure of the estuaries.

Continue reading ‘O2 and CO2 responses of the synaptic period to under-ice phytoplankton bloom in the eutrophic Razdolnaya River estuary of Amur Bay, the Sea of Japan’

Transcriptomic analysis of large yellow croaker (Larimichthys crocea) during early development under hypoxia and acidification stress

Simple Summary

The large yellow croaker is one of the most economically important fish in China. In recent years, the deterioration of the water environment and unregulated aquaculture have caused great economic losses to the large yellow croaker breeding industry. The aim of this study was to analyze the effects of hypoxia and acidification stress on large yellow croaker. This study revealed that hypoxia and acidification stress suppressed the growth of the large yellow croaker. Transcriptome analysis revealed that genes of the collagen family play an important role in the response of large yellow croaker to hypoxia and acidification stress. The study elucidates the mechanism underlying the response of large yellow croaker to hypoxia–acidification stress during early development and provides a basic understanding of the potential combined effects of reduced pH and dissolved oxygen on Sciaenidae fishes.


Fishes live in aquatic environments and several aquatic environmental factors have undergone recent alterations. The molecular mechanisms underlying fish responses to hypoxia and acidification stress have become a serious concern in recent years. This study revealed that hypoxia and acidification stress suppressed the growth of body length and height of the large yellow croaker (Larimichthys crocea). Subsequent transcriptome analyses of L. crocea juveniles under hypoxia, acidification, and hypoxia–acidification stress led to the identification of 5897 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in the five groups. Gene Ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes enrichment analyses revealed that several DEGs were enriched in the ‘protein digestion and absorption’ pathway. Enrichment analysis revealed that this pathway was closely related to hypoxia and acidification stress in the five groups, and we found that genes of the collagen family may play a key role in this pathway. The zf-C2H2 transcription factor may play an important role in the hypoxia and acidification stress response, and novel genes were additionally identified. The results provide new clues for further research on the molecular mechanisms underlying hypoxia–acidification tolerance in L. crocea and provides a basic understanding of the potential combined effects of reduced pH and dissolved oxygen on Sciaenidae fishes.

Continue reading ‘Transcriptomic analysis of large yellow croaker (Larimichthys crocea) during early development under hypoxia and acidification stress’

Effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia on stress and growth hormone responses in juvenile blue rockfish (Sebastes mystinus)

Global climate change is causing increasing ocean acidification (OA) and deoxygenation (hypoxia) of coastal oceans. Along the coast of California, where upwelling is a dominant seasonal physical process, these environmental stressors often co-occur and are intensified in nearshore ecosystems. For juvenile nearshore fishes, who spend a crucial developmental life stage in coastal kelp forests during the upwelling season, these stressors are experienced concurrently and may have large implications for fitness. Environmental stress can set off an endocrine response, which impacts physiology, energy allocation, growth, and behavior. To test the effects of climate change on juvenile blue rockfish, I measured the endocrine response to single and combined stressors of OA and hypoxia after one week of exposure. Assays of cortisol and IGF-1 hormone responses, served as proxies for stress and growth, respectively. Full organismal effects of environmental stressors were evaluated using a scototaxis (i.e., light/dark anxiety) behavior test, and measures of physiological changes in maximum metabolic rate (MMR) and body condition (i.e., Fulton’s K condition index). I found that peak (~1 hour) cortisol levels were highest in the single stressor low pH (7.3 pH), followed by the combined stressor (7.3 pH and 2.0 mg/L O2) and then the single stressor hypoxic treatment (2.0 mg/l O2). This high peak cortisol associated with low pH may indicate the role of cortisol in acid-base regulation. Only the low DO (dissolved oxygen) group did not exhibit a recovery of cortisol levels by the end of one week. There was no observable difference in IGF-1 in juvenile blue rockfish after a week of exposure to any of the pH or DO stressors. When cortisol levels were high, the same fish had low levels of IGF-1, and when cortisol levels were lower, the same fish had highly variable levels of IGF-1. At one-week of exposure, cortisol exhibited a positive relationship with MMR, such that higher stress levels were associated with greater oxygen consumption by the fish. MMR values themselves were highest in the low DO fish, which subsequently also had slightly higher cortisol levels at one-week. Juvenile blue rockfish were largely robust to any behavioral changes associated with stress across treatments. Hypoxic treatment fish had significantly lower body condition than fish from treatments with ambient DO levels after one week. Overall, the results indicated that pH levels influenced hormonal stress physiology, while DO levels contributed to observed differences in metabolism, body condition, and behavioral anxiety in juvenile blue rockfish. I was unable to tease apart and classify whether OA and hypoxia work in an additive, antagonistic, or synergistic way. Continued research should include more experimental stressor treatment levels of varying intensity of both individual and combined treatments as well as upwelling/relaxation fluctuating treatment levels. Elucidating the effects of climate change on fish endocrine response and physiology is important for fish population management and can help inform stock assessment models of blue rockfish in a rapidly changing ocean.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification and hypoxia on stress and growth hormone responses in juvenile blue rockfish (Sebastes mystinus)’

Effects of hypoxia and acidification on Calanus pacificus: behavioral changes in response to stressful environments

Copepods, which play major roles in marine food webs and biogeochemical cycling, frequently undergo diel vertical migration (DVM), swimming downwards during the day to avoid visual predation and upwards at night to feed. Natural water columns that are stratified with chemical stressors at depth, such as hypoxia and acidification, are increasing with climate change. Understanding behavioral responses of copepods to these stresses—in particular, whether copepods alter their natural migration—is important to anticipating impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. We conducted laboratory experiments using stratified water columns to measure the effects of bottom water hypoxia and pH on mortality, distribution, and swimming behaviors of the calanoid copepod Calanus pacificus. When exposed to hypoxic (0.65 mg O2 l-1) bottom waters, the height of C. pacificus from the bottom increased 20% within hypoxic columns, and swimming speed decreased 46% at the bottom of hypoxic columns and increased 12% above hypoxic waters. When exposed to low pH (7.48) bottom waters, swimming speeds decreased by 8 and 9% at the base of the tanks and above acidic waters, respectively. Additionally, we found a 118% increase in ‘moribund’ (immobile on the bottom) copepods when exposed to hypoxic, but not acidic, bottom waters. Some swimming statistics differed between copepods collected from sites with versus without historical hypoxia and acidity. Observed responses suggest potential mechanisms underlying in situ changes in copepod population distributions when exposed to chemical stressors at depth.

Continue reading ‘Effects of hypoxia and acidification on Calanus pacificus: behavioral changes in response to stressful environments’

Crustacean ecology in a changing climate

Whilst crustaceans occupy a diversity of ecological niches and have adapted to many environmental challenges, relatively little is known on how the predicted changes associated with climate change will impact individuals, communities, species and ecosystems globally. Direct oceanic change to seawater temperature, pH, alkalinity, oxygen level and salinity and indirect impacts on weather, seasonality, food availability and changes in ecological networks will put pressure upon crustaceans to acclimate. There is now emerging evidence that behaviour, physiology, fitness and ultimately reproduction and survival of coastal crustaceans is altered under experimental climate change conditions, with most studies showing negative impacts. Nevertheless measurable endpoints, multigenerational and ecosystem studies are to date extremely rare and the full impact of climate change stress upon crustaceans is nowhere near fully understood.

Continue reading ‘Crustacean ecology in a changing climate’

Impacts of global environmental change on fish and fisheries of the Northeastern Pacific Ocean

Marine fishes’ intolerance to global change conditions can affect the abundance and distribution of ecologically and economically important species, reshape the structure of trophic webs, and profoundly impact the human communities that rely on fished species for their livelihood and culture. Only by understanding the vulnerability of fished species and fishing communities to global change can we take effective adaptive action and implement climate-ready fisheries management. In this dissertation, I investigate the vulnerability of eight commercially important fished species and one fishing community to global change in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean. In chapter one, I expose Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), a benthic egg layer, to temperature, oxygen, and pH conditions we expect to see in the Central California Current System (CCS) by the year 2050 and 2100. I examine both the lethal and sublethal effects of these two multistressor climate change scenarios by measuring differences in metabolic rate, hatching success, and larval quality between treatments. In chapter two, I use a species distribution modeling approach to evaluate how historical (1982-2019) and projected (2030 through end-of-century) warming in the Eastern Bering Sea (EBS), Alaska, affects predator-prey interactions for some of the most commercially valuable fisheries in the U.S. These species include: 1) Pacific Cod (Gadus macrocephalus), 2) Pacific Halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis), 3) Arrowtooth Flounder, 4) Walleye Pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus), 5) Tanner Crab (Chionoecetes bairdi), 6) Snow Crab (Chionoecetes opilio), and 7) Alaskan Pink Shrimp (Pandalus eous). In chapter three, I use social network analyses to depict the resilience and adaptability of the California Market Squid fishery (Doryteuthis opalescens), the most valuable in the state, to climate perturbations and project changes in habitat suitability by the year 2100 in the CCS. By using all of these vulnerability assessment tools, we can begin to prepare U.S. west coast fisheries for global environmental change.

Continue reading ‘Impacts of global environmental change on fish and fisheries of the Northeastern Pacific Ocean’

Coral reef fishes in a multi-stressor world

Coral reef fishes and the ecosystems they support represent some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems on the planet yet are under threat as they face dramatic increases in multiple, interacting stressors that are largely intensified by anthropogenic influences, such as climate change. Coral reef fishes have been the topic of 875 studies between 1979 and 2020 examining physiological responses to various abiotic and biotic stressors. Here, we highlight the current state of knowledge regarding coral reef fishes’ responses to eight key abiotic stressors (i.e., pollutants, temperature, hypoxia and ocean deoxygenation, pH/CO2, noise, salinity, pressure/depth, and turbidity) and four key biotic stressors (i.e., prey abundance, predator threats, parasites, and disease) and discuss stressors that have been examined in combination. We conclude with a horizon scan to discuss acclimation and adaptation, technological advances, knowledge gaps, and the future of physiological research on coral reef fishes. As we proceed through this new epoch, the Anthropocene, it is critical that the scientific and general communities work to recognize the issues that various habitats and ecosystems, such as coral reefs and the fishes that depend on and support them, are facing so that mitigation strategies can be implemented to protect biodiversity and ecosystem health.

Continue reading ‘Coral reef fishes in a multi-stressor world’

How does climate change affect a fishable resource? The case of the royal sea cucumber (Parastichopus regalis) in the central Mediterranean Sea

Holothurians or sea cucumbers are key organisms in marine ecosystems that, by ingesting large quantities of sediments, provide important ecosystem services. Among them, Parastichopus regalis (Cuvier, 1817) is one of the living sea cucumbers in the Mediterranean actively fished for human consumption mainly in Spain, where it is considered a gastronomic delicacy. In the Strait of Sicily (central Mediterranean Sea), this species is not exploited for commercial use even if it is used as bait by longline fishery. P. regalis is frequently caught by bottom trawling and discarded at sea by fishers after catch, and because of its capacity to resist air exposition (at least in cold months), it is reasonable to consider that it is not affected by fishing mortality. Having observed a significant decrease in abundance since 2018, the possible effects of some ecological factors related to current climate change (i.e., temperature and pH) were sought. Generalized additive models (GAMs) were applied to investigate the relationship among the abundance of P. regalis and environmental variables and fishing effort. Long time series of P. regalis densities (2008–2021) were extracted from the MEDITS bottom trawling survey and modeled as function of environmental parameters (i.e., salinity, dissolved oxygen, ammonium, pH, and chlorophyll α) and fishing effort (i.e., total number of fishing days per gross tonnage). Our results showed that this species prefers the soft bottoms (50–200 m) of the Adventure Bank and Malta Plateau, and its distribution changed over time with a slight deepening and a rarefaction of spatial distribution starting from 2011 and 2017, respectively. In addition, a positive relationship with pH concentration in surface waters during the larval dispersal phase (3-year lag before the survey) and nutrient concentration at sea bottom (1-year lag) has been found, suggesting that this species is sensitive to climate change and food availability. This study adds new knowledge about the population dynamics of an unexploited stock of P. regalis under fishing impact and environmental under climate change in fisheries management.

Continue reading ‘How does climate change affect a fishable resource? The case of the royal sea cucumber (Parastichopus regalis) in the central Mediterranean Sea’

Immune defense in hypoxic waters: impacts of CO2 acidification

Periodic episodes of low oxygen (hypoxia) and elevated CO2 (hypercapnia) accompanied by low pH occur naturally in estuarine environments. Under the influence of climate change, the geographic range and intensity of hypoxia and hypercapnic hypoxia are predicted to increase, potentially jeopardizing the survival of economically and ecologically important organisms that use estuaries as habitat and nursery grounds. In this review we synthesize data from published studies that evaluate the impact of hypoxia and hypercapnic hypoxia on the ability of crustaceans and bivalve molluscs to defend themselves against potential microbial pathogens. Available data indicate that hypoxia generally has suppressive effects on host immunity against bacterial pathogens as measured by in vitro and in vivo assays. Few studies have documented the effects of hypercapnic hypoxia on crustaceans or bivalve immune defense, with a range of outcomes suggesting that added CO2 might have additive, negative, or no interactions with the effects of hypoxia alone. This synthesis points to the need for more partial pressure of O2 × low pH factorial design experiments and recommends the development of new host∶pathogen challenge models incorporating natural transmission of a wide range of viruses, bacteria, and parasites, along with novel in vivo tracking systems that better quantify how pathogens interact with their hosts in real time under laboratory and field conditions.

Continue reading ‘Immune defense in hypoxic waters: impacts of CO2 acidification’

Impact of intermittent convection in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea on oxygen content, nutrients and the carbonate system


Using Argo profiling floats, cruises and mooring data, we reconstructed the dissolved oxygen (O2) dynamics in the Gulf of Lion and the Ligurian Sea, with a focus on the intermediate waters. By applying the CANYON-MED neural network-based method on the large network of O2-equipped Argo floats we derived nutrients and carbonate system variables in the Gulf of Lion and the Ligurian Sea at different depths in the water column and derived trends over the 2012-2020 period. In these waters, the O2 minimum is strongly affected by the intermittent convection process, and the two areas show dissimilar responses to the mixing events. In the absence of deep convection events, the O2-depleted layer tends to spread vertically and intensify even more so in the Ligurian than in the Gulf of Lion. In both areas, over the 2012-2020 period, nutrients increase overall in deep layers, with a concomitant impact on nutrient molar ratios tending towards an increase in P-limitation. Acidification estimates derived in different layers of the water column show an overall increase in dissolved inorganic carbon and a concurrent pH decrease. These trends were strongly affected by convection events slowing down the overall acidification trend.

Key Points

  • In the absence of deep convection events, the O2-depleted layer spreads vertically and intensifies more in the Ligurian than Gulf of Lion.
  • Nutrients increase in deep and to a lesser extent in intermediate waters with a decoupling between nitrate and phosphate trends.
  • Dissolved inorganic carbon increases in intermediate and deep waters with a concurrent pH decrease over the period of study, 2012-2020.
Continue reading ‘Impact of intermittent convection in the northwestern Mediterranean Sea on oxygen content, nutrients and the carbonate system’

Offshore extinctions: ocean acidification impacting interstitial fauna

As problematic as global warming, ocean acidification is a widespread problem, but the consequences of the interstitial fauna are still underrated. The biodiversity within sandy beaches is out of measurement, and its loss will be significantly felt. Estimations of the number of species are still vague. Acting as a key role in the trophic net, the interstitial organisms are threatened by pH value changes. Changing the pH values is already linked with less species richness and weakness of the sea community. The sediments may not be a sufficient buffer. Beyond this, there is another environmental problem aggravating the scenario. The decreasing complexity in the sand structure generated by the destruction of biological-generated sediments will impact the local biodiversity. Other environmental situations such as lack of sufficient O2 levels may be an aggravating combination. Here, I propose a protocol to observe if occur offshore extinctions, the veiled extinctions of interstitial fauna.

Continue reading ‘Offshore extinctions: ocean acidification impacting interstitial fauna’

Physical-chemical factors influencing the vertical distribution of phototrophic pico-nanoplankton in the Oxygen Minimum Zone (OMZ) off Northern Chile: the relative influence of low pH/low O2 conditions


  • Pico-nano eukaryotes and phototrophic nanoflagellates showed high abundances in the upper layer decreasing in abundance down to the upper oxycline.
  • Temperature, oxygen, and carbonate chemistry parameters (pH and dissolved inorganic carbon, DIC) influenced significantly the vertical distribution of phototrophic pico-nanoplankton.
  • The phototrophic nanoflagellate Imantonia sp. upon an experimental treatment mimicking OMZ conditions, declined dramatically, suggesting this nanoflagellate did not survive upon such conditions.


The vertical distribution of phytoplankton is of fundamental importance in the structure, dynamic, and biogeochemical pathways in marine ecosystems. Nevertheless, what are the main factors determining this distribution remains as an open question. Here, we evaluated the relative influence of environmental factors that might control the coexistence and vertical distribution of pico-nanoplankton associated with the OMZ off northern Chile. Our results showed that in the upper layer Synechococcus-like cells were numerically important at all sampling stations. Pico-nano eukaryotes and phototrophic nanoflagellates (PNF) also showed high abundances in the upper layer decreasing in abundance down to the upper oxycline, while only Prochlorococcus showed high abundances under oxycline and within the oxygen-depleted layer. Statistical analyses evidenced that temperature, oxygen, and carbonate chemistry parameters (pH and dissolved inorganic carbon, DIC) influenced significantly the vertical distribution of phototrophic pico-nanoplankton. Additionally, we experimentally-evaluated the combined effect of low pH/low O2 conditions on a nanophytoplankton species, the haptophyte Imantonia sp. Under control conditions (pH = 8.1; O2 = 287.5 μM, light = 169.6 μEm−2s−1), Imantonia sp. in vivo fluorescence increased over fifty times, inducing supersaturated O2 conditions (900 μM) and an increasing pH (8.5), whereas upon an experimental treatment mimicking OMZ conditions (pH = 7.5; O2 = 55.6 μM; light = 169.6 μEm−2s−1), in vivo fluorescence declined dramatically, suggesting that Imantonia sp. did not survive. Although preliminary, our study provides evidence about the role of low pH/low O2 conditions on the vertical distribution of nanophytoplankton, which deserve future attention through both fieldwork and more extended experimental experiences.

Continue reading ‘Physical-chemical factors influencing the vertical distribution of phototrophic pico-nanoplankton in the Oxygen Minimum Zone (OMZ) off Northern Chile: the relative influence of low pH/low O2 conditions’

The impacts of climate change on blackeye goby, Rhinogobiops nicholsii, stress responses, reproduction, and offspring fitness

Along with warming and sea level rise, the increasing intensity of ocean acidification (OA) and hypoxia events in coastal environments is of large concern as climate change progresses. Weakened immune function, altered reproductive output, reduced aerobic scope, and hyperventilation are just some of the ways OA and hypoxia negatively affect fish. Under stress, such as OA or hypoxia, fish will produce the hormone cortisol to maintain homeostasis, so cortisol concentration can be used to determine the relative stress an animal is experiencing. This study evaluated the stress response of adult female blackeye gobies under both acute and chronic exposure to environmental stressors by measuring muscular cortisol concentrations at specific time points from fish placed in one of four different treatments: control (8.1 pH; ~9 mg/L O2), low DO (8.1 pH; 2.0 mg/L O2), low pH (7.3 pH; ~9 mg/L O2), and a combination of low DO and low pH (7.3 pH; 2.0 mg/L O2). Additionally, some larval fish rely entirely on maternally derived hormones supplied by the yolk sac immediately after hatching. An increase in cortisol in the yolk supply may cause developmental disadvantages, but there is also evidence that it can better equip offspring to face the stressors experienced by their mothers. Therefore, the relationship between maternal muscular and whole egg cortisol concentrations was investigated with females laying clutches under each of the four treatments. After spawning, clutches were split to be incubated under the same conditions their mothers experienced or the control treatment. At 1 day post hatch, offspring physiological fitness was evaluated based on morphometric characteristics and standard metabolic rate. This study observed that adult female blackeye gobies experiencing acute stress tend to have higher cortisol concentrations than those under chronic stress. While under acute stress, blackeye gobies had the strongest stress response under the low pH treatment, followed by the combined stressors, with the response to the low DO treatment being the weakest. While under chronic stress, blackeye gobies had the highest sustained cortisol values while under the combined treatment, then the low pH treatment, with the lowest values under the low DO treatment. Low DO and low pH were also found to act antagonistically on the blackeye goby stress response. When evaluating how stress is translated generationally, a positive relationship between maternal and egg cortisol concentrations was found across the four treatments. However, blackeye gobies were not able to successfully fertilize eggs under the low pH or combined treatment. In addition, clutches with higher initial cortisol concentrations showed trends of increased time to hatching and standard metabolic rate and decreased length and weight at 1 day post hatch. The results of this study suggest decreased pH and dissolved oxygen are harmful to both adult and larval blackeye gobies. Due to the disruption of successful reproduction under low pH and the developmental and physiological disadvantages under low DO, future populations of blackeye gobies could suffer greatly as anthropogenic climate change progresses.

Continue reading ‘The impacts of climate change on blackeye goby, Rhinogobiops nicholsii, stress responses, reproduction, and offspring fitness’

Ramifications of climate change induced by anthropogenic factors on global fish population scenario

One of the important consequences of climate change is its effect on the global fish population. Though not very highly pronounced each year, the effect of climate change is of cumulative nature. Global aquaculture is being affected by temperature changes of both water and air. Fluctuations in the ocean surface temperatures, ocean current patterns, wind speeds, and wave directions, all have its impact on aquaculture. Each year we see more and more incidences of extreme weather conditions in different parts of the world, be it in the form of hurricanes, heavy floods, etc. Fishes are subjected to various stress factors which in turn take a toll on its growth and development. This can lead to lower weight gain and increased mortality due to higher susceptibility to diseases. This, coupled with direct unsustainable anthropogenic activities in the oceans and rivers may lead to collapse of the marine and freshwater ecosystem. Recent studies have identified specific regions where marine aquaculture production will be positively and negatively affected. One of the sustainable ways of developing aquaculture in the coming decades would be by developing region-wise strategies to maintain or increase fish population levels and thus meet the global seafood demands even in 2050. The current review is an attempt to assess the effects of ocean warming, ocean acidification, and ocean deoxygenation on the growth, survival, and diversity of marine lifeforms and suggest ways to stop a complete collapse of marine fish population by 2050, the year for which the complete collapse is predicted based on projections.

Continue reading ‘Ramifications of climate change induced by anthropogenic factors on global fish population scenario’

Biological sensitivities to high-resolution climate change projections in the California current marine ecosystem

The California Current Marine Ecosystem is a highly productive system that exhibits strong natural variability and vulnerability to anthropogenic climate trends. Relating projections of ocean change to biological sensitivities requires detailed synthesis of experimental results. Here, we combine measured biological sensitivities with high-resolution climate projections of key variables (temperature, oxygen, and pCO2) to identify the direction, magnitude, and spatial distribution of organism-scale vulnerabilities to multiple axes of projected ocean change. Among 12 selected species of cultural and economic importance, we find that all are sensitive to projected changes in ocean conditions through responses that affect individual performance or population processes. Response indices were largest in the northern region and inner shelf. While performance traits generally increased with projected changes, fitness traits generally decreased, indicating that concurrent stresses can lead to fitness loss. For two species, combining sensitivities to temperature and oxygen changes through the Metabolic Index shows how aerobic habitat availability could be compressed under future conditions. Our results suggest substantial and specific ecological susceptibility in the next 80 years, including potential regional loss of canopy-forming kelp, changes in nearshore food webs caused by declining rates of survival among red urchins, Dungeness crab, and razor clams, and loss of aerobic habitat for anchovy and pink shrimp. We also highlight fillable gaps in knowledge, including specific physiological responses to stressors, variation in responses across life stages, and responses to multistressor combinations. These findings strengthen the case for filling information gaps with experiments focused on fitness-related responses and those that can be used to parameterize integrative physiological models, and suggest that the CCME is susceptible to substantial changes to ecosystem structure and function within this century.

Continue reading ‘Biological sensitivities to high-resolution climate change projections in the California current marine ecosystem’

Assessing the vulnerability of marine life to climate change in the Pacific Islands region

Our changing climate poses growing challenges for effective management of marine life, ocean ecosystems, and human communities. Which species are most vulnerable to climate change, and where should management focus efforts to reduce these risks? To address these questions, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries Climate Science Strategy called for vulnerability assessments in each of NOAA’s ocean regions. The Pacific Islands Vulnerability Assessment (PIVA) project assessed the susceptibility of 83 marine species to the impacts of climate change projected to 2055. In a standard Rapid Vulnerability Assessment framework, this project applied expert knowledge, literature review, and climate projection models to synthesize the best available science towards answering these questions. Here we: (1) provide a relative climate vulnerability ranking across species; (2) identify key attributes and factors that drive vulnerability; and (3) identify critical data gaps in understanding climate change impacts to marine life. The invertebrate group was ranked most vulnerable and pelagic and coastal groups not associated with coral reefs were ranked least vulnerable. Sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and oxygen concentration were the main exposure drivers of vulnerability. Early Life History Survival and Settlement Requirements was the most data deficient of the sensitivity attributes considered in the assessment. The sensitivity of many coral reef fishes ranged between Low and Moderate, which is likely underestimated given that reef species depend on a biogenic habitat that is extremely threatened by climate change. The standard assessment methodology originally developed in the Northeast US, did not capture the additional complexity of the Pacific region, such as the diversity, varied horizontal and vertical distributions, extent of coral reef habitats, the degree of dependence on vulnerable habitat, and wide range of taxa, including data-poor species. Within these limitations, this project identified research needs to sustain marine life in a changing climate.

Continue reading ‘Assessing the vulnerability of marine life to climate change in the Pacific Islands region’

Micro- and nanoplastics effects in a multiple stressed marine environment

Graphical abstract


  • MNPs in the environment are complex mixtures of various size ranges, shapes, polymers
  • MNPs and global change driven stressors do not operate in isolation
  • Stress responses of biota due to MNPs should be contextualised in a changing environment
  • Reports indicate that MNPs interact with OW and OA and impact biota
  • Effects of MNPs combined with global change stressors at population level are unknown


Micro- and nanoplastics (MNPs) pollution is an environmental issue of concern, but current effect assessments often overlook realistic scenarios, and a contextualised vision of the magnitude of the impact of complex mixtures of MNPs together with other environmental stressors is urgently needed. Plastic particles exist in the environment as complex mixtures of particles from various size ranges, shapes, and polymer types, but the potential effects of realistic MNPs mixtures and concentrations are still poorly understood, and current effects data is insufficient to produce high quality risk assessments. Organisms exposed to MNPs in the marine environment are simultaneously subjected to global change driven stressors, among others, such as ocean warming (OW), marine heat waves (MHW), ocean acidification (OA), and ocean deoxygenation (OD). Stress responses due to MNPs ingestion can, in particular cases, lead to a metabolic and energetic cost, which may be aggravated in the case of organisms already vulnerable due to simultaneous exposure to global change-related stressors. In this work, we discuss how MNPs effects could be assessed while considering plastics complexity and other environmental stressors. We identify knowledge gaps in MNPs assessments, acknowledge the importance of environmental data acquisition and availability for improved assessments, and consider how mechanistic ecological models can be used to unveil and to increase our understanding of MNPs effects on marine ecosystems. Understanding the importance of plastic pollution in the context of other stressors such as climate change and their potential combined effects on marine ecosystems is important. The assessment of realistic effects of MNPs on all biological levels of organisation should consider the co-occurrence in the environment of global change-related stressors. Even though the number of studies is still limited, recent effect assessment reports indicate that the MNPs interaction with global change stressors can affect processes in organisms such as ingestion and digestion, energy allocation, growth, and fecundity. The potential impact of this interaction at population levels is largely unknown and requires increased attention from the research community, to provide information to stakeholders on the vulnerability of marine species and ecosystems now and under future environmental conditions.

Continue reading ‘Micro- and nanoplastics effects in a multiple stressed marine environment’

Perceived intensification in harmful algal blooms is a wave of cumulative threat to the aquatic ecosystems

Aquatic pollution is considered a major threat to sustainable development across the world, and deterioration of aquatic ecosystems is caused usually by harmful algal blooms (HABs). In recent times, HABs have gained attention from scientists to better understand these phenomena given that these blooms are increasing in intensity and distribution with considerable impacts on aquatic ecosystems. Many exogenous factors such as variations in climatic patterns, eutrophication, wind blowing, dust storms, and upwelling of water currents form these blooms. Globally, the HAB formation is increasing the toxicity in the natural water sources, ultimately leading the deleterious and hazardous effects on the aquatic fauna and flora. This review summarizes the types of HABs with their potential effects, toxicity, grazing defense, human health impacts, management, and control of these harmful entities. This review offers a systematic approach towards the understanding of HABs, eliciting to rethink the increasing threat caused by HABs in aquatic ecosystems across the world. Therefore, to mitigate this increasing threat to aquatic environments, advanced scientific research in ecology and environmental sciences should be prioritized.

Continue reading ‘Perceived intensification in harmful algal blooms is a wave of cumulative threat to the aquatic ecosystems’

Long-term exposure to an extreme environment induces species-specific responses in corals’ photosynthesis and respiration rates

Extreme reef environments have become useful natural laboratories to investigate physiological specificities of species chronically exposed to future-like climatic conditions. The lagoon of Bouraké in New Caledonia (21°56′56.16′′ S; 125°59′36.82′′ E) is one of the only reef environments studied where the three main climatic stressors predicted to most severely impact corals occur. In this lagoon, temperatures, seawater pHT and dissolved oxygen chronically fluctuate between extreme and close-to-normal values (17.5–33.85 °C, 7.23–7.92 pHT units and 1.87–7.24 mg O2 L−1, respectively). In March 2020, the endosymbiont functions (chl a, cell density and photosynthesis) and respiration rates were investigated in seven coral species from this lagoon and compared with those of corals from an adjacent reference site using hour-long incubations mimicking present-day and future conditions. Corals originating from Bouraké displayed significant differences in these variables compared to reference corals, but these differences were species-specific. Photosynthetic rates of Bouraké corals were all significantly lower than those of reference corals but were partially compensated by higher chlorophyll contents. Respiration rates of the Bouraké corals were either lower or comparable to those of reference corals. Conversely, photosynthesis and respiration rates of most studied species were similar regardless of the incubation conditions, which mimicked either present-day or future conditions. This study supports previous work indicating that no unique response can explain corals’ tolerance to sub-optimal conditions and that a variety of mechanisms will be at play for corals in a changing world.

Continue reading ‘Long-term exposure to an extreme environment induces species-specific responses in corals’ photosynthesis and respiration rates’

Circadian rhythm and neurotransmitters are potential pathways through which ocean acidification and warming affect the metabolism of thick-shell mussels

Although the impacts of ocean acidification and warming on marine organisms have been increasingly documented, little is known about the affecting mechanism underpinning their interactive impacts on physiological processes such as metabolism. Therefore, the effects of these two stressors on metabolism were investigated in thick-shell mussel Mytilus coruscus in this study. In addition, because metabolism is primarily regulated by circadian rhythm and neurotransmitters, the impacts of acidification and warming on these two regulatory processes were also analyzed. The data obtained demonstrated that the metabolism of mussels (indicated by the clearance rate, oxygen consumption rate, ammonia excretion rate, O:N ratio, ATP content, activity of pyruvate kinase, and expression of metabolism-related genes) were significantly affected by acidification and warming, resulting in a shortage of energy supply (indicated by the in vivo content of ATP). In addition, exposure to acidification and warming led to evident disruption in circadian rhythm (indicated by the heartrate and the expression rhythm of Per2Cry, and BMAL1) and neurotransmitters (indicated by the activity of acetyl cholinesterase and in vivo contents of ACh, GABA, and DA). These findings suggest that circadian rhythms and neurotransmitters might be potential routes through which acidification and warming interactively affect the metabolism of mussels.

Continue reading ‘Circadian rhythm and neurotransmitters are potential pathways through which ocean acidification and warming affect the metabolism of thick-shell mussels’

  • Reset


OA-ICC Highlights

%d bloggers like this: