Posts Tagged 'performance'

Predation in high CO2 waters: prey fish from high-risk environments are less susceptible to ocean acidification

Most studies investigating the effects of anthropogenic environmental stressors do so in conditions that are often optimal for their test subjects, ignoring natural stressors such as competition or predation. As such, the quantitative results from such studies may often underestimate the lethality of certain toxic compounds. A well-known example of this concept is illustrated by the marked increase in the lethality of pesticides when larval amphibians are concurrently exposed to the odor of potential predators. Here, we investigated the interaction between background levels of environmental predation risk (high vs. low) and ocean acidification (ambient vs. elevated CO2) in 2 × 2 design. Wild-caught juvenile damselfish, Pomacentrus amboinensis, were exposed in the laboratory to the different risk and CO2 conditions for 4 days and released onto coral reef patches. Using a well-established field assay, we monitored the in situ behavior and mortality of the damselfish for 2 days. We predicted that juvenile fish exposed to elevated CO2 and high-risk conditions would display more severe behavioral impairments and increased mortality compared to fish exposed to elevated CO2 maintained under low-risk conditions. As expected, elevated CO2 exposure led to impaired antipredator responses and increased mortality in low-risk fish compared to ambient CO2 controls. However, we failed to find an effect of elevated CO2 on the behavior and survival of the high-risk fish. We hypothesized that the results may stem from either a behavioral compensation or a physiological response to high risk. Our results provide insights into the interactive nature of environmental and natural stressors and advance our understanding of the predicted effect of ocean acidification on aquatic ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Predation in high CO2 waters: prey fish from high-risk environments are less susceptible to ocean acidification’

Ocean acidification alters the burrowing behaviour, Ca2+/Mg2+-ATPase activity, metabolism, and gene expression of a bivalve species, Sinonovacula constricta

Although the impacts of ocean acidification on fertilization, embryonic development, calcification, immune response, and behaviour have been well studied in a variety of marine organisms, the physiological and molecular mechanism manifesting acidification stress on behavioural response remains poorly understood. Therefore, the impacts of future ocean acidification scenarios (pH at 7.8, 7.6, and 7.4) on the burrowing behaviour, Ca2+/Mg2+-ATPase activity, metabolism, and expression of energy-producing-related genes of the razor clam Sinonovacula constricta were investigated in the present study. The results showed that elevated CO2 partial pressure ( pCO2) (pH at 7.6 and 7.4) led to a significant reduction in the digging depth of the razor clam. In addition, exposure to pCO2-acidified seawater depressed the metabolism and activity of Ca2+/Mg2+-ATPase, which may partially contribute to the reduced digging depth detected. Furthermore, the expression of energy-producing-related genes was generally induced by exposure to acidified seawater and could be accounted for by an increased energy demand under acidification stress. The results obtained suggest ocean acidification may exert a behavioural impact through altering physiological condition in the razor clam.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification alters the burrowing behaviour, Ca2+/Mg2+-ATPase activity, metabolism, and gene expression of a bivalve species, Sinonovacula constricta’

The effects of ocean warming and acidification on seaweed growth and urchin grazing

Human produced carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere are currently higher than previously recorded and are continuing to rise at alarming rates. This greenhouse gas is the primary driver for changing climate scenarios highlighted by an approximate 1°C increase in sea surface temperatures. In addition to driving global warming, CO2 is readily absorbed by the oceans, resulting in changes in seawater chemistry and a decrease in seawater pH (acidification). The singular effects of ocean warming and acidification are known to impact marine organisms; lesser known, however, are the combined effects of these stressors, particularly on biotic interactions. This study aimed to expand on the knowledge of how these abiotic stressors affect seaweed and seaweed-herbivore interactions by comparing seaweed growth and herbivore feeding rate and selectivity under combinations of current and modelled future temperature (18°C and 21°C) and pH (8.1 and 7.8) conditions. Growth rates of two seaweed species, a calcified red alga (Lithothrix aspergillum) and a non-calcified brown alga (giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera), were compared among manipulated seawater conditions. In addition, the feeding rates and feeding selectivity of a common sea urchin herbivore (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) for these two seaweeds were compared among water conditions. Lithothrix was not affected by the singular effects of pH or temperature but under combined future temperature and pH conditions, the seaweed performed poorly. While acidification is known to affect the ability of calcifying species to deposit calcium carbonate, Lithothrix appeared to only be impacted by acidification under temperature stress. Macrocystis, on the other hand, performed significantly better under future acidic conditions, regardless of temperature, as it likely experienced an increase in photosynthetic rate driven by high CO2 concentrations. Urchin herbivory rates were elevated for both seaweeds grown under acidification scenarios, possibly due to increased grazing susceptibility of Lithothrix during poor calcification/decalcification conditions and Macrocystis during new growth conditions. Feeding preference trials were inconsistent with feeding rate patterns as urchins exhibited low overall consumption and no selectivity for either seaweed under any water condition. Although the impacts of warming and acidification on growth of seaweeds and susceptibility to grazing by urchins are variable among taxa, potential future stressors are likely to alter seaweed population and seaweed-herbivore dynamics.

Continue reading ‘The effects of ocean warming and acidification on seaweed growth and urchin grazing’

Long-term exposure to elevated carbon dioxide does not alter activity levels of a coral reef fish in response to predator chemical cues

Levels of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) projected to occur in the world’s oceans in the near future have been reported to increase swimming activity and impair predator recognition in coral reef fishes. These behavioral alterations would be expected to have dramatic effects on survival and community dynamics in marine ecosystems in the future. To investigate the universality and replicability of these observations, we used juvenile spiny chromis damselfish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus) to examine the effects of long-term CO2 exposure on routine activity and the behavioral response to the chemical cues of a predator (Cephalopholis urodeta). Commencing at ~3–20 days post-hatch, juvenile damselfish were exposed to present-day CO2 levels (~420 μatm) or to levels forecasted for the year 2100 (~1000 μatm) for 3 months of their development. Thereafter, we assessed routine activity before and after injections of seawater (sham injection, control) or seawater-containing predator chemical cues. There was no effect of CO2 treatment on routine activity levels before or after the injections. All fish decreased their swimming activity following the predator cue injection but not following the sham injection, regardless of CO2 treatment. Our results corroborate findings from a growing number of studies reporting limited or no behavioral responses of fishes to elevated CO2.

Continue reading ‘Long-term exposure to elevated carbon dioxide does not alter activity levels of a coral reef fish in response to predator chemical cues’

Effects of hypoxia and ocean acidification on the upper thermal niche boundaries of coral reef fishes

Rising ocean temperatures are predicted to cause a poleward shift in the distribution of marine fishes occupying the extent of latitudes tolerable within their thermal range boundaries. A prevailing theory suggests that the upper thermal limits of fishes are constrained by hypoxia and ocean acidification. However, some eurythermal fish species do not conform to this theory, and maintain their upper thermal limits in hypoxia. Here we determine if the same is true for stenothermal species. In three coral reef fish species we tested the effect of hypoxia on upper thermal limits, measured as critical thermal maximum (CTmax). In one of these species we also quantified the effect of hypoxia on oxygen supply capacity, measured as aerobic scope (AS). In this species we also tested the effect of elevated CO2 (simulated ocean acidification) on the hypoxia sensitivity of CTmax. We found that CTmax was unaffected by progressive hypoxia down to approximately 35 mmHg, despite a substantial hypoxia-induced reduction in AS. Below approximately 35 mmHg, CTmax declined sharply with water oxygen tension (PwO2). Furthermore, the hypoxia sensitivity of CTmax was unaffected by elevated CO2. Our findings show that moderate hypoxia and ocean acidification do not constrain the upper thermal limits of these tropical, stenothermal fishes.

Continue reading ‘Effects of hypoxia and ocean acidification on the upper thermal niche boundaries of coral reef fishes’

Trade-offs in a high CO2 habitat on a subsea volcano: condition and reproductive features of a bathymodioline mussel

Northwest Eifuku submarine volcano (Mariana Volcanic Arc) emits very high concentrations of CO2 at a vent where the mussel Bathymodiolus septemdierum experiences pH as low as 5.2. We examined how this natural setting of high pCO2 influences shell, body, and reproductive condition. Calcification is highly compromised: at a given shell volume, shells from NW Eifuku weigh about half those from reference sites in the south Pacific, and dissolution of the inner shell is evident. However, the condition indices of some NW Eifuku mussels were equal to or higher than those from Lau back-arc basin and the New Hebrides Island Arc. NW Eifuku mussels in pH 5.2 fluids had the highest symbiont abundances in gill bacteriocytes, probably due to greater dissolved sulphide access. Excess energy demands imposed by high pCO2 conditions appears moderated by adequate food availability through symbiont chemosynthesis. In the sample with the lowest body condition, gametogenesis was lagging, although all mussels in high pCO2 had developing gonads and the complete gametogenic cycle was present in our samples. Gamete development is synchronous between sexes and is possibly periodic. While mussels are functionally dioecious, protogynous hermaphroditism can occur—a first record for the genus—which may be an adaptation to resource availability. B. septemdierum likely makes energy allocation trade-offs among calcification, body mass maintenance, reproduction and other processes to maximize fitness. We suggest that flexibility to divert energy from shell formation, combined with good food supply, can mitigate the manifestation of high CO2 stress on B. septemdierum.

Continue reading ‘Trade-offs in a high CO2 habitat on a subsea volcano: condition and reproductive features of a bathymodioline mussel’

Species interactions drive fish biodiversity loss in a high-CO2 world

Highlights

  • Elevated CO2 did not alter competitive hierarchies of fish at volcanic vents
  • Enhanced food and reduced predation boosted density of behaviorally dominant fish
  • Population increases of dominant fish suppressed subordinate species
  • Ocean acidification can reduce local fish diversity and homogenize fish communities

Abstract

Accelerating climate change is eroding the functioning and stability of ecosystems by weakening the interactions among species that stabilize biological communities against change [1]. A key challenge to forecasting the future of ecosystems centers on how to extrapolate results from short-term, single-species studies to community-level responses that are mediated by key mechanisms such as competition, resource availability (bottom-up control), and predation (top-down control) [2]. We used CO2 vents as potential analogs of ocean acidification combined with in situ experiments to test current predictions of fish biodiversity loss and community change due to elevated CO2 [3] and to elucidate the potential mechanisms that drive such change. We show that high risk-taking behavior and competitive strength, combined with resource enrichment and collapse of predator populations, fostered already common species, enabling them to double their populations under acidified conditions. However, the release of these competitive dominants from predator control led to suppression of less common and subordinate competitors that did not benefit from resource enrichment and reduced predation. As a result, local biodiversity was lost and novel fish community compositions were created under elevated CO2. Our study identifies the species interactions most affected by ocean acidification, revealing potential sources of natural selection. We also reveal how diminished predator abundances can have cascading effects on local species diversity, mediated by complex species interactions. Reduced overfishing of predators could therefore act as a key action to stall diversity loss and ecosystem change in a high-CO2 world.

Continue reading ‘Species interactions drive fish biodiversity loss in a high-CO2 world’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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