Posts Tagged 'performance'

Clam feeding plasticity reduces herbivore vulnerability to ocean warming and acidification

Ocean warming and acidification affect species populations, but how interactions within communities are affected and how this translates into ecosystem functioning and resilience remain poorly understood. Here we demonstrate that experimental ocean warming and acidification significantly alters the interaction network among porewater nutrients, primary producers, herbivores and burrowing invertebrates in a seafloor sediment community, and is linked to behavioural plasticity in the clam Scrobicularia plana. Warming and acidification induced a shift in the clam’s feeding mode from predominantly suspension feeding under ambient conditions to deposit feeding with cascading effects on nutrient supply to primary producers. Surface-dwelling invertebrates were more tolerant to warming and acidification in the presence of S. plana, most probably due to the stimulatory effect of the clam on their microalgal food resources. This study demonstrates that predictions of population resilience to climate change require consideration of non-lethal effects such as behavioural changes of key species.

Continue reading ‘Clam feeding plasticity reduces herbivore vulnerability to ocean warming and acidification’

Paths to growth: exploring the effects of reduced pH and increased temperature on a fisheries-important prawn

Crustaceans are relatively understudied in regards to their vulnerability to the changing ocean conditions of ocean acidification and ocean warming. Although they are generally considered less vulnerable to reduced pH and increased temperature than other calcifying groups, studies have found potential effects on their growth, energy storage, and prey detection. In this study, we examined the vulnerability of the ridgeback prawn, Sicyonia ingentis, which is a commercially important species along the West coast of the United States. Prawn were exposed to reduced pH (7.50 ± 0.02; pCO₂ = 1475 ± 25 µatm) and increased temperature (16.2 ± 0.7°C) conditions in a full factorial design for twelve weeks. Prawns were monitored for survival and growth throughout the experiment. At the end of the experiment, their prey detection was analyzed via antennular flicking rates, and they were dissected for Gonadosomatic Index (GSI) and Hepatosomatic Index (HSI) measurements, which are indicators of gonad development, energy storage, and the trade-off between the two. No significant effect of treatment was found for antennular flicking, GSI, or HSI. The second molt increment was significantly less in the reduced pH/increased temperature treatment in comparison to the control (ANOVA: F3,18 = 3.36, p = 0.04), but growth over the experiment did not differ among treatments. Survival was significantly lower in the reduced pH/increased temperature treatment. S. ingentis is robust to a pH below its natural range, but the synergistic effects of reduced pH and increased temperature have a significant impact on mortality.

Continue reading ‘Paths to growth: exploring the effects of reduced pH and increased temperature on a fisheries-important prawn’

Predator prey interactions between predatory gastropod Reishia clavigera, barnacle Amphibalanus amphitrite amphitrite and mussel Brachidontes variabilis under ocean acidification

Since the response to ocean acidification is species specific, differences in responses between predator and prey will alter their interactions, hence affect the population dynamics of both species. Changes in predator prey interactions between a predatory muricid gastropod Reishia clavigera and its prey, the barnacle Amphibalanus amphitrite amphitrite and mussel Brachidontes variabilis under three pCO2 levels (380, 950, and 1250 μatm) were investigated. The searching time for barnacles increased and the ability to locate them decreased at higher pCO2 levels. The movement speed and the prey consumption rate, however, were independent of pCO2. There was no preference towards either B. variabilis or A. amphitrite amphitrite regardless of pCO2. Exposure experiments involving multiple generations are suggested to assess transgenerational effects of ocean acidification and the potential compensation responses before any realistic predictions on the long term changes of population dynamics of the interacting species can be made.

Continue reading ‘Predator prey interactions between predatory gastropod Reishia clavigera, barnacle Amphibalanus amphitrite amphitrite and mussel Brachidontes variabilis under ocean acidification’

Swimming performance of marine fish larvae: review of a universal trait under ecological and environmental pressure

The larval phase of marine teleost fishes is characterized by important morphological and physiological modifications. Many of these modifications improve the larvae’s ability to swim, which satisfies a suite of crucial biological and ecological functions. Indeed, larval fish swimming performance has been considered a good proxy for overall condition, a predictor for growth and survival, and particularly helpful in assessing effects of natural and anthropogenic stress. Several methodologies have been developed to test larval fish swimming performance; however, measured swimming capabilities can strongly depend on the methodology utilised and developmental stage investigated. The aims of this review were, therefore, to link the ontogenetic development of swimming performance in early life stages of marine fishes, particularly the anatomical and physiological processes around the fins, muscles, and gills, with both the experimental methodologies used and the environmental stressors tested. We conducted a literature search and found 156 research papers relevant to swimming performance of marine teleost fish larvae. We found swimming performance to be highly variable among species and driven by temperature. In a meta-analysis focusing on the impacts of environmental stress on larval swimming performance, we found that prey reduction had the greatest impact on swimming. Methods used to evaluate swimming should keep the ontogenetic stage a focus, as forced swimming experiments are unfit for larvae prior to flexion of the notochord. Overall, while the data are deficient in some areas, we are able to highlight where the field of larval fish swimming could be directed and provide insight into which methods are best used under certain ecological scenarios, environmental stressors, and developmental stages.

Continue reading ‘Swimming performance of marine fish larvae: review of a universal trait under ecological and environmental pressure’

Behavioral defenses of shellfish prey under ocean acidification

Biological interactions between predators and prey constitute a key component of the ecology and evolution of marine systems, and animal behavior can affect the outcome of predator–prey interactions. It has been recently demonstrated that CO2-induced ocean acidification can alter the behavior of marine organisms and potentially alter predator–prey dynamics. This study combines both quantitative (meta-analysis) and qualitative approaches to review the effects of ocean acidification on behavioral prey defenses in marine invertebrates. A systematic literature search identified 34 studies that experimentally assessed behavioral defenses under elevated pCO2 spanning three phyla: crustaceans, echinoderms, and molluscs. A meta-analysis suggested that exposure to elevated seawater pCO2 can negatively affect behavioral defenses in bivalve molluscs and malacostracan crustaceans. By contrast, defenses of cephalopod molluscs seem to be positively impacted by elevated pCO2, whereas gastropods and echinoids appear unaffected. A qualitative assessment of studies on combined effects of ocean acidification and warming revealed that combined effects typically differ from ocean acidification–only effects. Based on a qualitative assessment of three studies to date, neurological interference of GABAA receptors under elevated pCO2 may play a major role in ocean acidification effects on prey defense behaviors; however, more research is needed, and other mechanistic underpinnings are also important to consider. Ultimately, the results of this study suggest that behavioral prey defenses in some shellfish taxa may be vulnerable to ocean acidification, that the effects of ocean acidification are often different under warming scenarios than under present-day temperature scenarios, and that GABAA interference may be an important mechanism underpinning behavioral responses of shellfish prey under ocean acidification. Despite the importance of shellfish behavioral defenses in the ecology and evolution of marine biological communities, however, research to date has only scraped the surface in understanding ocean acidification effects. Increased research efforts on the effects of multiple stressors, acclimation and adaptation, environmental variability, and complex situational and ecological contexts are needed. Studies of fish behavioral defenses under ocean acidification can help streamline hypotheses and experimental approaches, particularly given the similar effects of elevated pCO2 on GABAA function.

Continue reading ‘Behavioral defenses of shellfish prey under ocean acidification’

Vertical distribution of echinoid larvae in pH stratified water columns

The abundance and distribution of many benthic marine organisms are shaped by the success of their dispersive larval life-history stage. An increasing number of studies have shown that ocean acidification negatively impacts the larval life-history stage, including those of echinoids which are commercially and ecologically important. However, little is known about the behavioral responses of echinoid larvae to different pH levels in the water column. Changes in vertical movement in response to the naturally occurring pH variations caused by biological activities and/or physical conditions could affect dispersal and recruitment. In this study, we quantified the vertical distribution of larval sand dollars, Dendraster excentricus (Echinodermata), in water columns with stratified layers of seawater varying in salinity and pH. When larval sand dollars swimming upwards in ambient seawater (pHNBS 7.86 ± 0.04) encountered a layer of low pH (pHNBS 7.54 ± 0.04) seawater, about half of the individuals (53 ± 28%) were aggregated near the transition layer 60 min after the start of the experiment. Preliminary video analysis showed larvae reversed their direction of travel and altered the shape of their helical swimming trajectories, upon encountering the transition layer moving from ambient to low pH water. In contrast, when larval sand dollars swimming upwards in acidified seawater encountered ambient seawater, they continued to swim upward to aggregate near the top of the column. In control water columns with uniform pH, larvae did not change swimming behavior regardless of whether pH was ambient or acidified and whether salinity was uniform or stratified. These results indicate that stratification itself did not strongly affect the vertical distributions of larvae. These observations suggest that echinoid larvae, and perhaps many other types of planktonic larvae, may use behavioral plasticity to reduce exposure to stresses from ocean acidification. The presence and effectiveness of these responses may improve the ability of larvae to cope with stressful, dynamic habitats, and hence may be significant to prediction of potential impacts of global climate change.

Continue reading ‘Vertical distribution of echinoid larvae in pH stratified water columns’

Ocean acidification does not impair the behaviour of coral reef fishes

The partial pressure of CO2 in the oceans has increased rapidly over the past century, driving ocean acidification and raising concern for the stability of marine ecosystems1,2,3. Coral reef fishes are predicted to be especially susceptible to end-of-century ocean acidification on the basis of several high-profile papers4,5 that have reported profound behavioural and sensory impairments—for example, complete attraction to the chemical cues of predators under conditions of ocean acidification. Here, we comprehensively and transparently show that—in contrast to previous studies—end-of-century ocean acidification levels have negligible effects on important behaviours of coral reef fishes, such as the avoidance of chemical cues from predators, fish activity levels and behavioural lateralization (left–right turning preference). Using data simulations, we additionally show that the large effect sizes and small within-group variances that have been reported in several previous studies are highly improbable. Together, our findings indicate that the reported effects of ocean acidification on the behaviour of coral reef fishes are not reproducible, suggesting that behavioural perturbations will not be a major consequence for coral reef fishes in high CO2 oceans.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification does not impair the behaviour of coral reef fishes’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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