Posts Tagged 'performance'

Ocean acidification reduces net calcification and wound healing in the tropical crustose coralline alga, Porolithon onkodes (Corallinales, Rhodophyta)


  • Wounding did not affect net calcification or tissue mortality in Porolithon onkodes.
  • In contrast, elevated pCO2 reduced net calcification and living tissue.
  • Elevated pCO2 also reduced tissue regeneration within wounds.
  • Reduced wound healing under elevated pCO2 could affect the ecology of coralline algae.


Reef dwelling algae employ a variety of physical and chemical defenses against herbivory, and the response to wounding is extremely important in algal communities. Wound healing mechanisms in crustose coralline algae (CCA) are related to skeletal growth and net calcification rate. Ocean acidification (OA) is known to affect rates of net calcification in a number of calcifying organisms, including CCA. Reduced rates of net calcification in CCA are likely to alter wound healing, and thus affect the consequences of herbivore-CCA interactions on coral reefs. The response of the tropical CCA Porolithon onkodes to OA and artificial wounding was quantified in a 51-day laboratory experiment. Eight artificially wounded (cut to a mean depth of 182 μm) and eight non-wounded samples of P. onkodes were randomly placed into each of four treatments (n = 64 samples total). Each treatment was maintained at a different pCO2 level representative of either ambient conditions or end-of-the-century, predicted conditions (IPCC, 2014); 429.31 ± 20.84 (ambient), 636.54 ± 27.29 (RCP4.5), 827.33 ± 38.51 (RCP6.0), and 1179.39 ± 88.85 μatm (RCP8.5; mean ± standard error). Elevated pCO2 significantly reduced rates of net calcification in both wounded and non-wounded samples of P. onkodes (slopes = −6.4 × 10−4 and −5.5 × 10−4 mg cm−2 d−1 per μatm pCO2, respectively over 51 days). There also was a significant reduction in the rate of vertical regeneration of thallus tissue within the wounds as pCO2 increased (slope = −1.5 × 10−3 μm d−1 per μatm pCO2 over 51 days). This study provides evidence that elevated pCO2 could reduce the ability of this important alga to recover from wounding. Because wounding by herbivores plays an important role in determining CCA community structure, we propose reduced wound healing as a mechanism by which OA might affect the structure and functional roles of CCA communities on coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification reduces net calcification and wound healing in the tropical crustose coralline alga, Porolithon onkodes (Corallinales, Rhodophyta)’

Combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature on larval and juvenile growth, development and swimming performance of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

Ocean acidification and ocean warming (OAW) are simultaneously occurring and could pose ecological challenges to marine life, particularly early life stages of fish that, although they are internal calcifiers, may have poorly developed acid-base regulation. This study assessed the effect of projected OAW on key fitness traits (growth, development and swimming ability) in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) larvae and juveniles. Starting at 2 days post-hatch (dph), larvae were exposed to one of three levels of PCO2 (650, 1150, 1700 μatm; pH 8.0, 7.8, 7.6) at either a cold (15°C) or warm (20°C) temperature. Growth rate, development stage and critical swimming speed (Ucrit) were repeatedly measured as sea bass grew from 0.6 to ~10.0 (cold) or ~14.0 (warm) cm body length. Exposure to different levels of PCO2 had no significant effect on growth, development or Ucrit of larvae and juveniles. At the warmer temperature, larvae displayed faster growth and deeper bodies. Notochord flexion occurred at 0.8 and 1.2 cm and metamorphosis was completed at an age of ~45 and ~60 days post-hatch for sea bass in the warm and cold treatments, respectively. Swimming performance increased rapidly with larval development but better swimmers were observed in the cold treatment, reflecting a potential trade-off between fast grow and swimming ability. A comparison of the results of this and other studies on marine fish indicates that the effects of OAW on the growth, development and swimming ability of early life stages are species-specific and that generalizing the impacts of climate-driven warming or ocean acidification is not warranted.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature on larval and juvenile growth, development and swimming performance of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)’

Neurobiological and behavioural responses of cleaning mutualisms to ocean warming and acidification

Cleaning interactions are textbook examples of mutualisms. On coral reefs, most fishes engage in cooperative interactions with cleaners fishes, where they benefit from ectoparasite reduction and ultimately stress relief. Furthermore, such interactions elicit beneficial effects on clients’ ecophysiology. However, the potential effects of future ocean warming (OW) and acidification (OA) on these charismatic associations are unknown. Here we show that a 45-day acclimation period to OW (+3 °C) and OA (980 μatm pCO2) decreased interactions between cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus) and clients (Naso elegans). Cleaners also invested more in the interactions by providing tactile stimulation under OA. Although this form of investment is typically used by cleaners to prolong interactions and reconcile after cheating, interaction time and client jolt rate (a correlate of dishonesty) were not affected by any stressor. In both partners, the dopaminergic (in all brain regions) and serotoninergic (forebrain) systems were significantly altered by these stressors. On the other hand, in cleaners, the interaction with warming ameliorated dopaminergic and serotonergic responses to OA. Dopamine and serotonin correlated positively with motivation to interact and cleaners interaction investment (tactile stimulation). We advocate that such neurobiological changes associated with cleaning behaviour may affect the maintenance of community structures on coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Neurobiological and behavioural responses of cleaning mutualisms to ocean warming and acidification’

Climate change erodes competitive hierarchies among native, alien and range-extending crabs


• Ocean warming and acidification can alter species behaviour and competition.

• We tested this on co-occurring native, alien, and range-extending crab species.

• Range-extending crabs outperformed the alien and native crabs in current conditions.

• Under future climate conditions, the three crabs no longer differed in competition.

• Climate change can drive homogenisation in behavioural competitiveness.


Global warming and ocean acidification alter a wide range of animal behaviours, yet the effect on resource competition among species is poorly understood. We tested whether the combination of moderate levels of ocean acidification and warming altered the feeding success of co-occurring native, alien, and range-extending crab species, and how these changes affected their hierarchical dominance. Under contemporary conditions the range-extending species spent more time feeding, than the alien and the native species. Under conditions simulating future climate there was no difference in the proportion of time spent feeding among the three species. These behavioural changes translated to alterations in their dominance hierarchy (based on feeding success) with the most dominant species under present day conditions becoming less dominant under future conditions, and vice versa for the least dominant species. While empirical studies have predicted either reversal or strengthening of hierarchical dominance in animal species, we suggest that even moderate increases in ocean temperature and acidification can drive a homogenisation in behavioural competitiveness, eroding dominance differences among species that are linked to fitness-related traits in nature and hence important for their population persistence.

Continue reading ‘Climate change erodes competitive hierarchies among native, alien and range-extending crabs’

Elevated temperature does not substantially modify the interactive effects between elevated CO2 and diel CO2 cycles on the survival, growth and behavior of a coral reef fish

Recent studies demonstrate that diel CO2 cycles, such as those prevalent in many shallow water habitats, can potentially modify the effects of ocean acidification conditions on marine organisms. However, whether the interaction between elevated CO2 and diel CO2 cycles is further modified by elevated temperature is unknown. To test this, we reared juvenile spiny damselfish, Acanthochromis polyacanthus, for 11 weeks in two stable (450 and 1000 μatm) and two diel- cycling elevated CO2 treatments (1000 ± 300 and 1000 ± 500 μatm) at both current-day (29°C) and projected future temperature (31°C). We measured the effects on survivorship, growth, behavioral lateralization, activity, boldness and escape performance (fast starts). A significant interaction between CO2 and temperature was only detected for survivorship. Survival was lower in the two cycling CO2 treatments at 31°C compared with 29°C but did not differ between temperatures in the two stable CO2 treatments. In other traits we observed independent effects of elevated CO2, and interactions between elevated CO2 and diel CO2 cycles, but these effects were not influenced by temperature. There was a trend toward decreased growth in fish reared under stable elevated CO2 that was counteracted by diel CO2 cycles, with fish reared under cycling CO2 being significantly larger than fish reared under stable elevated CO2. Diel CO2 cycles also mediated the negative effect of elevated CO2 on behavioral lateralization, as previously reported. Routine activity was reduced in the 1000 ± 500 μatm CO2 treatment compared to control fish. In contrast, neither boldness nor fast-starts were affected by any of the CO2 treatments. Elevated temperature had significant independent effects on growth, routine activity and fast start performance. Our results demonstrate that diel CO2 cycles can significantly modify the growth and behavioral responses of fish under elevated CO2 and that these effects are not altered by elevated temperature, at least in this species. Our findings add to a growing body of work that highlights the critical importance of incorporating natural CO2 variability in ocean acidification experiments to more accurately assess the effects of ocean climate change on marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Elevated temperature does not substantially modify the interactive effects between elevated CO2 and diel CO2 cycles on the survival, growth and behavior of a coral reef fish’

Functional loss in herbivores drives runaway expansion of weedy algae in a near-future ocean


• Elevated CO2 and warming increased productivity of turf algae.

• Elevated CO2 increased per capita feeding rates of gastropods.

• Ocean warming reduced grazer diversity, density, and biomass.

• As a result, ocean warming drove a fourfold expansion of weedy algal species.


The ability of a community to absorb environmental change without undergoing structural modification is a hallmark of ecological resistance. The recognition that species interactions can stabilize community processes has led to the idea that the effects of climate change may be less than what most considerations currently allow. We tested whether herbivory can compensate for the expansion of weedy algae triggered by CO2 enrichment and warming. Using a six-month mesocosm experiment, we show that increasing per capita herbivory by gastropods absorbs the boosted effects of CO2 enrichment on algal production in temperate systems of weak to moderate herbivory. However, under the combined effects of acidification and warming this compensatory effect was eroded by reducing the diversity, density and biomass of herbivores. This loss of functionality combined with boosted primary productivity drove a fourfold expansion of weedy algal species. Our results demonstrate capacity to buffer ecosystems against CO2 enrichment, but loss of this capacity through ocean warming either in isolation or combined with CO2, driving significant algal turf expansion. Identifying compensatory processes and the circumstances under which they prevail could potentially help manage the impacts of ocean warming and acidification, which are further amplified by local disturbances such as habitat loss and herbivore over-exploitation.

Continue reading ‘Functional loss in herbivores drives runaway expansion of weedy algae in a near-future ocean’

Cuttlefish early development and behavior under future high CO2 conditions

The oceanic uptake of carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasing and changing the seawater chemistry, a phenomenon known as ocean acidification (OA). Besides the expected physiological impairments, there is an increasing evidence of detrimental OA effects on the behavioral ecology of certain marine taxa, including cephalopods. Within this context, the main goal of this study was to investigate, for the first time, the OA effects (∼1000 μatm; ΔpH = 0.4) in the development and behavioral ecology (namely shelter-seeking, hunting and response to a visual alarm cue) of the common cuttlefish (Sepia officinalis) early life stages, throughout the entire embryogenesis until 20 days after hatching. There was no evidence that OA conditions compromised the cuttlefish embryogenesis – namely development time, hatching success, survival rate and biometric data (length, weight and Fulton’s condition index) of newly hatched cuttlefish were similar between the normocapnic and hypercapnic treatments. The present findings also suggest a certain behavioral resilience of the cuttlefish hatchlings toward near-future OA conditions. Shelter-seeking, hunting and response to a visual alarm cue did not show significant differences between treatments. Thus, we argue that cuttlefishes’ nekton-benthic (and active) lifestyle, their adaptability to highly dynamic coastal and estuarine zones, and the already harsh conditions (hypoxia and hypercapnia) inside their eggs provide a degree of phenotypic plasticity that may favor the odds of the recruits in a future acidified ocean. Nonetheless, the interacting effects of multiple stressors should be further addressed, to accurately predict the resilience of this ecologically and economically important species in the oceans of tomorrow.

Continue reading ‘Cuttlefish early development and behavior under future high CO2 conditions’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book