Posts Tagged 'performance'

Experimental ocean acidification and food limitation reveals altered energy budgets and synergistic effects on mortality of larvae of a coastal fish

Ocean acidification (OA) presents a unique challenge to early life stages of marine species. Developing organisms must balance the need to grow rapidly with the energetic demands of maintaining homeostasis. The small sizes of early life stages can make them highly sensitive to changes in environmental CO2 levels, but studies have found wide variation in responses to OA. Thus far most OA studies have manipulated CO2 only, and modifying factors need to be considered in greater detail. We investigated the effects of high pCO2 and food ration on rates of growth and mortality of a coastal fish, the California Grunion (Leuresthes tenuis). We also examined how CO2 and food levels affected feeding success, metabolic rate, and swimming activity – processes reflective of energy acquisition and expenditure. In general, exposure to high CO2 decreased energy intake by reducing feeding success, and increased energy expenditure by increasing metabolic rate and routine swimming speed, though the magnitudes of these effects varied somewhat with age. Despite these changes in energetics, growth of biomass was not affected significantly by pCO2 level but was reduced by low ration level, and we did not detect an interactive effect of food ration and pCO2 on growth. However, under OA conditions, larvae were in poorer condition (as evaluated by the mass to length ratio) by the end of the experiment and our analysis of mortality revealed a significant interaction in which the effects of OA were more lethal when food energy was limited. These results are consistent with the idea that although energy can be reallocated to preserve biomass growth, increased energetic demand under ocean acidification may draw energy away from maintenance, including those processes that foster homeostasis during development. Overall, these results highlight both the need to consider the availability of food energy as a force governing species’ responses to ocean acidification and the need to explicitly consider the energy allocated to both growth and maintenance as climate changes.

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Effects of ocean acidification on Lottia scutum settlement

The effects of ocean acidification on calcifying marine organisms are becoming more pronounced as atmospheric CO2 levels have increased due to anthropogenic carbon emissions (Etheridge et al., 1996). Studies on these effects have also increased over time. Ocean acidification (OA) has been shown to affect the feeding behavior and metabolic rates of larvae in a number of species (Vargas et al., 2013; Pan et al., 2015). Metabolic changes can significantly influence developmental rates, but little is still known about consequences of OA for non-feeding marine invertebrate larvae. In this study, we focus on the effects of OA conditions on the larval stage of Lottia scutum, a Pacific rocky intertidal limpet species that ranges from Alaska to southern California. Larvae were exposed to OA conditions (pH 7.3) at competency stage and monitored for settlement behavior and metamorphosis. Our results indicate that L. scutum larvae were able to successfully settle in OA and ambient seawater treatments. We did not find a negative effect of the specific OA conditions used in this study on the settlement of L. scutum. These findings provide insight into how environmental stress might affect early life stages, as well as how marine invertebrate larvae from regularly low pH environments fare in OA conditions.

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Large-scale culturing of Neogloboquadrina pachyderma, its growth in, and tolerance of, variable environmental conditions

The planktic foraminifera Neogloboquadrina pachyderma is a calcifying marine protist and the dominant planktic foraminifera species in the polar oceans, making it a key species in marine polar ecosystems. The calcium carbonate shells of foraminifera are widely used in palaeoclimate studies because their chemical composition reflects the seawater conditions in which they grow. This species provides unique proxy data for past surface ocean hydrography, which can provide valuable insight to future climate scenarios. However, little is known about the response of N. pachyderma to variable and changing environmental conditions.Here, we present observations from large-scale culturing experiments where temperature, salinity and carbonate chemistry were altered independently. We observed overall low mortality, calcification of new chambers and addition of secondary calcite crust in all our treatments. In-culture asexual reproduction events also allowed us to monitor the variable growth of N. pachyderma’s offspring. Several specimens had extended periods of dormancy or inactivity after which they recovered. These observations suggest that N. pachyderma can tolerate, adapt to and calcify within a wide range of environmental conditions. This has implications for the species-level response to ocean warming and acidification, for future studies aiming to culture N. pachyderma and use in palaeoenvironmental reconstruction.

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Short-term exposure to independent and combined acidification and warming elicits differential responses from two tropical seagrass-associated invertebrate grazers

Ocean acidification and warming could affect animal physiology, key trophic interactions and ecosystem functioning in the long term. This study investigates the effects of four pH−temperature combination treatments simulating ocean acidification (OA), ocean warming (OW) and combined OA and OW conditions (FUTURE) relative to ambient present-day conditions (PRESENT) on the grazing of the juveniles of two seagrass-associated invertebrates namely the sea cucumber Stichopus cf. horrens and topshell Trochus maculatus over a 5-day exposure period. Diel and feeding activity of both species increased under OW and FUTURE to some extent, while the nighttime activity of Trochus but not Stichopus decreased under OA relative to PRESENT during the first 2 days. Fecal production of Stichopus did not differ among treatments, while the lowest fecal production of Trochus was observed under OA during the first 24 h of grazing. These responses suggest that Trochus may be initially more sensitive to OA compared with Stichopus. Interestingly, fecal production of Trochus in FUTURE was significantly higher than OA, suggesting that warming may ameliorate the negative effect of acidification. Diel activity, feeding and fecal production after 5 days did not differ among treatments for both species, suggesting acclimation to the acute changes in temperature and pH after a few days, although Stichopus acclimated rapidly than Trochus. The ability of the two juvenile invertebrate grazers to rapidly acclimate to increased temperature and lowered pH conditions after short-term exposure may favor their survival under projected changes in ocean conditions.

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Transcriptomic responses in the nervous system and correlated behavioural changes of a cephalopod exposed to ocean acidification

The nervous system is central to coordinating behavioural responses to environmental change, likely including ocean acidification (OA). However, a clear understanding of neurobiological responses to OA is lacking, especially for marine invertebrates. We evaluated the transcriptomic response of the central nervous system (CNS) and eyes of the two-toned pygmy squid ( Idiosepius pygmaeus ) to OA conditions, using a de novo transcriptome assembly created with long read PacBio ISO-sequencing data. We then correlated patterns of gene expression with CO treatment levels and OA-affected behaviours in the same individuals. OA induced transcriptomic responses within the nervous system related to various different types of neurotransmission, neuroplasticity, immune function and oxidative stress. These molecular changes may contribute to OA-induced behavioural changes, as suggested by correlations between gene expression profiles, CO treatment and OA-affected behaviours. This study provides the first molecular insights into the neurobiological effects of OA on a cephalopod and correlates molecular changes with whole animal behavioural responses, helping to bridge the gap in our knowledge between environmental change and animal responses.

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Ontogenetic differences in the response of the cold-water coral Caryophyllia huinayensis to ocean acidification, warming and food availability


  • Response to multiple stressors differs between cold-water coral life stages.
  • Elevated temperature and reduced feeding have the strongest effect.
  • Highest mortality occurs in adult corals.
  • Calcification rates decrease the most in juvenile corals.
  • Three-month delay in response to changing environmental conditions.


Cold-water corals (CWCs) are considered vulnerable to environmental changes. However, previous studies have focused on adult CWCs and mainly investigated the short-term effects of single stressors. So far, the effects of environmental changes on different CWC life stages are unknown, both for single and multiple stressors and over long time periods. Therefore, we conducted a six-month aquarium experiment with three life stages of Caryophyllia huinayensis to study their physiological response (survival, somatic growth, calcification and respiration) to the interactive effects of aragonite saturation (0.8 and 2.5), temperature (11 and 15 °C) and food availability (8 and 87 μg C L−1). The response clearly differed between life stages and measured traits. Elevated temperature and reduced feeding had the greatest effects, pushing the corals to their physiological limits. Highest mortality was observed in adult corals, while calcification rates decreased the most in juveniles. We observed a three-month delay in response, presumably because energy reserves declined, suggesting that short-term experiments overestimate coral resilience. Elevated summer temperatures and reduced food supply are likely to have the greatest impact on live CWCs in the future, leading to reduced coral growth and population shifts due to delayed juvenile maturation and high adult mortality.

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Contaminants disrupt aquatic food webs via decreased consumer efficiency


  • Overall, contaminants reduce consumption rates across aquatic ecosystems.
  • Contaminants disproportionately impact consumers relative to resource taxa.
  • Contaminants have greater negative effects on primary consumers with sedentary resources.
  • Metal contaminants have relatively strong dampening effects on consumption.
  • 33 % of studies expose contaminants to only consumer or resource, not both.


Changes in consumer-resource dynamics due to environmental stressors can alter energy flows or key interactions within food webs, with potential for cascading effects at population, community, and ecosystem levels. We conducted a meta-analysis to quantify the direction and magnitude of changes in consumption rates following exposure of consumer-resource pairs within freshwater-brackish and marine systems to anthropogenic CO2, heavy metals, microplastics, oil, pesticides, or pharmaceuticals. Across all contaminants, exposure generally decreased consumption rates, likely due to reduced consumer mobility or search efficiency. These negative effects on consumers appeared to outweigh co-occurring reductions in prey vigilance or antipredator behaviors following contaminant exposure. Consumption was particularly dampened in freshwater-brackish systems, for consumers with sedentary prey, and for lower-trophic-level consumers. This synthesis indicates that energy flow up the food web, toward larger – often ecologically and economically prized – taxa may be dampened as aquatic contaminant loads increase.

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Whole-genome methylation sequencing of large yellow croaker (Larimichthys crocea) liver under hypoxia and acidification stress

Large yellow croaker (Larimichthys crocea) is an important aquaculture species in China. This study analysed whole-genome methylation differences in liver tissues of young fish under different hypoxic and acidification conditions. Differentially methylated regions (DMRs) and differentially methylated genes (DMGs) were identified. Gene ontology (GO) and Kyoto encyclopaedia of genes and genomes (KEGG) enrichment analyses of DMGs were conducted to explore the mechanism of coping with hypoxic acidification. The main methylation type was CG, accounting for > 70% of total methylation, significantly higher than CHG and CHH methylation types. GO enrichment analysis of DMGs revealed strong enrichment of nervous system development, cell periphery, plasma membrane, cell junction organisation, cell junction, signalling receptor activity, molecular sensor activity, cell-linked tissue junction organisation, cell–cell adhesion and nervous system development. KEGG enrichment analysis of DMR-related genes identified cell adhesion molecules, cortisol synthesis and secretion and aldosterone synthesis and secretion as the three key pathways regulating the physiological responses to hypoxia and acidification. Long-term hypoxic and acidification stress affected the immune system, nervous system and stress responses of large yellow croaker. Whole-genome sequencing analysis of exposed tissues was used to investigate changes that occur in L. crocea in response to hypoxic and acidic conditions at the DNA methylation level. The findings contribute to our comprehensive understanding of functional methylation in large yellow croaker and will support future research on the response mechanisms of this species under different environmental pressures.

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Experimental determination of differential seasonal response in seed of the Manila clam, Ruditapes philippinarum, in context of climate change


  • Growth, feeding, burrowing and biomarkers respond to Climate Change (CC) in clams.
  • Spring and summer are the seasons when clams are more affected by CC.
  • In clams, pH induced more biochemical/physiological alterations than temperature.
  • Seasonality is an important factor to modulate physiological responses to CC in clams.


Marine bivalves are found as key components of coastal habitats and have several important roles, such as serving as a food source for human beings and aquatic organisms. In fact, as the world’s population continues to grow, bivalve aquaculture is expected to increase in importance as a means of addressing demands for animal protein; however, its growth may be possibly compromised by unfavourable climatic conditions. Thus, we assessed the effects of increased water temperature and acidification on the seeds of a bivalve of commercial importance, the Manila clamRuditapes philippinarum, in order to understand how this species may be affected by climate change at its early life stages. We examined the expected response of clams by experimentally mimicking seasonal conditions that could be forecasted to occur at the end of the twenty-first century. Different physiological responses were measured including growth rates, clearance rate, burrowing time and different biochemical biomarkers of metabolic stress. The results showed that growth decreased in acidic experimental conditions in spring, with a weak interaction with temperature. Clearance rate was negatively affected by a lower pH in spring and summer but, under extreme summer conditions, the effect of pH was overridden by the negative impact of a higher temperature. Burrowing rates were reduced by half under warm temperature conditions in spring and summer. In contrast, biochemical biomarkers were only significantly depicted under climate change conditions in autumn. Overall, this study demonstrates the need to consider seasonality when evaluating the potential effects of climate change on clam aquaculture in order to forecast consequences for biological production.

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The effects of ocean change drivers on the ecophysiology of the mottled brittle star Ophionereis fasciata

Global ocean environments are rapidly changing, posing a substantial threat to the viability of marine populations due to the co-occurrence of different changing ocean (CO) drivers, such as ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA). In order to persist, marine species undergo some combination of acclimation and adaptation in response to these changes. Understanding such responses is essential to measure and predict the magnitude and direction of environmental changes, leading to the development of different approaches to understanding the links and interactions between biological processes and abiotic environmental conditions. A series of long-term mesocosm experiments have been conducted using adult Ophionereis fasciata as a model to investigate the physiological response and trade-offs of marine organisms to ocean acidification, ocean warming and the combined effect of both drivers. A scenario-based approach was adopted to elucidate the primary physiological responses to conditions currently experienced by this species in its tidally influenced habitat (21-24°C and pH 7.75-7.4) as well as changes expected to occur in the near future due to CO (+2.5 ℃ and -0.36 pH by 2100). Long-term exposure to OW and OA conditions affected survival, metabolic rate, regeneration and growth rates, calcification/dissolution and the righting response of O. fasciata. Temperature changes clearly impacted these aspects of the mottled brittle star, while changes in pH had more subtle or no effect. Our results indicate that for most of the assessed ecophysiological traits, there are no significant interactive effects of OA and OW. Moreover, temperature was the dominant driver, with a greater impact regarding the magnitude and quantity of the affected processes. However, the exposure to a combination of high temperature and low pH produced complex responses in terms of survival and calcification/dissolution. Finally, we documented the first report of symbionts associated with O. fasciata: an obligate amphipod parasite and a facultative commensal polychaete. Our findings indicate that the mottled brittle star will need to cope with CO conditions in context with the predictions made for New Zealand waters, with a potential impact on its performance and survival, as well as its distribution and ecological interactions.

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Effects of pH, eelgrass, and settlement substrate on the growth of juvenile magallana (crassostrea) gigas, a commercially important oyster species

Worsening ocean acidification (OA), resulting from ongoing absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by the oceans, threatens marine life globally. Calcifying organisms, especially their early life stages, are particularly vulnerable; this includes the economically important Pacific oyster, Magallana (Crassostrea) gigas. Uptake of dissolved CO2 through photosynthesis by seagrasses, like eelgrass (Zostera marina), may benefit calcifying organisms by increasing pH and carbonate availability. I conducted laboratory and field experiments to quantify carbonate chemistry modification by eelgrass and potential mitigation of OA impacts on growth in juvenile Pacific oysters. In the laboratory experiment, daytime net photosynthesis by eelgrass increased seawater pH, while nighttime net respiration reduced pH though to a lesser extent; both effects grew stronger as the pH of incoming seawater decreased. This is consistent with the expectation that eelgrass will benefit from increased aqueous CO2 levels and suggests that the importance of carbonate chemistry modification by eelgrass and its role as a refugium may increase as OA proceeds. Under the conditions tested, however, eelgrass effects on pH were modest and did not affect oyster growth in the lab or field. In the lab, oysters settled on shell flour grew faster than those on shell chunks, but unlike those on chunks, the growth rate of oysters on flour decreased significantly in low pH treatments. One hypothesis consistent with these results is that the boundary layer around shell chunks may have slowed oyster growth by limiting food availability but that it also reduced sensitivity to low pH via enhanced carbonate saturation.

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The effects of short-term exposure to pH reduction on the behavioral and physiological parameters of juvenile black rockfish (Sebastes schlegelii)

Simple Summary

The reduction in seawater pH as a consequence of ocean acidification has resulted in a considerable challenge for the adaptation of fish. The effects of pH fluctuations in coastal regions on offshore fish are not fully understood in terms of their behavioral and physiological responses. In the present study, we aimed to examine the consequences of a brief period of reduced pH levels on the behavioral and physiological performance of juvenile black rockfish (Sebastes schlegelii). The findings revealed that juvenile black rockfish could withstand changes in pH, but there was a significant impact on their activity state and metabolic levels. The present study will enhance our understanding of the behavioral and physiological responses of costal fish (the black rockfish, in this case) to acidic conditions.


Coastal areas are subject to greater pH fluctuation and more rapid pH decline as a result of both natural and anthropogenic influences in contrast to open ocean environments. Such variations in pH have the potential to pose a threat to the survival and physiological function of offshore fishes. With the aim of evaluating the impact of short-term pH reduction on the behavioral performance and physiological response of costal fish, the black rockfish (Sebastes schlegelii), one of the principal stock-enhanced species, was examined. In the present study, juveniles of the black rockfish with a mean body length of 6.9 ± 0.3 cm and weight of 8.5 ± 0.5 g were exposed to a series of pHs, 7.0, 7.2, 7.4, 7.6, 7.8, and normal seawater (pH 8.0) for 96 h. At the predetermined time points post-exposure (i.e., 0, 12, 24, 48, and 96 h), fish movement behavior was recorded and the specimens were sampled to assess their physiological responses. The results indicate that the lowered pH environment (pH 7.0–7.8) elicited a significant increase in highly mobile behavior, a decrease in immobile behavior, and a significant rise in the metabolic levels of the black rockfish juveniles. Specifically, carbohydrate metabolism was significantly elevated in the pH 7.2 and 7.4 treatments, while lipid metabolism was significantly increased in the pH 7.0, 7.4, and 7.8 treatments. The results of the present study indicate that short-term reductions in pH could ramp up boldness and boost energy expenditure in the black rockfish juveniles, leading to an increased metabolic cost. Additionally, the present investigation revealed that the black rockfish juveniles were capable of adapting to a short-term pH reduction. The findings may provide insight into the underlying physiological mechanisms that govern fish responses to potential decreases in seawater pH in the future.

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Projected ocean acidification and seasonal temperature alter the behaviour and growth of a range extending tropical fish

Climate-driven invasions of ecosystems by range-extending animals are often mediated by behavioural modifications that increase their chances of establishment in foreign biological communities. This creates novel ecological interactions that can affect the behaviour of native species in recipient ecosystems. However, this question has seldom been addressed in marine systems, in particular with the additive effect of ocean acidification and the mediating effects of seasonal climate variability. Here, we performed a laboratory experiment to evaluate how novel species interactions, ocean acidification, and projected future summer versus winter temperatures could affect the behaviour and growth of a range-extending tropical and co-shoaling temperate fish. Compared to current-day summer temperatures, tropical fish became 4% more active, 90% more aggressive, and increased their growth rates (standard length: +42%) during future summers in their novel poleward ranges, but reduced their aggression by 64%, boldness by 52%, feeding by 45% and growth rates (wet weight: −70%, standard length: −26%) during future winters compared to current-day summer temperatures. Additionally, tropical fish became 3% more active under ocean acidification compared to no ocean acidification. Conversely, temperate fish behaviour was unaffected by climate treatments but their growth rates were > 200% faster under future winter versus current and future summer temperatures. We conclude that projected future winter conditions in temperate ecosystems may reduce the performance of range-extending fishes in temperate fish communities and slow down tropicalisation of higher latitudes.

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Variable food alters responses of larval crown-of-thorns starfish to ocean warming but not acidification

Phytoplankton abundance is decreasing and becoming more variable as the ocean climate changes. We examine how low, high, and variable phytoplankton food supply affected the survival, development, and growth of larval crown-of-thorns starfish, Acanthaster sp. exposed to combined warming (26, 30 °C) and acidification (pH 8.0, 7.6). Larvae fed a low food ration are smaller, and develop slower and with more abnormalities than larvae fed a high ration. Larvae fed a variable food supply (low, followed by high ration) overcome the negative effects of low food on development rate and occurrence of abnormalities, but are 16–17% smaller than larvae fed the high ration continuously. Acidification (pH 7.6) slows growth and development and increases abnormalities regardless of the food regime. Warming slows growth and development, but these effects are mitigated by high food availability. As tropical oceans warm, the success of crown-of-thorns starfish larvae may depend on the abundance of their phytoplankton prey.

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Effects of sediment and water column acidification on growth, survival, burrowing behaviour, and GABAA receptor function of benthic invertebrates

In coastal regions, sediment-dwelling animals are exposed to a high degree of variability in seawater and sediment pH and pH is expected to decline due to anthropogenic effects. The impacts of 6-week exposure to reduced-pH seawater on length, weight, and survival of two species of molluscs that inhabit mudflats, juvenile soft-shell clams (Mya arenaria) and adult mud snails (Tritia obsoleta), were examined in two laboratory trials (2017 and 2018). The interactive effects of this prior exposure to water column acidification and subsequent sediment acidification on burrowing behaviour were then investigated for these mollusc species and adults of the amphipod Corophium volutator. In a separate experiment, the potential involvement of GABAA receptors in changes in burrowing behaviour in reduced-pH conditions was tested by exposing three species: C. volutatorT. obsoleta, and the Baltic clam Limecola balthica to sediment acidification and the neuroinhibitor gabazine. Reduced-pH water conditions only decreased the shell length of T. obsoleta in 2017 while all other morphometric metrics were not significantly impacted for this species in either year or for M. arenaria. The burrowing of T. obsoleta was reduced by 13% in acidified sediments in one of the two years but not by prior exposure to water column acidification. The burrowing of M. arenaria was not affected by either factor. The burrowing of C. volutator was impacted by the interaction of water column exposure and sediment acidification in 2017 with the acidified water, control sediment treatment having 14% higher burrowing then the remaining treatment combinations. In 2018, C. volutator burrowing was reduced in acidified sediment by 30%. The presence of gabazine only had an interactive effect on the burrowing of one species, C. volutator. The presence of gabazine increased the proportion of C. volutator individuals burrowed in the acidified water treatment by almost 30%, suggesting that GABAA neuroreceptors are involved in the mechanism for the impact of sediment acidification on burrowing in this species. The results of our experiments indicate that there is taxonomic variation in species’ responses of benthic invertebrates to ocean and sediment acidification with respect to growth, survival, and burrowing behaviour.

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CO2-induced ocean acidification alters the burrowing behavior of Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum by reversing GABAA receptor function

Biological burrowing behavior is an important driver shaping ecosystems that is being threatened by CO2-induced ocean acidification; however, the effects of ocean acidification on burrowing behavior and its neurological mechanism remain unclear. This study showed that elevated pCO2 significantly affected the burrowing behaviors of the Manila clam Ruditapes philippinarum, such as increased foot contraction, burrowing time, and intrabottom movement and decreased burrowing depth. Delving deeper into the mechanism, exposure to elevated pCO2 significantly decreased extracellular pH and increased [HCO3]. Moreover, an indicator GABAA receptor, a neuroinhibitor for movement, was found to be closely associated with behavioral changes. In situ hybridization confirmed that the GABAA receptor was widely distributed in ganglia and foot muscles, and elevated pCO2 significantly increased the mRNA level and GABA concentration. However, the increase in GABAA receptor and its ligand did not suppress the foot movement, but rather sent “excitatory” signals for foot contraction. The destabilization of acid–base homeostasis was demonstrated to induce an increase in the reversal potential for GABAA receptor and an alteration in GABAA receptor function under elevated pCO2. This study revealed that elevated pCO2 affects the burrowing behavior of Manila clams by altering GABAA receptor function from inhibitory to excitatory.

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The effects of ocean acidification on the olfactory system of fish

High atmospheric carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels are responsible for rapid climate change. After reaching the ocean, the atmospheric carbon undergoes a chain of reactions and ultimately alters the chemistry of the ocean. The current trend is that pH levels are slowly decreasing resulting in a more acidic ocean. Research has focused on the effects of ocean acidification on marine calcifiers, as they will be directly impacted through the dissolution of their carbonate shells or skeleton. However, fish seem to be threatened by the disruption of their olfactory system. Olfaction is essential to many fish species as it allows them to navigate, find food, find mates for reproduction, find their habitats and avoid predators. Therefore, any impairment of the olfactory system could have serious consequences on an individual’s fitness and survival and have cascading effects at the ecosystem level. This essay discussed and reviewed the relevant literature focusing on answering the following research question: What are the mechanisms and the effects of ocean acidification on the olfactory system of fish and how can these effects be mitigated? This was done by answering the following three sub-questions: (a) What are the physiological mechanisms of ocean acidification on the olfaction of fish? (b) What are the sensory and behavioural effects caused by ocean acidification? (c) How can fish mitigate the effects of ocean acidification on their olfactory system?

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Microbial mats as model to decipher climate change effect on microbial communities through a mesocosm study

Marine environments are expected to be one of the most affected ecosystems by climate change, notably with increasing ocean temperature and ocean acidification. In marine environments, microbial communities provide important ecosystem services ensuring biogeochemical cycles. They are threatened by the modification of environmental parameters induced by climate change that, in turn, affect their activities. Microbial mats, ensuring important ecosystem services in coastal areas, are well-organized communities of diverse microorganisms representing accurate microbial models. It is hypothesized that their microbial diversity and metabolic versatility will reveal various adaptation strategies in response to climate change. Thus, understanding how climate change affects microbial mats will provide valuable information on microbial behaviour and functioning in changed environment. Experimental ecology, based on mesocosm approaches, provides the opportunity to control physical-chemical parameters, as close as possible to those observed in the environment. The exposure of microbial mats to physical-chemical conditions mimicking the climate change predictions will help to decipher the modification of the microbial community structure and function in response to it. Here, we present how to expose microbial mats, following a mesocosm approach, to study the impact of climate change on microbial community.

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The influence of upwelling on key bivalves from the Humboldt and Iberian current systems

Eastern Boundary Upwelling Systems (EBUS) deliver cold, nutrient-rich waters, influencing coastal biota from the molecular to the ecosystem level. Although local upwelling (U) and downwelling (DU) conditions are often known, their influence on body attributes of relevant species has not been systematically compared within and between EBUS (i.e., below and above regional scales). Hence, we compared the physical-chemical characteristics of U and DU sites in the Humboldt Current system (Chile) and the Iberian Current system (Portugal). We then assessed the influence of U and DU upon eight body attributes in purple mussels (Perumytilus purpuratus) and Mediterranean mussels (Mytilus galloprovincialis), from the Humboldt and Iberian systems, respectively. We hypothesized that bivalves from U sites display better fitness, as measured by body attributes, regardless of their origin (EBUS). As expected, waters from U sites in both systems showed lower temperatures and pH, and higher nitrite concentrations. We also found that mussels from U sites showed better fitness than those in DU sites in 12 out of 16 direct U vs DU comparisons. Shell length, shell volume, organic content of soft-tissues, and mechanical properties of the shell averaged consistently higher in mussels from U sites in both Current systems. In addition, total weight, soft-tissue weight, shell weight and shell thickness were all higher in the U site at the Humboldt system but had less consistent differences at the Iberian system. Altogether, most results supported our working hypothesis and indicate that U conditions support better fitted mussels. The few attributes that did not exhibit the expected U vs DU differences in the Iberian system suggest that local and species-specific differences also play a role on the attributes of these species. These results may also serve as a reference point for further studies addressing the influence of upwelling in these productive, critically important systems.

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Ocean acidification increases copper accumulation and exacerbates copper toxicity in Amphioctopus fangsiao (Mollusca: Cephalopoda): a potential threat to seafood safety


  • A. fangsiao can adapt well to ocean acidification after 21-days experiment.
  • Copper accumulation in tissues showed increase in acidified seawater.
  • Copper exposure can influence the growth and feeding of A. fangsiao.
  • Acidification exacerbated the copper effect in metabolism and oxidative stress.
  • Copper exposure triggered DNA and protein and mitochondrial damage.


Ocean acidification (OA) and trace metal pollutants coexist to exert combined effects on the functions and services of marine ecosystems. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide has caused a decrease in the pH of the ocean, affecting the bioavailability and speciation of trace metals and consequently altering metal toxicity in marine organisms. As an important trace metal functioned in hemocyanin, the richness of Copper (Cu) in octopuses is remarkable. Therefore, the biomagnification and bioaccumulation capacities of Cu in octopuses may be a non-negligible risk of contamination. Here, Amphioctopus fangsiao was continuously exposed to acidified seawater (pH 7.8) and copper (50 μg/L) to investigate the combined effect of ocean acidification and Cu exposure on marine mollusks. Our results showed that A. fangsiao could adapt well to ocean acidification after 21 days of the rearing experiment. However, the accumulation of Cu in A. fangsiao intestine increased significantly in acidified seawater under high levels of Cu stress. In addition, Cu exposure can influence the physiological function of A. fangsiao, including growth and feeding. This study also demonstrated that Cu exposure disturbed glucolipid metabolism and induced oxidative damage to intestine tissue, and ocean acidification further exacerbated these toxic effects. The obvious histological damage and microbiota alterations were also caused by Cu stress and its combined effect with ocean acidification. At the transcription level, we found numerous differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and significantly enriched KEGG pathways, involving glycolipid metabolism, transmembrane transport, glucolipid metabolism, oxidative stress, mitochondrial, protein and DNA damage, all revealing the strong toxicological synergetic effect of Cu and OA exposure and the molecular adaptation mechanism of A. fangsiao. Collectively, this study demonstrated that octopuses may withstand future ocean acidification conditions, however, the complex interactions of future OA and trace metal pollution need to be emphasized. OA can influence the toxicity of trace metals, inducing a potential threat to marine organism safety.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification increases copper accumulation and exacerbates copper toxicity in Amphioctopus fangsiao (Mollusca: Cephalopoda): a potential threat to seafood safety’

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