Posts Tagged 'physiology'

Energetics, but not development, is impacted in coral embryos exposed to ocean acidification 

In light of the chronic stress and mass mortality reef-building corals face under climate change, it is critical to understand the processes driving reef persistence and replenishment, including coral reproduction and development. Here we quantify gene expression and sensitivity to ocean acidification across a set of developmental stages in the rice coral, Montipora capitata. Embryos and swimming larvae were exposed to pH treatments 7.8 (Ambient), 7.6 (Low) and 7.3 (Xlow) from fertilization to 9 days post-fertilization. Embryo and larval volume, and stage-specific gene expression were compared between treatments to determine the effects of acidified seawater on early development. While there was no measurable size differentiation between pH treatments at the fertilized egg and prawn chip (9 hours post-fertilization) stages, early gastrulae and larvae raised in reduced pH treatments were significantly smaller than those raised in ambient seawater, suggesting an energetic cost to developing under low pH. However, no differentially expressed genes were found until the swimming larval stage. Notably, gene expression patterns of larvae developing at pH 7.8 and pH 7.3 were more similar than those developing at pH 7.6. Larvae from pH 7.6 showed upregulation of genes involved in cell division, regulation of transcription, lipid metabolism, and response to oxidative stress in comparison to the other two treatments. While low pH appears to increase energetic demands and trigger oxidative stress in larvae, the developmental process is robust to this at a molecular level, with the swimming larval stage reached in all pH treatments.

Continue reading ‘Energetics, but not development, is impacted in coral embryos exposed to ocean acidification ‘

Is ocean acidification really a threat to marine calcifiers? A systematic review and meta-analysis of 980+ studies spanning two decades

Ocean acidification is considered detrimental to marine calcifiers, but mounting contradictory evidence suggests a need to revisit this concept. This systematic review and meta-analysis aim to critically re-evaluate the prevailing paradigm of negative effects of ocean acidification on calcifiers. Based on 5153 observations from 985 studies, many calcifiers (e.g., echinoderms, crustaceans, and cephalopods) are found to be tolerant to near-future ocean acidification (pH ≈ 7.8 by the year 2100), but coccolithophores, calcifying algae, and corals appear to be sensitive. Calcifiers are generally more sensitive at the larval stage than adult stage. Over 70% of the observations in growth and calcification are non-negative, implying the acclimation capacity of many calcifiers to ocean acidification. This capacity can be mediated by phenotypic plasticity (e.g., physiological, mineralogical, structural, and molecular adjustments), transgenerational plasticity, increased food availability, or species interactions. The results suggest that the impacts of ocean acidification on calcifiers are less deleterious than initially thought as their adaptability has been underestimated. Therefore, in the forthcoming era of ocean acidification research, it is advocated that studying how marine organisms persist is as important as studying how they perish, and that future hypotheses and experimental designs are not constrained within the paradigm of negative effects.

Continue reading ‘Is ocean acidification really a threat to marine calcifiers? A systematic review and meta-analysis of 980+ studies spanning two decades’

Stylasterid corals build aragonite skeletons in undersaturated water despite low pH at the site of calcification

Anthropogenic carbon emissions are causing seawater pH to decline, yet the impact on marine calcifiers is uncertain. Scleractinian corals and coralline algae strongly elevate the pH of their calcifying fluid (CF) to promote calcification. Other organisms adopt less energetically demanding calcification approaches but restrict their habitat. Stylasterid corals occur widely (extending well below the carbonate saturation horizon) and precipitate both aragonite and high-Mg calcite, however, their mode of biocalcification and resilience to ocean acidification are unknown. Here we measure skeletal boron isotopes (δ11B), B/Ca, and U/Ca to provide the first assessment of pH and rate of seawater flushing of stylasterid CF. Remarkably, both aragonitic and high-Mg calcitic stylasterids have low δ11B values implying little modification of internal pH. Collectively, our results suggest stylasterids have low seawater exchange rates into the calcifying space or rely on organic molecule templating to facilitate calcification. Thus, despite occupying similar niches to Scleractinia, Stylasteridae exhibit highly contrasting biocalcification, calling into question their resilience to ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Stylasterid corals build aragonite skeletons in undersaturated water despite low pH at the site of calcification’

Higher survival but smaller size of juvenile Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) in high CO2

Highlights

  • Ocean acidification conditions do not affect Dungeness crab megalopae survival.
  • Dungeness crab juveniles reared in high CO2 have higher survival but are smaller.
  • Dungeness crab zoea more susceptible to ocean acidification than juveniles.

Abstract

Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) are the most valuable fishery on the U.S. West Coast and both larval and adult Dungeness crabs are important components of regional food webs. Previous experiments have shown decreased survival and a slower development rate for Dungeness crab zoea reared in water with high CO2, indicating a susceptibility to ocean acidification. In this study we reared late-stage megalopae and juvenile Dungeness crabs in both ambient and high CO2 conditions for over 300 days. Counter to expectations, crabs reared in high CO2 had a higher survival rate than those reared in ambient conditions and crabs in high CO2 transitioned more quickly in one of the stages (J5 to J6). However, crabs reared in high CO2 were generally smaller and had a higher resting metabolic rate than crabs in ambient CO2. We hypothesized that two separate mechanisms were in effect, with one process driving survival and a second process driving size and respiration rate. We further hypothesized that increased mortality in ambient CO2 could be caused by a CO2-sensitive microbial pathogen, but that size and respiration differences were caused by the direct effects of CO2 on the crabs themselves. Overall, the zoea stages seem more sensitive to CO2 than the megalopae and juvenile stages.

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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.

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Diurnal fluctuations in seawater pCO2 amplify the negative effects of ocean acidification on the biotic performance of the calcifying macroalga Halimeda opuntia

Although the adverse effects of increasing atmospheric CO2-induced ocean acidification (OA) on marine calcifying macroalgae have been widely reported, there are limited studies on how daily fluctuations in pCO2 (pH) within shallow ecosystems influence the growth and physiological performance of these calcifiers. Therefore, a 42-day laboratory mimetic experiment to determine how growth, biological performance and related carbon and nitrogen metabolic products of the calcifying macroalga, Halimeda opuntia are generated in response to fluctuating pCO2 under OA conditions (1200 ppmv) was performed. The results of present study showed that the adverse effects of OA were more determined by the adverse influence of elevated acidity (H+) on growth rates, calcification, photosynthesis and the related biotic performance of H. opuntia compared with the positive effects that higher CO2 provided. Moreover, diurnal fluctuations in pCO2 levels [with higher (nearly 8.10) and lower pH (nearly 7.40) values during day and night times, respectively] have amplified these negative influences on H. opuntia. To mitigate elevated pCO2-related stress, higher contents of free amino acids and proline were highly secreted and likely linked to protecting the integrity of algal cellular structures. The above results contribute to increasing our understanding of the biological consequences of pCO2 (pH) variability on calcifying Halimeda species and their physiological plasticity in response to further oceanic pCO2 changes.

Continue reading ‘Diurnal fluctuations in seawater pCO2 amplify the negative effects of ocean acidification on the biotic performance of the calcifying macroalga Halimeda opuntia’

The indirect effects of ocean acidification on corals and coral communities

Ocean acidification (OA) is a major threat to marine calcifying organisms. This manuscript gives an overview of the physiological effects of acidification on reef-building corals from a cellular to population scale. In addition, we present the first review of the indirect effects resulting from altered species interactions. We find that the direct effects of acidification are more consistently negative at larger spatial scales, suggesting an accumulation of sub-lethal physiological effects can result in notable changes at a population and an ecosystem level. We identify that the indirect effects of acidification also have the potential to contribute to declines in coral cover under future acidified conditions. Of particular concern for reef persistence are declines in the abundance of crustose coralline algae which can result in loss of stable substrate and settlement cues for corals, potentially compounding the direct negative effects on coral recruitment rates. In addition, an increase in the abundance of bioeroders and bioerosive capacity may compound declines in calcification and result in a shift towards net dissolution. There are significant knowledge gaps around many indirect effects, including changes in herbivory and associated coral–macroalgal interactions, and changes in habitat provision of corals to fish, invertebrates and plankton, and the impact of changes to these interactions for both individual corals and reef biodiversity as structural complexity declines. This research highlights the potential of indirect effects to contribute to alterations in reef ecosystem functions and processes. Such knowledge will be critical for scaling-up the impacts of OA from individual corals to reef ecosystems and for understanding the effects of OA on reef-dependent human societies.

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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.

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Impact of growth phase, pigment adaptation and climate change conditions on the cellular pigment and carbon content of fifty-one phytoplankton isolates

Owing to their importance in aquatic ecosystems, the demand for models that estimate phytoplankton biomass and community composition in the global ocean has increased over the last decade. Moreover, the impacts of climate change, including elevated carbon dioxide (CO2), increased stratification and warmer sea surface temperatures, will likely shape phytoplankton community composition in the global ocean. Chemotaxonomic methods are useful for modeling phytoplankton community composition from marker pigments normalized to Chlorophyll a (Chl a). However, photosynthetic pigments, particularly Chl a, are sensitive to nutrient and light conditions. Cellular carbon is less sensitive so using carbon biomass instead may provide an alternative approach. To this end, cellular pigment and carbon concentrations were measured in fifty-one strains of globally relevant, cultured phytoplankton. Pigment-to-Chl a and pigment-to-carbon ratios were computed for each strain. For twenty-five strains, measurements were taken during two growth phases. While some differences between growth phases were observed, they did not exceed within-class differences. Multiple strains of Amphidinium carteraeDitylum brightwellii and Heterosigma akashiwo were measured to determine whether time in culture influenced pigment and carbon composition. No appreciable trends in cellular pigment or carbon content were observed. Lastly, the potential impact of climate change conditions on the pigment ratios was assessed using a multistressor experiment that included increased mean light, temperature and elevated pCO2 on three species: Thalassiosira oceanicaOstreococcus lucimarinus and Synechococcus. The largest differences were observed in the pigment-to-carbon ratios, while the marker pigments largely covaried with Chl a. The implications of these observations to chemotaxonomic applications are discussed.

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Microplastics can aggravate the impact of ocean acidification on the health of mussels: insights from physiological performance, immunity and byssus properties

Graphical abstract

Highlights

  • Ocean acidification reduced phagocytic activity and hence immunity of mussels.
  • The reduced phagocytic activity was associated with lowered energy budget.
  • Ocean acidification also reduced byssus strength, extensibility and production.
  • Microplastics can aggravate these negative effects of ocean acidification.
  • Mussels would be more prone to diseases and dislodgement in future oceans.

Abstract

Ocean acidification may increase the risk of disease outbreaks that would challenge the future persistence of marine organisms if their immune system and capacity to produce vital structures for survival (e.g., byssus threads produced by bivalves) are compromised by acidified seawater. These potential adverse effects may be exacerbated by microplastic pollution, which is forecast to co-occur with ocean acidification in the future. Thus, we evaluated the impact of ocean acidification and microplastics on the health of a mussel species (Mytilus coruscus) by assessing its physiological performance, immunity and byssus properties. We found that ocean acidification and microplastics not only reduced hemocyte concentration and viability due to elevated oxidative stress, but also undermined phagocytic activity of hemocytes due to lowered energy budget of mussels, which was in turn caused by the reduced feeding performance and energy assimilation. Byssus quality (strength and extensibility) and production were also reduced by ocean acidification and microplastics. To increase the chance of survival with these stressors, the mussels prioritized the synthesis of some byssus proteins (Mfp-4 and Mfp-5) to help maintain adhesion to substrata. Nevertheless, our findings suggest that co-occurrence of ocean acidification and microplastic pollution would increase the susceptibility of bivalves to infectious diseases and dislodgement risk, thereby threatening their survival and undermining their ecological contributions to the community.

Continue reading ‘Microplastics can aggravate the impact of ocean acidification on the health of mussels: insights from physiological performance, immunity and byssus properties’

Elevated pCO2 induced physiological, molecular and metabolic changes in Nannochloropsis oceanica and its effects on trophic transfer

The rise of dissolution of anthropogenic CO2 into the ocean alters marine carbonate chemistry and then results in ocean acidification (OA). It has been observed that OA induced different effects on different microalgae. In this study, we explored the physiological and biochemical changes in Nannochloropsis oceanica in response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and tested the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on the food web through animal feeding experiments at a laboratory scale. We found that the levels of C, N, C/N, Fv/Fm, and photosynthetic carbon fixation rate of algae cells were increased under high carbon dioxide concentration. Under short-term acidification, soluble carbohydrate, protein, and proportion of unsaturated fatty acids in cells were significantly increased. Under long-term acidification, the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (~33.83%) increased compared with that in control (~30.89%), but total protein decreased significantly compared with the control. Transcriptome and metabonomics analysis showed that the differential expression of genes in some metabolic pathways was not significant in short-term acidification, but most genes in the Calvin cycle were significantly downregulated. Under long-term acidification, the Calvin cycle, fatty acid biosynthesis, TAG synthesis, and nitrogen assimilation pathways were significantly downregulated, but the fatty acid β-oxidation pathway was significantly upregulated. Metabolome results showed that under long-term acidification, the levels of some amino acids increased significantly, while carbohydrates decreased, and the proportion of PUFAs increased. The rotifer Brachionus plicatilis grew slowly when fed on N. oceanica grown under short and long-term acidification conditions, and fatty acid profile analysis indicated that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) levels increased significantly under long-term acidification in both N. oceanica (~9.48%) and its consumer B. Plicatilis (~27.67%). It can be seen that N. oceanica formed a specific adaptation mechanism to OA by regulating carbon and nitrogen metabolism, and at the same time caused changes of cellular metabolic components. Although PUFAs were increased, they still had adverse effects on downstream consumers.

Continue reading ‘Elevated pCO2 induced physiological, molecular and metabolic changes in Nannochloropsis oceanica and its effects on trophic transfer’

Air exposure moderates ocean acidification effects during embryonic development of intertidally spawning fish

Ocean acidification can negatively impact the early life-stages of marine fish, due to energetic costs incurred by the maintenance of acid–base homeostasis, leaving less energy available for growth and development. The embryos of intertidally spawning fishes, such as Pacific herring, are often air exposed for hours. We hypothesized that air exposure would be beneficial to the developing embryo due to a higher oxygen availability (and thus reduced metabolic costs to secure adequate oxygen) and permitting excess CO2 associated with ocean acidification to be off-gassed during emersion. To investigate this, we reared Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) embryos under three tidal regimes (subtidal: fully immersed, low intertidal: 2 × 2 h air exposure, and high intertidal: 5 + 9 h air exposure) fully crossed with three aquatic CO2 levels (400, 1500 and 3200 µatm) at a water temperature of 9.5 °C and naturally fluctuating air temperature during air exposure. We measured the effects on embryonic development and hatch, as well as carry-over effects on larval development and survival. Air exposure during embryonic development had significant positive effects on growth, condition and survival in larval Pacific herring, with some interactive effects with CO2. Interestingly, CO2 by itself in the fully immersed treatment had no effect, but had significant interactions with air exposure. Our research suggests that air exposure during low tide can be highly beneficial to intertidally spawning fishes and needs to be taken into account in climate change studies and modeling.

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Environmental stability and phenotypic plasticity benefit the cold-water coral Desmophyllum dianthus in an acidified fjord

The stratified Chilean Comau Fjord sustains a dense population of the cold-water coral (CWC) Desmophyllum dianthus in aragonite supersaturated shallow and aragonite undersaturated deep water. This provides a rare opportunity to evaluate CWC fitness trade-offs in response to physico-chemical drivers and their variability. Here, we combined year-long reciprocal transplantation experiments along natural oceanographic gradients with an in situ assessment of CWC fitness. Following transplantation, corals acclimated fast to the novel environment with no discernible difference between native and novel (i.e. cross-transplanted) corals, demonstrating high phenotypic plasticity. Surprisingly, corals exposed to lowest aragonite saturation (Ωarag < 1) and temperature (T < 12.0 °C), but stable environmental conditions, at the deep station grew fastest and expressed the fittest phenotype. We found an inverse relationship between CWC fitness and environmental variability and propose to consider the high frequency fluctuations of abiotic and biotic factors to better predict the future of CWCs in a changing ocean.

Continue reading ‘Environmental stability and phenotypic plasticity benefit the cold-water coral Desmophyllum dianthus in an acidified fjord’

Upwelling-level acidification and pH/pCO2 variability moderate effects of ocean acidification on brain gene expression in the temperate surfperch, Embiotoca jacksoni

Acidification-induced changes in neurological function have been documented in several tropical marine fishes. Here, we investigate whether similar patterns of neurological impacts are observed in a temperate Pacific fish that naturally experiences regular and often large shifts in environmental pH/pCO2. In two laboratory experiments, we tested the effect of acidification, as well as pH/pCO2 variability, on gene expression in the brain tissue of a common temperate kelp forest/estuarine fish, Embiotoca jacksoni. Experiment 1 employed static pH treatments (target pH = 7.85/7.30), while Experiment 2 incorporated two variable treatments that oscillated around corresponding static treatments with the same mean (target pH = 7.85/7.70) in an eight-day cycle (amplitude ± 0.15). We found that patterns of global gene expression differed across pH level treatments. Additionally, we identified differential expression of specific genes and enrichment of specific gene sets (GSEA) in comparisons of static pH treatments and in comparisons of static and variable pH treatments of the same mean pH. Importantly, we found that pH/pCO2 variability decreased the number of differentially expressed genes detected between high and low pH treatments, and that inter-individual variability in gene expression was greater in variable treatments than static treatments. These results provide important confirmation of neurological impacts of acidification in a temperate fish species and, critically, that natural environmental variability may mediate the impacts of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Upwelling-level acidification and pH/pCO2 variability moderate effects of ocean acidification on brain gene expression in the temperate surfperch, Embiotoca jacksoni’

Physiological response to seawater pH of the bivalve Abra alba, a benthic ecosystem engineer, is modulated by low pH

Highlights

  • Ocean acidification reduces fitness and condition of a benthic ecosystem engineer.
  • Degree of acidification determines the presence of effects.
  • Ocean acidification decreased the energy intake of Abra alba.
  • Physiological response resulted in higher metabolic losses through increased excretion rates.
  • Physiological changes of benthic engineers likely induce cascading effects on the ecosystem.

Abstract

The presence and behaviour of bivalves can affect the functioning of seafloor sediments through the irrigation of deeper strata by feeding and respiring through siphonal channels. Here, we investigated the physiological response and consecutive impact on functioning and body condition of the white furrow shell Abra alba in three pH treatments (pH = 8.2, pH = 7.9 and pH = 7.7). Although no pH effect on survival was found, lowered respiration and calcification rates, decreased energy intake (lower absorption rate) and increased metabolic losses (increased excretion rates) occurred at pH ∼ 7.7. These physiological responses resulted in a negative Scope for Growth and a decreased condition index at this pH. This suggests that the physiological changes may not be sufficient to sustain survival in the long term, which would undoubtedly translate into consequences for ecosystem functioning.

Continue reading ‘Physiological response to seawater pH of the bivalve Abra alba, a benthic ecosystem engineer, is modulated by low pH’

European lobster larval development and fitness under a temperature gradient and ocean acidification

Climate change combined with anthropogenic stressors (e.g. overfishing, habitat destruction) may have particularly strong effects on threatened populations of coastal invertebrates. The collapse of the population of European lobster (Homarus gammarus) around Helgoland constitutes a good example and prompted a large-scale restocking program. The question arises if recruitment of remaining natural individuals and program-released specimens could be stunted by ongoing climate change. We examined the joint effect of ocean warming and acidification on survival, development, morphology, energy metabolism and enzymatic antioxidant activity of the larval stages of the European lobster. Larvae from four independent hatches were reared from stage I to III under a gradient of 10 seawater temperatures (13–24°C) combined with moderate (∼470 µatm) and elevated (∼1160 µatm) seawater pCO2 treatments. Those treatments correspond to the shared socio-economic pathways (SSP), SSP1-2.6 and SSP5-8.5 (i.e. the low and the very high greenhouse gas emissions respectively) projected for 2100 by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Larvae under the elevated pCO2 treatment had not only lower survival rates, but also significantly smaller rostrum length. However, temperature was the main driver of energy demands with increased oxygen consumption rates and elemental C:N ratio towards warmer temperatures, with a reducing effect on development time. Using this large temperature gradient, we provide a more precise insight on the aerobic thermal window trade-offs of lobster larvae and whether exposure to the worst hypercapnia scenario may narrow it. This may have repercussions on the recruitment of the remaining natural and program-released specimens and thus, in the enhancement success of future lobster stocks.

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Effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on the calcification rate, survival, extrapallial fluid chemistry, and respiration of the Atlantic sea scallop Placopecten magellanicus

Anthropogenic CO2-emission is causing ocean warming and acidification. Understanding how basic physiological processes of marine organisms respond to these stressors is important for predicting their responses to future global change. We examined the effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature (pCO2 = 344–2199 ppm; temperature = 6°C, 9°C, and 12°C) on the calcification rate, extrapallial fluid (EPF) carbonate chemistry, respiration, and survivorship of Atlantic sea scallops (Placopecten magellanicus) in a fully crossed 143-d experiment. Rates of calcification and respiration were inhibited by elevated pCO2, and mortality occurred when elevated pCO2 was accompanied by high-temperature stress. Declines in growth and survivorship were likely caused by external shell dissolution, thermal stress, and hypercapnic reduction of metabolism under elevated pCO2. Concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity in the EPF increased above seawater concentrations in response to elevated pCO2. EPF pH declined, but did not decline as much as seawater pH, indicating that scallops regulate EPF pH to support calcification. The combination of EPF pH regulation and DIC elevation yielded an increase in EPF [CO2−3] under elevated pCO2 treatments. The combination of low respiration rates, high EPF [CO2−3], and low calcification rates under elevated pCO2 suggests that the impaired calcification arises more from hypercapnic inhibition of metabolic activity and external shell dissolution than from chemically unfavorable conditions in the EPF. These results demonstrate the importance of EPF chemistry for bivalve biomineralization, but show that regulation efforts are insufficient to fully offset the deleterious effects of elevated pCO2 on scallop performance.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature on the calcification rate, survival, extrapallial fluid chemistry, and respiration of the Atlantic sea scallop Placopecten magellanicus’

Pelagic and ice-associated microalgae under elevated light and pCO2: contrasting physiological strategies in two Arctic diatoms

Sea ice retreat, changing stratification, and ocean acidification are fundamentally changing the light availability and physico-chemical conditions for primary producers in the Arctic Ocean. However, detailed studies on ecophysiological strategies and performance of key species in the pelagic and ice-associated habitat remain scarce. Therefore, we investigated the acclimated responses of the diatoms Thalassiosira hyalina and Melosira arctica toward elevated irradiance and CO2 partial pressures (pCO2). Next to growth, elemental composition, and biomass production, we assessed detailed photophysiological responses through fluorometry and gas-flux measurements, including respiration and carbon acquisition. In the pelagic T. hyalina, growth rates remained high in all treatments and biomass production increased strongly with light. Even under low irradiances cells maintained a high-light acclimated state, allowing them to opportunistically utilize high irradiances by means of a highly plastic photosynthetic machinery and carbon uptake. The ice-associated M. arctica proved to be less plastic and more specialized on low-light. Its acclimation to high irradiances was characterized by minimizing photon harvest and photosynthetic efficiency, which led to lowered growth. Comparably low growth rates and strong silification advocate a strategy of persistence rather than of fast proliferation, which is also in line with the observed formation of resting stages under low-light conditions. In both species, responses to elevated pCO2 were comparably minor. Although both diatom species persisted under the applied conditions, their competitive abilities and strategies differ strongly. With the anticipated extension of Arctic pelagic habitats, flexible high-light specialists like T. hyalina seem to face a brighter future.

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The impact of carbonate chemistry on bioeroding sponges and the persistence of south Florida coral reefs

Coral reef ecosystems are being threatened by the growing effects of anthropogenically-induced climate change. At a global-scale, diminished reef development and growth potential has culminated in a consequential shift towards the net loss of reef habitat. While the impacts of climate change have been well established for reef calcifiers, the response by bioeroders is vastly understudied in the literature.      

This Ph.D project evaluated the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) and diurnal carbonate chemistry variability on zooxanthellate (C. varians) and azooxanthellate (P. lampa and C. delitrix) sponge species common to Caribbean reef ecosystems. Physiological and molecular analysis identified a sponge stress response under OA conditions, as depressed bioerosion rates and differentially expressed genes implicated in a generalized stress response were measured in the 7.75 pH treatment. Diurnal carbonate chemistry variability was also found to be a significant driver of sponge bioerosion, with higher bioerosion rates measured under both contemporary and OA variable conditions relative to that of the static treatment groups, an effect that was more pronounced for the zooxanthellate sponge species.      

Additionally, this Ph.D project used a carbonate budget approach to evaluate spatial and temporal trends in reef growth potential for 723 South Florida reef sites. The results reported a net erosional state for coral reefs throughout the Florida Reef Tract (FRT). While these data detailed a considerable trend towards habitat loss throughout South Florida, the inclusion of reef type data revealed that mid-channel reefs in the Upper and Lower Keys may be potential hold-outs for reef development compared to their inshore and offshore counterparts.      

Altogether, the conclusions drawn from these studies address critical research gaps related to sponge bioerosion and reef development. This Ph.D will enhance prospective evaluations of habitat growth potential and improve future assessments modeling the fate of coral reef ecosystems in response to projected environmental scenarios.

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EcoPhysioMechanics: integrating energetics and biomechanics to understand fish locomotion under climate change 

Ecological physiologists and biomechanists have been broadly investigating swimming performance in a diversity of fishes, however the connection between form, function and energetics of locomotion has been rarely evaluated in the same system and under climate change scenarios. In this perspective I argue that working within the framework of ‘EcoPhysioMechanics’, i.e., integrating energetics and biomechanics tools, to measure locomotor performance and behavior under different abiotic factors, improves our understanding of the mechanisms, limits and costs of movement. To demonstrate how ecophysiomechanics can be applied to locomotor studies, I outline how linking biomechanics and physiology allows us to understand how fishes may modulate their movement to achieve high speeds or reduce the costs of locomotion. I also discuss how the framework is necessary to quantify swimming capacity under climate change scenarios. Finally, I discuss current dearth of integrative studies and gaps in empirical datasets that are necessary to understand fish swimming under changing environments.

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