Posts Tagged 'primary production'

Influence of the seagrass Thalassia hemprichii on coral reef mesocosms exposed to ocean acidification and experimentally elevated temperatures

Highlights

• The combined effect of OA and rising temperatures stimulated the growth of macroalgae.

• OA resulted in higher coral calcification rates when corals were co-incubated with seagrass.

• Macroalgal growth was lower in seagrass-containing mesocosms.

• Coral and macroalgal, but not seagrass, growth suffered at 31°C under OA conditions.

• Seagrass helped to stabilize the system’s metabolism in response to projected climate change stressors.

Abstract

Ocean acidification (OA) and warming currently threaten coastal ecosystems across the globe. However, it is possible that the former process could actually benefit marine plants, such as seagrasses. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the effects of the seagrass Thalassia hemprichii can increase the resilience of OA-challenged coral reef mesocosms whose temperatures were gradually elevated. It was found that shoot density, photosynthetic efficiency, and leaf growth rate of the seagrass actually increased with rising temperatures under OA. Macroalgal growth rates were higher in the seagrass-free mesocosms, but the calcification rate of the model reef coral Pocillopora damicornis was higher in coral reef mesocosms featuring seagrasses under OA condition at 25 and 28°C. Both the macroalgal growth rate and the coral calcification rate decreased in all mesocosms when the temperature was raised to 31°C under OA conditions. However, the variation in gross primary production, ecosystem respiration, and net ecosystem production in the seagrass mesocosms was lower than in seagrass-free controls, suggesting that the presence of seagrass in the mesocosms helped to stabilize the metabolism of the system in response to simulated climate change.

Continue reading ‘Influence of the seagrass Thalassia hemprichii on coral reef mesocosms exposed to ocean acidification and experimentally elevated temperatures’

Low CO2 evasion rate from the mangrove surrounding waters of Sundarban

Globally, water bodies adjacent to mangroves are considered sources of atmospheric CO2. We directly measured the partial pressure of CO2 in water, pCO2(water), and other related biogeochemical parameters with very high (1-min) temporal resolution at Dhanchi Island in India’s Sundarbans during the post-monsoon season. We used elemental, stable isotopic, and optical signatures to investigate the sources of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and organic matter (OM) in these waters. Diel mean pCO2(water) was marginally oversaturated in creeks (efflux, 69 ± 180 µmol m−2 h−1) and undersaturated along the island boundary and in the main river (influx, −17 ± 53 and −31 ± 73 µmol m−2 h−1, respectively) compared to the atmospheric CO2 concentration. The possibility in earlier studies of over- or underestimating the CO2 flux because of an inability to capture tidal minima and maxima was minimized in the present study, which confirmed that the waters surrounding mangroves in this region can act as a sink or a very weak source of atmospheric CO2. δ13C values for DIC suggest a mixed DIC source, and a three-end-member stable isotope mixing model and optical signatures of OM suggest negligible riverine contribution of freshwater to OM. We conclude that the CO2 sink or weak source character was due to a reduced input of riverine freshwater [which usually has high pCO2(water)] and the predominance of pCO2-lean water from the coastal sea, which eventually increases the buffering capacity of the water as evidenced by the Revelle factor. Up-scaling the CO2 flux data for all seasons and the entire estuary, we propose that the CO2 evasion rate observed in this study is much lower than the recently estimated world average. Mangrove areas having such low emissions should be given due emphasis when up-scaling the global mangrove carbon budget from regional observations.

Continue reading ‘Low CO2 evasion rate from the mangrove surrounding waters of Sundarban’

Dynamics of benthic metabolism, O2, and pCO2 in a temperate seagrass meadow

Seagrass meadows play an important role in “blue carbon” sequestration and storage, but their dynamic metabolism is not fully understood. In a dense Zostera marina meadow, we measured benthic O2 fluxes by aquatic eddy covariance, water column concentrations of O2, and partial pressures of CO2 (pCO2) over 21 full days during peak growing season in April and June. Seagrass metabolism, derived from the O2 flux, varied markedly between the 2 months as biomass accumulated and water temperature increased from 16°C to 28°C, triggering a twofold increase in respiration and a trophic shift of the seagrass meadow from being a carbon sink to a carbon source. Seagrass metabolism was the major driver of diurnal fluctuations in water column O2 concentration and pCO2, ranging from 173 to 377 μmol L−1 and 193 to 859 ppmv, respectively. This 4.5‐fold variation in pCO2 was observed despite buffering by the carbonate system. Hysteresis in diurnal water column pCO2 vs. O2 concentration was attributed to storage of O2 and CO2 in seagrass tissue, air–water exchange of O2 and CO2, and CO2 storage in surface sediment. There was a ~ 1:1 mol‐to‐mol stoichiometric relationship between diurnal fluctuations in concentrations of O2 and dissolved inorganic carbon. Our measurements showed no stimulation of photosynthesis at high CO2 and low O2 concentrations, even though CO2 reached levels used in IPCC ocean acidification scenarios. This field study does not support the notion that seagrass meadows may be “winners” in future oceans with elevated CO2 concentrations and more frequent temperature extremes.

Continue reading ‘Dynamics of benthic metabolism, O2, and pCO2 in a temperate seagrass meadow’

Kelp beds and their local effects on seawater chemistry, productivity, and microbial communities

Kelp forests are known as key habitats for species diversity and macroalgal productivity; however, we know little about how these biogenic habitats interact with seawater chemistry and phototroph productivity in the water column. We examined kelp forest functions at three locales along the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state by quantifying carbonate chemistry, nutrient concentrations, phytoplankton productivity, and seawater microbial communities inside and outside of kelp beds dominated by the canopy kelp species Nereocystis luetkeana and Macrocystis pyrifera. Kelp beds locally increased the pH, oxygen, and aragonite saturation state of the seawater, but lowered seawater inorganic carbon content and total alkalinity. While kelp beds depleted nitrate and phosphorus concentrations, ammonium and DOC concentrations were enhanced. Kelp beds also decreased chlorophyll concentrations and carbon fixed by phytoplankton, although kelp carbon fixation more than compensated for any difference in phytoplankton production. Kelp beds also entrained distinct microbial communities, with higher taxonomic and phylogenetic diversity compared to seawater outside of the kelp bed. Kelp forests thus had significant effects on seawater chemistry, productivity and the microbial assemblages in their proximity. Thereby, the diversity of pathways for carbon and nitrogen cycling was also enhanced. Overall, these observations suggest that the contribution of kelp forests to nearshore carbon and nitrogen cycling is greater than previously documented.

Continue reading ‘Kelp beds and their local effects on seawater chemistry, productivity, and microbial communities’

In situ response of Antarctic under-ice primary producers to experimentally altered pH

Elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations are contributing to ocean acidification (reduced seawater pH and carbonate concentrations), with potentially major ramifications for marine ecosystems and their functioning. Using a novel in situ experiment we examined impacts of reduced seawater pH on Antarctic sea ice-associated microalgal communities, key primary producers and contributors to food webs. pH levels projected for the following decades-to-end of century (7.86, 7.75, 7.61), and ambient levels (7.99), were maintained for 15 d in under-ice incubation chambers. Light, temperature and dissolved oxygen within the chambers were logged to track diurnal variation, with pH, O2, salinity and nutrients assessed daily. Uptake of CO2 occurred in all treatments, with pH levels significantly elevated in the two extreme treatments. At the lowest pH, despite the utilisation of CO2 by the productive microalgae, pH did not return to ambient levels and carbonate saturation states remained low; a potential concern for organisms utilising this under-ice habitat. However, microalgal community biomass and composition were not significantly affected and only modest productivity increases were noted, suggesting subtle or slightly positive effects on under-ice algae. This in situ information enables assessment of the influence of future ocean acidification on under-ice community characteristics in a key coastal Antarctic habitat.

Continue reading ‘In situ response of Antarctic under-ice primary producers to experimentally altered pH’

Ocean acidification and high irradiance stimulate growth of the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila

Ecophysiological studies on Antarctic cryptophytes to assess whether climatic changes such as ocean acidification and enhanced stratification affect their growth in Antarctic coastal waters in the future are lacking so far. This is the first study that investigated the combined effects of increasing availability of pCO2 (400 and 1000 µatm) and irradiance (20, 200 and 500 μmol photons m−2 s−1) on growth, elemental composition and photophysiology of the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila. Under ambient pCO2, this species was characterized by a pronounced sensitivity to increasing irradiance with complete growth inhibition at the highest light intensity. Interestingly, when grown under high pCO2 this negative light effect vanished and it reached highest rates of growth and particulate organic carbon production at the highest irradiance compared to the other tested experimental conditions. Our results for G. cryophila reveal beneficial effects of ocean acidification in conjunction with enhanced irradiance on growth and photosynthesis. Hence, cryptophytes such as G. cryophila may be potential winners of climate change, potentially thriving better in more stratified and acidic coastal waters and contributing in higher abundance to future phytoplankton assemblages of coastal Antarctic waters.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification and high irradiance stimulate growth of the Antarctic cryptophyte Geminigera cryophila’

Grazers increase the sensitivity of coralline algae to ocean acidification and warming

Highlights

  • Stimulation of the primary production and calcification of corallines by grazing
  • Different response of maerl between winter and summer conditions
  • High vulnerability of corallines to ocean acidification in the presence of grazers

Abstract

Coralline algae are expected to be adversely impacted by ocean acidification and warming. Most research on these algae has involved experiments on isolated species, without considering species interactions, such as grazing. This myopic view is challenging because the impact of climate change on coralline algae will depend on the direct impacts on individual coralline species and the indirect effects of altered interactions with other species. Here, we tested the influence of grazing on the response of the coralline alga Lithothamnion corallioides to near-future ocean acidification and warming. Two three-month experiments were performed in the winter and summer seasons in mesocosms under crossed conditions of pCO2 (ambient and high pCO2) and temperature (ambient and +3 °C) in the presence and absence of grazers. In the winter, L. corallioides photosynthesis decreased with rising temperature in the presence of grazers, while calcification increased. It is likely that increased calcification may act as a structural protection to prevent damage from grazing. However, increasing calcification rates in the presence of grazers may be detrimental to other physiological processes, such as photosynthesis. In the summer, L. corallioides primary production, respiration, and calcification were higher in the presence of grazers than in their absence. Light calcification rates were reduced under high pCO2 in the presence of grazers only. Moreover, dark calcification rates were more adversely affected by pCO2 increase in the presence of grazers. Through their feeding activity, grazers may alter the structural integrity of thalli and increase the sensitivity of coralline algae to ocean acidification. Our results indicate that both season and grazing play a key role in the response of L. corallioides to acidification and warming. Seasonal variations and species interactions are thus critical to consider to make ecologically relevant predictions of the effects of future environmental changes.

Continue reading ‘Grazers increase the sensitivity of coralline algae to ocean acidification and warming’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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