Posts Tagged 'primary production'

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


  • 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


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’

Varying conditions in intertidal pools: high resolution pH dynamics and primary production

Most studies designed to assess the effects of ocean acidification take place in coastal and intertidal environments, which are characterized by a great variability of its physical and chemical parameters. However, a great number of these studies use fixed pH levels predicted for the future, disregarding natural pH oscillations. In this work we studied the pH oscillations and primary productivity of intertidal rockpools in two rocky shore areas. To provide high resolution continuous pH data we used an autonomous pH measuring system which consisted of a pH sensor, a data logger and a battery encased in a waterproof container. Oxygen concentration and primary production from phytoplankton and macro- phytobentos were also measured. We found a range of pH variation in the pools of 0.07 pH units/day when water dynamics was high and of 0.26 pH units/day when conditions were more stable. Carbonate systems parameters, temperature and oxygen concentration were related and they responded to the day / night cycle and hydrodynamic conditions. We suggest that these natural oscillations in pH and temperature must be taken into account in ocean acidifications studies in order to obtain more accurate results.

Continue reading ‘Varying conditions in intertidal pools: high resolution pH dynamics and primary production’

Insensitivities of a subtropical productive coastal plankton community and trophic transfer to ocean acidification: results from a microcosm study

• Lower apparent growth was observed under elevated CO2 of 1000 μatm.

• Primary production and trophic transfer were unaffected by high CO2.

• Fatty acid profiles of phyto-/zooplankton were unaffected by ocean acidification.

Ocean acidification (OA) has potential to affect marine phytoplankton in ways that are partly understood, but there is less knowledge about how it may alter the coupling to secondary producers. We investigated the effects of OA on phytoplankton primary production, and its trophic transfer to zooplankton in a subtropical eutrophic water (Wuyuan Bay, China) under present day (400 μatm) and projected end-of-century (1000 μatm) pCO2 levels. Net primary production was unaffected, although OA did lead to small decreases in growth rates. OA had no measurable effect on micro-/mesozooplankton grazing rates. Elevated pCO2 had no effect on phytoplankton fatty acid (FA) concentrations during exponential phase, but saturated FAs increased relative to the control during declining phase. FA profiles of mesozooplankton were unaffected. Our findings show that short-term exposure of plankton communities in eutrophic subtropical waters to projected end-of-century OA conditions has little effect on primary productivity and trophic linkage to mesozooplankton.

Continue reading ‘Insensitivities of a subtropical productive coastal plankton community and trophic transfer to ocean acidification: results from a microcosm study’

A triple trophic boost: how carbon emissions indirectly change a marine food chain

The pervasive enrichment of CO2 in our oceans is a well‐documented stressor to marine life. Yet, there is little understanding about how CO2 affects species indirectly in naturally complex communities. Using natural CO2 vents, we investigated the indirect effects of CO2 enrichment through a marine food chain. We show how CO2 boosted the biomass of three trophic levels: from the primary producers (algae), through to their grazers (gastropods), and finally through to their predators (fish). We also found that consumption by both grazers and predators intensified under CO2 enrichment, but, ultimately, this top‐down control failed to compensate for the boosted biomass of both primary producers and herbivores (bottom‐up control). Our study suggests that indirect effects can buffer the ubiquitous and direct, negative effects of CO2 enrichment by allowing the upward propagation of resources through the food chain. Maintaining the natural complexity of food webs in our ocean communities could, therefore, help minimize the future impacts of CO2 enrichment.

Continue reading ‘A triple trophic boost: how carbon emissions indirectly change a marine food chain’

Impact of ocean acidification and high solar radiation on productivity and species composition of a late summer phytoplankton community of the coastal Western Antarctic Peninsula

The Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), one of the most productive regions of the Southern Ocean, is currently undergoing rapid environmental changes such as ocean acidification (OA) and increased daily irradiances from enhanced surface‐water stratification. To assess the potential for future biological CO2 sequestration of this region, we incubated a natural phytoplankton assemblage from Ryder Bay, WAP, under a range of pCO2 levels (180 μatm, 450 μatm, and 1000 μatm) combined with either moderate or high natural solar radiation (MSR: 124 μmol photons m−2 s−1 and HSR: 435 μmol photons m−2 s−1, respectively). The initial and final phytoplankton communities were numerically dominated by the prymnesiophyte Phaeocystis antarctica, with the single cells initially being predominant and solitary and colonial cells reaching similar high abundances by the end. Only when communities were grown under ambient pCO2 in conjunction with HSR did the small diatom Fragilariopsis pseudonana outcompete P. antarctica at the end of the experiment. Such positive light‐dependent growth response of the diatom was, however, dampened by OA. These changes in community composition were caused by an enhanced photosensitivity of diatoms, especially F. pseudonana, under OA and HSR, reducing thereby their competitiveness toward P. antarctica. Moreover, community primary production (PP) of all treatments yielded similar high rates at the start and the end of the experiment, but with the main contributors shifting from initially large to small cells toward the end. Even though community PP of Ryder Bay phytoplankton was insensitive to the changes in light and CO2 availability, the observed size‐dependent shift in productivity could, however, weaken the biological CO2 sequestration potential of this region in the future.

Continue reading ‘Impact of ocean acidification and high solar radiation on productivity and species composition of a late summer phytoplankton community of the coastal Western Antarctic Peninsula’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book