Posts Tagged 'primary production'

Primary producers may ameliorate impacts of daytime CO2 addition in a coastal marine ecosystem

Predicting the impacts of ocean acidification in coastal habitats is complicated by bio-physical feedbacks between organisms and carbonate chemistry. Daily changes in pH and other carbonate parameters in coastal ecosystems, associated with processes such as photosynthesis and respiration, often greatly exceed global mean predicted changes over the next century. We assessed the strength of these feedbacks under projected elevated CO2 levels by conducting a field experiment in 10 macrophyte-dominated tide pools on the coast of California, USA. We evaluated changes in carbonate parameters over time and found that under ambient conditions, daytime changes in pH, pCO2, net ecosystem calcification (NEC), and O2 concentrations were strongly related to rates of net community production (NCP). CO2 was added to pools during daytime low tides, which should have reduced pH and enhanced pCO2. However, photosynthesis rapidly reduced pCO2 and increased pH, so effects of CO2 addition were not apparent unless we accounted for seaweed and surfgrass abundances. In the absence of macrophytes, CO2 addition caused pH to decline by ∼0.6 units and pCO2 to increase by ∼487 µatm over 6 hr during the daytime low tide. As macrophyte abundances increased, the impacts of CO2 addition declined because more CO2 was absorbed due to photosynthesis. Effects of CO2addition were, therefore, modified by feedbacks between NCP, pH, pCO2, and NEC. Our results underscore the potential importance of coastal macrophytes in ameliorating impacts of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Primary producers may ameliorate impacts of daytime CO2 addition in a coastal marine ecosystem’

Shallow water carbonate sediments of the Galapagos archipelago: ecologically sensitive biofacies in a transitional oceanographic environment

Shallow water carbonate producing organisms are directly controlled by their local oceanography. As a result, long-term environmental signals—stemming from the breakdown of calcareous organisms—can be read from time-averaged carbonate sediments. To better understand these complex biophysical interactions, it is important to study carbonate development within oceanographic transition zones and environments affected by disturbances, such as the El Niño—Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This dissertation represents the first investigation into modern shallow water, soft sediment, carbonate environments of the Galápagos Archipelago, eastern tropical Pacific (ETP). This region is notable for straddling an oceanographic transition zone from tropical oligotrophic to temperate eutrophic—caused by high nutrient and low pH upwelling—and for being directly impacted by ENSO. A top-down approach is followed, which analyzes the biogenic structure of Galápagos sediments and their connection to local and regional oceanography and climate, and then explores how these findings relate to benthic foraminifera—sensitive environmental indicators contained within the sediments. Sediment point counting and statistical models revealed that while these carbonate environments span a biogenic and oceanographic transition comparable to similar settings in the ETP, the proximity of the Galápagos to the ENSO region directly influences its sedimentary structure and distribution. Point counting also revealed a near-absence of benthic foraminifera, which is unusual for ETP, and tropical shallow water carbonates in general. Statistically comparing foraminiferal species composition and diversity to dominant oceanographic parameters revealed the low abundances and distribution of these testate (shelled) single-celled protists to be negatively influenced by the combination of repeated Holocene ENSO events, and the effects of protracted exposure to high nutrient and low pH waters of the southern archipelago. Ultimately, the results of this study may serve as a template for investigating the interaction of carbonates and oceanography within similar atypical tropical assemblages in the fossil record.

Continue reading ‘Shallow water carbonate sediments of the Galapagos archipelago: ecologically sensitive biofacies in a transitional oceanographic environment’

The influence of abrupt increases in seawater pCO2 on plankton productivity in the subtropical North Pacific Ocean

We conducted a series of experiments to examine short-term (2–5 days) effects of abrupt increases in the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) in seawater on rates of primary and bacterial production at Station ALOHA (22°45’ N, 158° W) in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre (NPSG). The majority of experiments (8 of 10 total) displayed no response in rates of primary production (measured by 14C-bicarbonate assimilation; 14C-PP) under elevated pCO2 (~1100 μatm) compared to ambient pCO2 (~387 μatm). In 2 of 10 experiments, rates of 14C-PP decreased significantly (~43%) under elevated pCO2 treatments relative to controls. Similarly, no significant differences between treatments were observed in 6 of 7 experiments where bacterial production was measured via incorporation of 3H-leucine (3H-Leu), while in 1 experiment, rates of 3H-Leu incorporation measured in the dark (3H-LeuDark) increased more than 2-fold under high pCO2 conditions. We also examined photoperiod-length, depth-dependent (0–125 m) responses in rates of 14C-PP and 3H-Leu incorporation to abrupt pCO2 increases (to ~750 μatm). In the majority of these depth-resolved experiments (4 of 5 total), rates of 14C-PP demonstrated no consistent response to elevated pCO2. In 2 of 5 depth-resolved experiments, rates of 3H-LeuDark incorporation were lower (10% to 15%) under elevated pCO2 compared to controls. Our results revealed that rates of 14C-PP and bacterial production in this persistently oligotrophic habitat generally demonstrated no or weak responses to abrupt changes in pCO2. We postulate that any effects caused by changes in pCO2 may be masked or outweighed by the role that nutrient availability and temperature play in controlling metabolism in this ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘The influence of abrupt increases in seawater pCO2 on plankton productivity in the subtropical North Pacific Ocean’

Determining coral reef calcification and primary production using automated alkalinity, pH and pCO2 measurements at high temporal resolution

We investigated coral reef carbonate chemistry dynamics and metabolic rates using an automated system that measured total alkalinity (TA, 30 min intervals), pH on the total scale (pHT, 10 min intervals) and the partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2, 1 min intervals) over 2 weeks at Heron Island (Great Barrier Reef, Australia). The calculation of pHT (using the pCO2 and TA pair) and pCO2 (using the pH and TA pair) had similar values to the measured pHT and pCO2 values. In contrast, calculated TA from the pCO2-pH pair showed a large discrepancy with measured TA (average difference between measured and calculated TA = 52 μmol kg−1). High frequency sampling allowed for detailed analysis of the observations and an assessment of optimum sampling intervals required to characterise the net ecosystem calcification (NEC) and production (NEP) using a slack water approach. Depending on the sampling interval (30 min–2 h time steps) used for calculations, the estimated daily NEC and NEP could differ by 12% and 30%, respectively. Abrupt changes in both NEC and NEP were observed at dawn and dusk, with positive NEC during these periods despite negative NEP. Integrating NEC and NEP over a full diel cycle using 1 or 2 h integration time steps resulted in small differences of 2–7% for NEC and 1–3% for NEP. A diel hysteresis pattern rather than a simple linear relationship was observed between the aragonite saturation state (Ωar) and NEC. The observed hysteresis supports recent studies suggesting that short-term observations of seawater Ωar may not be a good predictor of long-term changes in NEC due to ocean acidification. The slope of the DIC to TA relationship was slightly higher (0.33) in 2014 than in an earlier study in 2012 (0.30). The automated, high frequency sampling approach employed here can deliver high precision data and can be used at other coral reef research stations to reveal long-term changes in NEC and NEP potentially driven by ocean acidification, eutrophication or other local changes.

Continue reading ‘Determining coral reef calcification and primary production using automated alkalinity, pH and pCO2 measurements at high temporal resolution’

Phytoplankton do not produce carbon‐rich organic matter in high CO2 oceans

The ocean is a substantial sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) released as a result of human activities. Over the coming decades the dissolved inorganic C concentration in the surface ocean is predicted to increase, which is expected to have a direct influence on the efficiency of C utilization (consumption and production) by phytoplankton during photosynthesis. Here, we evaluated the generality of C‐rich organic matter production by examining the elemental C:N ratio of organic matter produced under conditions of varying pCO2. The data used in this analysis were obtained from a series of pelagic in situ pCO2 perturbation studies that were performed in the diverse ocean regions and involved natural phytoplankton assemblages. The C:N ratio of the resulting particulate and dissolved organic matter did not differ across the range of pCO2 conditions tested. In particular, the ratio for particulate organic C and N was found to be 6.58 ± 0.05, close to the theoretical value of 6.6.

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The duality of ocean acidification as a resource and a stressor

Ecologically dominant species often define ecosystem states, but as human disturbances intensify, their subordinate counterparts increasingly displace them. We consider the duality of disturbance by examining how environmental drivers can simultaneously act as a stressor to dominant species and as a resource to subordinates. Using a model ecosystem, we demonstrate that CO2‐driven interactions between species can account for such reversals in dominance; i.e., the displacement of dominants (kelp forests) by subordinates (turf algae). We established that CO2 enrichment had a direct positive effect on productivity of turfs, but a negligible effect on kelp. CO2 enrichment further suppressed the abundance and feeding rate of the primary grazer of turfs (sea urchins), but had an opposite effect on the minor grazer (gastropods). Thus, boosted production of subordinate producers, exacerbated by a net reduction in its consumption by primary grazers, accounts for community change (i.e., turf displacing kelp). Ecosystem collapse, therefore, is more likely when resource enrichment alters competitive dominance of producers, and consumers fail to compensate. By recognizing such duality in the responses of interacting species to disturbance, which may stabilize or exacerbate change, we can begin to understand how intensifying human disturbances determine whether or not ecosystems undergo phase shifts.

Continue reading ‘The duality of ocean acidification as a resource and a stressor’

Compensation of ocean acidification effects in Arctic phytoplankton assemblages

The Arctic and subarctic shelf seas, which sustain large fisheries and contribute to global biogeochemical cycling, are particularly sensitive to ongoing ocean acidification (that is, decreasing seawater pH due to anthropogenic CO2 emissions). Yet, little information is available on the effects of ocean acidification on natural phytoplankton assemblages, which are the main primary producers in high-latitude waters. Here we show that coastal Arctic and subarctic primary production is largely insensitive to ocean acidification over a large range of light and temperature levels in different experimental designs. Out of ten CO2-manipulation treatments, significant ocean acidification effects on primary productivity were observed only once (at temperatures below 2 °C), and shifts in the species composition occurred only three times (without correlation to specific experimental conditions). These results imply a high capacity to compensate for environmental variability, which can be understood in light of the environmental history, tolerance ranges and intraspecific diversity of the dominant phytoplankton species.

Continue reading ‘Compensation of ocean acidification effects in Arctic phytoplankton assemblages’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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