Posts Tagged 'primary production'

Phytoplankton dynamics in a changing Arctic Ocean

Changes in the Arctic atmosphere, cryosphere and Ocean are drastically altering the dynamics of phytoplankton, the base of marine ecosystems. This Review addresses four major complementary questions of ongoing Arctic Ocean changes and associated impacts on phytoplankton productivity, phenology and assemblage composition. We highlight trends in primary production over the last two decades while considering how multiple environmental drivers shape Arctic biogeography. Further, we consider changes to Arctic phenology by borealization and hidden under-ice blooms, and how the diversity of phytoplankton assemblages might evolve in a novel Arctic ‘biogeochemical landscape’. It is critical to understand these aspects of changing Arctic phytoplankton dynamics as they exert pressure on marine Arctic ecosystems in addition to direct effects from rapid environmental changes.

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Combining mesocosms with models to unravel the effects of global warming and ocean acidification on temperate marine ecosystems

Ocean warming and species exploitation have already caused large-scale reorganization of biological communities across the world. Accurate projections of future biodiversity change require a comprehensive understanding of how entire communities respond to global change. We combined a time-dynamic integrated food web modelling approach (Ecosim) with a community-level mesocosm experiment to determine the independent and combined effects of ocean warming and acidification, and fisheries exploitation, on a temperate coastal ecosystem. The mesocosm enabled important physiological and behavioural responses to climate stressors to be projected for trophic levels ranging from primary producers to top predators, including sharks. We show that under current-day rates of exploitation, warming and ocean acidification will benefit most species in higher trophic levels (e.g. mammals, birds, demersal finfish) in their current climate ranges, with the exception of small pelagic fish, but these benefits will be reduced or lost when these physical stressors co-occur. We show that increases in exploitation will, in most instances, suppress any positive effects of human-driven climate change, causing individual species biomass to decrease at high-trophic levels. Species diversity at the trailing edges of species distributions is likely to decline in the face of ocean warming, acidification and exploitation. We showcase how multi-level mesocosm food web experiments can be used to directly inform dynamic food web models, enabling the ecological processes that drive the responses of marine ecosystems to scenarios of global change to be captured in model projections and their individual and combined effects to be teased apart. Our approach for blending theoretical and empirical results from mesocosm experiments with computational models will provide resource managers and conservation biologists with improved tools for forecasting biodiversity change and altered ecosystem processes due to climate change.

Continue reading ‘Combining mesocosms with models to unravel the effects of global warming and ocean acidification on temperate marine ecosystems’

Lower salinity leads to improved physiological performance in the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi, which partly ameliorates the effects of ocean acidification

While seawater acidification induced by elevated CO2 is known to impact coccolithophores, the effects in combination with decreased salinity caused by sea ice melting and/or hydrological events have not been documented. Here we show the combined effects of seawater acidification and reduced salinity on growth, photosynthesis and calcification of Emiliania huxleyi grown at 2 CO2 concentrations (low CO2 LC:400 μatm; high CO2 HC:1000 μatm) and 3 levels of salinity (25, 30, and 35‰). A decrease of salinity from 35 to 25‰ increased growth rate, cell size and photosynthetic performance under both LC and HC. Calcification rates were relatively insensitive to salinity though they were higher in the LC-grown compared to the HC-grown cells at 25‰ salinity, with insignificant differences under 30 and 35‰. Since salinity and OA treatments did not show interactive effects on calcification, changes in calcification: photosynthesis ratios are attributed to the elevated photosynthetic rates at lower salinities, with higher ratios of calcification to photosynthesis in the cells grown under 35‰ compared with those grown at 25‰. In contrast, photosynthetic carbon fixation increased almost linearly with decreasing salinity, regardless of the pCO2 treatments. When subjected to short-term exposure to high light, the low-salinity-grown cells showed the highest photochemical effective quantum yield with the highest repair rate, though the HC treatment enhanced the PSII damage rate. Our results suggest that, irrespective of pCO2, at low salinity Emiliania huxleyi up-regulates its photosynthetic performance which, despite a relatively insensitive calcification response, may help it better adapt to future ocean global environmental changes, including ocean acidification, especially in the coastal areas of high latitudes.

Continue reading ‘Lower salinity leads to improved physiological performance in the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi, which partly ameliorates the effects of ocean acidification’

Coral reef sediment dissolution in a changing ocean: insights from a temporal field study

Calcium carbonate sediments form an essential part of coral reefs yet have often been overlooked when studying the effects of future ocean acidification (OA). This original field-based research aims to assess the temporal variability of organic and inorganic sediment metabolism under ambient and elevated pCO2. OA caused a shift from net precipitation to net dissolution, but the sensitivity to OA varied seasonally, depending on interactions with temperature and benthic productivity. A slack-water approach of net ecosystem calcification revealed that sediments can play an important role in carbonate budgets, particularly at night, and become increasingly important as the oceans continue acidifying.

Continue reading ‘Coral reef sediment dissolution in a changing ocean: insights from a temporal field study’

Seasonal dynamics of carbonate chemistry, nutrients and CO2 uptake in a sub-Arctic fjord

Environmental change can have a significant impact on biogeochemical cycles at high latitudes and be particularly important in ecologically valuable fjord ecosystems. Seasonality in biogeochemical cycling in a sub-Arctic fjord of northern Norway (Kaldfjorden) was investigated from October 2016 to September 2018. Monthly changes in total inorganic carbon (CT), alkalinity (AT), major nutrients and calcium carbonate saturation (Ω) were driven by freshwater discharge, biological production and mixing with subsurface carbon-rich coastal water. Stable oxygen isotope ratios indicated that meteoric water (snow melt, river runoff, precipitation) had stratified and freshened surface waters, contributing to 81% of the monthly CT deficit in the surface layer. The timing and magnitude of freshwater inputs played an important role in Ω variability, reducing AT and CT by dilution. This dilution effect was strongly counteracted by the opposing effect of primary production that dominated surface water Ω seasonality. The spring phytoplankton bloom rapidly depleted nitrate and CT to drive highest Ω (~2.3) in surface waters. Calcification reduced AT and CT, which accounted for 21% of the monthly decrease in Ω during a coccolithophore bloom. Freshwater runoff contributed CT, AT and silicates of terrestrial origin to the fjord. Lowest surface water Ω (~1.6) resulted from organic matter remineralisation and mixing into subsurface water during winter and spring. Surface waters were undersaturated with respect to atmospheric CO2, resulting in modest uptake of –0.32 ± 0.03 mol C m–2 yr–1. Net community production estimated from carbon drawdown was 14 ± 2 g C m–2 yr–1 during the productive season. Kaldfjorden currently functions as an atmospheric CO2 sink of 3.9 ± 0.3 g C m–2 yr–1. Time-series data are vital to better understand the processes and natural variability affecting biogeochemical cycling in dynamic coastal regions and thus better predict the impact of future changes on important fjord ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Seasonal dynamics of carbonate chemistry, nutrients and CO2 uptake in a sub-Arctic fjord’

Effects of nearshore processes on carbonate chemistry dynamics and ocean acidification

Time series from open ocean fixed stations have robustly documented secular changes in carbonate chemistry and long-term ocean acidification (OA) trends as a direct response to increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). However, few high-frequency coastal carbon time series are available in reef systems, where most affected tropical marine organisms reside. Seasonal variations in carbonate chemistry at Cheeca Rocks (CR), Florida, and La Parguera (LP), Puerto Rico, are presented based on 8 and 10 years of continuous, high-quality measurements, respectively. This dissertation synthesizes autonomous and bottle observations to model carbonate chemistry and to understand how physical and biological processes affect seasonal carbonate chemistry at both locations. The autonomous carbonate chemistry and oxygen observations are used to examine a mass balance approach using a 1-D model to determine net rates of ecosystem calcification and production (NEC and NEP) from communities close (<5km) to the buoys. The results provide evidence to suggest that seasonal response between benthic metabolism and seawater chemistry at LP is attenuated relative to that at CR because their differences in benthic cover and how benthic metabolism modifies the water chemistry. Simple linear trends cannot explain the feedback between metabolism and reef water chemistry using long-term observations over natural variations. The effects of community production on partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2sw) make these interactions complex at short- and long-term scales. Careful consideration should be taken when inferring local biogeochemical processes, given that pCO2sw (and presumably pH) respond on much shorter time and local scales than dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and total alkalinity (TA). The observations highlight the need for more comprehensive observing systems that can reliably measure both the fast-response (pCO2sw, pH) and slow-response (DIC) carbon pools.

Continue reading ‘Effects of nearshore processes on carbonate chemistry dynamics and ocean acidification’

Trophic pyramids reorganize when food web architecture fails to adjust to ocean change

As human activities intensify, the structures of ecosystems and their food webs often reorganize. Through the study of mesocosms harboring a diverse benthic coastal community, we reveal that food web architecture can be inflexible under ocean warming and acidification and unable to compensate for the decline or proliferation of taxa. Key stabilizing processes, including functional redundancy, trophic compensation, and species substitution, were largely absent under future climate conditions. A trophic pyramid emerged in which biomass expanded at the base and top but contracted in the center. This structure may characterize a transitionary state before collapse into shortened, bottom-heavy food webs that characterize ecosystems subject to persistent abiotic stress. We show that where food web architecture lacks adjustability, the adaptive capacity of ecosystems to global change is weak and ecosystem degradation likely.

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A multistressor model of carbon acquisition regulation for macroalgae in a changing climate

It is widely hypothesized that noncalcifying macroalgae will be more productive and abundant in increasingly warm and acidified oceans. Macroalgae vary greatly in the magnitudes and interactions of responses of photosynthesis and growth to multiple stressors associated with climate change. A knowledge gap that exists between the qualitative “macroalgae will benefit” hypothesis and the variable outcomes observed is regulation of physiological mechanisms that cause variation in the magnitudes of change in primary productivity, growth, and their covariation. In this context, we developed a model to quantitatively describe physiological responses to coincident variation in temperature, carbonate chemistry and light supply in a representative bicarbonate‐using marine macroalga. The model is based on Ulva spp., the best understood dissolved inorganic carbon uptake mechanism among macroalgae, with data enabling synthesis across all parameters. At boundary layer pH < 8.7 most inorganic carbon is taken up through the external carbonic anhydrase (CAext) mechanism under all conditions of photosynthetic photon flux density, temperature, and boundary layer thickness. Each 0.1 unit decline in pH causes a 20% increase in the fraction of diffusive uptake of CO2 thereby lessening reliance on active transport of bicarbonate. Modeled downregulation of anion exchange‐mediated active bicarbonate transport associated with a 0.4 unit decline in pH under ocean acidification is consistent with enhanced growth up to 4% per day without increasing photosynthetic rate. The model provides a means to quantify magnitudes of change in productivity under factorial combinations of changing temperature, CO2, and light supply anticipated as climate changes.

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Characterizing biogeochemical fluctuations in a world of extremes: A synthesis for temperate intertidal habitats in the face of global change

Coastal and intertidal habitats are at the forefront of anthropogenic influence and environmental change. The species occupying these habitats are adapted to a world of extremes, which may render them robust to the changing climate or more vulnerable if they are at their physiological limits. We characterized the diurnal, seasonal and interannual patterns of flux in biogeochemistry across an intertidal gradient on a temperate sandstone platform in eastern Australia over 6 years (2009–2015) and present a synthesis of our current understanding of this habitat in context with global change. We used rock pools as natural mesocosms to determine biogeochemistry dynamics and patterns of eco‐stress experienced by resident biota. In situ measurements and discrete water samples were collected night and day during neap low tide events to capture diurnal biogeochemistry cycles. Calculation of pHT using total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) revealed that the mid‐intertidal habitat exhibited the greatest flux over the years (pHT 7.52–8.87), and over a single tidal cycle (1.11 pHT units), while the low‐intertidal (pHT 7.82–8.30) and subtidal (pHT 7.87–8.30) were less variable. Temperature flux was also greatest in the mid‐intertidal (8.0–34.5°C) and over a single tidal event (14°C range), as typical of temperate rocky shores. Mean TA and DIC increased at night and decreased during the day, with the most extreme conditions measured in the mid‐intertidal owing to prolonged emersion periods. Temporal sampling revealed that net ecosystem calcification and production were highest during the day and lowest at night, particularly in the mid‐intertidal. Characterization of biogeochemical fluctuations in a world of extremes demonstrates the variable conditions that intertidal biota routinely experience and highlight potential microhabitat‐specific vulnerabilities and climate change refugia.

Continue reading ‘Characterizing biogeochemical fluctuations in a world of extremes: A synthesis for temperate intertidal habitats in the face of global change’

Photosynthetic performances of marine microalgae under influences of rising CO2 and solar UV radiation

Marine photosynthesis contributes approximately half of the global primary productivity. Ocean climate changes, such as increasing dissolved CO2 in seawater and consequently declining pH (known as ocean acidification, OA), may alter marine photosynthetic performance. There are numerous studies on the effects of OA on photosynthetic organisms, but controversial findings indicate positive, neutral, and negative influences. Most of the studies so far have been conducted under controlled conditions that ignored the presence of solar UV radiation. Increased CO2 availability may play a fertilizing role, while the concurrent pH drop may exert pressure on microalgal cells, especially during the night period. It is known that elevated CO2 concentrations downregulate CO2-concentrating mechanisms (CCMs), and intracellular concentrations of dissolved inorganic carbon in diatoms grown under elevated CO2 levels can be much lower than that in low CO2-grown ones. Such a reduced CO2 availability within cells in response to increased CO2 in the water can lead to enhanced photorespiration due to an increased O2 to CO2 ratio around the carboxylating and oxygenating enzyme, RuBisCO. Therefore, negative and positive effects of OA may depend on light levels, since the saved energy due to downregulation of CCMs can benefit growth under light-limited conditions but enhance photoinhibition under light-excessive conditions. OA affects metabolic pathways in phytoplankton. It augments ß-oxidation and the citric acid cycle, which accumulates toxic phenolic compounds. In the upper mixed layer, phytoplankton are exposed to excessive PAR and UV radiation (UVR). The calcareous incrustations of calcified microalgae, known to shield the organisms from UVR, are thinned due to OA, exposing the cells to increased solar UV and further inhibiting their calcification and photosynthesis, reflecting a compounded impact. Such UV and OA interactive effects are expected to reduce primary productivity in oligotrophic pelagic surface waters. In this chapter, we review and analyze recent results on effects of OA and UV and their combined effects on marine photosynthesis of microalgae, which falls in the context of marine photosynthesis under changing ocean environments and multiple stressors.

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