Posts Tagged 'primary production'

The Arctic picoeukaryote Micromonas pusilla benefits synergistically from warming and ocean acidification (update)

In the Arctic Ocean, climate change effects such as warming and ocean acidification (OA) are manifesting faster than in other regions. Yet, we are lacking a mechanistic understanding of the interactive effects of these drivers on Arctic primary producers. In the current study, one of the most abundant species of the Arctic Ocean, the prasinophyte Micromonas pusilla, was exposed to a range of different pCO2 levels at two temperatures representing realistic current and future scenarios for nutrient-replete conditions. We observed that warming and OA synergistically increased growth rates at intermediate to high pCO2 levels. Furthermore, elevated temperatures shifted the pCO2 optimum of biomass production to higher levels. Based on changes in cellular composition and photophysiology, we hypothesise that the observed synergies can be explained by beneficial effects of warming on carbon fixation in combination with facilitated carbon acquisition under OA. Our findings help to understand the higher abundances of picoeukaryotes such as M. pusilla under OA, as has been observed in many mesocosm studies.

Continue reading ‘The Arctic picoeukaryote Micromonas pusilla benefits synergistically from warming and ocean acidification (update)’

Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the diversity and the functioning of macroalgal communities (full thesis in French)

Predicted ocean acidification and warming for the end of the century may have drastic consequences on the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. However, a lack of knowledge persists on the impact of future changes on the response of marine communities. This thesis aims to provide new understanding of the impact of ocean acidification and warming at the community level. For this, two ecosystems have been considered: rockpools, characterized by high physico-chemical variations, and maerl beds, with smaller variations. In the laboratory, artificial assemblages were created from the main calcareous and fleshy macroalgal and grazer species present in these two ecosystems. Created assemblages have been subjected to ambient and future temperature and pCO2 conditions. Ocean acidification and warming altered the structure and functioning of maerl bed assemblages, through an increase in the productivity of non-calcareous macroalgae and a decline in maërl calcification rates. The physiology of grazers is negatively impacted by future changes, which altered assemblages’ trophic structure. On the other hand, ocean acidification and warming had no effect on the productivity of rockpool assemblages. The highly variable environment may thus increase the resistance of rockpool communities to future changes, compared to communities from more stable environments, such as maerl beds.

Continue reading ‘Impact of ocean acidification and warming on the diversity and the functioning of macroalgal communities (full thesis in French)’

Short term CO2 enrichment increases carbon sequestration of air-exposed intertidal communities of a coastal lagoon

In situ production responses of air-exposed intertidal communities under CO2 enrichment are reported here for the first time. We assessed the short-term effects of CO2 on the light responses of the net community production (NCP) and community respiration (CR) of intertidal Z. noltei and unvegetated sediment communities of Ria Formosa lagoon, when exposed to air. NCP and CR were measured in situ in summer and winter, under present and CO2 enriched conditions using benthic chambers. Within chamber CO2 evolution measurements were carried out by a series of short-term incubations (30 min) using an infra-red gas analyser. Liner regression models fitted to the NCP-irradiance responses were used to estimate the seasonal budgets of air-exposed, intertidal production as determined by the daily and seasonal variation of incident photosynthetic active radiation. High CO2 resulted in higher CO2 sequestration by both communities in both summer and winter seasons. Lower respiration rates of both communities under high CO2 further contributed to a potential negative climate feedback, except in winter when the CR of sediment community was higher. The light compensation points (LCP) (light intensity where production equals respiration) of Z. noltei and sediment communities also decreased under CO2 enriched conditions in both seasons. The seasonal community production of Z. noltei was 115.54 ± 7.58 g C m−2 season−1 in summer and 29.45 ± 4.04 g C m−2 season−1 in winter and of unvegetated sediment was 91.28 ± 6.32 g C m−2 season−1 in summer and 25.83 ± 4.01 g C m−2 season−1 in winter under CO2 enriched conditions. Future CO2 conditions may increase air-exposed seagrass production by about 1.5-fold and unvegetated sediments by about 1.2-fold.

Continue reading ‘Short term CO2 enrichment increases carbon sequestration of air-exposed intertidal communities of a coastal lagoon’

High CO2 under nutrient fertilization increases primary production and biomass in subtropical phytoplankton communities: a mesocosm approach

The subtropical oceans are home to one of the largest ecosystems on Earth, contributing to nearly one third of global oceanic primary production. Ocean warming leads to enhanced stratification in the oligotrophic ocean but also intensification in cross-shore wind gradients and thus in eddy kinetic energy across eastern boundary regions of the subtropical gyres. Phytoplankton thriving in a future warmer oligotrophic subtropical ocean with enhanced COlevels could therefore be patchily fertilized by increased mesoscale and submesoscale variability inducing nutrient pumping into the surface ocean. Under this premise, we have tested the response of three size classes (0.2–2, 2–20, and >20 μm) of subtropical phytoplankton communities in terms of primary production, chlorophyll and cell biomass, to increasing COconcentrations and nutrient fertilization during an in situ mesocosm experiment in oligotrophic waters off of the island of Gran Canaria. We found no significant CO2-related effect on primary production and biomass under oligotrophic conditions (phase I). In contrast, primary production, chlorophyll and biomass displayed a significant and pronounced increase under elevated CO2 conditions in all groups after nutrient fertilization, both during the bloom (phase II) and post-bloom (phase III) conditions. Although the relative increase of primary production in picophytoplankton (250%) was 2.5 higher than in microphytoplankton (100%) after nutrient fertilization, comparing the high and low CO2 treatments, microphytoplankton dominated in terms of biomass, contributing >57% to the total. These results contrast with similar studies conducted in temperate and cold waters, where consistently small phytoplankton benefitted after nutrient additions at high CO2, pointing to different CO2-sensitivities across plankton communities and ecosystem types in the ocean.

Continue reading ‘High CO2 under nutrient fertilization increases primary production and biomass in subtropical phytoplankton communities: a mesocosm approach’

Population-specific responses in physiological rates of Emiliania huxleyi to a broad CO2 range

Although coccolithophore physiological responses to CO2-induced changes in seawater carbonate chemistry have been widely studied in the past, there is limited knowledge on the variability of physiological responses between populations from different areas. In the present study, we investigated the specific responses of growth, particulate organic (POC) and inorganic carbon (PIC) production rates of three populations of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi from three regions in the North Atlantic Ocean (Azores: six strains, Canary Islands: five strains, and Norwegian coast near Bergen: six strains) to a CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) range from 120 to 2630 µatm. Physiological rates of each population and individual strain increased with rising pCO2 levels, reached a maximum and declined thereafter. Optimal pCO2 for growth, POC production rates, and tolerance to low pH (i.e., high proton concentration) was significantly higher in an E. huxleyi population isolated from the Norwegian coast than in those isolated near the Azores and Canary Islands. This may be due to the large environmental variability including large pCO2 and pH fluctuations in coastal waters off Bergen compared to the rather stable oceanic conditions at the other two sites. Maximum growth and POC production rates of the Azores and Bergen populations were similar and significantly higher than that of the Canary Islands population. This pattern could be driven by temperature–CO2 interactions where the chosen incubation temperature (16 °C) was slightly below what strains isolated near the Canary Islands normally experience. Our results indicate adaptation of E. huxleyi to their local environmental conditions and the existence of distinct E. huxleyi populations. Within each population, different growth, POC, and PIC production rates at different pCO2 levels indicated strain-specific phenotypic plasticity. Accounting for this variability is important to understand how or whether E. huxleyi might adapt to rising CO2 levels.

Continue reading ‘Population-specific responses in physiological rates of Emiliania huxleyi to a broad CO2 range’

Nutrient pollution disrupts key ecosystem functions on coral reefs

There is a long history of examining the impacts of nutrient pollution and pH on coral reefs. However, little is known about how these two stressors interact and influence coral reef ecosystem functioning. Using a six-week nutrient addition experiment, we measured the impact of elevated nitrate (NO−3) and phosphate (PO3−4) on net community calcification (NCC) and net community production (NCP) rates of individual taxa and combined reef communities. Our study had four major outcomes: (i) NCC rates declined in response to nutrient addition in all substrate types, (ii) the mixed community switched from net calcification to net dissolution under medium and high nutrient conditions, (iii) nutrients augmented pH variability through modified photosynthesis and respiration rates, and (iv) nutrients disrupted the relationship between NCC and aragonite saturation state documented in ambient conditions. These results indicate that the negative effect of NO−3 and PO3−4 addition on reef calcification is likely both a direct physiological response to nutrients and also an indirect response to a shifting pH environment from altered NCP rates. Here, we show that nutrient pollution could make reefs more vulnerable to global changes associated with ocean acidification and accelerate the predicted shift from net accretion to net erosion.

Continue reading ‘Nutrient pollution disrupts key ecosystem functions on coral reefs’

Losing a winner: thermal stress and local pressures outweigh the positive effects of ocean acidification for tropical seagrasses

  • Seagrasses are globally important coastal habitat‐forming species, yet it is unknown how seagrasses respond to the combined pressures of ocean acidification and warming of sea surface temperature.
  • We exposed three tropical species of seagrass (Cymodocea serrulata, Halodule uninervis, and Zostera muelleri) to increasing temperature (21, 25, 30, and 35°C) and pCO2 (401, 1014, and 1949 μatm) for 7 wk in mesocosms using a controlled factorial design. Shoot density and leaf extension rates were recorded, and plant productivity and respiration were measured at increasing light levels (photosynthesis–irradiance curves) using oxygen optodes.
  • Shoot density, growth, photosynthetic rates, and plant‐scale net productivity occurred at 25°C or 30°C under saturating light levels. High pCO2 enhanced maximum net productivity for Z. muelleri, but not in other species. Z. muelleri was the most thermally tolerant as it maintained positive net production to 35°C, yet for the other species there was a sharp decline in productivity, growth, and shoot density at 35°C, which was exacerbated by pCO2.
  • These results suggest that thermal stress will not be offset by ocean acidification during future extreme heat events and challenges the current hypothesis that tropical seagrass will be a ‘winner’ under future climate change conditions.

Continue reading ‘Losing a winner: thermal stress and local pressures outweigh the positive effects of ocean acidification for tropical seagrasses’


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