Posts Tagged 'primary production'

Inorganic carbon availability in benthic diatom communities: photosynthesis and migration

Diatom-dominated microphytobenthos (MPB) is the main primary producer of many intertidal and shallow subtidal environments, being therefore of critical importance to estuarine and coastal food webs. Owing to tidal cycles, intertidal MPB diatoms are subjected to environmental conditions far more variable than the ones experienced by pelagic diatoms (e.g. light, temperature, salinity, desiccation and nutrient availability). Nevertheless, benthic diatoms evolved adaptation mechanisms to these harsh conditions, including the capacity to move within steep physical and chemical gradients, allowing them to perform photosynthesis efficiently. In this contribution, we will review present knowledge on the effects of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) availability on photosynthesis and productivity of diatom-dominated MPB. We present evidence of carbon limitation of photosynthesis in benthic diatom mats and highly productive MPB natural communities. Furthermore, we hypothesize that active vertical migration of epipelic motile diatoms could overcome local depletion of DIC in the photic layer, providing the cells alternately with light and inorganic carbon supply. The few available longer-term experiments on the effects of inorganic carbon enrichment on the productivity of diatom-dominated MPB have yielded inconsistent results. Therefore, further studies are needed to properly assess the response of MPB communities to increased CO2 and ocean acidification related to climate change.

Continue reading ‘Inorganic carbon availability in benthic diatom communities: photosynthesis and migration’

Taiwanese marine microbenthic algal communities remain similar yet chlorophyll a concentrations rise in mesocosms with elevated CO2 and temperature

The effects of increasing CO2 concentrations and temperature on microalgal assemblages were examined in Taiwan using mesocosms that simulate coral reef ecosystem. We assessed changes in abundance and diversity of benthic algae grown at 25 °C and 28 °C, under ambient (~ 400 μatm) and at high CO2 conditions (800–1000 μatm). Total alkalinity, pCO2, and the aragonite saturation state, were all significantly different between control and high CO2 treatments in both temperature treatments. Chl a concentration increased significantly in CO2-treated groups at 25 °C, but benthic microalgal abundance was not significantly different. The number of microalgal species and the microalgal community structure did not differ between control and CO2-treated groups at both temperatures. Our results suggest that increasing CO2may boost benthic microalgal primary productivity if sufficient nutrients are available, although site-specific responses are difficult to predict.

Continue reading ‘Taiwanese marine microbenthic algal communities remain similar yet chlorophyll a concentrations rise in mesocosms with elevated CO2 and temperature’

Physiological and biochemical responses of Emiliania huxleyi to ocean acidification and warming are modulated by UV radiation

Marine phytoplankton such as bloom-forming, calcite-producing coccolithophores, are naturally exposed to solar UV radiation (UVR, 280–400 nm) in the ocean’s upper mixed layers. Nevertheless, effects of increasing CO2-induced ocean acidification and warming have rarely been investigated in the presence of UVR. We examined calcification and photosynthetic carbon fixation performance in the most cosmopolitan coccolithophorid, Emiliania huxleyi, grown under high (1000 μatm, HC; pHT: 7.70) and low (400 μatm, LC; pHT: 8.02) CO2levels, at 15 °C (LT), 20 °C (MT) and 24 °C (HT) with or without UVR. The HC treatment didn’t affect photosynthetic carbon fixation at 15 °C, but significantly enhanced it with increasing temperature. Exposure to UVR inhibited photosynthesis, with higher inhibition by UVA (320–395 nm) than UVB (295–320 nm), except in the HC and 24 °C-grown cells, in which UVB caused more inhibition than UVA. Reduced thickness of the coccolith layer in the HC-grown cells appeared to be responsible for the UV-induced inhibition, and an increased repair rate of UVA-derived damage in the HCHT-grown cells could be responsible for lowered UVA-induced inhibition. While calcification was reduced with the elevated CO2 concentration, exposure to UVB or UVA affected it differentially, with the former inhibiting and the latter enhancing it. UVA-induced stimulation of calcification was higher in the HC-grown cells at 15 and 20 °C, whereas at 24 °C, observed enhancement was not significant. The calcification to photosynthesis ratio (Cal / Pho ratio) was lower in the HC treatment, and increasing temperature also lowered the value. However, at 20 and 24 °C, exposures to UVR significantly increased the Cal / Pho ratio, especially in HC-grown cells, by up to 100 %. This implies that UVR can counteract the negative effects of the greenhouse treatment on the Cal / Pho ratio, and so may be a key stressor when considering the impacts of future greenhouse conditions on E. huxleyi.

Continue reading ‘Physiological and biochemical responses of Emiliania huxleyi to ocean acidification and warming are modulated by UV radiation’

Ocean acidification of a coastal Antarctic marine microbial community reveals a critical threshold for CO2 tolerance in phytoplankton productivity

High-latitude oceans are anticipated to be some of the first regions affected by ocean acidification. Despite this, the effect of ocean acidification on natural communities of Antarctic marine microbes is still not well understood. In this study we exposed an early spring, coastal marine microbial community in Prydz Bay to CO2 levels ranging from ambient (343 μatm) to 1641 μatm in six 650 l minicosms. Productivity assays were performed to identify whether a CO2 threshold existed that led to a decline in primary productivity, bacterial productivity, and the accumulation of Chlorophyll a (Chl a) and particulate organic matter (POM) in the minicosms. In addition, photophysiological measurements were performed to identify possible mechanisms driving changes in the phytoplankton community. A critical threshold for tolerance to ocean acidification was identified in the phytoplankton community between 953 and 1140 μatm. CO2 levels ≥ 1140 μatm negatively affected photosynthetic performance and Chl a-normalised primary productivity (csPP14C), causing significant reductions in gross primary production (GPP14C), Chl a accumulation, nutrient uptake, and POM production. However, there was no effect of CO2 on C : N ratios. Over time, the phytoplankton community acclimated to high CO2 conditions, showing a down-regulation of carbon concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) and likely adjusting other intracellular processes. Bacterial abundance initially increased in CO2 treatments ≥ 953 μatm (days 3–5), yet gross bacterial production (GBP14C) remained unchanged and cell-specific bacterial productivity (csBP14C) was reduced. Towards the end of experiment, GBP14C and csBP14C markedly increased across all treatments regardless of CO2 availability. This coincided with increased organic matter availability (POC and PON) combined with improved efficiency of carbon uptake. Such changes in phytoplankton community production could have negative effects on the Antarctic food web and the biological pump, resulting in negative feedbacks on anthropogenic CO2 uptake. Increases in bacterial abundance under high CO2 conditions may also increase the efficiency of the microbial loop, resulting in increased organic matter remineralisation and further declines in carbon sequestration.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification of a coastal Antarctic marine microbial community reveals a critical threshold for CO2 tolerance in phytoplankton productivity’

Species interactions can shift the response of a maerl bed community to ocean acidification and warming

Predicted ocean acidification and warming are likely to have major implications for marine organisms, especially marine calcifiers. However, little information is available on the response of marine communities as a whole to predicted changes. Here, we experimentally examined the combined effects of temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) increases on the response of maerl bed assemblages, composed of living and dead thalli of the free-living coralline alga Lithothamnion corallioides, epiphytic fleshy algae, and grazer species. Two three-month experiments were performed in the winter and summer seasons in mesocosms with four different combinations of pCO2 (ambient and high pCO2) and temperature (ambient and +3 °C). The response of maerl assemblages was assessed using metabolic measurements at the species and assemblage scales. Gross primary production and respiration of assemblages were enhanced by high pCO2 conditions in the summer. This positive effect was attributed to the increase in epiphyte biomass, which benefited from higher CO2 concentrations for growth and primary production. Conversely, high pCO2 drastically decreased the calcification rates in assemblages. This response can be attributed to the decline in calcification rates of living L. corallioides due to acidification as well as increased dissolution of dead L. corallioides. Future changes in pCO2 and temperature are likely to promote the development of non-calcifying algae to the detriment of the engineer species L. corallioides. The development of fleshy algae may be modulated by the ability of grazers to regulate epiphyte growth. However, our results suggest that predicted changes will negatively affect the metabolism of grazers and potentially their ability to control epiphyte abundance. Here, we demonstrate that the response of marine communities to climate change will depend on the direct effects on species physiology and the indirect effects due to shifts in species interactions. This double, interdependent response underlines the importance of examining community-level processes, which integrate species interactions, to better understand the impact of global change on marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Species interactions can shift the response of a maerl bed community to ocean acidification and warming’

Solar UVR sensitivity of phyto- and bacterioplankton communities from Patagonian coastal waters under increased nutrients and acidification

The effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) under future expected conditions of acidification and increase in nutrient inputs were studied on a post-bloom phytoplankton and bacterioplankton community of Patagonian coastal waters. We performed an experiment using microcosms where two environmental conditions were mimicked using a cluster approach: present (ambient nutrients and pH) and future (increased nutrients and acidification), and acclimating the samples for five days to two radiation treatments (full solar radiation [+UVR] and exclusion of UVR [–UVR]). We evaluated the short-term (hours) sensitivity of the community to solar UVR through chlorophyll afluorescence parameters (e.g. the effective photochemical quantum yield of PSII [ΦPSII]) at the beginning, at the mid-point and at the end of the acclimation period. Primary production and heterotrophic bacterial production (HBP) were determined, and biological weighting functions were calculated, at the beginning and at the end of the acclimation period. Mid-term effects (days) were evaluated as changes in taxonomic composition, growth rates and size structure of the community. Although the UVR-induced inhibition on ΦPSII decreased in both clusters, samples remained sensitive to UVR after the 5 days of acclimation. Also, under the future conditions, there was, in general, an increase in the phytoplankton carbon incorporation rates along the experiment as compared to the present conditions. Bacterioplankton sensitivity to UVR changed along the experiment from inhibition to enhancement of HBP, and future environmental conditions stimulated bacterial growth, probably due to indirect effects caused by phytoplankton. Those changes in the microbial loop functioning and structure under future global change conditions might have important consequences for the carbon pump and thus for the carbon sequestration and trophodynamics of Patagonian coastal waters.

Continue reading ‘Solar UVR sensitivity of phyto- and bacterioplankton communities from Patagonian coastal waters under increased nutrients and acidification’

Carbon assimilation and losses during an ocean acidification mesocosm experiment, with special reference to algal blooms

A mesocosm experiment was conducted in Wuyuan Bay (Xiamen), China, to investigate the effects of elevated pCO2 on bloom formation by phytoplankton species previously studied in laboratory-based ocean acidification experiments, to determine if the indoor-grown species performed similarly in mesocosms under more realistic environmental conditions. We measured biomass, primary productivity and particulate organic carbon (POC) as well as particulate organic nitrogen (PON). Phaeodactylum tricornutum outcompeted Thalassiosira weissflogii and Emiliania huxleyi, comprising more than 99% of the final biomass. Mainly through a capacity to tolerate nutrient-limited situations, P. tricornutum showed a powerful sustained presence during the plateau phase of growth. Significant differences between high and low CO2 treatments were found in cell concentration, cumulative primary productivity and POC in the plateau phase but not during the exponential phase of growth. Compared to the low pCO2 (LC) treatment, POC increased by 45.8–101.9% in the high pCO2 (HC) treated cells during the bloom period. Furthermore, respiratory carbon losses of gross primary productivity were found to comprise 39–64% for the LC and 31–41% for the HC mesocosms (daytime C fixation) in phase II. Our results suggest that the duration and characteristics of a diatom bloom can be affected by elevated pCO2. Effects of elevated pCO2 observed in the laboratory cannot be reliably extrapolated to large scale mesocosms with multiple influencing factors, especially during intense algal blooms.

Continue reading ‘Carbon assimilation and losses during an ocean acidification mesocosm experiment, with special reference to algal blooms’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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