Posts Tagged 'protists'

Elevated pCO2 affects tissue biomass composition, but not calcification, in a reef coral under two light regimes

Ocean acidification (OA) is predicted to reduce reef coral calcification rates and threaten the long-term growth of coral reefs under climate change. Reduced coral growth at elevated pCO2 may be buffered by sufficiently high irradiances; however, the interactive effects of OA and irradiance on other fundamental aspects of coral physiology, such as the composition and energetics of coral biomass, remain largely unexplored. This study tested the effects of two light treatments (7.5 versus 15.7 mol photons m−2 d−1) at ambient or elevated pCO2 (435 versus 957 µatm) on calcification, photopigment and symbiont densities, biomass reserves (lipids, carbohydrates, proteins), and biomass energy content (kJ) of the reef coral Pocillopora acuta from Kāne‘ohe Bay, Hawai‘i. While pCO2 and light had no effect on either area- or biomass-normalized calcification, tissue lipids gdw−1 and kJ gdw−1 were reduced 15% and 14% at high pCO2, and carbohydrate content increased 15% under high light. The combination of high light and high pCO2 reduced protein biomass (per unit area) by approximately 20%. Thus, under ecologically relevant irradiances, P. acuta in Kāne‘ohe Bay does not exhibit OA-driven reductions in calcification reported for other corals; however, reductions in tissue lipids, energy content and protein biomass suggest OA induced an energetic deficit and compensatory catabolism of tissue biomass. The null effects of OA on calcification at two irradiances support a growing body of work concluding some reef corals may be able to employ compensatory physiological mechanisms that maintain present-day levels of calcification under OA. However, negative effects of OA on P. acuta biomass composition and energy content may impact the long-term performance and scope for growth of this species in a high pCO2 world.

Continue reading ‘Elevated pCO2 affects tissue biomass composition, but not calcification, in a reef coral under two light regimes’

Planktic foraminifera form their shells via metastable carbonate phases

The calcium carbonate shells of planktic foraminifera provide our most valuable geochemical archive of ocean surface conditions and climate spanning the last 100 million years, and play an important role in the ocean carbon cycle. These shells are preserved in marine sediments as calcite, the stable polymorph of calcium carbonate. Here, we show that shells of living planktic foraminifers Orbulina universa and Neogloboquadrina dutertrei originally form from the unstable calcium carbonate polymorph vaterite, implying a non-classical crystallisation pathway involving metastable phases that transform ultimately to calcite. The current understanding of how planktic foraminifer shells record climate, and how they will fare in a future high-CO2 world is underpinned by analogy to the precipitation and dissolution of inorganic calcite. Our findings require a re-evaluation of this paradigm to consider the formation and transformation of metastable phases, which could exert an influence on the geochemistry and solubility of the biomineral calcite.

Continue reading ‘Planktic foraminifera form their shells via metastable carbonate phases’

Increased temperature mitigates the effects of ocean acidification on the calcification of juvenile Pocillopora damicornis, but at a cost

This study tested the interactive effects of increased seawater temperature and CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) on the photochemistry, bleaching, and early growth of the reef coral Pocillopora damicornis. New recruits were maintained at ambient or high temperature (29 or 30.8 °C) and pCO2 (~ 500 and ~ 1100 μatm) in a full-factorial experiment for 3 weeks. Neither a sharp decline in photochemical efficiency (Fv/Fm) nor evident bleaching was observed at high temperature and/or high pCO2. Furthermore, elevated temperature greatly promoted lateral growth and calcification, while polyp budding exhibited temperature-dependent responses to pCO2. High pCO2 depressed calcification by 28% at ambient temperature, but did not impact calcification at 30.8 °C. Interestingly, elevated temperature in concert with high pCO2 significantly retarded the budding process. These results suggest that increased temperature can mitigate the adverse effects of acidification on the calcification of juvenile P. damicornis, but at a substantial cost to asexual budding.

Continue reading ‘Increased temperature mitigates the effects of ocean acidification on the calcification of juvenile Pocillopora damicornis, but at a cost’

Relationships between temperature, pH, and crusting on Mg/Ca ratios in laboratory-grown Neogloboquadrina foraminifera

Mg/Ca ratio paleothermometry in foraminifera is an important tool for the reconstruction and interpretation of past environments. However, existing Mg/Ca:temperature relationships for planktic species inhabiting mid- and high- latitude environments are limited by a lack of information about the development and impact of low-Mg/Ca ratio “crusts” and the influence of the carbonate system on Mg/Ca ratios in these groups. To address this, we cultured individual specimens of Neogloboquadrina incompta and Neogloboquadrina pachyderma in seawater across a range of temperature (6 °- 12 °C) and pH (7.4 – 8.2). We found by laser ablation inductively couple mass spectrometry analyses of shells that culture-grown crust calcite in N. incompta had a lower Mg/Ca ratio than ontogenetic calcite formed at the same temperature, suggesting that temperature is not responsible for the low Mg/Ca ratio of neogloboquadrinid crusts. The Mg/Ca:temperature relationship for ontogenetic calcite in N. incompta was consistent with the previously published culture-based relationship and no significant relationship was found between Mg/Ca ratios and pH in this species. However, the Mg/Ca ratio in laboratory cultured N. pachyderma was much higher than that reported in previous core-top and sediment trap samples, due to lack of crust formation in culture. Application of our ontogenetic calcite-specific Mg/Ca:temperature relationships to fossil N. pachyderma and N. incompta from five intervals in cores from the Santa Barbara Basin and the Bering Sea show that excluding crust calcite in fossil specimens may improve Mg/Ca-based temperature estimates.

Continue reading ‘Relationships between temperature, pH, and crusting on Mg/Ca ratios in laboratory-grown Neogloboquadrina foraminifera’

Combined effects of experimental acidification and eutrophication on reef sponge bioerosion rates

Health of tropical coral reefs depends largely on the balance between constructive (calcification and cementation) and destructive forces (mechanical-chemical degradation). Gradual increase in dissolved CO2 and the resulting decrease in carbonate ion concentration (“ocean acidification”) in ocean surface water may tip the balance toward net mass loss for many reefs. Enhanced nutrients and organic loading in surface waters (“eutrophication”), may increase the susceptibility of coral reef and near shore environments to ocean acidification. The impacts of these processes on coral calcification have been repeatedly reported, however the synergetic effects on bioerosion rates by sponges are poorly studied. Erosion by excavating sponges is achieved by a combination of chemical dissolution and mechanical chip removal. In this study, Cliona caribbaea, a photosymbiont-bearing excavating sponge widely distributed in Caribbean reef habitats, was exposed to a range of CO2 concentrations, as well as different eutrophication levels. Total bioerosion rates, estimated from changes in buoyant weights over 1 week, increased significantly with pCO2 but not with eutrophication. Observed chemical bioerosion rates were positively affected by both pCO2 and eutrophication but no interaction was revealed. Net photosynthetic activity was enhanced with rising pCO2 but not with increasing eutrophication levels. These results indicate that an increase in organic matter and nutrient renders sponge bioerosion less dependent on autotrophic products. At low and ambient pCO2, day-time chemical rates were ~50% higher than those observed at night-time. A switch was observed in bioerosion under higher pCO2 levels, with night-time chemical bioerosion rates becoming comparable or even higher than day-time rates. We suggest that the difference in rates between day and night at low and ambient pCO2 indicates that the benefit of acquired energy from photosynthetic activity surpasses the positive effect of increased pCO2 levels at night due to holobiont respiration. This implies that excavation must cost cellular energy, by processes, such as ATP usage for active Ca2+ and/or active proton pumping. Additionally, competition for dissolved inorganic carbon species may occur between bioerosion and photosynthetic activity by the symbionts. Either way, the observed changing role of symbionts in bioerosion can be attributed to enhanced photosynthetic activity at high pCO2 levels.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of experimental acidification and eutrophication on reef sponge bioerosion rates’

Climate change effects on photosynthetic symbionts in the sea anemone Anthopleura xanthogrammica

The giant green sea anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) inhabits the rocky intertidal zone in California and Oregon. Two photosynthetic algal symbionts, zooxanthellae and zoochlorellae, make these anemones important primary producers in the intertidal zone. This study investigated the effects of changes in temperature and pH on anemones and their symbionts over a natural environmental gradient along the coast of California and Oregon. Zoochlorellae responded negatively to warmer temperatures and positively to more acidic conditions, while zooxanthellae responded positively to warmer temperatures and lower pH. Temperature and pH did not significantly affect chlorophyll a concentrations or anemone protein biomass. Depending on the magnitude of future changes in ocean temperatures and acidity, changes in the ranges of the two types of symbionts and increased densities of sea anemones in the rocky intertidal could be expected to occur.

Continue reading ‘Climate change effects on photosynthetic symbionts in the sea anemone Anthopleura xanthogrammica’

Modern planktic foraminifers in the high-latitude ocean


  • We review the knowledge on modern high-latitude planktic foraminifers.
  • Subpolar species currently invade higher latitudes.
  • Climate change affects phenology, seawater pH, and carbon turnover.
  • Modern planktic foraminifers are briefly discussed for their paleoceanographic significance.


Planktic foraminifers can be sensitive indicators of the changing environment including both the Arctic Ocean and Southern Ocean. Due to variability in their ecology, biology, test characteristics, and fossil preservation in marine sediments, they serve as valuable archives in paleoceanography and climate geochemistry over the geologic time scale. Foraminifers are sensitive to, and can therefore provide proxy data on ambient water temperature, salinity, carbonate chemistry, and trophic conditions through shifts in assemblage (species) composition and the shell chemistry of individual specimens. Production and dissolution of the calcareous shell, as well as growth and remineralization of the cytoplasm, affect the carbonate counter pump and to a lesser extent the soft-tissue pump, at varying regional and temporal scales. Diversity of planktic foraminifers in polar waters is low in comparison to lower latitudes and is limited to three native species: Neogloboquadrina pachyderma, Turborotalita quinqueloba, and Globigerina bulloides, of which N. pachyderma is best adapted to polar conditions in the surface ocean. Neogloboquadrina pachyderma hibernates in brine channels in the lower layers of the Antarctic sea ice, a strategy that is presently undescribed in the Arctic. In open Antarctic and Arctic surface waters T. quinqueloba and G. bulloides increase in abundance at lower polar to subpolar latitudes and Globigerinita uvula, Turborotalita humilis, Globigerinita glutinata, Globorotalia inflata, and Globorotalia crassaformis complement the assemblages. Over the past two to three decades there has been a marked increase in the abundance of Orcadia riedeli and G. uvula in the subpolar and polar Indian Ocean, as well as in the northern North Atlantic. This paper presents a review of the knowledge of polar and subpolar planktic foraminifers. Particular emphasis is placed on the response of foraminifers to modern warming and ocean acidification at high latitudes and the implications for data interpretation in paleoceanography and paleoclimate research.

Continue reading ‘Modern planktic foraminifers in the high-latitude ocean’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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