Posts Tagged 'protists'

Development and application of foraminiferal carbonate system proxies to quantify ocean acidification in the California Current

The oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon has mitigated climate change, but has also resulted in a global average 0.1 decline in surface ocean pH over 20th century known as ocean acidification. The parallel reduction in carbonate ion concentration ([CO32-]) and the saturation state of seawater (Ω) has caused many major calcium carbonate-secreting organisms such as planktonic foraminifera to exhibit impaired calcification. We develop proxy calibrations and down core records that use calcification and geochemical characteristics of planktonic foraminifera as proxies for the marine carbonate system. This study focuses specifically on the surface ocean chemistry of the California Current Ecosystem (CCE), which has been identified as a region of rapidly progressing ocean acidification due to natural upwelling processes and the low buffering capacity of these waters. The calibration portion of this study uses marine sediments collected by the Santa Barbara Basin (SBB), California sediment-trapping program located in the central region of the CCE. We calibrate the relationships of Globigerina bulloides calcification intensity to [CO3 2-] and the B/Ca ratios of G. bulloides, Neogloboquadrina dutertrei and Neogloboquadrina incompta shells to Ω calcite using in situ measurements and model simulations of these independent variables. By applying these proxy methods to down core, our records from the SBB indicate a 20% reduction in foraminiferal calcification since ~1900, translating to a 35% decline in [CO 32-] in the CCE over this period. Our high-resolution calcification record also reveals a substantial interannual to decadal modulation of ocean acidification in the CCE related to the sign of Pacific Decadal Oscillation and El Niño Southern Oscillation. In the future we can expect these climatic modes to both enhance and moderate anthropogenic ocean acidification. Based on our historic record, we predict that if atmospheric CO2 reaches 540 ppm by the year 2100 as predicted by a conservative CO3 pathway, [CO32-] will experience a net reduction of 55%, resulting in at least a 30% reduction in calcification of planktonic foraminifera that will likely be mirrored by other adversely affected marine calcifiers.

Continue reading ‘Development and application of foraminiferal carbonate system proxies to quantify ocean acidification in the California Current’

Response of Marginopora vertebralis (Foraminifera) from Laucala Bay, Fiji, to changing ocean pH

Increased CO2 emissions into the atmosphere lead to increased concentrations of dissolved CO2 in the ocean. A chemical reaction between the dissolved CO2 and seawater produces HCO3 −, CO3 2− and H+ ions. These H+ ions increase the acidity of seawater and decrease the pH. Increased acidity and decreased availability of CO3 2− ion affect calcite and aragonite production by marine calcifiers in the ocean. To assess potential responses of the larger benthic foraminifer Marginopora vertebralis to ocean acidification, we performed growth experiments at three pH levels [7.5, 7.8, 8.1 (ambient seawater)] for 11 weeks. Specimens were stained with the fluorescent compound Calcein ( ̴40 µmole/l) prior to treatment, allowing identification of calcite added during the treatment period. At pH 8.1, specimens increased their test weight by 8.4%, at pH 7.8 growth was 4.2%, and at pH 7.5, growth was only 3.2%. These differences represent a significant relationship between ocean pH and test growth (i.e., calcification). In addition, several specimens in the pH 8.1 treatment underwent asexual reproduction during the experiment, while no reproduction was observed in the pH 7.8 or 7.5 treatments. These results indicate that ocean acidification predicted to occur by the end of the 21st century will cause a decline in population densities of Marginopora vertebralis in their natural environment, as consequences of both reduced growth rates and rates of reproduction. And because the tests of these foraminifers are important components of carbonate sediments on coral cays and tropical beaches, a decline in their rates of sediment production will exacerbate the consequences of rising sea level.

Continue reading ‘Response of Marginopora vertebralis (Foraminifera) from Laucala Bay, Fiji, to changing ocean pH’

Trends in element incorporation in hyaline and porcelaneous foraminifera as a function of pCO2 (update)

In this study we analyzed the impact of seawater carbonate chemistry on the incorporation of elements in both hyaline and porcelaneous larger benthic foraminifera. We observed a higher incorporation of Zn and Ba when pCO2 increases from 350 to 1200 ppm. Modeling the activity of free ions as a function of pCO2 shows that speciation of some elements (like Zn and Ba) is mainly influenced by the formation of carbonate complexes in seawater. Hence, differences in foraminiferal uptake of these might be related primarily by the speciation of these elements in seawater. We investigated differences in trends in element incorporation between hyaline (perforate) and porcelaneous (imperforate) foraminifera in order to unravel processes involved in element uptake and subsequent foraminiferal calcification. In hyaline foraminifera we observed a correlation of element incorporation of different elements between species, reflected by a general higher incorporation of elements in species with higher Mg content. Between porcelaneous species, inter-element differences are much smaller. Besides these contrasting trends in element incorporation, however, similar trends are observed in element incorporation as a function of seawater carbonate chemistry in both hyaline and porcelaneous species. This suggests similar mechanisms responsible for the transportation of ions to the site of calcification for these groups of foraminifera, although the contribution of these processes might differ across species.

Continue reading ‘Trends in element incorporation in hyaline and porcelaneous foraminifera as a function of pCO2 (update)’

Proton pumping accompanies calcification in foraminifera

Ongoing ocean acidification is widely reported to reduce the ability of calcifying marine organisms to produce their shells and skeletons. Whereas increased dissolution due to acidification is a largely inorganic process, strong organismal control over biomineralization influences calcification and hence complicates predicting the response of marine calcifyers. Here we show that calcification is driven by rapid transformation of bicarbonate into carbonate inside the cytoplasm, achieved by active outward proton pumping. Moreover, this proton flux is maintained over a wide range of pCO2 levels. We furthermore show that a V-type H+ ATPase is responsible for the proton flux and thereby calcification. External transformation of bicarbonate into CO2 due to the proton pumping implies that biomineralization does not rely on availability of carbonate ions, but total dissolved CO2 may not reduce calcification, thereby potentially maintaining the current global marine carbonate production.

Continue reading ‘Proton pumping accompanies calcification in foraminifera’

Decoupled carbonate chemistry controls on the incorporation of boron into Orbulina universa (update)

In order to fully constrain paleo-carbonate systems, proxies for two out of seven parameters, plus temperature and salinity, are required. The boron isotopic composition (δ11B) of planktonic foraminifera shells is a powerful tool for reconstructing changes in past surface ocean pH. As B(OH)4− is substituted into the biogenic calcite lattice in place of CO32−, and both borate and carbonate ions are more abundant at higher pH, it was suggested early on that B ∕ Ca ratios in biogenic calcite may serve as a proxy for [CO32−]. Although several recent studies have shown that a direct connection of B ∕ Ca to carbonate system parameters may be masked by other environmental factors in the field, there is ample evidence for a mechanistic relationship between B ∕ Ca and carbonate system parameters. Here, we focus on investigating the primary relationship to develop a mechanistic understanding of boron uptake.

Differentiating between the effects of pH and [CO32−] is problematic, as they co-vary closely in natural systems, so the major control on boron incorporation remains unclear. To deconvolve the effects of pH and [CO32−] and to investigate their impact on the B ∕ Ca ratio and δ11B, we conducted culture experiments with the planktonic foraminifer Orbulina universa in manipulated culture media: constant pH (8.05), but changing [CO32−] (238, 286 and 534 µmol kg−1 CO32−) and at constant [CO32−] (276 ± 19.5 µmol kg−1) and varying pH (7.7, 7.9 and 8.05). Measurements of the isotopic composition of boron and the B ∕ Ca ratio were performed simultaneously using a femtosecond laser ablation system coupled to a MC-ICP-MS (multiple-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer). Our results show that, as expected, δ11B is controlled by pH but it is also modulated by [CO32−]. On the other hand, the B ∕ Ca ratio is driven by [HCO3−], independently of pH. This suggests that B ∕ Ca ratios in foraminiferal calcite can possibly be used as a second, independent, proxy for complete paleo-carbonate system reconstructions. This is discussed in light of recent literature demonstrating that the primary relationship between B ∕ Ca and [HCO3−] can be obscured by other environmental parameters.

Continue reading ‘Decoupled carbonate chemistry controls on the incorporation of boron into Orbulina universa (update)’

Early to Late Maastrichtian environmental changes in the Indian Ocean compared with Tethys and South Atlantic

Planktic foraminiferal analysis, including species populations, diversity trends, high-stress indices and stable isotopes of the latest Campanian through Maastrichtian in the South Atlantic, Tethys and Indian oceans reveal four major climate and faunal events that ended with the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K/Pg), formerly Cretaceous-Tertiary (K/T), mass extinction. The prelude to these events is the late Campanian cooling that reached minimum temperatures in the earliest Maastrichtian (base C31r) correlative with low primary productivity and species diversity. Event-1 begins during the persistent cool climate of the early Maastrichtian (lower C31r) when primary productivity rapidly increased accompanied by rapid species originations, attributed to increased nutrient influx from increased upwelling, erosion during the sea-level fall ~ 70.6 Ma, and Ninety East Ridge volcanism. During Event-2 (upper C31r to lower C30n), climate rapidly warmed by 2–3 °C in deep waters and peaked at 22 °C on land, primary productivity remained high and diversification reached maximum for the entire Cretaceous. We attribute this climate warming to intense Ninety East Ridge volcanic activity beginning ~ 69.5 Ma, accompanied by rapid reorganization of intermediate oceanic circulation. Enhanced greenhouse conditions due to the eruption of Deccan Phase-1 in India resulted in detrimental conditions for planktic foraminifera marking the end of diversification. Global cooling resumed in Event-3 (C30n), species diversity declined gradually accompanied by dwarfing, decreased large specialized species, increased small ecologically tolerant taxa, and ocean acidification. Event-3 is mainly the result of enhanced weathering and volcanogenic CO2 adsorption by the oceans during the preceding warm Event-2 that led to cooling and lower pH in the surface ocean. Event-4 marks the last 250 kyr of the Maastrichtian (C29r), which began with the largest Deccan eruptions (Phase-2) that caused rapid climate warming of 4 °C in deep waters and 8 °C on land, acid rain and ocean acidification leading to a major carbonate crisis preceding the K/T mass extinction.

Continue reading ‘Early to Late Maastrichtian environmental changes in the Indian Ocean compared with Tethys and South Atlantic’

Tropical CO2 seeps reveal the impact of ocean acidification on coral reef invertebrate recruitment


  • CO2 seeps at two coral reefs in Papua New Guinea were used as natural analogues of ocean acidification.
  • Elevated CO2 affected recruitment in marine invertebrate communities.
  • Calcified recruits of reef-dwelling Foraminifera, polychaetes, gastropods, and bivalves were vulnerable to acidification.
  • Amphipods and copepods, which are important prey taxa, were adversely affected by acidification caused by elevated CO2.


Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are causing ocean acidification by reducing seawater pH and carbonate saturation levels. Laboratory studies have demonstrated that many larval and juvenile marine invertebrates are vulnerable to these changes in surface ocean chemistry, but challenges remain in predicting effects at community and ecosystem levels. We investigated the effect of ocean acidification on invertebrate recruitment at two coral reef CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea. Invertebrate communities differed significantly between ‘reference’ (median pH 7.97, 8.00), ‘high CO2’ (median pH 7.77, 7.79), and ‘extreme CO2’ (median pH 7.32, 7.68) conditions at each reef. There were also significant reductions in calcifying taxa, copepods and amphipods as CO2 levels increased. The observed shifts in recruitment were comparable to those previously described in the Mediterranean, revealing an ecological mechanism by which shallow coastal systems are affected by near-future levels of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Tropical CO2 seeps reveal the impact of ocean acidification on coral reef invertebrate recruitment’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book