In the past decade, many studies have investigated the effects of low pH/high CO2 as a proxy for ocean acidification on olfactory-mediated behaviours of marine organisms. The effects of ocean acidification on the behaviour of fish vary from very large to none at all, and most of the maladaptive behaviours observed have been attributed to changes in acid–base regulation, leading to changes in ion distribution over neural membranes, and consequently affecting the functioning of gamma-aminobutyric acid-mediated (GABAergic) neurotransmission. Here, we highlight a possible additional mechanism by which ocean acidification might directly affect olfaction in marine fish and invertebrates. We propose that a decrease in pH can directly affect the protonation, and thereby, 3D conformation and charge distribution of odorants and/or their receptors in the olfactory organs of aquatic animals. This can sometimes enhance signalling, but most of the time the affinity of odorants for their receptors is reduced in high CO2/low pH; therefore, the activity of olfactory receptor neurons decreases as measured using electrophysiology. The reduced signal reception would translate into reduced activation of the olfactory bulb neurons, which are responsible for processing olfactory information in the brain. Over longer exposures of days to weeks, changes in gene expression in the olfactory receptors and olfactory bulb neurons cause these neurons to become less active, exacerbating the problem. A change in olfactory system functioning leads to inappropriate behavioural responses to odorants. We discuss gaps in the literature and suggest some changes to experimental design in order to improve our understanding of the underlying mechanisms and their effects on the associated behaviours to resolve some current controversy in the field regarding the extent of the effects of ocean acidification on marine fish.
The integrity of coral reefs worldwide is jeopardized by ocean acidification (OA). Most studies conducted so far have focused on the vulnerability to OA of corals inhabiting shallow reefs, while nothing is currently known about the response of mesophotic scleractinian corals. In this study we assessed the susceptibility to OA of corals, together with their algal partners, inhabiting a wide depth range. We exposed fragments of the depth generalist coral Stylophora pistillata collected from either 5 or 45 meters to simulated future OA conditions, and assessed key molecular, physiological and photosynthetic processes influenced by the lowered pH. Our comparative analysis reveals that mesophotic and shallow S. pistillata corals are genetically distinct and possess different symbiont types. Under the exposure to acidification conditions, we observed a 50% drop of metabolic rate in shallow corals, whereas mesophotic corals were able to maintain unaltered metabolic rates. Overall, our gene expression and physiological analyses show that mesophotic corals possess a greater capacity to cope with the effects of OA compared to their shallow counterparts. Such capability stems from physiological characteristics (i.e. biomass and lipids energetics), a greater capacity to regulate cellular acid-base parameters, and a higher baseline expression of cell-adhesion and extracellular matrix genes. Moreover, our gene expression analysis suggests that the enhanced symbiont photochemical efficiency under high pCO₂ levels could prevent acidosis of the host cells and it could support a greater translocation of photosynthates, increasing the energy pool available to the host. With this work, we provide new insights on the response to OA of corals living at mesophotic depths. Our investigation discloses key genetic and physiological traits underlying the potential for corals to cope with future OA conditions.
Marine sponges are becoming an increasing source of novel biomedical and antibacterial compounds. Many of these compounds are synthesized as secondary metabolites from symbiotic bacteria and have immense potential in the pharmaceutical industry. However, climate change may pose a threat to the viability of marine sponges and result in the loss of future medical discoveries. Therefore, this paper looks at the effect climate change may have on marine sponges by subjecting fragments of the marine sponge, Halichondria panicea, into aquaria representing different climate change scenarios to study the effect that global warming and ocean acidification may have on its symbiotic bacteria. To model climate change towards the end of the 21st century, conditions from the IPCC’s 2014 climate change report were simulated to determine specific growth conditions. The fragments were placed in the different RCP growth conditions for two weeks, then dissociated, filtered, and the extracts incubated on Hektoen enteric agar for 48 hours. The results showed that climate change has adverse effects on the marine sponge, Halichondria panicea, by decreasing their symbiotic bacterial population by around 18 %
In light of the chronic stress and mass mortality reef-building corals face under climate change, it is critical to understand the processes essential to reef persistence and replenishment, including coral reproduction and development. Here we quantify gene expression and size sensitivity to ocean acidification across a set of developmental stages in the rice coral, Montipora capitata. Gametes and then embryos and swimming larvae were exposed to three pH treatments ranging from 7.8 (Ambient), 7.6 (Low) and 7.3 (Xlow) from fertilization to 9 days post-fertilization. Embryo development and size, planula volume, and stage-specific gene expression were compared between treatments at each stage to determine the effects of acidified seawater on early development. While there was no measurable size differentiation between fertilized eggs and embryos at the prawn chip stage exposed to ambient, low, and extreme low pH, early gastrula and planula raised in reduced pH treatments were significantly smaller than those raised in ambient seawater, suggesting an energetic cost to developing under low pH. However, no differentially expressed genes emerged between treatments at any time point, except swimming larvae. Larvae from pH 7.6 showed upregulation of genes involved in cell division, regulation of transcription, lipid metabolism, and oxidative stress in comparison to the other two treatments, and smallest sizes in this treatment. While low pH appears to increase energetic demands and trigger oxidative stress, the developmental process is robust to this at a molecular level, with swimming larval stage reached in all pH treatments.
Ocean acidification (OA) has both detrimental as well as beneficial effects on marine life; it negatively affects calcifiers while enhancing the productivity of photosynthetic organisms. To date, many studies have focused on the impacts of OA on calcification in reef-building corals, a process particularly susceptible to acidification. However, little is known about the effects of OA on their photosynthetic algal partners, with some studies suggesting potential benefits for symbiont productivity. Here, we investigated the transcriptomic response of the endosymbiont Symbiodinium microadriaticum (CCMP2467) in the Red Sea coral Stylophora pistillata subjected to different long-term (2 years) OA treatments (pH 8.0, 7.8, 7.4, 7.2). Transcriptomic analyses revealed that symbionts from corals under lower pH treatments responded to acidification by increasing the expression of genes related to photosynthesis and carbon-concentrating mechanisms. These processes were mostly up-regulated and associated metabolic pathways were significantly enriched, suggesting an overall positive effect of OA on the expression of photosynthesis-related genes. To test this conclusion on a physiological level, we analyzed the symbiont’s photochemical performance across treatments. However, in contrast to the beneficial effects suggested by the observed gene expression changes, we found significant impairment of photosynthesis with increasing pCO2. Collectively, our data suggest that over-expression of photosynthesis-related genes is not a beneficial effect of OA but rather an acclimation response of the holobiont to different water chemistries. Our study highlights the complex effects of ocean acidification on these symbiotic organisms and the role of the host in determining symbiont productivity and performance.
Global change driven by anthropogenic carbon emissions is altering ecosystems at unprecedented rates, especially coral reefs, whose symbiosis with algal endosymbionts ise particularly vulnerable to increasing ocean temperatures and altered carbonate chemistry. Here, we assess the physiological responses of the coral holobiont (animal host + algal symbiont) of three Caribbean coral species from two reef environments after exposure to simulated ocean warming (28, 31 °C), acidification (300 – 3290 μatm), and the combination of stressors for 93 days. We used multidimensional analyses to assess how multiple coral holobiont physiological parameters respond to ocean acidification and warming. Our results demonstrate significantly diminishing holobiont physiology in S. siderea and P. astreoides in response to projected ocean acidification, while future warming elicited severe declines in P. strigosa. Offshore S. siderea fragments exhibited higher physiological plasticity than inshore counterparts, suggesting that this offshore population has the capacity to modulate their physiology in response to changing conditions, but at a cost to the holobiont. Plasticity of P. strigosa and P. astreoides was not clearly different between natal reef environments, however, temperature evoked a greater plastic response in both species. Interestingly, while these species exhibit unique physiological responses to ocean acidification and warming, when data from all three species are modeled together, convergent stress responses to these conditions are observed, highlighting the overall sensitivities of tropical corals to these stressors. Our results demonstrate that while ocean warming is a severe acute stressor that will have dire consequences for coral reefs globally, chronic exposure to acidification may also impact coral physiology to a greater extent than previously assumed. The variety of responses to global change we observe across species will likely manifest in altered Caribbean reef assemblages in the future.
The Foraminifera Project is a collaboration between researchers of the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Geological Sciences at the Complutense University (UCM, Madrid, Spain). The work, based on scientific dissemination through art, is framed in the theme “Climate change and Ocean Acidification” as part of the course “Art, Science and Nature” of the Master’s Degree in Research in Art and Creation (Faculty of Fine Arts, UCM). The team used recent sediment samples from Indian Ocean and Red Sea that contained healthy and unhealthy foraminifera specimens to create 3D specimen models. These models were made using traditional sculpture techniques, photogrammetry, and 3D printing to show different states of foraminifera dissolution and corrosion from ocean acidification. The end result of this project resulted in nine interactive pieces which were part of the exhibition “Drift & Migrate” open to the public during the month of November 2019 in the exhibition hall of the Faculty of Fine Arts (UCM). The 3D models of foraminifera were displayed with educational graphics and blind-accesible explanatory signage (Braille) to share the scientific facts of foraminifera and their role in the ocean ecosystem. The main objective of the collaboration is to raise awareness of anthropogenic effects on foraminifera and the marine ecosystems in general and to expand research opportunities between the arts and sciences at the university.
Symbiosis establishment is a milestone in the life cycles of most broadcast-spawning corals; however, it remains largely unknown how initial symbiont infection is affected by ocean warming and acidification, particularly for massive corals. This study investigated the combined effects of elevated temperature (29 vs. 31 °C) and pCO2 (~ 450 vs. ~ 1000 μatm) on the recruits of a widespread massive coral, Platygyra daedalea. Results showed that geometric diameter and symbiosis establishment were unaffected by high pCO2, while elevated temperature significantly reduced successful symbiont infection by 50% and retarded the geometric diameter by 6%. Although neither increased temperature, pCO2, nor their interaction affected survival or algal pigmentation of recruits, there was an inverse relationship between symbiont infection rates and survivorship, especially at high temperatures, possibly as a result of oxidative stress caused by algal symbionts under increased temperature. Intriguingly, the proportion of Durusdinium did not increase in recruits at 31 °C, while recruits reared under high pCO2 hosted less Breviolum and more Durusdinium, indicating a high degree of plasticity of early symbiosis and contrasting to the previous finding that heat stress usually leads to the prevalence of thermally tolerant Durusdinium in coral recruits. These results suggest that ocean warming is likely to be more deleterious for the early success of P. daedalea than ocean acidification and provide insights into our understanding of coral-algal symbiotic partnerships under future climatic conditions.
With coral reefs declining globally, resilience of these ecosystems hinges on successful coral recruitment. However, knowledge of the acclimatory and/or adaptive potential in response to environmental challenges such as ocean acidification (OA) in earliest life stages is limited. Our combination of physiological measurements, microscopy, computed tomography techniques and gene expression analysis allowed us to thoroughly elucidate the mechanisms underlying the response of early-life stages of corals, together with their algal partners, to the projected decline in oceanic pH. We observed extensive physiological, morphological and transcriptional changes in surviving recruits, and the transition to a less-skeleton/more-tissue phenotype. We found that decreased pH conditions stimulate photosynthesis and endosymbiont growth, and gene expression potentially linked to photosynthates translocation. Our unique holistic study discloses the previously unseen intricate net of interacting mechanisms that regulate the performance of these organisms in response to OA.
Prior to fertilization, mothers provision their oocytes with mRNA that regulates the early stages of development and may additionally include transcripts for proteins that support embryonic stress response early on. At some point during embryogenesis, however, these maternal transcripts are degraded as zygotic transcription activates and intensifies during a phenomenon known as the maternal-to-zygotic transition (MZT). Some evidence suggests that as the MZT progresses, and the effects of maternal transcripts are waning while the zygotic expression is being established, offspring of marine broadcast spawners become more vulnerable to environmental perturbations. In light of escalating threats to marine broadcast spawners, it is critical to understand their reproduction and development, which are essential processes for species resilience by repopulating and replenishing existing populations. Reef building corals, in particular, are under threat from multiple stressors at the local and global scales. Mass mortality has occurred in recent years due to a series of marine heatwaves. In addition, there is chronic stress occurring in the form of ocean acidification, or the decline in pH in surface waters due to the uptake of atmospheric carbon dioxide of anthropogenic origin. Here, we characterize the function of maternal mRNAs, the timeline of the MZT, and sensitivity of gene expression to ocean acidification (OA) in the reef- building coral, Montipora capitata to investigate role of the MZT in embryonic stress response in reef-building corals.
Global change, including rising temperatures and acidification, threatens corals globally. Although bleaching events reveal fine-scale patterns of resilience, traits enabling persistence under global change remain elusive. We conducted a 95-d controlled-laboratory experiment investigating how duration of exposure to warming (~28, 31°C), acidification (pCO2 ~ 343 [present day], ~663 [end of century], ~3109 [extreme] μatm), and their combination influences physiology of reef-building corals (Siderastrea siderea, Pseudodiploria strigosa) from two reef zones on the Belize Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. Every 30 d, net calcification rate, host protein and carbohydrate, chlorophyll a, and symbiont density were quantified for the same coral individual to characterize acclimation potential under global change. Coral physiologies of the two species were differentially affected by stressors and exposure duration was found to modulate these responses. Siderastrea siderea exhibited resistance to end of century pCO2 and temperature stress, but calcification was negatively affected by extreme pCO2. However, S. siderea calcification rates remained positive after 95 d of extreme pCO2 conditions, suggesting acclimation. In contrast, P. strigosa was more negatively influenced by elevated temperatures, which reduced most physiological parameters. An exception was nearshore P. strigosa, which maintained calcification rates under elevated temperature, suggesting local adaptation to the warmer environment of their natal reef zone. This work highlights how tracking coral physiology across various exposure durations can capture acclimatory responses to global change stressors.
Under predicted future ocean conditions, reefs exposed to elevated nutrients will simultaneously experience ocean acidification and elevated temperature. We evaluated if moderate nutrients mitigate, minimize, or exacerbate negative effects of predicted future ocean conditions on coral physiology. For 30 days, Acropora millepora and Turbinaria reniformis were exposed to a fully factorial experiment of eight treatments including two seawater temperatures (26.4 °C and 29.8 °C), pCO2 levels (401 μatm pCO2 and 760 μatm pCO2), and nutrient concentrations (ambient: 0.40 μmol L−1 NO3− and 0.22 μmol L−1 PO43−, and moderate: 3.56 μmol L−1 NO3− and 0.31 μmol L−1 PO43−). Added nitrate was taken up by the algal endosymbionts and transferred to the coral hosts in both species, though to a much higher degree in A. millepora. When exposed to elevated temperature, elevated pCO2, or both, effects observed for chlorophyll a, calcification, biomass, and energy reserves were not compounded by the moderate nutrient concentrations in either species. Moderate nutrients enabled A. millepora to continue to meet daily metabolic demand via photosynthesis under predicted future ocean conditions and T. reniformis to greatly exceed daily metabolic demand via photosynthesis and heterotrophy. Our results suggest that balanced moderate nutrients are not detrimental to corals under predicted future ocean conditions and may even provide some benefits.
Coral reefs are enduring decline due to the intensifying impacts of anthropogenic global change. This widespread decline has resulted in increased efforts to identify resilient coral populations and develop novel restoration strategies. Paramount in these efforts is the need to understand how environmental variation and thermal history affect coral physiology and resilience. Here, we assess the acclimatization capacity of Siderastrea siderea and Pseudodiploria strigosa corals via a 17-month reciprocal transplant experiment between nearshore and offshore reefs on the Belize Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. These nearshore reefs are more turbid, eutrophic, warm, and thermally variable than offshore reefs. All corals exhibited some evidence of acclimatization after transplantation. Corals transplanted from nearshore to offshore calcified slower than in their native habitat, especially S. siderea corals which exhibited 60% mortality and little to no net growth over the duration of the 17-month study. Corals transplanted from offshore to nearshore calcified faster than in their native habitat with 96% survival. Higher host tissue δ15N in nearshore corals indicated that increased heterotrophic opportunity or nitrogen sources between nearshore and offshore reefs likely promoted elevated calcification rates nearshore and may facilitate adaptation in nearshore populations to such conditions over time. These results demonstrate that offshore populations of S. siderea and P. strigosa possess the acclimatization capacity to survive in warmer and more turbid nearshore conditions, but that local adaptation to native nearshore conditions may hinder the plasticity of nearshore populations, thereby limiting their utility in coral restoration activities outside of their native habitat in the short term.
Planktic foraminifera and shelled pteropods are some of the major producers of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the ocean. Their calcitic (foraminifera) and aragonitic (pteropods) shells are particularly sensitive to changes in the carbonate chemistry and play an important role for the inorganic and organic carbon pump of the ocean. Here, we have studied the abundance distribution of planktic foraminifera and pteropods (individuals m–3) and their contribution to the inorganic and organic carbon standing stocks (μg m–3) and export production (mg m–2 day–1) along a longitudinal transect north of Svalbard at 81° N, 22–32° E, in the Arctic Ocean. This transect, sampled in September 2018 consists of seven stations covering different oceanographic regimes, from the shelf to the slope and into the deep Nansen Basin. The sea surface temperature ranged between 1 and 5°C in the upper 300 m. Conditions were supersaturated with respect to CaCO3 (Ω > 1 for both calcite and aragonite). The abundance of planktic foraminifera ranged from 2.3 to 52.6 ind m–3 and pteropods from 0.1 to 21.3 ind m–3. The planktic foraminiferal population was composed mainly of the polar species Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (55.9%) and the subpolar species Turborotalita quinqueloba (21.7%), Neogloboquadrina incompta (13.5%) and Globigerina bulloides (5.2%). The pteropod population was dominated by the polar species Limacina helicina (99.6%). The rather high abundance of subpolar foraminiferal species is likely connected to the West Spitsbergen Current bringing warm Atlantic water to the study area. Pteropods dominated at the surface and subsurface. Below 100 m water depth, foraminifera predominated. Pteropods contribute 66–96% to the inorganic carbon standing stocks compared to 4–34% by the planktic foraminifera. The inorganic export production of planktic foraminifera and pteropods together exceeds their organic contribution by a factor of 3. The overall predominance of pteropods over foraminifera in this high Arctic region during the sampling period suggest that inorganic standing stocks and export production of biogenic carbonate would be reduced under the effects of ocean acidification.
Incorporating species’ ability to adaptively respond to climate change is critical for robustly predicting persistence. One such example could be the adaptive role of algal symbionts in setting coral thermal tolerance under global warming and ocean acidification. Using a global ecological and evolutionary model of competing branching and mounding coral morphotypes, we show symbiont shuffling (towards taxa with increased heat tolerance) was more effective than symbiont evolution in delaying coral-cover declines, but stronger warming rates (high emissions scenarios) outpace the ability of these adaptive processes and limit coral persistence. Acidification has a small impact on reef degradation rates relative to warming. Global patterns in coral reef vulnerability to climate are sensitive to the interaction of warming rate and adaptive capacity and cannot be predicted by either factor alone. Overall, our results show how models of spatially resolved adaptive mechanisms can inform conservation decisions.
According to current experimental evidence, coral reefs could disappear within the century if CO2 emissions remain unabated. However, recent discoveries of diverse and high cover reefs that already thrive under extreme conditions seem to contradict these projections. Volcanic CO2 vents, semi-enclosed lagoons and mangrove estuaries are unique study sites where one or more ecologically relevant parameters for life in the oceans are close or even worse than currently projected for the year 2100. These natural analogues of future conditions hold new hope for the future of coral reefs and provide unique natural laboratories to explore how reef species could keep pace with climate change. To achieve this, it is essential to characterize their environment as a whole, and accurately consider all possible environmental factors that may differ from what is expected in the future and that may possibly alter the ecosystem response.
In this study, we focus on the semi-enclosed lagoon of Bouraké (New Caledonia, SW Pacific Ocean) where a healthy reef ecosystem thrives in warm, acidified and deoxygenated water. We used a multi-scale approach to characterize the main physical-chemical parameters and mapped the benthic community composition (i.e., corals, sponges, and macroalgae). The data revealed that most physical and chemical parameters are regulated by the tide, strongly fluctuate 3 to 4 times a day, and are entirely predictable. The seawater pH and dissolved oxygen decrease during falling tide and reach extreme low values at low tide (7.2 pHT and 1.9 mg O2 L−1 at Bouraké, vs 7.9 pHT and 5.5 mg O2 L−1 at reference reefs). Dissolved oxygen, temperature, and pH fluctuates according to the tide of up to 4.91 mg O2 L−1, 6.50 °C, and 0.69 pHT units on a single day. Furthermore, the concentration of most of the chemical parameters was one- to 5-times higher at the Bouraké lagoon, particularly for organic and inorganic carbon and nitrogen, but also for some nutrients, notably silicates. Surprisingly, despite extreme environmental conditions and altered seawater chemical composition, our results reveal a diverse and high cover community of macroalgae, sponges and corals accounting for 28, 11 and 66 species, respectively. Both environmental variability and nutrient imbalance might contribute to their survival under such extreme environmental conditions. We describe the natural dynamics of the Bouraké ecosystem and its relevance as a natural laboratory to investigate the benthic organism’s adaptive responses to multiple stressors like future climate change conditions.
The supply of metabolites from symbionts to scleractinian corals is crucial to coral health. Members of the Symbiodiniaceae can enhance coral calcification by providing photosynthetically fixed carbon (PFC) and energy, whereas dinitrogen (N2)-fixing bacteria can provide additional nutrients such as diazotrophically-derived nitrogen (DDN) that sustain coral productivity especially when alternative external nitrogen sources are scarce. How these mutualistic associations benefit corals in the future acidifying ocean is not well understood. In this study, we investigated the possible effects of ocean acidification (OA; pHs 7.7 and 7.4 vs. 8.1) on calcification in the hermatypic coral Galaxea fascicularis with respect to PFC and DDN assimilation. Our measurements based on isotopic tracing showed no significant differences in the assimilation of PFC among different pH treatments, but the assimilation of DDN decreased significantly after 28 days of stress at pH 7.4. The decreased DDN assimilation suggests a nitrogenous nutrient deficiency in the coral holotiont, potentially leading to reduced coral calcification and resilience to bleaching and other stressful events. This contrasting impact of OA on carbon and N flux demonstrates the flexibility of G. fascicularis in coping with OA, apparently by sustaining a largely undamaged photosystem at the expense of N2 fixation machinery, which competes with coral calcification for energy from photosynthesis. These findings shed new light on the critically important but more vulnerable N cycling in hospite, and on the trade-off between coral hosts and symbionts in response to future climate change.
Ocean chemistry is changing as a result of human activities. Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations are increasing, causing an increase in oceanic pCO2 that drives a decrease in oceanic pH, a process called ocean acidification (OA). Higher CO2 concentrations are also linked to rising global temperatures that can result in more stratified surface waters, reducing the exchange between surface and deep waters; this stronger stratification, along with nutrient pollution, contributes to an expansion of oxygen-depleted zones (so called hypoxia or deoxygenation). Determining the response of marine organisms to environmental changes is important for assessments of future ecosystem functioning. While many studies have assessed the impact of individual or paired stressors, fewer studies have assessed the combined impact of pCO2, O2, and temperature. A long-term experiment (∼10 months) with different treatments of these three stressors was conducted to determine their sole or combined impact on the abundance and survival of a benthic foraminiferal community collected from a continental-shelf site. Foraminifera are well suited to such study because of their small size, relatively rapid growth, varied mineralogies and physiologies. Inoculation materials were collected from a ∼77-m deep site south of Woods Hole, MA. Very fine sediments (<53 μm) were used as inoculum, to allow the entire community to respond. Thirty-eight morphologically identified taxa grew during the experiment. Multivariate statistical analysis indicates that hypoxia was the major driving factor distinguishing the yields, while warming was secondary. Species responses were not consistent, with different species being most abundant in different treatments. Some taxa grew in all of the triple-stressor samples. Results from the experiment suggest that foraminiferal species’ responses will vary considerably, with some being negatively impacted by predicted environmental changes, while other taxa will tolerate, and perhaps even benefit, from deoxygenation, warming and OA.
Estimations of the ocean acidification-OA effects on marine environments indicate that coral reefs’ structure will collapse. This study aimed to determine the effects of OA, and its associated carbon chemistry in the sea water, on corals near the Colombian Caribbean city of Cartagena, taking as model organisms of the species Porites astreoides and P. porites. For each species, the effect of OA on bleaching, survival, and calcification was determined using artificial systems with pH of 7.879 ± 0.004 and 7.789 ± 0.007. The results showed that under the first pH, the bleaching of P. astreoides increased by 24.92% and its survival decreased by 80.56%, while at lowest pH, bleaching increased in 32.78% and survival decreased by 87.5%. In the case of P. porites, at first pH bleaching increased by 29.42% and survival decreased by 30.56% and at the lowest, bleaching increased in 37.32% and survival decreased by 13.39%. In both species, calcification was reduced in more than 90% at 7.879 ± 0.004 and their skeleton began to dissolve at 7.789 ± 0.007. This study represents the first effort to determine OA effects on Colombian Caribbean’s marine biota.
Ocean acidification (OA) threatens many marine species and is projected to become more severe over the next 50 years. Areas of the Salish Sea and Puget Sound that experience seasonal upwelling of low pH water are particularly susceptible to even lower pH conditions. While ocean acidification literature often describes negative impacts to calcifying organisms, including economically important shellfish, and zooplankton, not all marine species appear to be
threatened by OA. Photosynthesizing organisms, in particular, may benefit from increased levels of CO2. The aggregating anemone (Anthopleura elegantissima), a common intertidal organism throughout the northeast Pacific, hosts two photosynthetic symbionts: Symbiodinium muscatinei (a dinoflagellate) and Elliptochloris marina (a chlorophyte). The holobiont, therefore, consists of both a cnidarian host and a photosymbiont that could be affected differently by the changing levels of environmental CO2. To determine the effects of OA on this important marine organism, A. elegantissima in each of four symbiotic conditions (hosting S. muscatinei, hosting E. marina, hosting mixed symbiont assemblages, or symbiont free) were subjected to one of three pCO2 levels (800 ppm, 1200 ppm, or 1800 ppm) of OA for 10 weeks. At regular intervals, gross photosynthesis and density of the symbionts, respiration rate of the hosts, levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the host, and percent of organic carbon received by the host from the symbiont (CZAR) were measured. Over the 10-week period of the experiment, the densities of symbionts responded differently to an increase in pCO2, increasing in anemones hosting S. muscatinei but decreasing for those hosting E. marina. Similarly, anemones of mixed symbiont complement that started with approximately 50% of each symbiont type shifted toward a higher percentage of S. muscatinei with higher pCO2. Both gross photosynthesis and dark respiration were significantly affected by pCO2 and symbiont state, though we cannot say that the symbiontsv responded differently to increased OA. Symbiont state was a significant predictor for ROS concentration, with greatest levels seen in anemones hosting E. marina and for CZAR score, with greatest levels in anemones hosting S. muscatinei, our linear models did not reveal pCO2 as a significant factor in these responses. Together, these results suggest that S. muscatinei may benefit from elevated pCO2 levels and that A. elegantissima hosting that symbiont may have a competitive advantage under some future scenarios of ocean acidification.