Posts Tagged 'reproduction'

Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions

Ocean warming and acidification (OA) may alter the fitness of species in marine pelagic ecosystems through community effects or direct physiological impacts. We used the zooplanktonic appendicularian, Oikopleura dioica, to assess temperature and pH effects at mesocosm and microcosm scales. In mesocosms, both OA and warming positively impacted O. dioica abundance over successive generations. In microcosms, the positive impact of OA, was observed to result from increased fecundity. In contrast, increased pH, observed for example during phytoplankton blooms, reduced fecundity. Oocyte fertility and juvenile development were equivalent under all pH conditions, indicating that the positive effect of lower pH on O. dioica abundance was principally due to increased egg number. This effect was influenced by food quantity and quality, supporting possible improved digestion and assimilation at lowered pH. Higher temperature resulted in more rapid growth, faster maturation and earlier reproduction. Thus, increased temperature and reduced pH had significant positive impacts on O. dioica fitness through increased fecundity and shortened generation time, suggesting that predicted future ocean conditions may favour this zooplankton species.

Continue reading ‘Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions’

Macroalgal spore dysfunction: ocean acidification delays and weakens adhesion

Early life stages of marine organisms are predicted to be vulnerable to ocean acidification. For macroalgae, reproduction and population persistence rely on spores to settle, adhere and continue the algal life cycle, yet the effect of ocean acidification on this critical life stage has been largely overlooked. We explicitly tested the biomechanical impact of reduced pH on early spore adhesion. We developed a shear flume to examine the effect of reduced pH on spore attachment time and strength in two intertidal rhodophyte macroalgae, one calcified (Corallina vancouveriensis) and one non-calcified (Polyostea robusta). Reduced pH delayed spore attachment of both species by 40-52% and weakened attachment strength in C. vancouveriensis, causing spores to dislodge at lower flow-induced shear forces, but had no effect on the attachment strength of P. robusta. Results are consistent with our prediction that reduced pH disrupts proper curing and gel formation of spore adhesives (anionic polysaccharides and glycoproteins) via protonation and cation displacement, although experimental verification is needed. Our results demonstrate that ocean acidification negatively, and differentially, impacts spore adhesion in two macroalgae. If results hold in field conditions, reduced ocean pH has the potential to impact macroalgal communities via spore dysfunction, regardless of the physiological tolerance of mature thalli.

Continue reading ‘Macroalgal spore dysfunction: ocean acidification delays and weakens adhesion’

Early development of the threespine stickleback in relation to water pH

Ocean acidification is a growing environmental problem, and there is a need to investigate how the decreasing pH will affect marine organisms. Here we studied the effects of lowered pH on the growth and development of the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) eggs. Adult fish, collected from the natural environment, were allowed to mate in aquaria and the newly produced eggs were incubated in an experiment. Eggs and larvae from ambient conditions (produced in the laboratory) were reared at three different pH concentrations (control: pH 7.8; and reduced pH treatments: pH 7.5 and 7.0) for 21 days in the laboratory. Dissolved oxygen concentration (8.1 ± 0.1 mg l−1) and temperature (18.6 ± 0.02°C) were monitored regularly. Then, egg diameter, larval length, weight and survival were measured. There was no relationship between egg diameter and pH or oxygen, but a negative relationship was found with temperature. Survival of larvae was not affected by pH or temperature, whereas dissolved oxygen concentration had a positive effect on number of survivors. The pH did not have a significant effect on the final larval length on day 21, but interacted significantly with dissolved oxygen. Higher temperatures were found to have a positive effect on the final larval length and weight. Larval weight, on the other hand, was not related to pH nor oxygen. Coastal zones are characterized by pH levels that fluctuate due to natural processes, such as upwelling and river runoff. Our results suggest that the threespine stickleback larvae are well adapted to the different pHs tested, and egg development will likely not be affected by decreasing pH, but even slight temperature and oxygen changes can have a great impact on the threespine stickleback development.

Continue reading ‘Early development of the threespine stickleback in relation to water pH’

Biogeographic vulnerability to ocean acidification and warming in a marine bivalve


• Low pH reduces hatching in the Baltic, southern and northern East Atlantic clade.
• Temperature rise alleviates pH effects on hatching success in the East Atlantic clades.
• Smallest hatching sizes were found in low pH (< 7.5) calcite-undersaturated seawater.
• Temperature rise reduces hatching size in the Baltic and northern East Atlantic clade.
• The Gulf of Finland population appears most endangered in future high pCO2waters.


Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are rapidly changing seawater temperature, pH and carbonate chemistry. This study compares the embryonic development under high pCO2conditions across the south-north distribution range of the marine clam Limecola balthicain NW Europe. The combined effects of elevated temperature and reduced pH on hatching success and size varied strongly between the three studied populations, with the Gulf of Finland population appearing most endangered under the conditions predicted to occur by 2100. These results demonstrate that the assessment of marine faunal population persistence to future climatic conditions needs to consider the interactive effects of co-occurring physico-chemical alterations in seawater within the local context that determines population fitness, adaptation potential and the system resilience to environmental change.

Continue reading ‘Biogeographic vulnerability to ocean acidification and warming in a marine bivalve’

The evolution of phenotypic plasticity under global change

Marine ecosystems are currently in a state of flux, with ocean warming and acidification occurring at unprecedented rates. Phenotypic plasticity underpins acclimatory responses by shifting the mean phenotype in a population, which may buffer the negative effects of global change. However, little is known about how phenotypic plasticity evolves across multiple generations. We tested this by reciprocally-transplanting the polychaete Ophryotrocha labronica between control and global change scenarios (ocean warming and acidification in isolation and combined) over five generations. By comparing the reaction norms of four life-history traits across generations, we show that juvenile developmental rate in the combined scenario was the only trait that changed its plastic response across generations when transplanted back to control conditions, and that adaptive plasticity was conserved in most traits, despite significant levels of selection and strong declines in individual fitness in the multi-generational exposure. We suggest the change in level of plasticity in the combined scenario is caused by differential allocation of energy between the mean and the plasticity of the trait along the multigenerational exposure. The ability to maintain within-generational levels of plasticity under global change scenarios has important eco-evolutionary and conservation implications, which are examined under the framework of assisted evolution programs.

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Reduced spore germination explains sensitivity of reef-building algae to climate change stressors

Reduced seawater pH and changes in carbonate chemistry associated with ocean acidification (OA) decrease the recruitment of crustose coralline algae (CCAcf.), an important coral-reef builder. However, it is unclear whether the observed decline in recruitment is driven by impairment of spore germination, or post-settlement processes (e.g. space competition). To address this, we conducted an experiment using a dominant CCA, Porolithon cf. onkodes to test the independent and combined effects of OA, warming, and irradiance on its germination success and early development. Elevated CO2 negatively affected several processes of spore germination, including formation of the germination disc, initial growth, and germling survival. The magnitude of these effects varied depending on the levels of temperature and irradiance. For example, the combination of high CO2 and high temperature reduced formation of the germination disc, but this effect was independent of irradiance levels, while spore abnormalities increased under high CO2 and high temperature particularly in combination with low irradiance intensity. This study demonstrates that spore germination of CCA is impacted by the independent and interactive effects of OA, increasing seawater temperature and irradiance intensity. For the first time, this provides a mechanism for how the sensitivity of critical early life history processes to global change may drive declines of adult populations of key marine calcifiers.

Continue reading ‘Reduced spore germination explains sensitivity of reef-building algae to climate change stressors’

Ocean acidification ameliorates harmful effects of warming in primary consumer

Climate change-induced warming and ocean acidification are considered two imminent threats to marine biodiversity and current ecosystem structures. Here, we have for the first time examined an animal’s response to a complete life cycle of exposure to co-occurring warming (+3°C) and ocean acidification (+1,600 μatm CO2), using the key subarctic planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus, as a model species. The animals were generally negatively affected by warming, which significantly reduced the females’ energy status and reproductive parameters (respectively, 95% and 69%–87% vs. control). Unexpectedly, simultaneous acidification partially offset the negative effect of warming in an antagonistic manner, significantly improving reproductive parameters and hatching success (233%–340% improvement vs. single warming exposure). The results provide proof of concept that ocean acidification may partially offset negative effects caused by warming in some species. Possible explanations and ecological implications for the observed antagonistic effect are discussed.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification ameliorates harmful effects of warming in primary consumer’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book