Posts Tagged 'respiration'

Effects of reduced pH on health biomarkers of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa

Ocean acidification is a growing problem that may affect many marine organisms in the future. Within 100 years the pH of the ocean is predicted to decrease to 7.8, from the current ocean pH of around 8.1. Using phenolic acid levels as a stress indicator as well as respiration and chlorophyll content as a measure of health, the effect of lowering pH was tested on the seagrass, Cymodocea nodosa, in a controlled environment. Plant samples, water, and soil were taken from the Bay of Cádiz, Spain, and placed in aquaria in a temperature-controlled room. One control group was left untreated with a pH of approximately 8.1, while experimental groups maintained pH levels of 7.8 and 7.5. Using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC), concentration of the phenol rosmarinic acid was quantified in the plants. Average concentration for the control group was 1.7 μg g-1, while it was 2.9 μg g-1 for pH group 7.8, and 10.1g g-1 for pH group 7.5. To evaluate the overall health of C. nodosa within the three groups, chlorophyll concentration and photosynthesis/respiration rates were determined. A one-tailed ANOVA test was conducted using the chlorophyll concentrations of the three groups. With an F-value of 1.360 and a p-value of 0.287, the differences between the groups were not statistically significant. Although the raw data shows a slight decrease in chlorophyll content between the control group and the pH group 7.5, these discrepancies might have been larger or smaller due to sampling or experimental error. Additionally, the average values with their respective standard deviations were calculated for the respiration rates and oxygen production of each group. A one-tailed ANOVA was also used to determine the relationship between rosmarinic acid content and pH levels between the groups, with an F-value of 5.1423 and a p-value of 0.050.

Continue reading ‘Effects of reduced pH on health biomarkers of the seagrass Cymodocea nodosa’

Assessing the impact of elevated pCO2 within and across generations in a highly invasive fouling mussel (Musculista senhousia)


• Asian date mussels are sensitive to elevated pCO2 during gonadal ripening.

• Transgenerational phenotypic plasticity occurred through all life history stages.

• Maternal provisioning and metabolic adaptation serve as key mechanisms.

• Mussels hold the great ability to rapidly adapt to changing ocean conditions.


Marine biofouling by the swiftly spreading invasive mussel (Musculista senhousia) has caused serious ecological and economic consequences in the global coastal waters. However, the fate of this highly invasive fouling species in a rapidly acidifying ocean remains unknown. Here, we demonstrated the impacts of ocean acidification within and across generations, to understand whether M. senhousia has the capacity to acclimate to changing ocean conditions. During the gonadal development, exposure of mussels to elevated pCO2 caused significant decreases of survival, growth performance and condition index, and shifted the whole-organism energy budget by inflating energy expenses to fuel compensatory processes, eventually impairing the success of spawning. Yet, rapid transgenerational acclimation occurred during the early life history stage and persisted into adulthood. Eggs spawned from CO2-exposed mussels were significantly bigger compared with those from non-CO2-exposed mussels, indicating increased maternal provisioning into eggs and hence conferring larvae resilience under harsh conditions. Larvae with a prior history of transgenerational exposure to elevated pCO2 developed faster and had a higher survival than those with no prior history of CO2 exposure. Transgenerational exposure significantly increased the number of larvae completing metamorphosis. While significant differences in shell growth were no longer observed during juvenile nursery and adult grow-out, transgenerationally exposed mussels displayed improved survival in comparison to non-transgenerationally exposed mussels. Metabolic plasticity arose following transgenerational acclimation, generating more energy available for fitness-related functions. Overall, the present study demonstrates the remarkable ability of M. senhousia to respond plastically and acclimate rapidly to changing ocean conditions.

Continue reading ‘Assessing the impact of elevated pCO2 within and across generations in a highly invasive fouling mussel (Musculista senhousia)’

Marine mass mortality in a global change context: impacts on individuals, populations and communities

Human actions are pushing natural systems into states that have no historical precedent. In response, empirical and theoretical researchers are increasingly focused on developing ways to predict the responses of ecological systems to change. However, significant knowledge gaps remain, often leading to “ecological surprises” where observed impacts of global change do not align with existing theory or hypotheses. In this dissertation, I study the response to perturbations of a well-characterized system for ecological research, the Northeast Pacific rocky intertidal, to advance our understanding of and ability to predict the impacts of global change on individuals, populations and communities. In 2013 and 2014, sea star species along the west coast of North America were affected by an outbreak of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome (SSWS), resulting in an epidemic of mass mortality that spanned unprecedented geographic and temporal scales and resulted in the near extirpation of multiple sea star species from many locations along the coast. One of the species that was most strongly affected in the intertidal zone was Pisaster ochraceus, an iconic predatory sea star that has the ability to play a keystone role in its community through foraging on and ultimately controlling the lower boundary of mussel prey populations. The first two chapters of this dissertation take advantage of SSWS as a “natural” form of top predator removal to assess the consequences of this type of perturbation on ecosystem resilience. In Chapter 2, I tested the hypotheses that P. ochraceus loss would facilitate a population expansion of a smaller, mesopredator sea star, Leptasterias sp., and that this expansion would have negative effects on P. ochraceus population recovery. This result would follow expectations of competitive release and aligns with existing research on the competitive relationship between these species from the Northeast Pacific intertidal. I used field surveys to track Leptasterias populations just before the onset of and up to three years after SSWS. Contrary to expectation, I did not see an increase in the distribution or density of Leptasterias, and instead saw a decrease in individual size post-SSWS. Further, I found no evidence of competition between P. ochraceus recruits and Leptasterias for resources. Thus, although my hypotheses were grounded in theory and previous research, they were not supported by data. These results suggest that Leptasterias will not provide a bottleneck for P. ochraceus population recovery from SSWS, nor compensate for lowered P. ochraceus predation. The dynamics of P. ochraceus at the recruit (early benthic juvenile) life-history stage has long been considered a gap in our understanding of the species, as recruits have been historically rare in the intertidal and hard to study. Post-SSWS, however, many sites along the coast experienced unprecedented recruitment of P. ochraceus into intertidal ecosystems. In Chapter 3, I used a field experiment to test the hypothesis that this pulse of recruitment was facilitated by SSWS-related adult loss, the consequent decrease in predation by adult P. ochraceus, and increase in prey availability for recruits. Instead of finding evidence that adults dominate recruits in food competition and inhibit recruit success, I found that recruits have a negative effect on P. ochraceus adult densities. Further, treatments where recruits were excluded and only adults had access to prey communities showed the highest control of sessile invertebrate prey populations at the end of the year-long experiment. Thus, these results suggest that adult P. ochraceus will not hinder recruit recovery, but propose a mechanism whereby high recruit densities may increase vulnerability to SSWS-induced shifts in community structure. Outbreaks of mass mortality, particularly those as widespread as SSWS, are one of many ecological challenges driven by anthropogenic environmental changes such as warming and ocean acidification. However, predicting the vulnerability of species and populations to global change is an ongoing and significant challenge for researchers and managers. In Chapter 4 I assessed whether intraspecific physiological variability could help predict P. ochraceus recruit response to ocean acidification and warming. I found that individual metabolic rate interacted with ocean acidification and food availability to drive sea star growth, and that an interaction between metabolic rate and temperature also predicted sea star predation on Mytilus spp. mussels. Thus, these results have implications not only for P. ochraceus but also for its food web interactions. Incorporating these results into predictive frameworks may improve our ability to anticipate and scale up responses to global change across levels of ecological organization. In summary, my dissertation, although chock-full of surprises, presents several paths forward for improving predictive ability in the face of accelerating anthropogenic global changes. Further, we reinforce the notion that management strategies should be cautious and anticipate ecological surprises. Predicting the future is challenging even when predictions are well-informed, particularly in environmental contexts that have never been encountered before.

Continue reading ‘Marine mass mortality in a global change context: impacts on individuals, populations and communities’

Aerobic performance of two tropical cephalopod species unaltered by prolonged exposure to projected future carbon dioxide levels

Squid and many other cephalopods live continuously on the threshold of their environmental oxygen limitations. If the abilities of squid to effectively take up oxygen are negatively affected by projected future carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in ways similar to those demonstrated in some fish and invertebrates, it could affect the success of squid in future oceans. While there is evidence that acute exposure to elevated CO2 has adverse effects on cephalopod respiratory performance, no studies have investigated this in an adult cephalopod after relatively prolonged exposure to elevated CO2 or determined any effects on aerobic scope. Here, we tested the effects of prolonged exposure (≥20% of lifespan) to elevated CO2 levels (~1000 μatm) on the routine and maximal oxygen uptake rates, aerobic scope and recovery time of two tropical cephalopod species, the two-toned pygmy squid, Idiosepius pygmaeus and the bigfin reef squid, Sepioteuthis lessoniana. Neither species exhibited evidence of altered aerobic performance after exposure to elevated CO2 when compared to individuals held at control conditions. The recovery time of I. pygmaeus under both control and elevated CO2 conditions was less than 1 hour, whereas S. lessoniana required approximately 8 hours to recover fully following maximal aerobic performance. This difference in recovery time may be due to the more sedentary behaviours of I. pygmaeus. The ability of these two cephalopod species to cope with prolonged exposure to elevated CO2 without detriment to their aerobic performance suggests some resilience to an increasingly high CO2 world.

Continue reading ‘Aerobic performance of two tropical cephalopod species unaltered by prolonged exposure to projected future carbon dioxide levels’

Future CO2-induced seawater acidification mediates the physiological performance of a green alga Ulva linza in different photoperiods

Photoperiods have an important impact on macroalgae living in the intertidal zone. Ocean acidification also influences the physiology of macroalgae. However, little is known about the interaction between ocean acidification and photoperiod on macroalgae. In this study, a green alga Ulva linza was cultured under three different photoperiods (L: D = 8:16, 12:12, 16:8) and two different CO2 levels (LC, 400 ppm; HC, 1,000 ppm) to investigate their responses. The results showed that relative growth rate of U. linza increased with extended light periods under LC but decreased at HC when exposed to the longest light period of 16 h compared to 12 h. Higher CO2 levels enhanced the relative growth rate at a L: D of 8:16, had no effect at 12:12 but reduced RGR at 16:8. At LC, the L: D of 16:8 significantly stimulated maximum quantum yield (Yield). Higher CO2 levels enhanced Yield at L: D of 12:12 and 8:16, had negative effect at 16:8. Non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) increased with increasing light period. High CO2 levels did not affect respiration rate during shorter light periods but enhanced it at a light period of 16 h. Longer light periods had negative effects on Chl a and Chl b content, and high CO2 level also inhibited the synthesis of these pigments. Our data demonstrate the interactive effects of CO2 and photoperiod on the physiological characteristics of the green tide macroalga Ulva linza and indicate that future ocean acidification may hinder the stimulatory effect of long light periods on growth of Ulva species.

Continue reading ‘Future CO2-induced seawater acidification mediates the physiological performance of a green alga Ulva linza in different photoperiods’

Extreme, but not moderate climate scenarios, impart sublethal effects on polyps of the Irukandji jellyfish, Carukia barnesi

• Sublethal effects on Carukia barnesi polyps only manifested in extreme conditions.

• Individual metabolites were suppressed in extreme pH and elevated temperature treatments.

• C. barnesi polyps are unaffected by the most optimistic climate scenario and can survive in extreme conditions.

Ocean acidification and warming, fueled by excess atmospheric carbon dioxide, can impose stress on marine organisms. Most studies testing the effects of climate change on marine organisms, however, use extreme climate projection scenarios, despite moderate projections scenarios being most likely to occur. Here, we examined the interactive effects of warming and acidification on reproduction, respiration, mobility and metabolic composition of polyps of the Irukandji jellyfish, Carukia barnesi, to determine the responses of a cubozoan jellyfish to moderate and extreme climate scenarios in Queensland, Australia. The experiment consisted two orthogonal factors: temperature (current 25 °C and future 28 °C) and pH (current (8.0) moderate (7.9) and extreme (7.7)). All polyps survived in the experiment but fewer polyps were produced in the pH 7.7 treatment compared to pH 7.9 and pH 8.0. Respiration rates were elevated in the lowest pH treatment throughout most of the experiment and polyps were approximately half as mobile in this treatment compared to pH 7.9 and pH 8.0, regardless of temperature. We identified metabolites occurring at significantly lower relative abundance in the lowest pH (i.e. glutamate, acetate, betaine, methylguanidine, lysine, sarcosine, glycine) and elevated temperature (i.e. proline, trigonelline, creatinine, mannose, acetate, betaine, methylguanidine, lysine, sarcosine) treatments. Glycine was the only metabolite exhibiting an interactive effect between pH and temperature. Our results suggest that C. barnesi polyps are unaffected by the most optimistic climate scenario and may tolerate even extreme climate conditions to some extent.

Continue reading ‘Extreme, but not moderate climate scenarios, impart sublethal effects on polyps of the Irukandji jellyfish, Carukia barnesi’

Physiological differences in photosynthetic inorganic carbon utilization between gametophytes and sporophytes of the economically important red algae Pyropia haitanensis


• The thalli of Py. haitanensis showed higher photosynthetic rates and Fv/Fm than the conchocelis.

• The DIC affinity of the thalli were significant higher than the conchocelis.

• The photosynthetic rates of both thalli and conchocelis were highly increased by an increase of CO2 from 80 to 87,730 ppmv.


Despite the lifecycle of the red seaweed Pyropia/Porphyra being extensively studied, photosynthesis and the CO2 concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) have comparatively not been well studied between the gametophyte phase (leafy thallus) and the sporophyte phase (filamentous conchocelis). This study found that the net photosynthetic rates of the thalli were about twice that of the conchocelis of Py. haitanensis, and the maximal quantum yield of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) and thallus respiration were significantly higher and lower than the conchocelis, respectively. Additionally, two phases did not show significant differences in phycocyanin (PC) content, but significantly higher contents of phycoerythrin (PE), allophycocyanin (APC), and chlorophyll α (Chl α) were observed in the thalli compared with the conchocelis. The external carbonic anhydrase (eCA) activity of the thalli was also higher than that of the conchocelis, but no differences in internal CA (iCA) activity were detected between the two phases. As for carbon acquisition for photosynthesis, the major carbon source of the thalli was seawater HCO3−, which was absorbed via eCA-catalyzed conversion to CO2. Conversely, the conchocelis used HCO3− transporters to directly absorb seawater HCO3−, which contributed equally to photosynthesis compared with the eCA- or iCA-mediated pathway. The discovery of different CCMs between the thallus and conchocelis phases could further our understanding of lifecycle regulation in Pyropia. In addition, a decrease in pH from 9 to 6 significantly increased the photosynthetic rates of both the thalli and conchocelis by about 100% and 600%, respectively. Thus, both phases have potential for carbon capture from flue gases and carbon sequestration.

Continue reading ‘Physiological differences in photosynthetic inorganic carbon utilization between gametophytes and sporophytes of the economically important red algae Pyropia haitanensis’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book