Posts Tagged 'review'

Multiple global change stressor effects on phytoplankton nutrient acquisition in a future ocean

Predicting the effects of multiple global change stressors on microbial communities remains a challenge because of the complex interactions among those factors. Here, we explore the combined effects of major global change stressors on nutrient acquisition traits in marine phytoplankton. Nutrient limitation constrains phytoplankton production in large parts of the present-day oceans, and is expected to increase owing to climate change, potentially favouring small phytoplankton that are better adapted to oligotrophic conditions. However, other stressors, such as elevated pCO2, rising temperatures and higher light levels, may reduce general metabolic and photosynthetic costs, allowing the reallocation of energy to the acquisition of increasingly limiting nutrients. We propose that this energy reallocation in response to major global change stressors may be more effective in large-celled phytoplankton species and, thus, could indirectly benefit large-more than small-celled phytoplankton, offsetting, at least partially, competitive disadvantages of large cells in a future ocean. Thus, considering the size-dependent responses to multiple stressors may provide a more nuanced understanding of how different microbial groups would fare in the future climate and what effects that would have on ecosystem functioning.

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Future HAB science: directions and challenges in a changing climate


• HABs develop through the integration of physical, chemical, and temporal drivers.

• We need a mechanistic understanding that reveals how climate affects these drivers.

• Accelerating climate change in coastal regions signals the urgency for action.

• New strategies, tools, and observatories for HABs will improve our forecast skill.

• Focused research on subsets of HAB species would greatly accelerate advances.


There is increasing concern that accelerating environmental change attributed to human-induced warming of the planet may substantially alter the patterns, distribution and intensity of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). Changes in temperature, ocean acidification, precipitation, nutrient stress or availability, and the physical structure of the water column all influence the productivity, composition, and global range of phytoplankton assemblages, but large uncertainty remains about how integration of these climate drivers might shape future HABs. Presented here are the collective deliberations from a symposium on HABs and climate change where the research challenges to understanding potential linkages between HABs and climate were considered, along with new research directions to better define these linkages. In addition to the likely effects of physical (temperature, salinity, stratification, light, changing storm intensity), chemical (nutrients, ocean acidification), and biological (grazer) drivers on microalgae (senso lato), symposium participants explored more broadly the subjects of cyanobacterial HABs, benthic HABs, HAB effects on fisheries, HAB modelling challenges, and the contributions that molecular approaches can bring to HAB studies. There was consensus that alongside traditional research, HAB scientists must set new courses of research and practices to deliver the conceptual and quantitative advances required to forecast future HAB trends. These different practices encompass laboratory and field studies, long-term observational programs, retrospectives, as well as the study of socioeconomic drivers and linkages with aquaculture and fisheries. In anticipation of growing HAB problems, research on potential mitigation strategies should be a priority. It is recommended that a substantial portion of HAB research among laboratories be directed collectively at a small sub-set of HAB species and questions in order to fast-track advances in our understanding. Climate-driven changes in coastal oceanographic and ecological systems are becoming substantial, in some cases exacerbated by localized human activities. That, combined with the slow pace of decreasing global carbon emissions, signals the urgency for HAB scientists to accelerate efforts across disciplines to provide society with the necessary insights regarding future HAB trends.

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Ocean acidification: fish physiology and behavior

Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has led to increased levels of dissolved CO2 in the Earth’s oceans. This has generally decreased the pH of, or “acidified,” ocean water. Decreased pH, along with other chemical changes ultimately caused by an increase in dissolved CO2, could have direct effects on the physiology and behavior of fishes. (“Physiology” is the study of how an organism works; an organism’s physiology refers to the biological systems that allow it to function and respond to its environment.) Scientists have dedicated a lot of time and effort to studying the potential effects of OA on fish physiology and behavior. This publication will summarize the current state of our understanding on the topic, with special emphasis on Florida fishes. It will also address current challenges in understanding the real-world effects of a complex global process using data largely collected on isolated fish in laboratory experiments.

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Ocean acidification: calcifying marine organisms

This document is one in a series on ocean acidification (OA). The series Introduction, Ocean Acidification: An Introduction, contains a general overview and information on the causes and chemistry of OA. Because OA is very large-scale and complex, each document in the series addresses a specific aspect of this issue. Florida, with an extensive coastline and deep cultural and economic ties to marine resources, will be directly affected by changes in seawater chemistry. Thus, each topic in the series also highlights information of specific relevance for Florida.

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An assessment of reef coral calcification over the late Cenozoic

Shallow-water reef-building corals have an extensive geological record and many aspects of their evolution, biodiversity, and biogeography are known in great details. In contrast, the adaptive potential and risk of extinction of coral reefs in response to excessive warming and ocean acidification remains largely undocumented. It is well established that anthropogenic CO2 emissions cause global warming and ocean acidification (lowering of pH), which increasingly impede the biomineralization process in many marine calcareous biota. The “light-enhanced” calcification machinery of the shallow-water reef corals is particularly threatened by this development through the combined effect of a lowering of the supersaturation of seawater with CaCO3 (aragonite) and an expulsion of the symbiotic zooxanthellae (bleaching). The bleaching is of prime importance, because it interrupts the supply of DIC and metabolites required for pH upregulation within the calcification fluid. The degree of calcification in scleractinian reef corals may therefore represent a suitable tracer to assess the state of the ocean carbonate system and the photosynthetic performance of the zooxanthellae during past episodes of natural environmental change. This study presents the first comprehensive set of calcification data from corals covering the early Miocene to early Pleistocene interval (20.8 to 1.2 million years, Ma). Various screening procedures ensured that the studied coral skeletons are pristine and suited to yield meaningful stable isotope data (δ18O, δ13C) and calcification records. δ18O and δ13C values document growth environments consistent with current tropical and subtropical settings. To assess fossil calcification rates, we use a reference dataset of recent corals from the Indo-Pacific (Porites) and an independent validation dataset from the Western Atlantic-Caribbean (Orbicella). Almost all fossil corals document very low annual rates of upward growth (“extension rate”) relative to present, and lower skeletal bulk density than predicted by established modern relationships. To allow for a quantitative assessment of coral calcification performance, we use a new approach that we term the calcification anomaly. It is insensitive to sea-surface temperature and well-suited for comparative assessments of calcification performance between reef sites and over time. Based on this approach, the majority of fossil corals in our dataset displays hypo-calcification, while a few show optimal calcification and none display hyper-calcification. Compared to present-day growth conditions, the fossil calcification data show that (1) skeletogenesis responded in a fully compatible way to known environmental stresses (e.g. turbid water, elevated salinity, eutrophy), and that (2) the calcification performance within the reef window (i.e. oligotrophic clear-water settings) remained below that of modern z-corals. Since fossil coral δ13C values are compatible with those of modern reef corals, we infer that the light-enhanced calcification system of symbiotic scleractinian corals was fully established by the beginning of the Neogene and that lower-than-present calcification performance was the likely response to a chronically low pH and/or low carbonate saturation state of the global ocean. If so, the present-day saturation state appears to be rather an exception than the norm and probably not a suitable starting point for predicting future calcification trends. In addition, using trends from the geological past does not include anthropogenic side-effects such as eutrophication and pollution.

Continue reading ‘An assessment of reef coral calcification over the late Cenozoic’

Gamete quality in a multistressor environment


• State of knowledge on environmental stressors impact on gamete quality.

• Xenobiotics, plastics, climate change, air pollution and lifestyle are reviewed.

• Gamete quality parameters underling fertilization competence are susceptible to stressors.

• Environmental stressors represent a serious hazard to gamete quality.

• Gamete quality impairment may reduce reproductive success affecting specie fitness and survival.


Over the past few decades, accumulated evidence confirms that the global environment conditions are changing rapidly. Urban industrialization, agriculture and globalization have generated water, air and soil pollution, giving rise to an environment with a growing number of stress factors, which has a serious impact on the fitness, reproduction and survival of living organisms. The issue raises considerable concern on biodiversity conservation, which is now at risk: it is estimated that a number of species will be extinct in the near future. Sexual reproduction is the process that allows the formation of a new individual and is underpinned by gamete quality defined as the ability of spermatozoa and oocytes to interact during fertilization leading to the creation and development of a normal embryo.

This review aimed to provide the current state of knowledge regarding the impact of a broad spectrum of environmental stressors on diverse parameters used to estimate and evaluate gamete quality in humans and in canonical animal models used for experimental research.

Effects of metals, biocides, herbicides, nanoparticles, plastics, temperature rise, ocean acidification, air pollution and lifestyle on the physiological parameters that underlie gamete fertilization competence are described supporting the concept that environmental stressors represent a serious hazard to gamete quality with reproductive disorders and living organism failure. Although clear evidence is still limited, gamete capacity to maintain and/or recover physiological conditions is recently demonstrated providing further clues about the plasticity of organisms and their tolerance to the pressures of pollution that may facilitate the reproduction and the persistence of species within the scenario of global change.

Changes in the global environment must be urgently placed at the forefront of public attention, with a massive effort invested in further studies aimed towards implementing current knowledge and identifying new methodologies and markers to predict impairment of gamete quality.

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Transgenerational acclimation to changes in ocean acidification in marine invertebrates


• OA declines in ocean pH due to dramatic increase in atmospheric CO2 induced by anthropogenic activity.

• Changes in OA cause both direct and indirect physiological effects in marine invertebrates.

• Long-term exposure to OA stress over transgeneration may result in adaptive mechanism

• Transgenerational studies have elucidated the roles of acclimation and evolutionary adaptation in response to OA.

• Marine invertebrates possess various transgenerational mechanisms in response to changes in OA.


The rapid pace of increasing oceanic acidity poses a major threat to the fitness of the marine ecosystem, as well as the buffering capacity of the oceans. Disruption in chemical equilibrium in the ocean leads to decreased carbonate ion precipitation, resulting in calcium carbonate saturation. If these trends continue, calcifying invertebrates will experience difficultly maintaining their calcium carbonate exoskeleton and shells. Because malfunction of exoskeleton formation by calcifiers in response to ocean acidification (OA) will have non-canonical biological cascading results in the marine ecosystem, many studies have investigated the direct and indirect consequences of OA on ecosystem- and physiology-related traits of marine invertebrates. Considering that evolutionary adaptation to OA depends on the duration of OA effects, long-term exposure to OA stress over multi-generations may result in adaptive mechanisms that increase the potential fitness of marine invertebrates in response to OA. Transgenerational studies have the potential to elucidate the roles of acclimation, carryover effects, and evolutionary adaptation within and over generations in response to OA. In particular, understanding mechanisms of transgenerational responses (e.g., antioxidant responses, metabolic changes, epigenetic reprogramming) to changes in OA will enhance our understanding of marine invertebrate in response to rapid climate change.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational acclimation to changes in ocean acidification in marine invertebrates’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book