Posts Tagged 'review'

Ocean acidification in New Zealand waters: trends and impacts

The threat posed by ocean acidification (OA) to the diversity and productivity of New Zealand marine ecosystems is assessed in a synthesis of published trends and impacts. A 20-year time series in Subantarctic water, and a national coastal monitoring programme, provide insight into pH variability, and context for experimental design, modelling and projections. A review of the potential impact of changes in the carbonate system on the major phyla in New Zealand waters confirms international observations that calcifying organisms, and particularly their early life-history stages, are vulnerable. The synthesis considers ecosystem and socio-economic impacts, and identifies current knowledge gaps and future research directions, including mechanistic studies of OA sensitivity. Advanced ecosystem models of OA, that incorporate the indirect effects of OA and interactions with other climate stressors, are required for robust projection of the future status of New Zealand marine ecosystems.

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Climate change–contaminant interactions in marine food webs: toward a conceptual framework

Climate change is reshaping the way in which contaminants move through the global environment, in large part by changing the chemistry of the oceans and affecting the physiology, health, and feeding ecology of marine biota. Climate change-associated impacts on structure and function of marine food webs, with consequent changes in contaminant transport, fate, and effects, are likely to have significant repercussions to those human populations that rely on fisheries resources for food, recreation, or culture. Published studies on climate change–contaminant interactions with a focus on food web bioaccumulation were systematically reviewed to explore how climate change and ocean acidification may impact contaminant levels in marine food webs. We propose here a conceptual framework to illustrate the impacts of climate change on contaminant accumulation in marine food webs, as well as the downstream consequences for ecosystem goods and services. The potential impacts on social and economic security for coastal communities that depend on fisheries for food are discussed. Climate change–contaminant interactions may alter the bioaccumulation of two priority contaminant classes: the fat-soluble persistent organic pollutants (POPs), such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), as well as the protein-binding methylmercury (MeHg). These interactions include phenomena deemed to be either climate change dominant (i.e., climate change leads to an increase in contaminant exposure) or contaminant dominant (i.e., contamination leads to an increase in climate change susceptibility). We illustrate the pathways of climate change–contaminant interactions using case studies in the Northeastern Pacific Ocean. The important role of ecological and food web modeling to inform decision-making in managing ecological and human health risks of chemical pollutants contamination under climate change is also highlighted. Finally, we identify the need to develop integrated policies that manage the ecological and socioeconomic risk of greenhouse gases and marine pollutants.

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Using fuzzy logic to determine the vulnerability of marine species to climate change

Marine species are being impacted by climate change and ocean acidification, although their level of vulnerability varies due to differences in species’ sensitivity, adaptive capacity and exposure to climate hazards. Due to limited data on the biological and ecological attributes of many marine species, as well as inherent uncertainties in the assessment process, climate change vulnerability assessments in the marine environment frequently focus on a limited number of taxa or geographic ranges. As climate change is already impacting marine biodiversity and fisheries, there is an urgent need to expand vulnerability assessment to cover a large number of species and areas. Here, we develop a modelling approach to synthesize data on species-specific estimates of exposure, and ecological and biological traits to undertake an assessment of vulnerability (sensitivity and adaptive capacity) and risk of impacts (combining exposure to hazards and vulnerability) of climate change (including ocean acidification) for global marine fishes and invertebrates. We use a fuzzy logic approach to accommodate the variability in data availability and uncertainties associated with inferring vulnerability levels from climate projections and species’ traits. Applying the approach to estimate the relative vulnerability and risk of impacts of climate change in 1074 exploited marine species globally, we estimated their index of vulnerability and risk of impacts to be on average 52 ± 19 SD and 66 ± 11 SD, scaling from 1 to 100, with 100 being the most vulnerable and highest risk, respectively, under the ‘business-as-usual’ greenhouse gas emission scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5). We identified 157 species to be highly vulnerable while 294 species are identified as being at high risk of impacts. Species that are most vulnerable tend to be large-bodied endemic species. This study suggests that the fuzzy logic framework can help estimate climate vulnerabilities and risks of exploited marine species using publicly and readily available information.

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Impacts of ocean acidification on sensory function in marine organisms

Ocean acidification has been identified as a major contributor to ocean ecosystem decline, impacting the calcification, survival, and behavior of marine organisms. Numerous studies have observed altered sensory perception of chemical, auditory, and visual cues after exposure to elevated CO2. Sensory systems enable the observation of the external environment and therefore play a critical role in survival, communication, and behavior of marine organisms. This review seeks to (1) summarize the current knowledge of sensory impairment caused by ocean acidification, (2) discuss potential mechanisms behind this disruption, and (3) analyze the expected taxa differences in sensitivities to elevated CO2 conditions. Although a lack of standardized methodology makes cross-study comparisons challenging, trends and biases arise from this synthesis including a substantial focus on vertebrates, larvae or juveniles, the reef ecosystem, and chemosensory perception. Future studies must broaden the scope of the field by diversifying the taxa and ecosystems studied, incorporating ontogenetic comparisons, and focusing on cryptic sensory systems such as electroreception, magnetic sense, and the lateral line system. A discussion of possible mechanisms reveals GABAA receptor reversal as the conspicuous physiological mechanism. However, the potential remains for alternative disruption through structure or cue changes. Finally, a taxonomic comparison of physiological complexity reveals few trends in sensory sensitivities to lowered pH, but we hypothesize potential correlations relating to habitat, life history or relative use of sensory systems. Elevated CO2, in concordance with other global and local stressors, has the potential to drastically shift community composition and structure. Therefore research addressing the extent of sensory impairment, the underlying mechanisms, and the differences between taxa is vital for improved predictions of organismal response to ocean acidification.

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Using mineralogy and higher-level taxonomy as indicators of species sensitivity to pH: a case-study of Puget Sound

Information on ecosystem sensitivity to global change can help guide management decisions. Here, we characterize the sensitivity of the Puget Sound ecosystem to ocean acidification by estimating, at a number of taxonomic levels, the direct sensitivity of its species. We compare sensitivity estimates based on species mineralogy and on published literature from laboratory experiments and field studies. We generated information on the former by building a database of species in Puget Sound with mineralogy estimates for all CaCO3-forming species. For the latter, we relied on a recently developed database and meta-analysis on temperate species responses to increased CO2. In general, species sensitivity estimates based on the published literature suggest that calcifying species are more sensitive to increased CO2 than non-calcifying species. However, this generalization is incomplete, as non-calcifying species also show direct sensitivity to high CO2 conditions. We did not find a strong link between mineral solubility and the sensitivity of species survival to changes in carbonate chemistry, suggesting that, at coarse scales, mineralogy plays a lesser role to other physiological sensitivities. Summarizing species sensitivity at the family level resulted in higher sensitivity scalar scores than at the class level, suggesting that grouping results at the class level may overestimate species sensitivity. This result raises caution about the use of broad generalizations on species response to ocean acidification, particularly when developing summary information for specific locations. While we have much to learn about species response to ocean acidification and how to generalize ecosystem response, this study on Puget Sound suggests that detailed information on species performance under elevated carbon dioxide conditions, summarized at the lowest taxonomic level possible, is more valuable than information on species mineralogy.

Continue reading ‘Using mineralogy and higher-level taxonomy as indicators of species sensitivity to pH: a case-study of Puget Sound’

MCCIP Science Review 2017: Ocean acidification

The Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) reported in 2006 that:

  • there is high confidence that ocean pH is decreasing, and will continue to do so for as long as atmospheric CO2 continues to increase;
  • the impacts of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and foodwebs are largely unknown.

And in 2017 that:

  • global ocean pH continues to decrease. The evidence base is more robust, with longer time-series, and with a wider range of physico-chemical measurements and greater geographic coverage;
  • there is evidence the overall effect of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems will be deleterious, e.g. a risk of substantive reductions in shellfish growth (and harvest) within 50 years, although some algae and seagrasses may benefit from increased availability of CO2.

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Reviews and syntheses: Ice acidification, the effects of ocean acidification on sea ice microbial communities (update)

Sea ice algae, like some coastal and estuarine phytoplankton, are naturally exposed to a wider range of pH and CO2 concentrations than those in open marine seas. While climate change and ocean acidification (OA) will impact pelagic communities, their effects on sea ice microbial communities remain unclear.

Sea ice contains several distinct microbial communities, which are exposed to differing environmental conditions depending on their depth within the ice. Bottom communities mostly experience relatively benign bulk ocean properties, while interior brine and surface (infiltration) communities experience much greater extremes.

Most OA studies have examined the impacts on single sea ice algae species in culture. Although some studies examined the effects of OA alone, most examined the effects of OA and either light, nutrients or temperature. With few exceptions, increased CO2 concentration caused either no change or an increase in growth and/or photosynthesis. In situ studies on brine and surface algae also demonstrated a wide tolerance to increased and decreased pH and showed increased growth at higher CO2 concentrations. The short time period of most experiments (< 10 days), together with limited genetic diversity (i.e. use of only a single strain), however, has been identified as a limitation to a broader interpretation of the results.

While there have been few studies on the effects of OA on the growth of marine bacterial communities in general, impacts appear to be minimal. In sea ice also, the few reports available suggest no negative impacts on bacterial growth or community richness.

Sea ice ecosystems are ephemeral, melting and re-forming each year. Thus, for some part of each year organisms inhabiting the ice must also survive outside of the ice, either as part of the phytoplankton or as resting spores on the bottom. During these times, they will be exposed to the full range of co-stressors that pelagic organisms experience. Their ability to continue to make a major contribution to sea ice productivity will depend not only on their ability to survive in the ice but also on their ability to survive the increasing seawater temperatures, changing distribution of nutrients and declining pH forecast for the water column over the next centuries.
Continue reading ‘Reviews and syntheses: Ice acidification, the effects of ocean acidification on sea ice microbial communities (update)’


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OA-ICC HIGHLIGHTS

Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book