Posts Tagged 'salinity'

The potential effect of anthropogenic salinization and ocean acidification on lightning flash intensity over the Mediterranean Sea


This dataset contains the results of experiments designed to test the effect of changes un Mediterranean seawater salinity and corresponding changes ub total alkalinity on the intensity of an electrical spark discharged into the water surface (LFI). The data includes the results of a number of experiments that tested the the dependence of LFI on different levels of salinity that were obtained by additions of deionized water (dilution) and NaOH to Mediterranean seawater samples, followed by bubbling of the seawater with CO2 and resulting in consecutive decreases in pH. The results of these experiments show that LFI is positively dependent on the salinity and total alkalinity of seawater and negatively dependent on pH.

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Spatial variability of lightning intensity over the Mediterranean sea correlates with seawater properties

The divergence of total alkalinity (TA) from conservation with salinity (S) and relatively acidic conditions (pH) in surface seawater was suggested to explain the high prevalence of lightning superbolts in the Mediterranean sea, North sea and upwelling regions of the oceans. In this study we tested the combined effects of changes in S, TA and pH of Mediterranean sea surface water on the intensity of laboratory generated electrical sparks, which are considered to be analogous to cloud to sea-surface intensity of lightning discharges. The experimental results were used to develop a multivariate linear equation (MLE) of Lightning Flash Intensity (LFI) as a function of S, TA/S and pH. This relation was validated with wintertime (DJF) LFI measurements along a Mediterranean sea zonal profile during the period 2009–2020 compared to corresponding climate model outputs of S, TA and pH. Based on the resulting MLE, the combined effects of climate change, ocean acidification and the damming of the Nile, may have increased LFI in the Levantine Sea by 16 ± 14% until now relative to the pre-Aswan Dam period. Furthermore, assuming that salinization and acidification of the Levantine Sea will continue at current trends, the LFI is predicted to increase by 25 ± 13% by the year 2050.

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Marked recent declines in boron in Baltic Sea cod otoliths – a bellwether of incipient acidification in a vast hypoxic system?

Ocean acidification is spreading globally as a result of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, but the Baltic Sea has until recently been thought to be relatively well-buffered by terrigenous inputs of alkalinity from its watershed. We discovered a 3- to 5-fold decline in boron (as B : Ca) in otoliths of eastern Baltic Sea cod (EBC) between the late 1990s and 2021. B : Ca is positively proportional to pH in carbonates, as B in the form of borate is taken up in the CaCO3 matrix. Examining a time series of EBC otoliths, we found varying levels of B : Ca since the 1980s, with the most recent years at an all-time low during this period. This trend correlates with declines in pH and dissolved oxygen, but not with changes in salinity. We examined possible physiological influences on B : Ca by including a collection of healthy Icelandic cod as an out-group. Icelandic cod otoliths showed strongly positive correlations of B : Ca with physiologically regulated P : Ca; this was not the case for EBC. Finally, B : Ca in EBC otoliths is anti-correlated to some extent with Mn : Mg, a proposed proxy for hypoxia exposure. This negative relationship is hypothesized to reflect the dual phenomena of hypoxia and acidification as a result of decomposition of large algal blooms. Taken together, the otolith biomarkers Mn : Mg and B : Ca suggest a general increase in both hypoxia and acidification within the Baltic intermediate and deep waters in the last decade reflected in cod otoliths.

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The clam before the storm: a meta analysis showing the effect of combined climate change stressors on bivalves

Impacts of a range of climate change on marine organisms have been analysed in laboratory and experimental studies. The use of different taxonomic groupings, and assessment of different processes, though, makes identifying overall trends challenging, and may mask phylogenetically different responses. Bivalve molluscs are an ecologically and economically important data-rich clade, allowing for assessment of individual vulnerability and across developmental stages. We use meta-analysis of 203 unique experimental setups to examine how bivalve growth rates respond to increased water temperature, acidity, deoxygenation, changes to salinity, and combinations of these drivers. Results show that anthropogenic climate change will affect different families of bivalves disproportionally but almost unanimously negatively. Almost all drivers and their combinations have significant negative effects on growth. Combined deoxygenation, acidification, and temperature shows the largest negative effect size. Eggs/larval bivalves are more vulnerable overall than either juveniles or adults. Infaunal taxa, including Tellinidae and Veneridae, appear more resistant to warming and oxygen reduction than epifaunal or free-swimming taxa but this assessment is based on a small number of datapoints. The current focus of experimental set-ups on commercially important taxa and families within a small range of habitats creates gaps in understanding of global impacts on these economically important foundation organisms.

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Life-stage-dependent effects of multiple flood-associated stressors on a coastal foundational species

Global changes in precipitation patterns have increased the frequency and duration of flooding events. Freshwater inflows into estuaries reduce salinity levels and increase nutrient inputs, which can lead to eutrophication and impaired water quality. Oysters are important ecosystem engineers in coastal environments that are vulnerable to co-occurring environmental stressors associated with freshwater flooding events. Successful recruitment is necessary to maintain adult oyster populations, but early life stage responses to multiple stressors are not well understood. Flood-associated stressor conditions were observed near oyster habitats at multiple locations across the northern Gulf of Mexico during peak recruitment months in the spring and summer of 2021. In the laboratory, we examined the interactive effects of acidification, hypoxia, and low salinity on larval and juvenile life stages of the eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) to better understand the impact of flooding events on oyster development and survival. Salinity stress in isolation reduced larval growth and settlement, and decreased survival and growth at the juvenile stage. Hypoxia was more stressful to oyster larvae than to juveniles, whereas low pH had negative effects on juvenile growth. There were no synergistic effects of multiple flood-associated stressors on early oyster life stages and effects were either additive or predicted by the salinity stress response. The negative impacts of flooding disturbances on recruitment processes in benthic populations need to be considered in restoration planning and flood control mitigation strategies as the frequency and intensity of extreme freshwater events continue to rise worldwide.

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Effects of global environmental change on microalgal photosynthesis, growth and their distribution

Global climate change (GCC) constitutes a complex challenge posing a serious threat to biodiversity and ecosystems in the next decades. There are several recent studies dealing with the potential effect of increased temperature, decrease of pH or shifts in salinity, as well as cascading events of GCC and their impact on human-environment systems. Microalgae as primary producers are a sensitive compartment of the marine ecosystems to all those changes. However, the potential consequences of these changes for marine microalgae have received relatively little attention and they are still not well understood. Thus, there is an urgent need to explore and understand the effects generated by multiple climatic changes on marine microalgae growth and biodiversity. Therefore, this review aimed to compare and contrast mechanisms that marine microalgae exhibit to directly respond to harsh conditions associated with GCC and the potential consequences of those changes in marine microalgal populations. Literature shows that microalgae responses to environmental stressors such as temperature were affected differently. A stress caused by salinity might slow down cell division, reduces size, ceases motility, and triggers palmelloid formation in microalgae community, but some of these changes are strongly species-specific. UV irradiance can potentially lead to an oxidative stress in microalgae, promoting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or induce direct physical damage on microalgae, then inhibiting the growth of microalgae. Moreover, pH could impact many groups of microalgae being more tolerant of certain pH shifts, while others were sensitive to changes of just small units (such as coccolithophorids) and subsequently affect the species at a higher trophic level, but also total vertical carbon transport in oceans. Overall, this review highlights the importance of examining effects of multiple stressors, considering multiple responses to understand the complexity behind stressor interactions.

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Implications of salinity and acidic environments on fitness and oxidative stress parameters in early developing seahorses Hippocampus reidi

Simple Summary

The main aim of the present study was to assess the effects of acidification (pH 6.5 vs. pH 8.0) under two salinity conditions (brackish water—BW vs. seawater—SW) on the development and fitness (oxidative stress) of early developing seahorses (Hippocampus reidi). The growth of juveniles reared in BW was impaired at pH 6.5, and the levels of superoxide dismutase and DT-diaphorase, as well as the oxidative stress index, increased compared to SW juveniles. However, survival and growth at pH 6.5 decreased in the former. These results suggest higher overall performance and optimal fitness in juveniles reared in seawater under acidic conditions (pH = 6.5).


Water acidification affects aquatic species, both in natural environmental conditions and in ex situ rearing production systems. The chronic effects of acidic conditions (pH 6.5 vs. pH 8.0) in seahorses (Hippocampus spp.) are not well known, especially when coupled with salinity interaction. This study investigated the implications of pH on the growth and oxidative stress in the seahorse Hippocampus reidi (Ginsburg, 1933), one of the most important seahorse species in the ornamental trade. Two trials were carried out in juveniles (0–21 and 21–50 DAR—days after the male’s pouch release) reared under acid (6.5) and control (8.0) pH, both in brackish water (BW—salinity 11) and seawater (SW—salinity 33). In the first trial (0–21 DAR), there was no effect of pH on the growth of seahorses reared in SW, but the survival rate was higher for juveniles raised in SW at pH 6.5. However, the growth and survival of juveniles reared in BW were impaired at pH 6.5. Compared to SW conditions, the levels of superoxide dismutase and DT-diaphorase, as well as the oxidative stress index, increased for juveniles reared in BW. In the second trial, seahorse juveniles were reared in SW at pH 8.0, and subsequently kept for four weeks (from 21 to 50 DAR) at pH 6.5 and 8.0. The final survival rates and condition index were similar in both treatments. However, the growth under acidic conditions was higher than at pH 8.0. In conclusion, this study highlights that survival, growth, and oxidative status condition was enhanced in seahorse juveniles reared in SW under acidic conditions (pH = 6.5). The concurrent conditions of acidic pH (6.5) and BW should be avoided due to harmful effects on the fitness and development of seahorse juveniles.

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Decreased salinity offsets the stimulation of elevated pCO2 on photosynthesis and synergistically inhibits the growth of juvenile sporophyte of Saccharina japonica (Laminariaceae, Phaeophyta)

The combined effect of elevated pCO2 (Partial Pressure of Carbon Dioxide) and decreased salinity, which is mainly caused by freshwater input, on the growth and physiological traits of algae has been poorly assessed. In order to investigate their individual and interactive effects on the development of commercially farmed algae, the juvenile sporophytes of Saccharina japonica were cultivated under different levels of salinity (30, 25 and 20 psu) and pCO2 (400 and 1000 µatm). Individually, decreased salinity significantly reduced the growth rate and pigments of S. japonica, indicating that the alga was low-salinity stressed. The maximum quantum yield, Fv/Fm, declined at low salinities independent of pCO2, suggesting that the hyposalinity showed the main effect. Unexpectedly, the higher pCO2 enhanced the maximum relative electron transport rate (rETRmax) but decreased the growth rate, pigments and soluble carbohydrates contents. This implies a decoupling between the photosynthesis and growth of this alga, which may be linked to an energetic reallocation among the different metabolic processes. Interactively and previously untested, the decreased salinity offset the improvement of rETRmax and aggravated the declines of growth rate and pigment content caused by the elevated pCO2. These behaviors could be associated with the additionally decreased pH that was induced by the low salinity. Our data, therefore, unveils that the decreased salinity may increase the risks of future CO2-induced ocean acidification on the production of S. japonica.

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Biological responses of the predatory blue crab and its hard clam prey to ocean acidification and low salinity

How ocean acidification (OA) interacts with other stressors is understudied, particularly for predators and prey. We assessed long-term exposure to decreased pH and low salinity on (1) juvenile blue crab Callinectes sapidus claw pinch force, (2) juvenile hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria survival, growth, and shell structure, and (3) blue crab and hard clam interactions in filmed mesocosm trials. In 2018 and 2019, we held crabs and clams from the Chesapeake Bay, USA, in crossed pH (low: 7.0, high: 8.0) and salinity (low: 15, high: 30) treatments for 11 and 10 wk, respectively. Afterwards, we assessed crab claw pinch force and clam survival, growth, shell structure, and ridge rugosity. Claw pinch force increased with size in both years but weakened in low pH. Clam growth was negative, indicative of shell dissolution, in low pH in both years compared to the control. Growth was also negative in the 2019 high-pH/low-salinity treatment. Clam survival in both years was lowest in the low-pH/low-salinity treatment and highest in the high-pH/high-salinity treatment. Shell damage and ridge rugosity (indicative of deterioration) were intensified under low pH and negatively correlated with clam survival. Overall, clams were more severely affected by both stressors than crabs. In the filmed predator-prey interactions, pH did not substantially alter crab behavior, but crabs spent more time eating and burying in high-salinity treatments and more time moving in low-salinity treatments. Given the complex effects of pH and salinity on blue crabs and hard clams, projections about climate change on predator-prey interactions will be difficult and must consider multiple stressors.

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Global decrease in heavy metal concentrations in brown algae in the last 90 years

Graphical abstract


  • A decline in metal pollution in algae is widespread in coastal ecosystems worldwide.
  • Decrease in algae concentrations may not also occur in seawater but in bioavailability.
  • Decreases began from 70’s coinciding with the implementation of environmental policies.
  • Legislation and ocean acidification can impact on the heavy metal content in algae.


In the current scenario of global change, heavy metal pollution is of major concern because of its associated toxic effects and the persistence of these pollutants in the environment. This study is the first to evaluate the changes in heavy metal concentrations worldwide in brown algae over the last 90 years (>15,700 data across the globe reported from 1933 to 2020). The study findings revealed significant decreases in the concentrations of Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Pb and Zn of around 60–84% (ca. 2% annual) in brown algae tissues. The decreases were consistent across the different families considered (Dictyotaceae, Fucaceae, Laminariaceae, Sargassaceae and Others), and began between 1970 and 1990. In addition, strong relationships between these trends and pH, SST and heat content were detected. Although the observed metal declines could be partially explained by these strong correlations, or by adaptions in the algae, other evidences suggest an actual reduction in metal concentrations in oceans because of the implementation of environmental policies. In any case, this study shows a reduction in metal concentrations in brown algae over the last 50 years, which is important in itself, as brown algae form the basis of many marine food webs and are therefore potential distributors of pollutants.

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Impact of climate change on Arctic macroalgal communities

The Arctic region faces a warming rate that is more than twice the global average. Seaice loss, increase in precipitation and freshwater discharge, changes in underwater light, and amplification of ocean acidification modify benthic habitats and the communities they host. Here we synthesize existing information on the impacts of climate change on the macroalgal communities of Arctic coasts. We review the shortand long-term changes in environmental characteristics of shallow hard-bottomed Arctic coasts, the floristics of Arctic macroalgae (description, distribution, life-cycle, adaptations), the responses of their biological and ecological processes to climate change, the resulting winning and losing species, and the effects on ecosystem functioning. The focus of this review is on fucoid species, kelps, and coralline algae which are key ecosystem engineers in hard-bottom shallow areas of the Arctic, providing food, substrate, shelter, and nursery ground for many species. Changes in seasonality, benthic functional diversity, food-web structure, and carbon cycle are already occurring and are reshaping Arctic benthic ecosystems. Shallow communities are projected to shift from invertebrate-to algal-dominated communities. Fucoid and several kelp species are expected to largely spread and dominate the area with possible extinctions of native species. A considerable amount of functional diversity could be lost impacting the processing of land-derived nutrients and organic matter and significantly altering trophic structure and energy flow up to the apex consumers. However, many factors are not well understood yet, making it difficult to appreciate the current situation and predict the future coastal Arctic ecosystem. Efforts must be made to improve knowledge in key regions with proper seasonal coverage, taking into account interactions between stressors and across species.

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Crustacean ecology in a changing climate

Whilst crustaceans occupy a diversity of ecological niches and have adapted to many environmental challenges, relatively little is known on how the predicted changes associated with climate change will impact individuals, communities, species and ecosystems globally. Direct oceanic change to seawater temperature, pH, alkalinity, oxygen level and salinity and indirect impacts on weather, seasonality, food availability and changes in ecological networks will put pressure upon crustaceans to acclimate. There is now emerging evidence that behaviour, physiology, fitness and ultimately reproduction and survival of coastal crustaceans is altered under experimental climate change conditions, with most studies showing negative impacts. Nevertheless measurable endpoints, multigenerational and ecosystem studies are to date extremely rare and the full impact of climate change stress upon crustaceans is nowhere near fully understood.

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Coral reef fishes in a multi-stressor world

Coral reef fishes and the ecosystems they support represent some of the most biodiverse and productive ecosystems on the planet yet are under threat as they face dramatic increases in multiple, interacting stressors that are largely intensified by anthropogenic influences, such as climate change. Coral reef fishes have been the topic of 875 studies between 1979 and 2020 examining physiological responses to various abiotic and biotic stressors. Here, we highlight the current state of knowledge regarding coral reef fishes’ responses to eight key abiotic stressors (i.e., pollutants, temperature, hypoxia and ocean deoxygenation, pH/CO2, noise, salinity, pressure/depth, and turbidity) and four key biotic stressors (i.e., prey abundance, predator threats, parasites, and disease) and discuss stressors that have been examined in combination. We conclude with a horizon scan to discuss acclimation and adaptation, technological advances, knowledge gaps, and the future of physiological research on coral reef fishes. As we proceed through this new epoch, the Anthropocene, it is critical that the scientific and general communities work to recognize the issues that various habitats and ecosystems, such as coral reefs and the fishes that depend on and support them, are facing so that mitigation strategies can be implemented to protect biodiversity and ecosystem health.

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Benthic foraminifera and pore water carbonate chemistry on a tidal flat and salt marsh at Ria Formosa, Algarve, Portugal

Graphical abstract


  • Foraminifera and halophytes showed a relationship with pore water properties.
  • Soil salinity and evaporation are the governing environmental factors.
  • Agglutinated foraminifera were rather related to pore water pCO2 than to submergence time or elevation.
  • Calcareous foraminifera specialised to tolerate carbonate-corrosive conditions prevailed at lowest saturation levels.


Benthic foraminifera showed a vertical zonation in tidally influenced salt marshes, which has been used for sea level reconstructions. Growing evidence suggested that freshwater influx, salinity, or the pH of interstitial waters has also an impact on the foraminiferal distribution. A tidal flat and salt marsh transect was investigated in the north-western Ria Formosa coastal lagoon, Algarve, Portugal, to constrain the relationship of benthic foraminifera, halophytes, and pore water properties. The dominance of saltworts from the subfamily Salicornioideae and landward increasing soil salinities depicted evaporation as governing environmental factor. The carbonate chemistry from lagoonal and pore waters identified anoxic tidal flat sediments of as main source of total alkalinity. The alkalinity was lower in the salt marsh, where the pCO2 was extremely high. Salt marsh pore waters showed a high variability of carbonate system parameters, which mirrored small-scale spatial heterogeneities in the soil. The distribution of textulariid salt marsh foraminifera was confined to the vegetated zones, where their abundance increased with elevation. Calcareous species were frequent on the tidal flat and in the highest salt marsh. Many of them were specialised to high salinities or to extreme and variable environmental conditions. Two levels of faunal change in the salt marsh coincide with vegetation zonal boundaries, mean tide or mean high water levels. The two other faunal changes were related to changes in calcite saturation state or organic carbon concentrations. The proportion of textulariids showed a negative correlation with submergence time or elevation, and a significant correlation with pore water pCO2. The faunal distribution, pore water calcite saturation, and Ammonia dissolution patterns indicated that calcareous species specialised to tolerate carbonate-corrosive conditions prevailed even at lowest saturation levels.

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Environmental change impacts on shell formation in the muricid Nucella lapillus

Environmental change is a significant threat to marine ecosystems worldwide. Ocean acidification, global warming and long-term emissions of anthropogenic effluents are all negatively impacting aquatic life. Marine calcifying organisms, in particular, are expected to be severely affected by decreasing seawater pH, resulting in shell dissolution and retardations during the formation and repair of shells. Understanding the underlying biological and environmental factors driving species vulnerabilities to habitat alterations is thus crucial to our ability to faithfully predict impacts on marine ecosystems under an array of environmental change scenarios. So far, existing knowledge about organism responses mainly stems from short to medium term laboratory experiments of single species or over- simplified communities. Although these studies have provided important insights, results may not translate to organism responses in a complex natural system requiring a more holistic experimental approach. In this thesis, I investigated shell formation mechanisms and shape and elemental composition responses in the shell of the important intertidal predatory muricid Nucella lapillus both in situ and across heterogeneous environmental gradients. The aim was to identify potential coping mechanisms of N. lapillus to environmental change and provide a more coherent picture of shell formation responses along large ecological gradients in the spatial and temporal domain. To investigate shell formation mechanisms, I tested for the possibility of shell recycling as a function to reduce calcification costs during times of exceptional demand using a multi-treatment shell labelling experiment. Reports on calcification costs vary largely in the literature. Still, recent discoveries showed that costs might increase as a function of decreasing calcification substrate abundance, suggesting that shell formation becomes increasingly more costly under future environmental change scenarios. However, despite the anticipated costs, no evidence was found that would indicate the use of functional dissolution as a means to recycle shell material for a more cost-efficient shell formation in N. lapillus. To investigate shell formation responses, I combined morphometric and shell thickness analyses with novel statistical methods to identify natural shape and thickness response of N. lapillus to large scale variability in temperature, salinity, wind speed and the carbonate system across a wide geographic range (from Portugal to Iceland) and through time (over 130 years). I found that along geographical gradients, the state of the carbonate system and, more specifically, the substrate inhibitor ratio ([HCO3−][H+]−1) (SIR) was the main predictor for shape variations in N. lapillus. Populations in regions with a lower SIR tend to form narrower shells with a higher spire to body whorl ratio. In contrast, populations in regions with a higher SIR form wider shells with a much lower spire to body whorl ratio. The results suggest a widespread phenotypic response of N. lapillus to continuing ocean acidification could be expected, affecting its phenotypic response patterns to predator or wave exposure regimes with profound implications for North Atlantic rocky shore communities. On the contrary, investigations of shell shape and thickness changes over the last 130 years from adjacent sampling regions on the Southern North Sea coast revealed that contrary to global predictions, N. lapillus built continuously thicker shells while maintaining a consistent shell shape throughout the last century. Systematic modelling efforts suggested that the observed shell thickening resulted from higher annual temperatures, longer yearly calcification windows, nearshore eutrophication, and enhanced prey abundance, which mitigated the impact of other climate change factors. An investigation into the trace elemental composition of common pollutant metals in the same archival N. lapillus specimens revealed that shell Cu/Ca and Zn/Ca concentration ratios remained remarkably constant throughout the last 130 years despite substantial shifts in the environmental concentration. However, Pb/Ca concentration ratios showed a definite trend closely aligned with leaded petrol emissions in Europe over the same period. Discussing physiological and environmental drivers for the observed shell bound heavy metal patterns, I argue that, unlike for Pb, constraints on environmental dissolved Cu species abundance and biologically mediated control on internal Zn levels were likely responsible for a decoupling of shell-bound to total ambient Cu and Zn concentrations. The results highlight the complexity of internal and external pathways that govern the uptake of heavy metals into the molluscan shell and suggest that the shell of N. lapillus could be a suitable archive for a targeted investigation of Pb pollution in the intertidal zone.

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Interaction between reduced pH and multiple stressors affects the physiology of the fiddler crab Leptuca thayeri (Rathbun, 1900) (Decapoda: Brachyura: Ocypodidae)

Increasing ocean acidification combined with other impacts may cause changes in homeostatic mechanisms of intertidal invertebrates. Stressors do not act in isolation, and experimental work is needed to assess their synergistic potential. We evaluated the effect of exposure to multiple stressors on the survival, osmoregulation, metabolism, Q10, excretion, hepatosomatic index, and energy substrate oxidation on of the fiddler crab Leptuca thayeri (Rathbun, 1900). Crabs were exposed to two pH values (7.0, 6.3) combined with temperatures (20, 25, 30, 35, 40 °C) and these pH values combined with salinities (10, 20, 30, 40, and 50 psu) during acute exposure. All individuals died at 40 °C. Crabs osmoregulated, suggesting that the factors evaluated did not affect salt absorption or secretion. Individuals were weak hyperosmorregulators at lower salinities in the pH 7 control, but they became strong hyperosmoregulators at acidified pH 6.3. Alterations in oxygen consumption and hepatosomatic index were observed in individuals exposed to the acidified pH combined with temperatures or salinities, compared to those kept in the control pH. Q10 was elevated under an acidified pH, with crabs using proteins and lipids as energy substrates. The interaction between reduced pH and temperature or salinity thus affected physiological mechanisms related to the energetic metabolism, but elevated temperatures are more limiting because they affected survival. These physiological effects of acute exposure offer clues about extreme climatic events, which have a short duration but can affect the related energy demands.

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Metabolic rate allometry in intertidal mussels across environmental gradients: the role of coastal carbonate system parameters in mediating the effects of latitude and temperature

Graphical abstract


  • Latitude and temperature do not explain intertidal mussel metabolic rate allometry.
  • Carbonate system parameters also have effects on size and metabolic rate.
  • Observed allometric variation is best explained by a structural equation model.
  • Metabolic rate allometry is modulated by multiple environmental stressors.


We assess the role of direct and indirect effects of coastal environmental drivers (including the parameters of the carbonate system) on energy expenditure (MR) and body mass (M) of the intertidal mussel, Perumytilus purpuratus, across 10 populations distributed over 2800 km along the Southern Eastern Pacific (SEP) coast. We find biogeographic and local variation in carbonate system variables mediates the effects of latitude and temperature on metabolic rate allometry along the SEP coast. Also, the fitted Piecewise Structural Equation models (PSEM) have greater predictive ability (conditional R2 = 0.95) relative to the allometric scaling model (R2 = 0.35). The largest standardized coefficients for MR and M were determined by the influence of temperature and latitude, followed by pCO2, pH, total alkalinity, and salinity. Thus, physiological diversity of P. purpuratus along the SEP coast emerges as the result of direct and indirect effects of biogeographic and local environmental variables.

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How does climate change affect a fishable resource? The case of the royal sea cucumber (Parastichopus regalis) in the central Mediterranean Sea

Holothurians or sea cucumbers are key organisms in marine ecosystems that, by ingesting large quantities of sediments, provide important ecosystem services. Among them, Parastichopus regalis (Cuvier, 1817) is one of the living sea cucumbers in the Mediterranean actively fished for human consumption mainly in Spain, where it is considered a gastronomic delicacy. In the Strait of Sicily (central Mediterranean Sea), this species is not exploited for commercial use even if it is used as bait by longline fishery. P. regalis is frequently caught by bottom trawling and discarded at sea by fishers after catch, and because of its capacity to resist air exposition (at least in cold months), it is reasonable to consider that it is not affected by fishing mortality. Having observed a significant decrease in abundance since 2018, the possible effects of some ecological factors related to current climate change (i.e., temperature and pH) were sought. Generalized additive models (GAMs) were applied to investigate the relationship among the abundance of P. regalis and environmental variables and fishing effort. Long time series of P. regalis densities (2008–2021) were extracted from the MEDITS bottom trawling survey and modeled as function of environmental parameters (i.e., salinity, dissolved oxygen, ammonium, pH, and chlorophyll α) and fishing effort (i.e., total number of fishing days per gross tonnage). Our results showed that this species prefers the soft bottoms (50–200 m) of the Adventure Bank and Malta Plateau, and its distribution changed over time with a slight deepening and a rarefaction of spatial distribution starting from 2011 and 2017, respectively. In addition, a positive relationship with pH concentration in surface waters during the larval dispersal phase (3-year lag before the survey) and nutrient concentration at sea bottom (1-year lag) has been found, suggesting that this species is sensitive to climate change and food availability. This study adds new knowledge about the population dynamics of an unexploited stock of P. regalis under fishing impact and environmental under climate change in fisheries management.

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Different responses of phytoplankton and zooplankton communities to current changing coastal environments

Marine plankton are faced with novel challenges associated with environmental changes such as ocean acidification, warming, and eutrophication. However, data on the effects of simultaneous environmental changes on complex natural communities in coastal ecosystems are relatively limited. Here we made a systematic analysis of biological and environmental parameters in the Bohai Sea over the past three years to suggest that plankton communities responded differently to current changing coastal environments, with the increase of phytoplankton and the decrease of zooplankton. These different changes of phyto- and zooplankton potentially resulted from the fact that both the effect of acidification as a result of pH decline and the effect of warming as a consequence of increasing temperature favored phytoplankton over zooplankton at present. Furthermore, water eutrophication and salinity as well as heavy metals Hg, Zn, and As had more or less diverse consequences for the dynamics of phytoplankton and zooplankton. Differently, with ongoing climate change, we also revealed that both phytoplankton and zooplankton would decrease in the future under the influence of interactions between acidification and warming.

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Role of abiotic factors in enhancing the capacity of mangroves in reducing ocean acidification

The present study investigated the effects of rising carbon dioxide levels in nature and the carbon sequestration potential of dominant mangrove species for reducing the toxic effects of ocean acidification. The study was conducted on the east coast of Odisha, in the western Bay of Bengal. To determine the effect of these ambient parameters on the absorption of carbon dioxide by the mangroves, water temperature, salinity, pH levels of seawater along with soil texture and pH, salinity expressed in electrical conductivity, compactness expressed in bulk density, and soil organic carbon were simultaneously monitored. The aboveground biomass and carbon of the selected species were studied for 2 consecutive years at 10 designated stations. The total carbon calculated for the study area varied from 242.50 ± 49.00 to 1321.29 ± 445.52 tons with a mean of 626.68 ± 174.81 tons for Bhitarkanika and Mahanadi mangrove chunks. This is equivalent to 2299.92 ± 641.55 tons of CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere. A total of 27 equations were selected as the best fit models for the study area. The equations between mangrove biomass and carbon along with aquatic and edaphic factors governing the pH of water and soil strongly support the positive influence of mangrove photosynthetic activity in shifting the equilibrium toward alkalinity. This calls for conservation of mangrove ecosystem to minimize the pace of acidification of estuarine water. The results indicate that Excoecariaagallocha and Avicennia marina as are the most capable species for combatting maximum carbon dioxide toxicity from the atmosphere; which will be helpful in REDD + programs and carbon-based payments for ecosystem services (PES).

Continue reading ‘Role of abiotic factors in enhancing the capacity of mangroves in reducing ocean acidification’

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