Posts Tagged 'South Atlantic'

The influence of environmental variability on the biogeography of coccolithophores and diatoms in the Great Calcite Belt

The Great Calcite Belt (GCB) of the Southern Ocean is a region of elevated summertime upper ocean calcite concentration derived from coccolithophores, despite the region being known for its diatom predominance. The overlap of two major phytoplankton groups, coccolithophores and diatoms, in the dynamic frontal systems characteristic of this region, provides an ideal setting to study environmental influences on the distribution of different species within these taxonomic groups. Water samples for phytoplankton enumeration were collected from the upper 30 m during two cruises, the first to the South Atlantic sector (Jan–Feb 2011; 60 °W–15 °E and 36–60 °S) and the second in the South Indian sector (Feb–Mar 2012; 40–120 °E and 36–60 °S). The species composition of coccolithophores and diatoms was examined using scanning electron microscopy at 27 stations across the Sub-Tropical, Polar, and Sub-Antarctic Fronts. The influence of environmental parameters, such as sea-surface temperature (SST), salinity, carbonate chemistry (i.e., pH, partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2), alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon), macro-nutrients (i.e., nitrate + nitrite, phosphate, silicic acid, ammonia), and mixed layer average irradiance, on species composition across the GCB, was assessed statistically. Nanophytoplankton (cells 2–20 μm) were the numerically abundant size group of biomineralizing phytoplankton across the GCB, the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi and the diatoms Fragilariopsis nana, F. pseudonana and Pseudonitzschia sp. were the most dominant and widely distributed species. A combination of SST, macro-nutrient concentrations and pCO2 were the best statistical descriptors of biogeographic variability of biomineralizing species composition between stations. Emiliania huxleyi occurred in the silicic acid-depleted waters between the Sub-Antarctic Front and the Polar Front, indicating a favorable environment for this coccolithophore in the GCB after spring diatom blooms remove silicic acid to limiting levels. After full consideration of variability in carbonate chemistry and temperature on the distribution of nanoplankton in the GCB, we find that temperature remains the dominant driver of biogeography in a large proportion of the modern Southern Ocean.

Continue reading ‘The influence of environmental variability on the biogeography of coccolithophores and diatoms in the Great Calcite Belt’

Comparison between real-time pCO2 measurements with indirect estimates in two contrasting Brazilian estuaries: the eutrophic Guanabara Bay (RJ) and the oligotrophic Sao Francisco River Estuary (AL.)

Carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes from aquatic systems are generally derived from the gradient in the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) between air and surface waters. In this study, we compare real-time measurements of water pCO2 using an equilibrator and non-dispersive infrared gas detector, with calculations based on pH and total alkalinity (TA) in two contrasting Brazilian estuaries: Guanabara Bay (Rio de Janeiro) and the São Francisco River Estuary (Alagoas). In Guanabara Bay, the measured and calculated values showed an excellent agreement (R2 = 0.95, p < 0.0001), without significant statistical differences between the two methods. In the São Francisco River Estuary, where the entire gradient from freshwaters to seawater could be sampled, important overestimates were found for the calculated pCO2. The overestimation was on average 71%, and reached up to 737%. This large bias in pCO2 calculation was verified at low pH and TA concentrations in freshwaters (pH < 7.5; TA < 700 μmol kg-1) possibly due to the contribution of organic alkalinity, lowering the buffer capacity of the carbonate system. As such, direct measurements of pCO2 should be considered as a priority for CO2 studies conducted in estuarine systems, particularly tropical systems where physical and biological processes are prone to significant spatial and temporal variability.

Continue reading ‘Comparison between real-time pCO2 measurements with indirect estimates in two contrasting Brazilian estuaries: the eutrophic Guanabara Bay (RJ) and the oligotrophic Sao Francisco River Estuary (AL.)’

Effects of varying acidic levels on dissolution, strength, organic content and surface texture of Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) shells

Marine coastal organisms are exposed to periodic fluctuations in seawater pH driven by biological carbon dioxide (CO 2) production which may in the future be further exacerbated by the ocean acidification associated with the global rise in CO2. There is widespread concern that these changes have direct impact on coastal organisms and alter the habitats severely. However, little or no attention has been given to the effects of the anticipated decrease in coastal pH on farmed oysters within the Namibian coastal waters. In this investigation, shells of the Pacific oysters, Crassostrea gigas were exposed to varying acidic levels under laboratory conditions; pH level 6.5 represented extreme hypercarpnia condition, 7.0 and 7.5 representing future predicted coastal pH levels. Shell dissolution rate, strength, organic content and surface texture were assessed after a two-week exposure period. Significant loss (p < 0.05) in weight and diameter were observed in shells exposed to 6.5, 7.0 and 7.5 pH levels compared to shells in the control groups (pH 8.1-8.2). With regard to organic content of the shell, significant reduction (p < 0.05) was only observed in shells exposed to 6.5 and 7.0 pH levels. Microscopic examination of the shell surface revealed reduced nacreous layer while the organic layer of the shells was sheared in acidic conditions. Visual inspection of the nacre region of shells exposed to 6.5, 7.0 and 7.5 pH showed straight edged tablets, with the Omoregie et al./ISTJN 2016, 8:98-111. Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) shells regions characterised by sparse with irregular shaped tablets within a reduced organic matrix. Ocean acidification can impact potential changes in morphometry and shell structure of pacific oysters during culture.

Continue reading ‘Effects of varying acidic levels on dissolution, strength, organic content and surface texture of Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) shells’

Acidification enhances hybrid N2O production associated with aquatic ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms

Ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms are an important source of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide (N2O) in aquatic environments. Identifying the impact of pH on N2O production by ammonia oxidizers is key to understanding how aquatic greenhouse gas fluxes will respond to naturally occurring pH changes, as well as acidification driven by anthropogenic CO2. We assessed N2O production rates and formation mechanisms by communities of ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB) and archaea (AOA) in a lake and a marine environment, using incubation-based nitrogen (N) stable isotope tracer methods with 15N-labeled ammonium (15NH+4) and nitrite (15NO−2), and also measurements of the natural abundance N and O isotopic composition of dissolved N2O. N2O production during incubations of water from the shallow hypolimnion of Lake Lugano (Switzerland) was significantly higher when the pH was reduced from 7.54 (untreated pH) to 7.20 (reduced pH), while ammonia oxidation rates were similar between treatments. In all incubations, added NH+4 was the source of most of the N incorporated into N2O, suggesting that the main N2O production pathway involved hydroxylamine (NH2OH) and/or NO−2 produced by ammonia oxidation during the incubation period. A small but significant amount of N derived from exogenous/added 15NO−2 was also incorporated into N2O, but only during the reduced-pH incubations. Mass spectra of this N2O revealed that NH+4 and 15NO−2 each contributed N equally to N2O by a “hybrid-N2O” mechanism consistent with a reaction between NH2OH and NO−2, or compounds derived from these two molecules. Nitrifier denitrification was not an important source of N2O. Isotopomeric N2O analyses in Lake Lugano were consistent with incubation results, as 15N enrichment of the internal N vs. external N atoms produced site preferences (25.0–34.4‰) consistent with NH2OH-dependent hybrid-N2O production. Hybrid-N2O formation was also observed during incubations of seawater from coastal Namibia with 15NH+4 and NO−2. However, the site preference of dissolved N2O here was low (4.9‰), indicating that another mechanism, not captured during the incubations, was important. Multiplex sequencing of 16S rRNA revealed distinct ammonia oxidizer communities: AOB dominated numerically in Lake Lugano, and AOA dominated in the seawater. Potential for hybrid N2O formation exists among both communities, and at least in AOB-dominated environments, acidification may accelerate this mechanism.

Continue reading ‘Acidification enhances hybrid N2O production associated with aquatic ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms’

Impact of predicted climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community

Changes in marine communities in response to elevated CO2 have been reported but information on how representatives of the benthic lower trophic levels will be impacted remains scarce. A laboratory experiment was conducted to evaluate the impact of different climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community. Samples of the meiofauna community were collected from the coral reef subtidal zone of Serrambi beach (Ipojuca, Pernambuco, Brazil), using artificial substrate units. The units were exposed to control treatments and to three climate change scenarios, and collected after 15 and 29 d. Important changes in the meiofauna community structure were observed after 15 d of exposure. The major meiofauna groups exhibited divergent responses to the various scenarios. Although polychaetes were negatively affected after 29 d in the most severe scenario (Scenario III), harpacticoid copepods were negatively affected in Scenarios II and III after 15 and 29 d. Harpacticoid nauplii were strongly and negatively affected in all scenarios. In contrast, Nematoda exhibited higher densities in all scenarios. To the best of our knowledge, this community-based study was the first to observe how meiofauna organisms from a coral reef environment react to the synergetic effects of reductions in seawater pH and increased temperature.

Continue reading ‘Impact of predicted climate change scenarios on a coral reef meiofauna community’

Connecting pH with body size in the marine gastropod Trophon geversianus in a latitudinal gradient along the south-western Atlantic coast

There is growing concern about the impact of contemporaneous ocean acidification on marine ecosystems, but strong evidence for predicting the consequences is still scant. We have used the gastropod Trophon geversianus as a study model for exploring the importance of oceanographic variables (sea surface temperature, chlorophyll a, oxygen, calcite and pH) on large-scale latitudinal variation in mean shell length and relative shell weight. Data were collected from a survey carried out in 34 sites along ~1600 km. Neither shell length nor relative shell weight showed any monotonic latitudinal trend, and the patterns of spatial variability were rather complex. After correcting for spatial autocorrelation, only pH showed a significant correlation with mean shell length and relative shell weight, but contrary to expectations, the association was negative in both cases. We hypothesize that this could mirror the negative effect of acidification on growth rate, which may cause larger asymptotic size. Latitudinal trends of body size variation are not easy to generalize using ecogeographic rules, and may be the result of a complex interaction of environmental drivers and life-history responses.

Continue reading ‘Connecting pH with body size in the marine gastropod Trophon geversianus in a latitudinal gradient along the south-western Atlantic coast’

Coral reefs and people in a high-CO2 world: where can science make a difference to people?

Reefs and People at Risk

Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere put shallow, warm-water coral reef ecosystems, and the people who depend upon them at risk from two key global environmental stresses: 1) elevated sea surface temperature (that can cause coral bleaching and related mortality), and 2) ocean acidification. These global stressors: cannot be avoided by local management, compound local stressors, and hasten the loss of ecosystem services. Impacts to people will be most grave where a) human dependence on coral reef ecosystems is high, b) sea surface temperature reaches critical levels soonest, and c) ocean acidification levels are most severe. Where these elements align, swift action will be needed to protect people’s lives and livelihoods, but such action must be informed by data and science.

An Indicator Approach

Designing policies to offset potential harm to coral reef ecosystems and people requires a better understanding of where CO2-related global environmental stresses could cause the most severe impacts. Mapping indicators has been proposed as a way of combining natural and social science data to identify policy actions even when the needed science is relatively nascent. To identify where people are at risk and where more science is needed, we map indicators of biological, physical and social science factors to understand how human dependence on coral reef ecosystems will be affected by globally-driven threats to corals expected in a high-CO2 world. Western Mexico, Micronesia, Indonesia and parts of Australia have high human dependence and will likely face severe combined threats. As a region, Southeast Asia is particularly at risk. Many of the countries most dependent upon coral reef ecosystems are places for which we have the least robust data on ocean acidification. These areas require new data and interdisciplinary scientific research to help coral reef-dependent human communities better prepare for a high CO2 world.

Continue reading ‘Coral reefs and people in a high-CO2 world: where can science make a difference to people?’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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