Posts Tagged 'South Atlantic'

Dual role of DOM in a scenario of global change on photosynthesis and structure of coastal phytoplankton from the South Atlantic Ocean


• In a future scenario, attenuation by DOM outcompetes its physico-chemical role.
• Global change conditions will favor growth and photosynthesis of nanoplankton.
• Global change favors growth and photosynthesis of nano- as compared to microplankton.


We evaluated the dual role of DOM (i.e., as a source of inorganic nutrients and as an absorber of solar radiation) on a phytoplankton community of the western South Atlantic Ocean. Using a combination of microcosms and a cluster approach, we simulated the future conditions of some variables that are highly influenced by global change in the region. We increased nutrients (i.e., anthropogenic input) and dissolved organic matter (DOM), and we decreased the pH, to assess their combined impact on growth rates (μ), species composition/abundance and size structure, and photosynthesis (considering in this later also the effects of light quality i.e., with and without ultraviolet radiation). We simulated two Future conditions (Fut) where nutrients and pH were similarly manipulated, but in one the physical role of DOM (Futout) was assessed whereas in the other (Futin) the physico-chemical role was evaluated; these conditions were compared with a control (Present condition, Pres). The μ significantly increased in both Fut conditions as compared to the Pres, probably due to the nutrient addition and acidification in the former. The highest μ were observed in the Futout, due to the growth of nanoplanktonic flagellates and diatoms. Cells in the Futin were photosynthetically less efficient as compared to those of the Futout and Pres, but these physiological differences, also between samples with or without solar UVR observed at the beginning of the experiment, decreased with time hinting for an acclimation process. The knowledge of the relative importance of both roles of DOM is especially important for coastal areas that are expected to receive higher inputs and will be more acidified in the future.

Continue reading ‘Dual role of DOM in a scenario of global change on photosynthesis and structure of coastal phytoplankton from the South Atlantic Ocean’

Influence of ocean acidification on elemental mass balances and particulate organic matter stoichiometry in natural plankton communities  

The oceanic uptake of anthropogenic CO2 leads to a gradual acidification of the ocean. Ocean acidification (OA) is known to affect marine biota from the organism to the ecosystem level but with largely unknown consequences for the cycling of key elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. However, the ocean’s ability to absorb anthropogenic carbon or to provide sufficient food for humankind depends on these oceanic material cycles. This doctoral dissertation thus aimed to assess the influence of OA on biogeochemical cycles of elements in natural pelagic food webs of several trophic levels (up to fish larvae) over extended time scales of weeks to months. Large-scale pelagic mesocosms (up to 75 m3 per unit) were deployed in different marine ecosystems and new methods were developed to quantify the downward flux of particulate organic matter under simulated OA. This thesis reports on the potential influence of OA on element pool partitioning and particulate organic matter stoichiometry with consequences for biogeochemical cycling of elements in the ocean. Furthermore the potential and limitations of biogeochemical measurements inside pelagic mesocosms that host entire plankton communities are elucidated.

Continue reading ‘Influence of ocean acidification on elemental mass balances and particulate organic matter stoichiometry in natural plankton communities  ‘

Population biology of the sea star Anasterias minuta (Forcipulatida: Asteriidae) threatened by anthropogenic activities in rocky intertidal shores of San Matías Gulf, Patagonia, Argentina

 In Patagonian coastal areas, intertidal benthic communities are exposed to extreme physical conditions. The interaction between harsh environment and anthropogenic pressure can generate changes in population biology of marine invertebrates, like density and reproduction. The oral brooding sea star Anasterias minuta is a key organism in food chains of Atlantic Patagonian rocky intertidals, hence changes on its population structure can negatively affect shore communities. We studied the population biology of A. minuta and assess the effect of environmental parameters and anthropogenic activities on its population on rocky intertidal shores of San Matías Gulf, Patagonia, Argentina. Seasonal sea surface temperature, pH, salinity, water velocity, desiccation rate, boulders density, and anthropogenic influence (tourists and octopus fishermen) were recorded. In sites with less tourist influence and high refuge, an increase in density was recorded, especially during the summer. Brooding individuals were found in fall and winter, while feeding individuals were observed in all seasons (12 different prey, mainly the molluscs Tegula patagonica and Perumytilus purpuratus). Environmental variables such as boulders density and water velocity were the most important predictor of variation in population structure. Tourism and pH were the most important variables negatively correlated with density.

Continue reading ‘Population biology of the sea star Anasterias minuta (Forcipulatida: Asteriidae) threatened by anthropogenic activities in rocky intertidal shores of San Matías Gulf, Patagonia, Argentina’

Native and exotic oysters in Brazil: comparative tolerance to hypercapnia


C. gigas and C. brasiliana showed differentiated biochemical response to hypercapnia.
• Juveniles presented a more pronounced stress response than adults in both species.
• Contrasting metabolic shifts were observed between both species to endure hypercapnia.
• Antioxidant and metabolic responses were sufficient to prevent excessive LPO.

Environmental hypercapnia in shallow coastal marine ecosystems can be exacerbated by increasing levels of atmospheric CO2. In these ecosystems organisms are expected to become increasingly subjected to pCO2 levels several times higher than those inhabiting ocean waters (e.g.: 10,000 µatm), but still our current understanding on different species capacity to respond to such levels of hypercapnia is limited. Oysters are among the most important foundation species inhabiting these coastal ecosystems, although natural oyster banks are increasingly threatened worldwide. In the present study we studied the effects of hypercapnia on two important oyster species, the pacific oyster C. gigas and the mangrove oyster C. brasiliana, to bring new insights on different species response mechanisms towards three hypercapnic levels (ca. 1,000; 4,000; 10,000 µatm), by study of a set of biomarkers related to metabolic potential (electron transport system – ETS), antioxidant capacity (SOD, CAT, GSH), cellular damage (LPO) and energetic fitness (GLY), in two life stages (juvenile and adult) after 28 days of exposure.

Results showed marked differences between each species tolerance capacity to hypercapnia, with contrasting metabolic readjustment strategies (ETS), different antioxidant response capacities (SOD, CAT, GSH), which generally allowed to prevent increased cellular damage (LPO) and energetic impairment (GLY) in both species. Juveniles were more responsive to hypercapnia stress in both congeners, and are likely to be most sensitive to extreme hypercapnia in the environment. Juvenile C. gigas presented more pronounced biochemical alterations at intermediate hypercapnia (4,000 µatm) than C. brasiliana. Adult C. gigas showed biochemical alterations mostly in response to high hypercapnia (10,000 µatm), while adult C. brasiliana were less responsive to this environmental stressor, despite presenting decreased metabolic potential.

Our data bring new insights on the biochemical performance of two important oyster species, and suggest that the duration of extreme hypercapnia events in the ecosystem may pose increased challenges for these organisms as their tolerance capacity may be time limited.

Continue reading ‘Native and exotic oysters in Brazil: comparative tolerance to hypercapnia’

Aragonite saturation state in a tropical coastal embayment dominated by phytoplankton blooms (Guanabara Bay – Brazil)


  • The spatio-temporal variations of Ωarag were studied in a highly polluted coastal embayment.
  • High values of Ωarag were prevalent in surface waters dominated by phytoplankton blooms.
  • Lowest values of Ωarag were restricted to poorly buffered waters that receive direct effluent discharges.
  • Variations of Ωarag related to biological processes override those related to the atmospheric CO2.


The dynamics of the aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) were investigated in the eutrophic coastal waters of Guanabara Bay (RJ-Brazil). Large phytoplankton blooms stimulated by a high nutrient enrichment promoted the production of organic matter with strong uptake of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in surface waters, lowering the concentrations of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2aq), and increasing the pH, Ωarag and carbonate ion (CO32 ), especially during summer. The increase of Ωarag related to biological activity was also evident comparing the negative relationship between the Ωarag and the apparent utilization of oxygen (AOU), with a very close behavior between the slopes of the linear regression and the Redfield ratio. The lowest values of Ωarag were found at low-buffered waters in regions that receive direct discharges from domestic effluents and polluted rivers, with episodic evidences of corrosive waters (Ωarag < 1). This study showed that the eutrophication controlled the variations of Ωarag in Guanabara Bay.

Continue reading ‘Aragonite saturation state in a tropical coastal embayment dominated by phytoplankton blooms (Guanabara Bay – Brazil)’

How fast is the Patagonian shelf-break acidifying?


• Carbonate system has been driven by dilution/evaporation and sea–air CO2 exchanges.
• The Patagonian shelf is a key area of anthropogenic carbon uptake.
• SACW is acidifying faster in the Patagonian shelf-break than in the South Atlantic.
• AAIW is under risk for aragonite undersaturation near the Patagonian shelf-break.


Anthropogenic carbon (Cant) concentration is determined according to the TrOCA method, from carbonate system data and hydrographic parameters collected during two consecutive spring cruises (2007 and 2008) in the Argentinean Patagonian shelf-break zone between 36°S and 50°S. Cant has intruded the water column until intermediate depths, with no Cant below 1000 m, in the deeper waters (i.e., North Atlantic Deep Water and Antarctic Bottom Water) of the Northern sector of the study area (i.e., North of 38°S). The higher Cant concentration is observed in Subantarctic Shelf Water in the Southern region, whereas in the Northern sector both Tropical Water and South Atlantic Central Water are equally affected by Cant intrusion. The Antarctic Intermediate Water represents the depth-limit achieved by Cant penetration, reinforcing the role that this water mass plays as an important vehicle to transport Cant to the oceans interior. The estimated Cant average (± method precision) is 46.6 ± 5.3 μmol kg− 1, considering the full depth of the water column. The ocean acidification state (ΔpH) shows an average (± standard deviation) of − 0.11 ± 0.05, thus, indicating an annual pH reduction of − 0.0010 yr− 1 since the Industrial Revolution (c.a. 1750). The degree of aragonite saturation is lowered towards undersaturation levels of calcite. The Patagonian shelf and shelf-break zones—a strong CO2 sink region in the global ocean—are likely a key area for Cant intrusion in the southwestern South Atlantic Ocean.

Continue reading ‘How fast is the Patagonian shelf-break acidifying?’

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

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. Samples for phytoplankton enumeration were collected from the upper mixed layer (30 m) during two cruises, the first to the South Atlantic sector (January–February 2011; 60° W–15° E and 36–60° S) and the second in the South Indian sector (February–March 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 Subtropical, Polar, and Subantarctic fronts. The influence of environmental parameters, such as sea surface temperature (SST), salinity, carbonate chemistry (pH, partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2), alkalinity, dissolved inorganic carbon), macronutrients (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, with the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi and diatoms Fragilariopsis nana, F. pseudonana, and Pseudo-nitzschia spp. as the most numerically dominant and widely distributed. A combination of SST, macronutrient concentrations, and pCO2 provided the best statistical descriptors of the biogeographic variability in biomineralizing species composition between stations. Emiliania huxleyi occurred in silicic acid-depleted waters between the Subantarctic Front and the Polar Front, a favorable environment for this species after spring diatom blooms remove silicic acid. Multivariate statistics identified a combination of carbonate chemistry and macronutrients, covarying with temperature, as the dominant drivers of biomineralizing nanoplankton in the GCB sector of the Southern Ocean.

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

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book