Posts Tagged 'South Atlantic'

Seagrass can mitigate negative ocean acidification effects on calcifying algae

The ultimate effect that ocean acidification (OA) and warming will have on the physiology of calcifying algae is still largely uncertain. Responses depend on the complex interactions between seawater chemistry, global/local stressors and species-specific physiologies. There is a significant gap regarding the effect that metabolic interactions between coexisting species may have on local seawater chemistry and the concurrent effect of OA. Here, we manipulated CO2 and temperature to evaluate the physiological responses of two common photoautotrophs from shallow tropical marine coastal ecosystems in Brazil: the calcifying alga Halimeda cuneata, and the seagrass Halodule wrightii. We tested whether or not seagrass presence can influence the calcification rate of a widespread and abundant species of Halimeda under OA and warming. Our results demonstrate that under elevated CO2, the high photosynthetic rates of H. wrightii contribute to raise H. cuneata calcification more than two-fold and thus we suggest that H. cuneata populations coexisting with H. wrightii may have a higher resilience to OA conditions. This conclusion supports the more general hypothesis that, in coastal and shallow reef environments, the metabolic interactions between calcifying and non-calcifying organisms are instrumental in providing refuge against OA effects and increasing the resilience of the more OA-susceptible species.

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Implicações fisiológicas e ecológicas de interações interespecíficas nos bentos marinho-subsídio para o entendimento de cenários atuais e futuros (in Portuguese)

Biotic interactions are increasingly known to shape ecosystem community structure. Recently, there has been a renewed focus on species interactions in light of global change, especially ocean warming (OW) and ocean acidification (OA) in marine ecosystems. In coastal environments, macroalgae are among the most important taxa as they are often the most abundant primary producers and form the base of food webs. However, due to their sedentary nature, they are also vulnerable to the effects of climate change. In order to better understand how species interactions will be affected by climate change stressors, a solid understanding of how interspecies interactions operate under present-day conditions is needed. The first chapter of this thesis attempts to characterize seasonal variation in macroalgal physiology and biochemistry, and how interspecific interactions might affect algal fitness and palatability to a sea urchin herbivore (Echinometra lucunter). Specimens of Jania rubens, Sargassum cymosum, and Ulva lactuca were collected from monospecific patches or from associations , where individuals were in physical contact with another species, in both summer and winter. Net photosynthesis, nitrogen reductase activity, and pigment, phenolic and carbonate content of algae were evaluated among different associations across the two seasons. The results indicate that in addition to seasonal variation in most parameters measured, interactions between algae could change in both magnitude and sign (positive, negative or neutral) in different seasons. The no-choice herbivory assay (conducted in winter) revealed that both Jania and Ulva were consumed at higher rates when they were associated with each other, whereas Sargassum was not affected. These results suggest that macroalgae may influence the physiology and biochemical composition of neighboring species and subsequently affect their palatability, which may influence local community structure. To further evaluate effects of species interactions under climate change stressors, an experiment was performed to assess algal-herbivore interactions under OW and OA conditions. The most preferentially consumed algae from the first experiment (Jania rubens) and the sea urchin E. lucunter were evaluated in a 21-day mesocosm study with treatments of control, OW, OA, and OW+OA. Algal physiology was unaffected by increased temperature (+4°C) and pCO2 (1,000 ppm), but changes in the biochemical composition of the algal tissue were found. Metabolic rates of the sea urchin E. lucunter were higher in the ambient temperature, high pCO2 treatment, and feeding assays showed that this influenced consumption, with increased feeding rates in this treatment. The results here show that although algal biochemical composition was affected by future pCO2, at least in the short term, direct effects to sea urchin metabolism were more important for impacting this algae-herbivore interaction.

Continue reading ‘Implicações fisiológicas e ecológicas de interações interespecíficas nos bentos marinho-subsídio para o entendimento de cenários atuais e futuros (in Portuguese)’

The sea-air CO2 net fluxes in the South Atlantic Ocean and the role played by Agulhas eddies


• A mean FCO2 of −3.76 mmol m−2 d−1 was obtained in the FORSA cruise track.
• An Agulhas eddy can uptake up to −3.16 kg CO2 d−1, leading to −2.5 t CO2 lifetime−1.
• The seawater temperature is the main driver of the CO2 variability in the SAO.


The South Atlantic Ocean is vitally important to the global overturning circulation, which is influenced by heat, salt and other properties carried by Agulhas eddies. However, this influence is not yet fully understood, mainly in the context of the biogeochemistry changes on the CO2 system. This study uses in situ data obtained during the Following Ocean Rings in the South Atlantic cruise, which occurred between Cape Town, South Africa and Arraial do Cabo, Brazil in July 2015 when six eddies and the surrounding waters were sampled. The seawater and atmospheric CO2 molar fraction, surface temperature and salinity were continuously measured to calculate the oceanic and atmospheric CO2 partial pressures (pCO2sw and pCO2atm, respectively). This study investigated the role played by the Agulhas eddies in the sea-air CO2 net flux (FCO2) and modeled the seawater CO2 as a function of environmental parameters. The mean pCO2sw and pCO2atm for the entire region were 351.5 and 390.6 μatm, respectively. The mean difference (ΔpCO2) was −39.1 μatm. The CO2 uptake was dominated by temperature (r = 0.88) during the period analyzed. The mean FCO2 was −3.76 and −3.62 mmol m−2 d−1 using two different KT-models. We show that an Agulhas eddy can contribute to an ocean uptake of −3.16 kg CO2 d−1, leading to the capture of approximately 2.52 t CO2 lifetime−1. Thus, providing evidence that the Agulhas eddies propagation can likely play a key role on the rapid seawater acidification of the South Atlantic Central Water. A multiple linear regression model was developed that could reliably reconstruct the cruise survey with better results than previously published.

Continue reading ‘The sea-air CO2 net fluxes in the South Atlantic Ocean and the role played by Agulhas eddies’

Vulnerability of juvenile hermit crabs to reduced seawater pH and shading


• Local impacts may potentially increase effects of global environmental changes.
• We assessed combined effects of reduced pH and shading caused by harbor structures.
• Reduced seawater pH and shading affected behavioral responses of hermit crabs.
• Multiple stressors induced high mortality and reduced growth.
• Maintenance of local populations may be impaired by the impact of both stressors.


Multiple simultaneous stressors induced by anthropogenic activities may amplify their impacts on marine organisms. The effects of ocean acidification, in combination with other anthropogenic impacts (apart from temperature) are poorly understood, especially in coastal regions. In these areas, shading caused by infrastructure development, such as harbor construction, may potentially interact with CO2-induced pH reduction and affect invertebrate populations. Here, we evaluated the effects of reduced pH (7.6) and shading (24h in darkness) on mortality, growth, calcification and displacement behavior to live predator (danger signal) and dead gastropod (resource availability signal) odors using juveniles of the hermit crab Pagurus criniticornis collected in Araçá Bay (São Paulo state, Southeastern Brazil). After a 98 day experimental period, both stressors had a significant interaction effect on mortality, and an additive effect on total growth. No difference in calcification was recorded among treatments, indicating that individuals were able to maintain calcification under reduced pH conditions. When exposed to odor of live predators, crab responses were only affected by shading. However, an interactive effect between both stressors was observed in response to gastropod odor, leading to reduced displacement behavior. This study shows how local disturbance impacts may enhance the effects of global environmental change on intertidal crustacean populations.

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Physiological and biochemical responses of a coralline alga and a sea urchin to climate change: Implications for herbivory


• Algal metabolism and phenolic content were unaffected by CO2 and temperature treatments.
• CaCO3 content of algae decreased in high CO2 treatments.
• Total sugar content of algae was affected by both CO2 and temperature.
• Sea urchin respiration and feeding increased under high CO2, low temperature.
• Direct effects to sea urchin metabolism drove feeding more than algal palatability.


Direct responses to rising temperatures and ocean acidification are increasingly well known for many single species, yet recent reviews have highlighted the need for climate change research to consider a broader range of species, how stressors may interact, and how stressors may affect species interactions. The latter point is important in the context of plant-herbivore interactions, as increasing evidence shows that increasing seawater temperature and/or acidification can alter algal traits that dictate their susceptibility to herbivores, and subsequently, community and ecosystem properties. To better understand how marine rocky shore environments will be affected by a changing ocean, in the present study we investigated the direct effects of short-term, co-occurring increased temperature and ocean acidification on a coralline alga (Jania rubens) and a sea urchin herbivore (Echinometra lucunter) and assessed the indirect effects of these factors on the algal-herbivore interaction. A 21-day mesocosm experiment was conducted with both algae and sea urchins exposed to ambient (24 °C, Low CO2), high-temperature (28 °C, Low CO2), acidified (24 °C, High CO2), or high-temperature plus acidified (28 °C, High CO2) conditions. Algal photosynthesis, respiration, and phenolic content were unaffected by increased temperature and CO2, but calcium carbonate content was reduced under high CO2 treatments in both temperatures, while total sugar content of the algae was reduced under acidified, lower temperature conditions. Metabolic rates of the sea urchin were elevated in the lower temperature, high CO2 treatment, and feeding assays showed that consumption rates also increased in this treatment. Despite some changes to algal chemical composition, it appears that at least under short-term exposure to climate change conditions, direct effects on herbivore metabolism dictated herbivory rates, while indirect effects caused by changes in algal palatability seemed to be of minor importance.

Continue reading ‘Physiological and biochemical responses of a coralline alga and a sea urchin to climate change: Implications for herbivory’

Ocean acidification studies and the uncertainties relevance on measurements of marine carbonate system properties

The global ocean has a key role on the Earth’s climate system. It possesses a direct connection with the atmospheric gases, including the greenhouses, allowing exchanges between those compartments and oceanic storage of carbon. Through the years, this exchange of gases occurred based on gas equilibrium between ocean and atmosphere. After the Industrial Revolution, human activities have increased the emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), which changed the atmospheric concentration from ~280 ppm of CO2 to values as high as 391 ppm between c.a. 1750 and 2011 (Ciais et al., 2013). Recently, the measured CO2 atmospheric values are ranging near or above 400 ppm, as recorded by the Mauna Loa observatory, in Hawaii (daily CO2 measurements information available on A regional study in the south-southeast Brazilian continental shelf agrees with this value, which has measured an average of 396.7±2.5 ppm in the atmosphere during the spring of October 2014 (Kerr et al., 2016). This enhancement is reflected in the ocean, which has absorbed about 25% to 30% of the anthropogenic atmospheric CO2 emissions (Sabine and Tanhua, 2010); Le Quére et al., 2016). The CO2 uptake by the oceans directly affects the seawater chemistry and marine biogeochemical processes, impacting both the ecosystems and their respective biota (Doney et al., 2009).

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification studies and the uncertainties relevance on measurements of marine carbonate system properties’

Analysis of Na+/K+ -ATPase gene expression and physiological parameters in the crab Callinectes danae submitted to future scenarios of ocean acidification in the laboratory (in Portuguese)

Oceanic acidification, a process resulting from the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere by activities of anthropic nature, has been causing in recent decades a change in the chemical balance of the bicarbonate / carbonate system and consequently a decrease in the pH of the oceans. Estimates indicate that this decrease can be 0.7 units per year of 2300, which can affect the growth, reproduction and even survival of the species. In this sense, studies are needed to evaluate the impact of oceanic acidification on physiological and molecular levels in different marine species. The Callinectes danae crab is an important ecological and economic resource of the Region of the Baixada Santista and inhabitant of different ranges of salinity. The present study evaluated the effects of ocean acidification on C. danae crab on a set of physiological parameters (oxygen consumption, ammonia excretion, O: N ratio, hepatosomatic index and osmo-and ionoregulatory capacity of hemolymph), and gene expression of Na + / K + – ATPase, an important enzyme in the process of osmoregulation and acid base balance. The animals were kept at different salinities (20, 25, 30, 35 and 40) and at pHs 8.0 (control) and 7.3 (acidified) for a period of three and thirty days. It was observed an increase in the oxygen consumption in salinities 25 (3 days), 20 and 40 (30 days) probably due to a greater energy requirement for the maintenance of systems related to acid-base regulation. Metabolic depression was also observed at the salinity of 30 (30 days). Ammonia excretion decreased in salinities 30 (3 days), 25, 30 and 35 (30 days) possibly due to competition between Na + / H + and Na + / NH + 4 transporters. The hepatosomatic index had an increase in salinities of 30 (3 days) and 40 (30 days) due to a possible accumulation of reserves in stressful situations. The energy substrate and the osmoregulatory pattern remained unchanged in all treatments. However, the Cl- and Na + concentrations were reduced at the salinity of 25 and 35 (30 days), probably due to some changes in their transporters. Molecularly, a regulation of Na + / K + ATPase expression was observed, with a decrease in salinities of 35 and 40 (3 days), and a subsequent increase in the period of 30 days. The work was the first to evaluate the physiological and molecular parameters of C.danae in different salinities. Animals that remained longer on exposure to high pCO2 are more negatively affected than animals that were exposed in 3 days. The observed changes may indicate that although C. danae is an eurialan animal and inhabits different environments, ocean acidification can alter its physiological and molecular patterns, taking organisms out of their homeostasis, having consequences on the growth, development and distribution of the species.

Continue reading ‘Analysis of Na+/K+ -ATPase gene expression and physiological parameters in the crab Callinectes danae submitted to future scenarios of ocean acidification in the laboratory (in Portuguese)’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book