Posts Tagged 'South Pacific'

Physiological responses of juvenile Chilean scallops (Argopecten purpuratus) to isolated and combined environmental drivers of coastal upwelling

Coastal biota is exposed to continuous environmental variability as a consequence of natural and anthropogenic processes. Responding to heterogeneous conditions requires the presence of physiological strategies to cope with the environment. Ecosystems influenced by upwelling endure naturally cold, acidic and hypoxic conditions, nevertheless they sustain major fisheries worldwide. This suggests that species inhabiting upwelling habitats possess physiological adaptations to handle high environmental variability. Here, we assessed the impact of the main upwelling drivers (temperature, pH and oxygen) in isolation and combined on eco-physiological responses of Chilean scallop Argopecten purpuratus. A. purpuratus responded to hypoxia by increasing their metabolic performance to maintain growth and calcification. Calcification was only affected by pH and increased under acidic conditions. Further, A. purpuratus juveniles prioritized calcification at the expense of growth under upwelling conditions. Increasing temperature had a significant impact by enhancing the physiological performance of A. purpuratus juveniles independently of oxygen and pH conditions, but this was associated with earlier and higher mortalities. Our results suggest that A. purpuratus is acclimated to short-term colder, acidic and hypoxic conditions, and provide important information of how this species responds to the heterogeneous environment of upwelling, which is significantly relevant in the climatic context of upwelling intensification.

Continue reading ‘Physiological responses of juvenile Chilean scallops (Argopecten purpuratus) to isolated and combined environmental drivers of coastal upwelling’

Sponge bioerosion versus aqueous pCO2: morphometric assessment of chips and etching fissures

Bioeroding sponges are important macroborers that chemically cut out substrate particles (chips) and mechanically remove them, thereby contributing to reef-associated sediment. These chemical and mechanical proportions vary with elevated levels of partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2). To assess related impacts, the morphometric parameters “chip diameter” and “etching fissure width” were analyzed for Cliona orientalis Thiele, 1900, hypothesizing that their dimensions would differ with different pCO2 exposures (72 h at ca. 400, 750 and 1700 μatm). Under ambient conditions, we obtained a mean chip diameter of 21.6 ± 0.7 μm and a mean fissure width of 0.29 ± 0.01 μm. Chips were evenly distributed across the medium and coarse silt fractions regardless of treatment. We could not find a reliable pCO2 treatment effect for chip diameter and fissure width, but we observed strong data variability not related to our key questions. A hierarchical data design further reduced the test power. Fissure width was the more sensitive, but also more variable parameter. Sample size analyses nevertheless indicated that we had processed enough data. Thus, we reject our scenario of an increase in fissure width and consequent reduction in chip size to explain why chemical sponge bioerosion increases more strongly than the mechanical counterpart. Instead, we propose that a lowered ambient pH may favor respiratory acid build-up in the sponge tissue, possibly leading to a less localized bioerosion, causing bias towards more chemical bioerosion. Overall, this does not seem to affect the morphometry of sponge chips and the quality of sponge-generated sediment.

Continue reading ‘Sponge bioerosion versus aqueous pCO2: morphometric assessment of chips and etching fissures’

Identifying important species that amplify or mitigate the interactive effects of human impacts on marine food webs

Some species may have a larger role than others in the transfer of complex effects of multiple human stressors, such as changes in biomass, through marine food webs. We devised a novel approach to identify such species. We constructed annual interaction‐effect networks (IENs) of the simulated changes in biomass between species of the southeastern Australian marine system. Each annual IEN was composed of the species linked by either an additive (sum of the individual stressor response), synergistic (lower biomass compared with additive effects), or antagonistic (greater biomass compared with additive effects) response to the interaction effect of ocean warming, ocean acidification, and fisheries. Structurally, over the simulation period, the number of species and links in the synergistic IENs increased and the network structure became more stable. The stability of the antagonistic IENs decreased and became more vulnerable to the loss of species. In contrast, there was no change in the structural attributes of species linked by an additive response. Using indices common in food‐web and network theory, we identified the species in each IEN for which a change in biomass from stressor effects would disproportionately affect the biomass of other species via direct and indirect local, intermediate, and global predator–prey feeding interactions. Knowing the species that transfer the most synergistic or antagonistic responses in a food‐web may inform conservation under increasing multiple‐stressor impacts.

Continue reading ‘Identifying important species that amplify or mitigate the interactive effects of human impacts on marine food webs’

Temporal effects of ocean warming and acidification on coral–algal competition

While there is an ever-expanding list of impacts on coral reefs as a result of ocean warming and acidification, there is little information on how these global changes influence coral–algal competition. The present study assessed the impact of business-as-usual ocean warming and acidification conditions on the survivorship, calcification, photosynthesis and respiration of the coral–algal interaction between the macroalga Halimeda heteromorpha and the coral Acropora intermedia over 8 weeks in two seasons. The physiological responses of A. intermedia and H. heteromorpha were highly dependent on season, with both organisms demonstrating optimal rates of calcification and photosynthesis under present-day conditions in summer. Contact with H. heteromorpha did not influence A. intermedia survivorship, however did reduce long-term calcification rates. Photosynthetic rates of A. intermedia were influenced by algal contact temporally in opposing directions, with rates reduced in winter and increased in summer. Enhanced photosynthetic rates as a result of algal contact were not enough to offset the combined effects of ocean warming and acidification, which regardless of coral–algal contact, reduced survivorship, calcification and photosynthesis of A. intermedia and the calcification rates of H. heteromorpha. These findings provide experimental support for the idea that the effects of coral–algal competition are temporally variable, and help improve our understanding of how future ocean warming and acidification may alter the dynamics of coral–algal interactions.

Continue reading ‘Temporal effects of ocean warming and acidification on coral–algal competition’

Carbon outwelling across the shelf following a massive mangrove dieback in Australia: insights from radium isotopes

Mangrove soil carbon stocks are known to decrease following forest loss due to respiration and enhanced soil CO2 emissions. However, changes in carbon outwelling to the coastal ocean due to mangrove forest disturbance have not been considered. In December 2015, an extremely large mangrove dieback event (∼7000 hectares, spanning 1000 km of coastline) occurred in the Gulf of Carpentaria, Australia. To assess the effect this dieback event had on carbon outwelling, we used radium isotopes and dissolved carbon measurements (dissolved organic carbon, DOC, dissolved inorganic carbon, DIC, and total alkalinity, TAlk) to estimate cross-shelf carbon transport from living and dead mangrove areas and to calculate the carbon losses from living and dead forest soils via SGD. Radium distributions imply cross shelf eddy diffusivity of 107.5 ± 26.9 and 104.6 ± 23.9 m−2 s−1 from dead and living areas and radium water ages reveal that mangrove carbon reaches 10 km offshore within 7 days. Outwelling rates from living and dead areas were explained by soil carbon losses via SGD. This study suggests a decrease in carbon outwelling to the ocean from dead forest areas compares to living areas by 0–12% for DOC, 50–52% for DIC and by 37–51% for TAlk ∼8 months after the dieback event occurred. Changes to oceanic carbon outwelling rates following mangrove loss are likely driven by a gradual depletion of carbon stocks from the sediment profile.

Continue reading ‘Carbon outwelling across the shelf following a massive mangrove dieback in Australia: insights from radium isotopes’

Coral reef calcification and production after the 2016 bleaching event at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef

Severe coral bleaching events have affected the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) causing massive losses of hard coral cover. Here, we use flow respirometry approaches to assess coral reef net ecosystem calcification (NEC) and net ecosystem production (NEP) following the 2015/2016 bleaching event at Lizard Island in the northern GBR, a heavily impacted area. Previous studies conducted in 2008 and 2009 [Silverman et al., 2014] were used as pre‐impact data. Lagrangian and Eulerian approaches provided varied results. Estimated NEC (29.1 – 137.7 mmol m‐2 day‐1) and NEP (‐876.7 – 50.5 mmol m‐2 day‐1) rates in 2016 were highly sensitive to assumptions about reef water residence times and oceanic endmember concentrations. Replicating the methodology used for the 2008 and 2009 study resulted in post‐bleaching NEC in 2016 at 32 ± 10.8 mmol m‐2 day‐1, 40 – 46% lower than pre‐bleaching estimates in 2008 (61 ± 12 mmol m‐2 day‐1) and 2009 (54 ± 13 mmol m‐2 day‐1). The slopes of a total alkalinity vs. dissolved inorganic carbon (TA – DIC) plot decreased from ~ 0.3 in 2008 and 2009 to 0.1 in 2016, indicating elevated organic production and a shift in community function. Changes in NEC relative to the previous study were not driven by changing Ω arag. Coral cover shifted from 8.3% and 7.1% in 2008 and 2009 to 3.0% in 2016. We demonstrate a clear decrease in coral reef NEC following bleaching and highlight that subtle assumptions/methodological differences may create bias in the interpretation of results. Therefore, comparing coral reef metabolism datasets and predicting long‐term coral reef calcification based on existing short‐term datasets needs to be done with care.

Continue reading ‘Coral reef calcification and production after the 2016 bleaching event at Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef’

The Great Barrier Reef: A source of CO2 to the atmosphere


• Seasonal variations in air-sea CO2 fluxes on the Great Barrier Reef reveal a strong CO2 release during the early-dry season.

• The Great Barrier Reef is overall a net source of CO2.

• CO2 fluxes are largely controlled by cross-shelf advection of oversaturated warm surface waters from the Coral Sea.


The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the largest contiguous coral reef system in the world. Carbonate chemistry studies and flux quantification within the GBR have largely focused on reef calcification and dissolution, with relatively little work on shelf-scale CO2 dynamics. In this manuscript, we describe the shelf-scale seasonal variability in inorganic carbon and air-sea CO2 fluxes over the main seasons (wet summer, early dry and late dry seasons) in the GBR.

Our large-scale dataset reveals that despite spatial-temporal variations, the GBR as a whole is a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere, with calculated air–sea fluxes varying between −6.19 and 12.17 mmol m−2 d−1 (average ± standard error: 1.44 ± 0.15 mmol m−2 d−1), with the strongest release of CO2 occurring during the wet season. The release of CO2 to the atmosphere is likely controlled by mixing of Coral Sea surface water, typically oversaturated in CO2, with the warm shelf waters of the GBR. This leads to oversaturation of the GBR system relative to the atmosphere and a consequent net CO2 release.

Continue reading ‘The Great Barrier Reef: A source of CO2 to the atmosphere’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book