Posts Tagged 'South Pacific'

Technical note: continuous fluorescence-based monitoring of seawater pH in situ (update)

Electrical conductivity (salinity), temperature and fluorescence-based measurements of pH were employed to examine diel fluctuations in seawater carbonate chemistry of surface waters in Sydney Harbour over two multiple-day periods. A proof-of-concept device employing the fluorescence-based technique provided a useful time series for pH. Alkalinity with pH and temperature were used to calculate the degree of calcite and aragonite saturation (ΩCa and ΩAr, respectively). Alkalinity was determined from a published alkalinity–salinity relationship. The fluctuations observed in pH over intervals of minutes to hours could be distinguished from background noise. While the stated phase angle resolution of the lifetime fluorometer translated into pH units was ±0.0028 pH units, the repeatability standard deviation of calculated pH was 0.007 to 0.009. Diel variability in pH, ΩAr and ΩCa showed a clear pattern that appeared to correlate with both salinity and temperature. Drift due to photodegradation of the fluorophore was minimized by reducing exposure to ambient light. The ΩCa and ΩAr fluctuated on a daily cycle. The net result of changes in pH, salinity and temperature combined to influence seawater carbonate chemistry. The fluorescence-based pH monitoring technique is simple, provides good resolution and is unaffected by moving parts or leaching of solutions over time. The use of optics is pressure insensitive, making this approach to ocean acidification monitoring well suited to deepwater applications.

Continue reading ‘Technical note: continuous fluorescence-based monitoring of seawater pH in situ (update)’

State of corals and coral reefs of the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador): past, present and future

Coral populations and structural coral reefs have undergone severe reductions and losses respectively over large parts of the Galápagos Islands during and following the 1982–83 El Niño event. Coral tissue loss amounted to 95% across the Archipelago. Also at that time, all coral reefs in the central and southern islands disappeared following severe degradation and eventual collapse due primarily to intense bioerosion and low recruitment. Six sites in the southern islands have demonstrated low to moderate coral community (scattered colonies, but no carbonate framework) recovery. The iconic pocilloporid reef at Devil’s Crown (Floreana Island) experienced recovery to 2007, then severe mortality during a La Niña cooling event, and is again (as of 2017) undergoing rapid recovery. Notable recovery has occurred at the central (Marchena) and northern islands (Darwin and Wolf). Of the 17 structural reefs first observed in the mid-1970s, the single surviving reef (Wellington Reef) at Darwin Island remains in a positive growth mode. The remainder either degraded to a coral community or was lost. Retrospective analyses of the age structure of corals killed in 1983, and isotopic signatures of the skeletal growth record of massive corals suggest the occurrence of robust coral populations during at least a 500-year period before 1983. The greatest potential threats to the recovery and persistence of coral reefs include: ocean warming and acidification, bioerosion, coral diseases, human population growth (increasing numbers of residents and tourists), overfishing, invasive species, pollution, and habitat destruction. Such a diverse spectrum of disturbances, acting alone or in combination, are expected to continue to cause local and archipelago-wide mortality and degradation of the coral reef ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘State of corals and coral reefs of the Galápagos Islands (Ecuador): past, present and future’

CO2 emissions boost the benefits of crop production by farming damselfish

Farming is a technique employed by both humans and animals to enhance crop yields, allowing their populations to increase beyond the natural carrying capacity of the environment. Using volcanic CO2 vents, we investigate how a species of herbivorous fish (the black scalyfin Parma alboscapularis) may use increasing anthropogenic CO2 emissions to enhance its crop yields. We found that these farming fish can take advantage of this resource enrichment, to grow crops within smaller territories and increase the capacity of the environment to support more densely packed fish populations.

Continue reading ‘CO2 emissions boost the benefits of crop production by farming damselfish’

The energetic physiology of juvenile mussels, Mytilus chilensis (Hupe): the prevalent role of salinity under current and predicted pCO2 scenarios


•  Climate forecasts predict changes in pCO2 and salinity by the end of the century.
•  Yet, their individual and combined effects on coastal species remain understudied.
•  We assessed these effects on the physiology of juvenile mussels Mytilus chilensis.
•  Salinity had a prevalent role over most mussel’s physiology variables.
•  pCO2 affected excretion rates and interacted with salinity on oxygen uptake.


As a result of human activities, climate forecasts predict changes in the oceans pCO2 and salinity levels with unknown impacts on marine organisms. As a consequence, an increasing number of studies have begun to address the individual influence of pCO2 and salinity but much remains to be done to understand their combined effects on the physiology and ecology of marine species. Our study addressed this knowledge gap by measuring the influence of current and predicted levels of pCO2 (380 and 1200 ppm, respectively) and salinity (20, 25 and 30 psμ) on the energetic physiology of juvenile mussels (Mytilus chilensis) from the south-eastern Pacific region. Our results indicate that a reduced salinity caused a significant reduction in clearance rate, absorption efficiency and scope for growth of this species. Meanwhile, an increase in pCO2 levels caused a reduction in excretion rates and interacted significantly with salinity in the rate of oxygen uptake measured in the mussel. These results suggest that potential changes in salinity might have a direct role on the physiology of M. chilensis. The effect of pCO2, although less prevalent among the variables measured here, did interact with salinity and is also likely to alter the physiology of this species. Given the ecological and economic importance of M. chilensis, we call for further studies exploring the influence of pCO2 across a wider range of salinities.

Continue reading ‘The energetic physiology of juvenile mussels, Mytilus chilensis (Hupe): the prevalent role of salinity under current and predicted pCO2 scenarios’

High pCO2 levels affect metabolic rate, but not feeding behavior and fitness, of farmed giant mussel Choromytilus chorus

Benthic habitats such as intertidal areas, sandy or rocky shores, upwelling zones, and estuaries are characterized by variable environmental conditions. This high variability of environmental stressors such as temperature, salinity, and pH/ pCO2 levels have been shown to impose restrictions on organismal performance. The giant mussel Choromytilus chorus forms intertidal and subtidal mussel beds in estuarine zones associated with fjords occurring in southern Chile and is an important aquacultural resource in Patagonia. In this study, we estimated the sensitivity of physiological traits and energy balance of C. chorus juveniles exposed to 3 pCO2 treatments (500, 750, and 1200 µatm) for 30 d. Results showed that in acidified, high pCO2 conditions, C. chorus juveniles had increased metabolic rates; however, other physiological traits (clearance and ingestion rates, ammonia excretion, absorption efficiency, growth rate, biomass production, net calcification, and dissolution rates) were not affected. These results suggest that when subjected to acidification, the adaptive response of C. chorus triggers tradeoffs among physiological traits that favor sustained feeding and growth in order to combat increased metabolic stress. As has been reported for other marine organisms, chronic exposure to variable pH/ pCO2 in their native habitats, such as estuarine zones, could explain the differential acclimatization capacity of giant mussels to cope with the increase in pCO2. Additionally, the fact that the mussels did not suffer from mortality indicates that increased pCO2 levels may have chronic, but not lethal, effects on this species under these experimental conditions.

Continue reading ‘High pCO2 levels affect metabolic rate, but not feeding behavior and fitness, of farmed giant mussel Choromytilus chorus’

Surface ocean pH variations since 1689 CE and recent ocean acidification in the tropical South Pacific

Increasing atmospheric CO2 from man-made climate change is reducing surface ocean pH. Due to limited instrumental measurements and historical pH records in the world’s oceans, seawater pH variability at the decadal and centennial scale remains largely unknown and requires documentation. Here we present evidence of striking secular trends of decreasing pH since the late nineteenth century with pronounced interannual to decadal–interdecadal pH variability in the South Pacific Ocean from 1689 to 2011 CE. High-amplitude oceanic pH changes, likely related to atmospheric CO2 uptake and seawater dissolved inorganic carbon fluctuations, reveal a coupled relationship to sea surface temperature variations and highlight the marked influence of El Niño/Southern Oscillation and Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation. We suggest changing surface winds strength and zonal advection processes as the main drivers responsible for regional pH variability up to 1881 CE, followed by the prominent role of anthropogenic CO2 in accelerating the process of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Surface ocean pH variations since 1689 CE and recent ocean acidification in the tropical South Pacific’

Irreversible behavioural impairment of fish starts early: embryonic exposure to ocean acidification


•Fishes raised as eggs under ambient seawater were insensitive to ocean acidification.
•Fishes raised as eggs under ocean acidification showed increased anxiety.
•This response was not reversed when these fishes were returned to control conditions.
•The egg stage may be more sensitive to ocean acidification than the juvenile stage.


Long-term species responses to ocean acidification depend on their sensitivity during different life stages. We tested for sensitivity of juvenile fish behaviour to ocean acidification by exposing eggs to control and elevated CO2 levels, and translocating offspring between treatments in a reciprocal design. After 12 weeks of exposure, activity, inactivity and anxiety levels of juveniles from control eggs were similar, whether juveniles had experienced elevated CO2 conditions or not, and this pattern was consistent over time. However, juveniles raised as eggs under elevated CO2 showed increased anxiety levels compared to those from control eggs. This response was not reversed when CO2-exposed juveniles were translocated to control conditions. Our findings highlight the value of evaluating fish sensitivities to global change pollutants across different life stages, and indicate that sensitivity during the often-overlooked egg stage can be critical with long-lasting impairment of behaviours that are coupled to individual fitness and population persistence.

Continue reading ‘Irreversible behavioural impairment of fish starts early: embryonic exposure to ocean acidification’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book