Posts Tagged 'South Pacific'

Predation in high CO2 waters: prey fish from high-risk environments are less susceptible to ocean acidification

Most studies investigating the effects of anthropogenic environmental stressors do so in conditions that are often optimal for their test subjects, ignoring natural stressors such as competition or predation. As such, the quantitative results from such studies may often underestimate the lethality of certain toxic compounds. A well-known example of this concept is illustrated by the marked increase in the lethality of pesticides when larval amphibians are concurrently exposed to the odor of potential predators. Here, we investigated the interaction between background levels of environmental predation risk (high vs. low) and ocean acidification (ambient vs. elevated CO2) in 2 × 2 design. Wild-caught juvenile damselfish, Pomacentrus amboinensis, were exposed in the laboratory to the different risk and CO2 conditions for 4 days and released onto coral reef patches. Using a well-established field assay, we monitored the in situ behavior and mortality of the damselfish for 2 days. We predicted that juvenile fish exposed to elevated CO2 and high-risk conditions would display more severe behavioral impairments and increased mortality compared to fish exposed to elevated CO2 maintained under low-risk conditions. As expected, elevated CO2 exposure led to impaired antipredator responses and increased mortality in low-risk fish compared to ambient CO2 controls. However, we failed to find an effect of elevated CO2 on the behavior and survival of the high-risk fish. We hypothesized that the results may stem from either a behavioral compensation or a physiological response to high risk. Our results provide insights into the interactive nature of environmental and natural stressors and advance our understanding of the predicted effect of ocean acidification on aquatic ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Predation in high CO2 waters: prey fish from high-risk environments are less susceptible to ocean acidification’

Long-term exposure to elevated carbon dioxide does not alter activity levels of a coral reef fish in response to predator chemical cues

Levels of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) projected to occur in the world’s oceans in the near future have been reported to increase swimming activity and impair predator recognition in coral reef fishes. These behavioral alterations would be expected to have dramatic effects on survival and community dynamics in marine ecosystems in the future. To investigate the universality and replicability of these observations, we used juvenile spiny chromis damselfish (Acanthochromis polyacanthus) to examine the effects of long-term CO2 exposure on routine activity and the behavioral response to the chemical cues of a predator (Cephalopholis urodeta). Commencing at ~3–20 days post-hatch, juvenile damselfish were exposed to present-day CO2 levels (~420 μatm) or to levels forecasted for the year 2100 (~1000 μatm) for 3 months of their development. Thereafter, we assessed routine activity before and after injections of seawater (sham injection, control) or seawater-containing predator chemical cues. There was no effect of CO2 treatment on routine activity levels before or after the injections. All fish decreased their swimming activity following the predator cue injection but not following the sham injection, regardless of CO2 treatment. Our results corroborate findings from a growing number of studies reporting limited or no behavioral responses of fishes to elevated CO2.

Continue reading ‘Long-term exposure to elevated carbon dioxide does not alter activity levels of a coral reef fish in response to predator chemical cues’

Effects of hypoxia and ocean acidification on the upper thermal niche boundaries of coral reef fishes

Rising ocean temperatures are predicted to cause a poleward shift in the distribution of marine fishes occupying the extent of latitudes tolerable within their thermal range boundaries. A prevailing theory suggests that the upper thermal limits of fishes are constrained by hypoxia and ocean acidification. However, some eurythermal fish species do not conform to this theory, and maintain their upper thermal limits in hypoxia. Here we determine if the same is true for stenothermal species. In three coral reef fish species we tested the effect of hypoxia on upper thermal limits, measured as critical thermal maximum (CTmax). In one of these species we also quantified the effect of hypoxia on oxygen supply capacity, measured as aerobic scope (AS). In this species we also tested the effect of elevated CO2 (simulated ocean acidification) on the hypoxia sensitivity of CTmax. We found that CTmax was unaffected by progressive hypoxia down to approximately 35 mmHg, despite a substantial hypoxia-induced reduction in AS. Below approximately 35 mmHg, CTmax declined sharply with water oxygen tension (PwO2). Furthermore, the hypoxia sensitivity of CTmax was unaffected by elevated CO2. Our findings show that moderate hypoxia and ocean acidification do not constrain the upper thermal limits of these tropical, stenothermal fishes.

Continue reading ‘Effects of hypoxia and ocean acidification on the upper thermal niche boundaries of coral reef fishes’

Species interactions drive fish biodiversity loss in a high-CO2 world

Highlights

  • Elevated CO2 did not alter competitive hierarchies of fish at volcanic vents
  • Enhanced food and reduced predation boosted density of behaviorally dominant fish
  • Population increases of dominant fish suppressed subordinate species
  • Ocean acidification can reduce local fish diversity and homogenize fish communities

Abstract

Accelerating climate change is eroding the functioning and stability of ecosystems by weakening the interactions among species that stabilize biological communities against change [1]. A key challenge to forecasting the future of ecosystems centers on how to extrapolate results from short-term, single-species studies to community-level responses that are mediated by key mechanisms such as competition, resource availability (bottom-up control), and predation (top-down control) [2]. We used CO2 vents as potential analogs of ocean acidification combined with in situ experiments to test current predictions of fish biodiversity loss and community change due to elevated CO2 [3] and to elucidate the potential mechanisms that drive such change. We show that high risk-taking behavior and competitive strength, combined with resource enrichment and collapse of predator populations, fostered already common species, enabling them to double their populations under acidified conditions. However, the release of these competitive dominants from predator control led to suppression of less common and subordinate competitors that did not benefit from resource enrichment and reduced predation. As a result, local biodiversity was lost and novel fish community compositions were created under elevated CO2. Our study identifies the species interactions most affected by ocean acidification, revealing potential sources of natural selection. We also reveal how diminished predator abundances can have cascading effects on local species diversity, mediated by complex species interactions. Reduced overfishing of predators could therefore act as a key action to stall diversity loss and ecosystem change in a high-CO2 world.

Continue reading ‘Species interactions drive fish biodiversity loss in a high-CO2 world’

The Solomon Sea: its circulation, chemistry, geochemistry and biology explored during two oceanographic cruises

The semi-enclosed Solomon Sea in the southwestern tropical Pacific is on the pathway of a major oceanic circuit connecting the subtropics to the equator via energetic western boundary currents. Waters transiting through this area replenish the Pacific Warm Pool and ultimately feed the equatorial current system, in particular the equatorial undercurrent. In addition to dynamical transformations, water masses undergo nutrient and micronutrient enrichment when coming in contact with the coasts, impacting the productivity of the downstream equatorial region. Broadscale observing systems are not well suited for describing the fine-scale currents and water masses properties in the Solomon Sea, leaving it relatively unexplored. Two multidisciplinary oceanographic cruises were conducted in the Solomon Sea region, the first in July–August 2012 and the second in March 2014, by investigators from France and the United States. The experimental approach combined physical, chemical, geochemical and biogeochemical analyses, providing access to a wide range of space and time scales of the circulation. This collection of data allows describing the fine-scale structure of the currents and the water properties, transformations and mixing from the surface to the sill depth in the Solomon Sea and in the straits connecting it to the equator. Ocean-margin exchanges were documented through a comprehensive sampling of trace elements and isotopes as efficient tracers of natural fertilization processes. As air chemistry is largely impacted by the regional volcanic plumes, rainwater pH was also sampled. Dinitrogen fixation rates were measured and found to be among the highest in the global ocean, highlighting this region as a hot spot of nitrogen fixation. This study provides an overview of the climatic context during both cruises and the physical circulation and water masses properties. It provides a comprehensive description of all measurements made onboard, and presents preliminary results, aiming to serve as a reference for further physical, geochemical and biogeochemical studies.

Continue reading ‘The Solomon Sea: its circulation, chemistry, geochemistry and biology explored during two oceanographic cruises’

Coral calcifying fluid aragonite saturation states derived from Raman spectroscopy

Quantifying the saturation state of aragonite (ΩAr) within the calcifying fluid of corals is critical for understanding their biomineralisation process and sensitivity to environmental changes including ocean acidification. Recent advances in microscopy, microprobes, and isotope geochemistry allow determination of calcifying fluid pH and [CO32−], but direct quantification of ΩAr (where ΩAr =[CO32−][Ca2+]/Ksp) has proved elusive. Here we test a new technique for deriving ΩAr based on Raman spectroscopy. First, we analysed abiogenic aragonite crystals precipitated under a range of ΩAr from 10 to 34, and found a strong dependence of Raman peak width on ΩAr that was independent of other factors including pH, Mg/Ca partitioning, and temperature. Validation of our Raman technique for corals is difficult because there are presently no direct measurements of calcifying fluid ΩAr available for comparison. However, Raman analysis of the international coral standard JCp-1 produced ΩAr of 12.3 ± 0.3, which we demonstrate is consistent with published skeletal Sr/Ca, Mg/Ca, B/Ca, δ44Ca, and δ11B data. Raman measurements are rapid (≤ 1 s), high-resolution (< 1 μm), precise (derived ΩAr ±1 to 2), and require minimal sample preparation; making the technique well suited for testing the sensitivity of coral calcifying fluid ΩAr to ocean acidification and warming using samples from natural and laboratory settings. To demonstrate this, we also show a high-resolution time series of ΩAr over multiple years of growth in a Porites skeleton from the Great Barrier Reef, and we evaluate the response of ΩAr in juvenile Acropora cultured under elevated CO2 and temperature.

Continue reading ‘Coral calcifying fluid aragonite saturation states derived from Raman spectroscopy’

Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) sediment dissolution under elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrate (NO3−)

Ocean acidification (OA), attributed to the sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) into the surface ocean, and coastal eutrophication, attributed in part to land-use change and terrestrial runoff of fertilizers, have received recent attention in an experimental framework examining the effects of each on coral reef net ecosystem calcification (Gnet). However, OA and eutrophication in conjunction have yet to receive attention from the perspective of coral reef sediment dissolution. To address this omission, CO2 and nitrate (NO3−) addition experiments were performed in Mo’orea, French Polynesia. Incubation chambers were used to measure sediment Gnet during the day and night under three different [NO3−] (0, 9.8, and 19.7 μM) that were nested within four separate constructed coral reef communities maintained at different PCO2 levels (417, 721, 1030, and 1333 μatm, respectively). PCO2 negatively affected sediment Gnetduring the day and night, resulting in a shift to diel net dissolution at a PCO2 of 1030 μatm. Elevated NO3− alone, and the combination of NO3− and PCO2, both negatively affected sediment Gnet at night. However, the response of Gnet to NO3− was less clear during the day, where diurnal sediment Gnet was enhanced under the combined treatment of elevated NO3− and PCO2, resulting in no net effect of NO3− on sediment Gnet on diel timescales. Overall, these results show that ocean acidification represents a greater threat to the balance of calcification and dissolution in Mo’orea’s back reef sediment communities than the potential impact of NO3− enrichment on relatively short timescales.

Continue reading ‘Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) sediment dissolution under elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrate (NO3−)’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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