Posts Tagged 'South Pacific'

Explosive volcanism periodicity past cycles record within the last 0.8 Mya evidenced by tephra and benthic foraminifera of IODP Hole U1485AA (Exp. 363 WPWP)

Volcanic eruptions with increase in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases are responsible for the extinction of many species because of decreased pH and carbonate availability which creates ocean acidification. Here we show how benthic foraminifera have evolved, by studying sediments from U1485A (1145 m water depth) core in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) collected during IODP Expedition 363 in the Western Pacific Warm Pool (WPWP), one of the warmest marine waters of the world. High-stressed environments dominated by low diversity of opportunistic species after volcanic activity was detected by the presence of tephra and volcanic ashes within the last 0.8 Mya. The decrease in the diversity patterns show an inverse correlation to the presence of tephra and ash right after Pleistocene volcanic eruptions in the past. Deep-water fauna is dominated by Cibicidoides pachiderma, from the early Oligocene through the Pleistocene, Uvigerina hispida from early Miocene through Pleistocene, U. prosbocidae from late Oligocene through Pleistocene, and an outer neritic upper bathyal Uvigerina mediterranea from high salinities, warm waters, low dissolved oxygen, and high organic matter. Bolivinita quadrilatera characteristic of 200-500m depth, Bolivina robusta from 3 to 900m, and the Rotalinoides compressiusculus, a shallow warm water species, from 2-37m depth show higher diversity peaks in interglacial cycles. High-stress conditions with mass extinction after volcanic eruptions leads to enhanced weathering, global warming and cooling afterwards, and ocean acidification, resulting in a crisis in the marine environment in terms of carbonate. Diversity gradients suggested that foraminiferal species responded to the cyclic pulses of volcanic eruptions, and its unstable ecological conditions created by the increase in the temperature and CO2. Here we show that tephra layers and ash record a periodicity of explosive volcanism within the last 0.8 Myr maintaining a strong 100 kyr periodicity, and that earth’s orbital cycles might trigger peaks of volcanic eruptions 41,000-year cycle.

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Future shock: ocean acidification and seasonal water temperatures alter the physiology of competing temperate and coral reef fishes


  • Temperate and coral reef fishes were exposed to ocean acidification and ocean warming
  • Coral reef fish decreased physiological performance in future winters (20 °C + OA)
  • Coral reef fish increased lipid energy storage in future winter conditions
  • Temperate fish increased oxidative damage in future summers (26 °C + OA)
  • Future climate can modify the physiology of temperate and coral fishes seasonally


Climate change can directly (physiology) and indirectly (novel species interactions) modify species responses to novel environmental conditions during the initial stages of range shifts. Whilst the effects of climate warming on tropical species at their cold-water leading ranges are well-established, it remains unclear how future seasonal temperature changes, ocean acidification, and novel species interactions will alter the physiology of range-shifting tropical and competing temperate fish in recipient ecosystems. Here we used a laboratory experiment to examine how ocean acidification, future summer vs winter temperatures, and novel species interactions could affect the physiology of competing temperate and range-extending coral reef fish to determine potential range extension outcomes. In future winters (20 °C + ocean acidification) coral reef fish at their cold-water leading edges showed reduced physiological performance (lower body condition and cellular defence, and higher oxidative damage) compared to present-day summer (23 °C + control pCO2) and future summer conditions (26 °C + ocean acidification). However, they showed a compensatory effect in future winters through increased long-term energy storage. Contrastingly, co-shoaling temperate fish showed higher oxidative damage, and reduced short-term energy storage and cellular defence in future summer than in future winter conditions at their warm-trailing edges. However, temperate fish benefitted from novel shoaling interactions and showed higher body condition and short-term energy storage when shoaling with coral reef fish compared to same-species shoaling. We conclude that whilst during future summers, ocean warming will likely benefit coral reef fishes extending their ranges, future winter conditions may still reduce coral reef fish physiological functioning, and may therefore slow their establishment at higher latitudes. In contrast, temperate fish species benefit from co-shoaling with smaller-sized tropical fishes, but this benefit may dissipate due to their reduced physiological functioning under future summer temperatures and increasing body sizes of co-shoaling tropical species.

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Effects of dissolved carbon dioxide on growth and vertebral column of hybrid marine grouper (Epinephelus fuscoguttatus × E. lanceolatus) early advanced larvae


  • Ocean acidification negatively impacted the early advanced larvae of the marine hybrid tiger grouper × giant grouper (TG × GG).
  • Worst growth, survival, weight, food consumption, and conversion rates at 1000 ppm CO2.
  • Deformed vertebral columns were observed at 1000 ppm CO2, while normal vertebral column observed at 400 ppm CO2.
  • This study provides guidelines for future studies on TG × GG larvae or other marine fish larvae under elevated CO2 concentrations.


This study investigated the effects of different dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations (400, 700, and 1000 ppm) on the growth and vertebral column formation of hybrid tiger grouper × giant grouper (TG × GG) in their advanced larval stage under controlled laboratory conditions for 12 weeks. Growth parameters, including specific growth rate (SGR), survival rate, food consumption (FC), and food conversion rate (FCR), were calculated at the end of the experiment. Vertebral column formation was analysed using X-radiography and osteology methods. The results showed that all growth parameters were significantly affected by CO2 concentration, with the best performances observed under 400 ppm CO2. The highest statistically significant (p < 0.05) SGR, survival rate, and FC were observed under 400 ppm CO2, whereas the lowest was observed under 1000 ppm CO2. The lowest FCR (0.40, p < 0.05) was observed in 400 ppm CO2 and the highest was observed at 1000 ppm CO2 (0.59, p < 0.05). Furthermore, larvae without vertebral column malformations were observed in 400 ppm CO2, while larvae with small angles of kyphosis were observed in 700 ppm CO2, and larvae with kyphosis, lordosis, and vertebral compression were observed in 1000 ppm CO2. Only six spine measurements out of 31 obtained under different CO2 concentrations were significantly different (p < 0.05). Overall, the results suggest that CO2 concentration plays a crucial role in the growth and vertebral column formation of TG × GG in their advanced larval stage. The optimal CO2 concentration for the aquaculture of TG × GG in their advanced larval stage was found to be 400 ppm or lower. This study highlights the importance of maintaining optimal CO2 concentrations to enhance the growth and health of fish in aquaculture systems…

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Carbonate system in the Cabo Frio upwelling

The quantitative assessment of the carbonate system represents one of the biggest challenges toward the “Sustainable Development Goals” defined by the United Nations in 2015. In this sense, the present study investigated the Spatio-temporal dynamics of the carbonate system and the effects of the El Niño and La Niña phenomena over the Cabo Frio upwelling area. The physical characterization of the site was carried out through data on wind speed and sea surface temperature. Water samples were also collected during the oceanographic cruise onboard the Diadorim R/V (Research Vessel). From these samples, the parameters of absolute and practical salinity, density, pH, total alkalinity, carbonate, calcite, aragonite, bicarbonate dissolved inorganic carbon, carbon dioxide, partial pressure of carbon, calcium, and total boron were obtained. The highest average concentration of bicarbonate in S1 (2018 µmol/kg) seems to contribute to the dissolved inorganic carbon values (2203 µmol/kg). The values of calcite saturation state, aragonite saturation state, and carbonate were higher on the surface of each station (calcite saturation state = 4.80–5.48; aragonite saturation state = 3.10–3.63, and carbonate = 189–216 µmol/kg). The mean values of pH were similar in the day/night samples (7.96/7.97). The whole carbonate system was calculated through thermodynamic modeling with the Marine Chemical Analysis (AQM) program loaded with the results of the following parameters: temperature, salinity, total alkalinity, and pH parameters. This manuscript presents original data on the carbonate system and the “acidification” process influenced by the Cabo Frio upwelling, which directly depends on the El Niño and La Niña phenomena oscillations in the sea surface temperature.

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High abundances of zooxanthellate zoantharians (Palythoa and Zoanthus) at multiple natural analogues: potential model anthozoans?

Whilst natural analogues for future ocean conditions such as CO2 seeps and enclosed lagoons in coral reef regions have received much recent research attention, most efforts in such locations have focused on the effects of prolonged high CO2 levels on scleractinian corals and fishes. Here, we demonstrate that the three species of zooxanthellate zoantharians, hexacorallian non-calcifying “cousins” of scleractinians, are common across five coral reef natural analogue sites with high CO2 levels in the western Pacific Ocean, in Japan (n = 2), Palau, Papua New Guinea, and New Caledonia (n = 1 each). These current observations support previously reported cases of high Palythoa and Zoanthus abundance and dominance on various impacted coral reefs worldwide. The results demonstrate the need for more research on the ecological roles of zooxanthellate zoantharians in coral reef systems, as well as examining other “understudied” taxa that may become increasingly important in the near future under climate change scenarios. Given their abundance in these sites combined with ease in sampling and non-CITES status, some zoantharian species should make excellent hexacoral models for examining potential resilience or resistance mechanisms of anthozoans to future high pCO2 conditions.

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What conservation strategies support the adaptive capacity of coastal ecosystems in three island states facing a changing climate in Micronesia?

Coastal ecosystems, such as coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass beds, are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The degradation and loss of these ecosystems, stemming from the increased impacts of climate change-related drivers, threaten the well-being of island communities in Micronesia, as they are very reliant on and connected with these coastal ecosystems. Supporting the adaptive capacity of ecosystems through climate adaptive conservation, and thus better equipping them to recover from and adapt to the potential impacts, in turn reduces the vulnerability of the social-ecological system. This thesis identified five main climate change-related drivers that impact coastal systems across three selected states in Micronesia. First, based on a conceptual social-ecological systems (SES) framework, a literature review and analysis were conducted to identify and select three ecosystem adaptive capacity (AC) elements: Heterogeneity, connectivity, and ecosystem functioning. Building on that, second, a literature review aided the identification of climate adaptive conservation strategies and related actions that can support the adaptive capacity of ecosystems. Following a qualitative content analysis, eight climate adaptive conservation strategies and 26 activities were selected and categorized. Third, the extent of (1) the strategy effectiveness, (2) their integration in conservation policy and planning documents, and (3) their implementation on a national scale were evaluated through a semi-quantitative expert consultation in each of the selected states, exemplified with coral reefs.

The findings from this research showed that while the climate adaptive strategies and activities were considered effective in supporting the adaptive capacity of coral reefs in Micronesia, the extent of their implementation ranked low. Strategies, such as “Addressing non-climatic drivers” were considered highly effective, however their implementation fell comparably short. Contrary, targeting heterogeneity was considered of least importance. Thus, as their regional implementation ranked low, the ability of the strategies to support coral adaptive capacity was limited for all three countries. Particularly, the upscaling and mainstreaming of these strategies was considered crucial by the experts. Therefore, this research proposed to prioritize addressing non-climatic drivers, supporting coral reef restoration, and recommended to integrate communities in the design of climate adaptive conservation. Further to apply actionable co-produced science to advance the evidence base and applicability of the strategies in supporting ecosystem AC.

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How ocean warming and acidification affect the life cycle of six worldwide commercialised sea urchin species: a review

Ongoing global changes are expected to affect the worldwide production of many fisheries and aquaculture systems. Because invertebrates represent a relevant industry, it is crucial to anticipate challenges that are resulting from the current environmental alterations. In this review, we rely on the estimated physiological limits of six commercialised species of sea urchins (Loxechinus albusMesocentrotus franciscanusParacentrotus lividus, Strongylocentrotus droebachiensisStrongylocentrotus intermedius and Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) to define the vulnerability (or resilience) of their populations facing ocean warming and acidification (OW&A). Considering that coastal systems do not change uniformly and that the populations’ response to stressors varies depending on their origin, we investigate the effects of OW&A by including studies that estimate future environmental mutations within their distribution areas. Cross-referencing 79 studies, we find that several sea urchin populations are potentially vulnerable to the predicted OW&A as environmental conditions in certain regions are expected to shift beyond their estimated physiological limit of tolerance. Specifically, while upper thermal thresholds seem to be respected for L. albus along the SW American coast, M. franciscanus and S. purpuratus southern populations appear to be vulnerable in NW America. Moreover, as a result of the strong warming expected in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, the local productivity of S. droebachiensis is also potentially largely affected. Finally, populations of S. intermedius and P. lividus found in northern Japan and eastern Mediterranean respectively, are supposed to decline due to large environmental changes brought about by OW&A. This review highlights the status and the potential of local adaptation of a number of sea urchin populations in response to changing environmental conditions, revealing possible future challenges for various local fishing industries.

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Coral adaptive capacity insufficient to halt global transition of coral reefs into net erosion under climate change

Projecting the effects of climate change on net reef calcium carbonate production is critical to understanding the future impacts on ecosystem function, but prior estimates have not included corals’ natural adaptive capacity to such change. Here we estimate how the ability of symbionts to evolve tolerance to heat stress, or for coral hosts to shuffle to favourable symbionts, and their combination, may influence responses to the combined impacts of ocean warming and acidification under three representative concentration pathway (RCP) emissions scenarios (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). We show that symbiont evolution and shuffling, both individually and when combined, favours persistent positive net reef calcium carbonate production. However, our projections of future net calcium carbonate production (NCCP) under climate change vary both spatially and by RCP. For example, 19%–35% of modelled coral reefs are still projected to have net positive NCCP by 2050 if symbionts can evolve increased thermal tolerance, depending on the RCP. Without symbiont adaptive capacity, the number of coral reefs with positive NCCP drops to 9%–13% by 2050. Accounting for both symbiont evolution and shuffling, we project median positive NCPP of coral reefs will still occur under low greenhouse emissions (RCP2.6) in the Indian Ocean, and even under moderate emissions (RCP4.5) in the Pacific Ocean. However, adaptive capacity will be insufficient to halt the transition of coral reefs globally into erosion by 2050 under severe emissions scenarios (RCP8.5).

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Projected effects of climate change on marine ecosystems in Southeast Asian seas

The seas of Southeast Asia are home to some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems and resources that support the livelihoods of millions of people. Climate change will bring temperature changes, acidification and other environmental change, with uncertain consequences for human and natural systems, but there has been little regional-scale climate modelling of the marine ecosystem. We present initial dynamically downscaled projections using a biogeochemical model suitable for coastal and shelf seas. A coupled physical-biogeochemical model with a resolution of 0.1° (approximately 11 km) was used to create projections of future environmental conditions under moderate (RCP4.5) and high (RCP8.5) greenhouse gas scenarios. Changes for different parts of the region are presented, including four sensitive coastal sites of key importance for biodiversity and sustainable development: UNESCO Biosphere Reserves at Cu Lao Cham-Hoi An in Vietnam, Palawan in the Philippines and Taka Bonerate-Kepulauan Selayar in Indonesia, and coastal waters of Sabah, Malaysia, which include several marine parks. The projections show a sea that is warming by 1.1 to 2.9°C through the 21st century, with dissolved oxygen decreasing by 5 to 13 mmol m-3 and changes in many other environmental variables. The changes reach all parts of the water column and many places are projected to experience conditions well outside the range seen at the start of the century. The resulting damage to coral reefs and altered species distribution would have consequences for biodiversity, the livelihoods of small-scale fishers and the food security of coastal communities. Further work using a range of global models and regional models with different biogeochemical components is needed to provide confidence levels, and we suggest some ways forward. Projections of this type serve as a key tool for communities and policymakers as they plan how they will adapt to the challenge of climate change.

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Long-term slowdown of ocean carbon uptake by alkalinity dynamics

Oceanic absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is expected to slow down under increasing anthropogenic emissions; however, the driving mechanisms and rates of change remain uncertain, limiting our ability to project long-term changes in climate. Using an Earth system simulation, we show that the uptake of anthropogenic carbon will slow in the next three centuries via reductions in surface alkalinity. Warming and associated changes in precipitation and evaporation intensify density stratification of the upper ocean, inhibiting the transport of alkaline water from the deep. The effect of these changes is amplified threefold by reduced carbonate buffering, making alkalinity a dominant control on CO2 uptake on multi-century timescales. Our simulation reveals a previously unknown alkalinity-climate feedback loop, amplifying multi-century warming under high emission trajectories.

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Macroalgal cover on coral reefs: spatial and environmental predictors, and decadal trends in the Great Barrier Reef

Macroalgae are an important component of coral reef ecosystems. We identified spatial patterns, environmental drivers and long-term trends of total cover of upright fleshy and calcareous coral reef inhabiting macroalgae in the Great Barrier Reef. The spatial study comprised of one-off surveys of 1257 sites (latitude 11–24°S, coastal to offshore, 0–18 m depth), while the temporal trends analysis was based on 26 years of long-term monitoring data from 93 reefs. Environmental predictors were obtained from in situ data and from the coupled hydrodynamic-biochemical model eReefs. Macroalgae dominated the benthos (≥50% cover) on at least one site of 40.4% of surveyed inshore reefs. Spatially, macroalgal cover increased steeply towards the coast, with latitude away from the equator, and towards shallow (≤3 m) depth. Environmental conditions associated with macroalgal dominance were: high tidal range, wave exposure and irradiance, and low aragonite saturation state, Secchi depth, total alkalinity and temperature. Evidence of space competition between macroalgal cover and hard coral cover was restricted to shallow inshore sites. Temporally, macroalgal cover on inshore and mid-shelf reefs showed some fluctuations, but unlike hard corals they showed no systematic trends. Our extensive empirical data may serve to parameterize ecosystem models, and to refine reef condition indices based on macroalgal data for Pacific coral reefs.

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Sponge organic matter recycling: reduced detritus production under extreme environmental conditions


  • Sponge metabolism was measured at the natural laboratory of Bouraké where sponges are naturally exposed to extreme conditions associated with tidal phase.
  • The photosymbiotic HMA sponge Rhabdastrella globostellata was able to cope with extreme acidification and deoxygenation seawater.
  • Photosynthetic activity of sponge symbionts was negatively affected during extreme environmental conditions.
  • The sponge loop pathway was disrupted during low tide, which correlated with extreme acidification, deoxygenation and warming seawater.


Sponges are a key component of coral reef ecosystems and play an important role in carbon and nutrient cycles. Many sponges are known to consume dissolved organic carbon and transform this into detritus, which moves through detrital food chains and eventually to higher trophic levels via what is known as the sponge loop. Despite the importance of this loop, little is known about how these cycles will be impacted by future environmental conditions. During two years (2018 and 2020), we measured the organic carbon, nutrient recycling, and photosynthetic activity of the massive HMA, photosymbiotic sponge Rhabdastrella globostellata at the natural laboratory of Bouraké in New Caledonia, where the physical and chemical composition of seawater regularly change according to the tide. We found that while sponges experienced acidification and low dissolved oxygen at low tide in both sampling years, a change in organic carbon recycling whereby sponges stopped producing detritus (i.e., the sponge loop) was only found when sponges also experienced higher temperature in 2020. Our findings provide new insights into how important trophic pathways may be affected by changing ocean conditions.

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Embryonic encapsulated development of the gastropod Acanthina monodon is impacted by future environmental changes of temperature and pCO2

Egg capsules of the gastropod Acanthina monodon were maintained during the entire period of encapsulated development at three temperatures (10, 15, 20 °C) and two pCO2 levels (400, 1200 μatm). Embryos per capsule, size at hatching, time to hatching, embryonic metabolic rates, and the resistance of juveniles to shell breakage were quantified. No embryos maintained at 20 °C developed to hatching. The combination of temperature and pCO2 levels had synergistic effects on hatching time and developmental success, antagonistic effects on number of hatchlings per capsule, resistance to juvenile shell cracking and metabolism, and additive effect on hatching size. Juveniles hatched significantly sooner at 15 °C, independent of the pCO2 level that they had been exposed to, while individuals hatched at significantly smaller sizes if they had been held under 15 °C/1200 μatm rather than at 10 °C/low pCO2. Embryos held at the higher pCO2 had a significantly greater percentage of abnormalities. For capsules maintained at low pCO2 and 15 °C, emerging juveniles had less resistance to shell breakage. Embryonic metabolism was significantly higher at 15 °C than at 10 °C, independent of pCO2 level. The lower metabolism occurred in embryos maintained at the higher pCO2 level. Thus, in this study, temperature was the factor that had the greatest effect on the encapsulated development of A. monodon, increasing the metabolism of the embryos and consequently accelerating development, which was expressed in a shorter intracapsular development time, but with smaller individuals at hatching and a lower resistance of their shells to breakage. On the other hand, the high pCO2 level suppressed metabolism, prolonged intracapsular development, and promoted more incomplete development of the embryos. However, the combination of the two factors can mitigate–to some extent–the adverse effects of both incomplete development and lower resistance to shell breakage.

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Paris Agreement could prevent regional mass extinctions of coral species

Coral reef ecosystems are expected to undergo significant declines over the coming decades as oceans become warmer and more acidic. We investigate the environmental tolerances of over 650 Scleractinian coral species based on the conditions found within their present-day ranges and in areas where they are currently absent but could potentially reach via larval dispersal. These “environmental envelopes” and connectivity constraints are then used to develop global forecasts for potential coral species richness under two emission scenarios, representing the Paris Agreement target (“SSP1-2.6”) and high levels of emissions (“SSP5-8.5”). Although we do not directly predict coral mortality or adaptation, the projected changes to environmental suitability suggest considerable potential declines in coral species richness for the majority of the world’s tropical coral reefs, with a net loss in average local richness of 73% (Paris Agreement) to 91% (High Emissions) by 2080-2090 and particularly large declines across sites in the Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea, Western Indian Ocean and Caribbean. However, at the regional scale, we find that environmental suitability for the majority of coral species can be largely maintained under the Paris Agreement target, with 0-30% potential net species lost in most regions (increasing to 50% for the Great Barrier Reef) as opposed to 80-90% losses in most areas under High Emissions. Projections for sub-tropical areas suggest that range expansion will give rise to coral reefs with low species richness (typically 10-20 coral species per region) and will not meaningfully offset declines in the tropics. This work represents the first global projection of coral species richness under oceanic warming and acidification. Our results highlight the critical importance of mitigating climate change to avoid potentially massive extinctions of coral species.

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Abrupt episode of mid-Cretaceous ocean acidification triggered by massive volcanism

Large-igneous-province volcanic activity during the mid-Cretaceous triggered a global-scale episode of reduced marine oxygen levels known as Oceanic Anoxic Event 2 approximately 94.5 million years ago. It has been hypothesized that this geologically rapid degassing of volcanic carbon dioxide altered seawater carbonate chemistry, affecting marine ecosystems, geochemical cycles and sedimentation. Here we report on two sites drilled by the International Ocean Discovery Program offshore of southwest Australia that exhibit clear evidence for suppressed pelagic carbonate sedimentation in the form of a stratigraphic interval barren of carbonate minerals, recording ocean acidification during the event. We then use the osmium isotopic composition of bulk sediments to directly link this protracted ~600 kyr shoaling of the marine calcite compensation depth to the onset of volcanic activity. This decrease in marine pH was prolonged by biogeochemical feedbacks in highly productive regions where elevated heterotrophic respiration added carbon dioxide to the water column. A compilation of mid-Cretaceous marine stratigraphic records reveals a contemporaneous decrease of sedimentary carbonate content at continental slope sites globally. Thus, we contend that changes in marine carbonate chemistry are a primary ecological stress and important consequence of rapid emission of carbon dioxide during many large-igneous-province eruptions in the geologic past.

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Similarities in biomass and energy reserves among coral colonies from contrasting reef environments

Coral reefs are declining worldwide, yet some coral populations are better adapted to withstand reductions in pH and the rising frequency of marine heatwaves. The nearshore reef habitats of Palau, Micronesia are a proxy for a future of warmer, more acidic oceans. Coral populations in these habitats can resist, and recover from, episodes of thermal stress better than offshore conspecifics. To explore the physiological basis of this tolerance, we compared tissue biomass (ash-free dry weight cm−2), energy reserves (i.e., protein, total lipid, carbohydrate content), and several important lipid classes in six coral species living in both offshore and nearshore environments. In contrast to expectations, a trend emerged of many nearshore colonies exhibiting lower biomass and energy reserves than colonies from offshore sites, which may be explained by the increased metabolic demand of living in a warmer, acidic, environment. Despite hosting different dinoflagellate symbiont species and having access to contrasting prey abundances, total lipid and lipid class compositions were similar in colonies from each habitat. Ultimately, while the regulation of colony biomass and energy reserves may be influenced by factors, including the identity of the resident symbiont, kind of food consumed, and host genetic attributes, these independent processes converged to a similar homeostatic set point under different environmental conditions.

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Potential effects of climate change on the growth response of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia selliformis from Patagonian waters of Chile

Northern Patagonia (41–44°S) is affected by climatic, hydrological and oceanographic anomalies, which in synergy with processes such as global warming and acidification of the coastal oceans may affect the frequency and intensity of harmful algal blooms (HABs). Greater frequency of HABs has been reported in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, including blooms of the toxic dinoflagellate Karenia selliformis, causing massive mortality of marine fauna in the oceanic and coastal areas of Patagonia. The objective of this study was to determine the effects of temperature and pH interaction on the growth of K. selliformis (strain CREAN_KS02), since these factors have wide seasonal fluctuations in the Patagonian fjord ecosystem. The CREAN_KS02 strain isolated from the Aysén Region (43°S) was used in a factorial experiment with five pH levels (7.0, 7.4, 7.7, 8.1 and 9.0) and two temperatures (12 and 17 °C) during a period of 18–21 days. Results indicated a significant effect of temperature and pH interaction on growth rate (range 0.22 ± 0.00 to 0.08 ± 0.01 d−1) and maximum density (range 13,710 ± 2,616 to 2,385 ± 809 cells mL−1) of K. selliformis. The highest density and growth of K. selliformis was found at 12 °C with a reduced pH (7.0–7.7). The results suggest that the current environmental conditions of coastal Patagonia, waters of low temperature and relatively low pH, may be favorable for the development of blooms of this species during autumn. We suggest that there is natural plasticity of K. selliformis in a wide pH range (7.0–8.1) but in a narrow low temperature range (10.6–12.9 °C), values that are typically recorded in the oceanic region of northern Patagonia. In contrast, in an extreme climate change scenario (ocean warming and coastal acidification) in northern Patagonia, a negative effect on the growth of K. selliformis may be expected due to amplification of the acidification effects caused by the thermal stress of high temperature water.

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Groundwater discharge and streams drive spatial alkalinity and pCO2 dynamics in two contrasting tropical lagoons

Coral reef lagoons are areas of complex carbon cycling, however, regional (e.g. land use) and global (e.g. climate) factors, including land runoff and ocean acidification, are adversely affecting carbonate-building coral reef systems. Coupled with this, surplus nutrients entering coastal waters can prompt excess algae growth, which can stimulate further carbon dioxide (CO2) production in the water column, thus enhancing coral/sediment dissolution. However, new inputs of alkalinity into coastal systems can buffer against acidification. By combining the natural groundwater tracer radon (222Rn) with carbonate chemistry in two contrasting Cook Island lagoons (the fringing Muri Lagoon on Rarotonga and the comparatively larger Aitutaki near-atoll lagoon), we were able to identify multiple drivers of coral reef acidification and regulation. Despite the lagoons having similar rates of submarine groundwater discharge (3.1 to 3.3 cm d−1; although the rate in Aitutaki is a maximum rate based on an assumed 100 m seepage face), groundwater inputs of CO2 and alkalinity were primarily driven by different sources (discrete offshore seeps in Muri Lagoon and dredged channels in Aitutaki Lagoon). Streams delivered low alkalinity water to both lagoons, but high pCO2 waters to the Aitutaki Lagoon in contrast to Muri Lagoon. Aragonite saturation states (ΩAr) ranged between 2.2 and 5.2, with areas of low ΩAr corresponding to areas of high radon and excess algal growth in Muri Lagoon, and areas that receive low alkalinity surface water in Aitutaki. Time-series sampling indicated that tidal heights and the ability of seawater to overtop the fringing reef influenced groundwater dynamics, lagoon hydrodynamics and carbonate chemistry. Groundwater discharge and stream flows were a significant freshwater source of new geologic CO2 and alkalinity to each lagoon, while recirculated seawater is likely a significant source of biologic CO2 driven by microbial respiration in sediments. The study found that while groundwater inputs of alkalinity may reduce acidification, they do not fully counteract ongoing acidification and CO2 inputs. This study also highlighted the need for future studies to undertake detailed spatial measurements to accurately characterise tropical island carbon dynamics due to the heterogeneous nature of these environments.

Continue reading ‘Groundwater discharge and streams drive spatial alkalinity and pCO2 dynamics in two contrasting tropical lagoons’

A space-time mosaic of seawater carbonate chemistry conditions in the north-shore Moorea coral reef system

The interplay between ocean circulation and coral metabolism creates highly variable biogeochemical conditions in space and time across tropical coral reefs. Yet, relatively little is known quantitatively about the spatiotemporal structure of these variations. To address this gap, we use the Coupled Ocean Atmosphere Wave and Sediment Transport (COAWST) model, to which we added the Biogeochemical Elemental Cycling (BEC) model computing the biogeochemical processes in the water column, and a coral polyp physiology module that interactively simulates coral photosynthesis, respiration and calcification. The coupled model, configured for the north-shore of Moorea Island, successfully simulates the observed (i) circulation across the wave regimes, (ii) magnitude of the metabolic rates, and (iii) large gradients in biogeochemical conditions across the reef. Owing to the interaction between coral net community production (NCP) and coral calcification, the model simulates distinct day versus night gradients, especially for pH and the saturation state of seawater with respect to aragonite (Ωα). The strength of the gradients depends non-linearly on the wave regime and the resulting residence time of water over the reef with the low wave regime creating conditions that are considered as “extremely marginal” for corals. With the average water parcel passing more than twice over the reef, recirculation contributes further to the accumulation of these metabolic signals. We find diverging temporal and spatial relationships between total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) (≈ 0.16 for the temporal vs. ≈ 1.8 for the spatial relationship), indicating the importance of scale of analysis for this metric. Distinct biogeochemical niches emerge from the simulated variability, i.e., regions where the mean and variance of the conditions are considerably different from each other. Such biogeochemical niches might cause large differences in the exposure of individual corals to the stresses associated with e.g., ocean acidification. At the same time, corals living in the different biogeochemical niches might have adapted to the differing conditions, making the reef, perhaps, more resilient to change. Thus, a better understanding of the mosaic of conditions in a coral reef might be useful to assess the health of a coral reef and to develop improved management strategies.

Continue reading ‘A space-time mosaic of seawater carbonate chemistry conditions in the north-shore Moorea coral reef system’

Water motion and pH jointly impact the availability of dissolved inorganic carbon to macroalgae

The supply of dissolved inorganic carbon to seaweeds is a key factor regulating photosynthesis. Thinner diffusive boundary layers at the seaweed surface or greater seawater carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations increase CO2 supply to the seaweed surface. This may benefit seaweeds by alleviating carbon limitation either via an increased supply of CO2 that is taken up by passive diffusion, or via the down-regulation of active carbon concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) that enable the utilization of the abundant ion bicarbonate (HCO3). Laboratory experiments showed that a 5 times increase in water motion increases DIC uptake efficiency in both a non-CCM (Hymenena palmata, Rhodophyta) and CCM (Xiphophora gladiata, Phaeophyceae) seaweed. In a field survey, brown and green seaweeds with active-CCMs maintained their CCM activity under diverse conditions of water motion. Whereas red seaweeds exhibited flexible photosynthetic rates depending on CO2 availability, and species switched from a non-CCM strategy in wave-exposed sites to an active-CCM strategy in sheltered sites where mass transfer of CO2 would be reduced. 97–99% of the seaweed assemblages at both wave-sheltered and exposed sites consisted of active-CCM species. Variable sensitivities to external CO2 would drive different responses to increasing CO2 availability, although dominance of the CCM-strategy suggests this will have minimal impact within shallow seaweed assemblages.

Continue reading ‘Water motion and pH jointly impact the availability of dissolved inorganic carbon to macroalgae’

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