Posts Tagged 'survival'

Predicting potential impacts of ocean acidification on marine calcifiers from the Southern Ocean

Understanding the vulnerability of marine calcifiers to ocean acidification is a critical issue, especially in the Southern Ocean (SO), which is likely to be the one of the first, and most severely affected regions. Since the industrial revolution, ~30% of anthropogenic CO2 has been absorbed by the oceans. Seawater pH levels have already decreased by 0.1 and are predicted to decline by ~ 0.3 by the year 2100. This process, known as ocean acidification (OA), is shallowing the saturation horizon, which is the depth below which calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolves, likely increasing the vulnerability of many marine calcifiers to dissolution. The negative impact of OA may be seen first in species depositing more soluble CaCO3 mineral phases such as aragonite and high-Mg calcite (HMC). These negative effects may become even exacerbated by increasing sea temperatures. Here we combine a review and a quantitative meta-analysis to provide an overview of the current state of knowledge about skeletal mineralogy of major taxonomic groups of SO marine calcifiers and to make predictions about how OA might affect different taxa. We consider their geographic range, skeletal mineralogy, biological traits and potential strategies to overcome OA. The meta-analysis of studies investigating the effects of the OA on a range of biological responses such as shell state, development and growth rate shows response variation depending on mineralogical composition. Species-specific responses due to mineralogical composition suggest taxa with calcitic, aragonitic and HMC skeletons may be more vulnerable to the expected carbonate chemistry alterations, and low magnesium calcite (LMC) species may be mostly resilient. Environmental and biological control on the calcification process and/or Mg content in calcite, biological traits and physiological processes are also expected to influence species specific responses.

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Ocean acidification stress index for shellfish (OASIS): Linking Pacific oyster larval survival and exposure to variable carbonate chemistry regimes

Understanding larval bivalve responses to variable regimes of seawater carbonate chemistry requires realistic quantification of physiological stress. Based on a degree-day modeling approach, we developed a new metric, the ocean acidification stress index for shellfish (OASIS), for this purpose. OASIS integrates over the entire larval period the instantaneous stress associated with deviations from published sensitivity thresholds to aragonite saturation state (ΩAr) while experiencing variable carbonate chemistry. We measured survival to D-hinge and pre-settlement stage of four Pacific oyster (Crassostrea gigas) cohorts with different histories of carbonate chemistry exposure at the Whiskey Creek Hatchery, Netarts Bay, OR, to test the utility of OASIS as a stress metric and document the effects of buffering seawater in mitigating acute and chronic exposure to ocean acidification. Each cohort was divided into four groups and reared under the following conditions: 1) stable, buffered seawater for the entire larval period; 2) stable, buffered seawater for the first 48 hours, then naturally variable, unbuffered seawater; 3) stable, unbuffered seawater for the first 48 hours, then buffered seawater; and 4) stable, unbuffered seawater for the first 48 hours, then naturally variable, unbuffered seawater. Patterns in Netarts Bay carbonate chemistry were dominated by seasonal upwelling at the time of the experimental work, resulting in naturally highly variable ΩAr for the larvae raised in the unbuffered treatments. Two of the four cohorts showed strongly positive responses to buffering in survival to 48 hours; three of the four, in survival to pre-settlement. OASIS accurately predicted survival for two of the three cohorts tested (the fourth excluded due to other environmental factors), suggesting that this new metric could be used to better understand larval bivalve survival in naturally variable environments. OASIS may also be useful to an array of diverse stakeholders with increasing access to highly resolved temporal measurements of carbonate chemistry.

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Assessing the impacts of ocean acidification upon tropical tuna

Increasing concentrations of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere (IPCC 2007) are causing a gradual warming and acidification of the Earth’s oceans (e.g. Barnett et al. 2005; Caldeira and Wickett 2003; Feely et al. 2004). Both warming and acidification have the potential to affect the distribution and population dynamics of many marine organisms (IPCC 2007; Raven et al. 2005; Fabry et al. 2008). Significant advances in knowledge have been made over the last decade that have advanced understanding of how increasing ocean acidity will impact nearshore and coral reef ecosystems (Fabry et al. 2008). Our understanding about the effects of acidification on pelagic ecosystems, however, remains rudimentary. In the Pacific Ocean, improving our knowledge on the possible impacts on the pelagic environment is important, as the Pacific’s tuna populations are of one of the largest and most valuable fisheries in the world (Williams and Terawasi 2009). The income derived from tuna fisheries provides a significant contribution to the economies of many Pacific Island countries and territories (Gillett 2009). To ensure such economic benefits are maintainedthrough the sustainable management of this fishery requires an understanding of not only fishery impacts, but impacts of other factors upon population biomass and structure over time. While fishery scientists are now attempting to predict how ocean warming will affect Pacific tuna populations (Lehodey et al. 2010, 2013), no one has previously investigated how ocean acidification (OA) may affect these species and associated fisheries.

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Mangrove habitats provide refuge from climate change for reef-building corals

Risk analyses indicate that more than 90% of the world’s reefs will be threatened by climate change and local anthropogenic impacts by the year 2030 under “business as usual” climate scenarios. Increasing temperatures and solar radiation cause coral bleaching that has resulted in extensive coral mortality. Increasing carbon dioxide reduces seawater pH, slows coral growth, and may cause loss of reef structure. Management strategies include establishment of marine protected areas with environmental conditions that promote reef resiliency. However, few resilient reefs have been identified, and resiliency factors are poorly defined.

Here we characterize the first natural, non-reef, coral refuge from thermal stress and ocean acidification and identify resiliency factors for mangrove–coral habitats. We measured diurnal and seasonal variations in temperature, salinity, photosynthetically active radiation (PAR), and seawater chemistry; characterized substrate parameters; and examined water circulation patterns in mangrove communities where scleractinian corals are growing attached to and under mangrove prop roots in Hurricane Hole, St. John, US Virgin Islands. Additionally, we inventoried the coral species and quantified incidences of coral bleaching, mortality and recovery for two major reef-building corals, Colpophyllia natans and Diploria labyrinthiformis, growing in mangrove shaded and exposed (unshaded) areas.

At least 33 species of scleractinian corals were growing in association with mangroves. Corals were thriving in low-light (more than 70% attenuation of incident PAR) from mangrove shading and at higher temperatures than nearby reef tract corals. A higher percentage of C. natans colonies was living shaded by mangroves, and no shaded colonies bleached. Fewer D. labyrinthiformis colonies were shaded by mangroves, however more unshaded colonies bleached. A combination of substrate and habitat heterogeniety, proximity of different habitat types, hydrographic conditions, and biological influences on seawater chemistry generate chemical conditions that buffer against ocean acidification. This previously undocumented refuge for corals provides evidence for adaptation of coastal organisms and ecosystem transition due to recent climate change. Identifying and protecting other natural, non-reef coral refuges is critical for sustaining corals and other reef species into the future.

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Effects of elevated CO2 in the early life stages of summer flounder, Paralichthys dentatus, and potential consequences of ocean acidification (update)

The limited available evidence about effects on marine fishes of high CO2 and associated acidification of oceans suggests that effects will differ across species, be subtle, and may interact with other stressors. This report is on the responses of an array of early life history features of summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), an ecologically and economically important flatfish of the inshore and nearshore waters of the Mid-Atlantic Bight (USA), to experimental manipulation of CO2 levels. Relative survival of summer flounder embryos in local ambient conditions (775 μatm pCO2, 7.8 pH) was reduced to 48% when maintained at intermediate experimental conditions (1808 μatm pCO2, 7.5 pH), and to 16% when maintained at the most elevated CO2 treatment (4714 ppm pCO2, 7.1 pH). This pattern of reduced survival of embryos at high-CO2 levels at constant temperature was consistent among offspring of three females used as experimental subjects. No reduction in survival with CO2 was observed for larvae during the first four weeks of larval life (experiment ended at 28 d post-hatching (dph) when larvae were initiating metamorphosis). Estimates of sizes, shapes, and developmental status of larvae based on images of live larvae showed larvae were initially longer and faster growing when reared at intermediate- and high-CO2 levels. This pattern of longer larvae – but with less energy reserves at hatching – was expressed through the first half of the larval period (14 dph). Larvae from the highest-CO2 conditions initiated metamorphosis at earlier ages and smaller sizes than those from intermediate- and ambient-CO2 conditions. Tissue damage was evident in larvae as early as 7 dph from both elevated-CO2 levels. Damage included dilation of liver sinusoids and veins, focal hyperplasia on the epithelium, and separation of the trunk muscle bundles. Cranio-facial features changed with CO2 levels in an age-dependent manner. Skeletal elements of larvae from ambient-CO2 environments were comparable or smaller than those from elevated-CO2 environments when younger (7 and 14 dph) but were larger at developmental stage at older ages (21 to 28 dph), a result consistent with the accelerated size-development trajectory of larvae at higher-CO2 environments based on analysis of external features. The degree of alterations in the survival, growth, and development of early life stages of summer flounder due to elevated-CO2 levels suggests that this species will be increasingly challenged by future ocean acidification. Further experimental studies on marine fishes and comparative analyses among those studies are warranted in order to identify the species, life stages, ecologies, and responses likely to be most sensitive to increased levels of CO2 and acidity in future ocean waters. A strategy is proposed for achieving these goals.

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Experimental influence of pH on the early life-stages of sea urchins II: increasing parental exposure times gives rise to different responses

Many studies into the responses of early life-stages to ocean acidification utilise offspring obtained from parents reared under present-day conditions. Their offspring are directly introduced to altered-pH conditions. This study determined whether this approach is suitable by pre-exposing parent sea urchins (Psammechinus miliaris) to altered seawater pH (~1000 μatm) for several durations, spawning them and rearing their offspring to settlement. Parents acclimated when exposed to low seawater pH for extended periods (>42 d). Longer adult pre-exposures reduced larval survival and less competent offspring were removed from populations earlier than in controls. Control offspring were larger during earlier development stages (2–7 d), but smaller during later development stages (14 + d) than offspring reared under low pH conditions. Juvenile settlement levels were similar across all treatments. After 17 d, offspring sourced from parents pre-exposed to low pH for 42 and 70 d were larger than those pre-exposed for 28 d and ambient sourced offspring directly transferred to low pH. These different responses show that the use of ambient derived offspring utilised in many studies is likely not an ideal approach when assessing larval development responses via morphometric measurements and survivorship prior to settlement. This study also suggests that calcifying organisms have capacities to acclimate and possibly adapt towards conditions beyond natural rates of ocean acidification.
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Population trajectories for the Antarctic bivalve Laternula elliptica: identifying demographic bottlenecks in differing environmental futures

The world’s oceans are changing, and dramatic shifts have been documented in the Southern Ocean. The consequences of these shifts to coastal benthic organisms are difficult to predict at present, as ocean warming may increase primary production and food resources for benthic consumers, whilst OA may have negative impacts that differentially affect various species and life stages. A model was developed to investigate how different scenarios of change may influence population size of the Antarctic bivalve Laternula elliptica. The model describes potential implications of both pH and temperature change on survivorship and reproductive output of a population of this bivalve species in McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea. Implications of increases and decreases in mortality rate across different life stages of the population (early, mid and late) were assessed. Additionally, effects on energetic resource partitioning and dictating reproductive potential (RP) were also investigated. Significant declines in RP, due to increased basal metabolic demand, were associated with even relatively small changes in temperature and pH, resulting in populations declining to 25 % of the starting equilibrium density within 60 years. As L. elliptica is a pivotal species to the functionality of the Antarctic coastal benthic ecosystem, wide spread repercussions are expected if populations are impacted as the model predicts. Although further model development is required to explore the ecosystem implications of the population decline described in this paper, this work allows a better understanding of the consequences of change as soon as data on the direction and magnitude of the changes affecting Antarctic seas become available.
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Multiple abiotic changes and species interactions mediate responses to climate change on rocky shores (PhD thesis)

Anthropogenic climate change poses a serious threat to biodiversity. Accurate predictions of the ecological consequences of future abiotic change will require a broad perspective that takes into account multiple climate variables, species-specific responses, and intra- and interspecific dynamics. I addressed these issues in the context of a marine rocky intertidal community to determine how abiotic and biotic factors can mediate the effects of climate change. I began with two studies on the organismal-level effects of multiple abiotic variables. In the first study, I found that acute exposure to low salinity reduced the survival of littorine snails facing thermal stress, but that ocean acidification (OA) had no such effect. In a second study, I showed that sustained exposure to increased temperature and OA had positive and additive effects on the growth and feeding of the purple ochre sea star. These findings demonstrate that studies of multiple climate variables will be important not only to identify additive and non-additive effects, but also to determine which climate variables will be detrimental for a given species. Next, I measured how species-specific responses to climate change can alter species interactions. By quantifying the effects of body size on the feeding behaviours of sea stars preying on mussels, I demonstrated that climate-driven changes in body size can have profound impacts on the strength of this interaction. Finally, I investigated how population-level responses to multiple abiotic variables can be affected by the presence of an interacting species. I built a predator-prey model that simulates the ecologically important interaction between the purple ochre sea star and its preferred prey, mussels. Using empirical estimates of sea star and mussel responses to increased temperature and OA, I simulated their interaction under various climate scenarios. I found that predation exacerbated the effects of climate change on mussel populations, and that climate change increased the strength of the sea star-mussel interaction. My work demonstrates that the effects of climate change will likely be mediated by a combination of biotic and abiotic factors, and that these factors should be considered when making predictions about the ecological consequences of climate change.
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Experimental influence of pH on the early life-stages of sea urchins I: different rates of introduction give rise to different responses

Many early life-stage response studies to ocean acidification utilize gametes/offspring obtained from ambient-sourced parents, which are then directly introduced to experimentally altered seawater pH. This approach may produce a stress response potentially impacting development and survival. Hence, this study determined whether this approach is suitable by subjecting embryos/larvae to different rates of introduction to lowered seawater pH to assess larval success under acute and staggered experimental pH scenarios. Embryos and 4-armed larvae of the sea urchin Psammechinus miliaris were introduced to pH conditions, widely used in ocean acidification studies, from ambient conditions utilizing 380, 470, 560, 700 and 840 ppm CO2 changed at incremental steps at two rates: fast (every 3rd hour) or slow (every 48th hour). Direct transfers from ambient to low seawater pH gave rise to dramatic negative impacts (smaller size and low survival), but slower rates of introductions gave rise to lesser negative responses (low survival). There was no treatment effect on settled juveniles. Fast introductions utilized in many studies are likely not ideal approaches when assessing pre-settlement larval developmental responses. Therefore, careful consideration of the pattern of response is needed when studies report the responses of offspring, derived from ambient conditions, introduced directly to forecasted ocean acidification conditions.
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Hypoxia and acidification have additive and synergistic negative effects on the growth, survival, and metamorphosis of early life stage bivalves

Low oxygen zones in coastal and open ocean ecosystems have expanded in recent decades, a trend that will accelerate with climatic warming. There is growing recognition that low oxygen regions of the ocean are also acidified, a condition that will intensify with rising levels of atmospheric CO2. Presently, however, the concurrent effects of low oxygen and acidification on marine organisms are largely unknown, as most prior studies of marine hypoxia have not considered pH levels. We experimentally assessed the consequences of hypoxic and acidified water for early life stage bivalves (bay scallops, Argopecten irradians, and hard clams, Mercenaria mercenaria), marine organisms of significant economic and ecological value and sensitive to climate change. In larval scallops, experimental and naturally-occurring acidification (pH, total scale = 7.4–7.6) reduced survivorship (by >50%), low oxygen (30–50 µM) inhibited growth and metamorphosis (by >50%), and the two stressors combined produced additively negative outcomes. In early life stage clams, however, hypoxic waters led to 30% higher mortality, while acidified waters significantly reduced growth (by 60%). Later stage clams were resistant to hypoxia or acidification separately but experienced significantly (40%) reduced growth rates when exposed to both conditions simultaneously. Collectively, these findings demonstrate that the consequences of low oxygen and acidification for early life stage bivalves, and likely other marine organisms, are more severe than would be predicted by either individual stressor and thus must be considered together when assessing how ocean animals respond to these conditions both today and under future climate change scenarios.

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Effects of increasing temperature and ocean acidification on the microstages of two populations of Saccharina latissima in the Northwest Atlantic (MSc thesis)

Saccharina latissima (Linnaeus) C.E.Lane, C.Mayes, L.D. Druehl and G.W.Saunders, is the most widely distributed species of kelp in the western North Atlantic, occurring from the Arctic to Long Island Sound. The effects of global climate change on these ecologically and economically important cold temperate species at the southern range of their distribution are unknown. This study investigated the impact of the combined stressors of increased temperature (16, 19, 22, 25 & 28°C) and reduced pH (7.9, 7.8, 7.7, & 7.6) on the gametophyte and juvenile sporophyte stages of sugar kelp populations from Maine and Long Island Sound. Spore germination and growth, male and female ratio, fecundity, reproductive success of female gametophytes, and growth of juvenile sporophytes were investigated on crossed gradient temperature tables with CO2-adjusted pH levels. The upper critical thermal limit for gametophytes in all trials for both populations was 22°C, with full mortality of gametophytes occurring at all temperatures tested above this limit (i.e. 25° and 28°C). Gametophyte survival, growth, and male and female ratios were similar in all trials for both populations at 16° and 19°C, but gametogenesis was suppressed at temperatures above ca. 17°C. There were no consistent effects of pH in any trials, though the lower pH values (7.6-7.7) did result in slightly larger gametophytes (primary cell diameter & gametophyte length) than the highest value (7.9) at 16° and 19°C in some of the trials. These results support the hypothesis that the predicted increase in seawater temperatures will shift the distributional boundary of these cold temperate seaweeds northward, resulting in the loss of populations at the southernmost boundary.

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Can variable pH and low oxygen moderate ocean acidification outcomes for mussel larvae?

Natural variation and changing climate in coastal oceans subject meroplanktonic organisms to broad ranges of pH and oxygen ([O2]) levels. In controlled laboratory experiments we explored the interactive effects of pH, [O2], and semidiurnal pH fluctuations on the survivorship, development and size of early life stages of two mytilid mussels, Mytilus californianus and M. galloprovincialis. Survivorship of larvae was unaffected by low pH, low [O2] or semidiurnal fluctuations for both mytilid species. Low pH (< 7.6) resulted in delayed transition from the trochophore to veliger stage, but this effect of low pH was absent when incorporating semidiurnal fluctuations in both species. Also at low pH, larval shells were smaller and had greater variance; this effect was absent when semidiurnal fluctuations of 0.3 units were incorporated at low pH for M. galloprovincialis but not for M. californianus. Low [O2] in combination with low pH had no effect on larval development and size indicating that early life stages of mytilid mussels are largely tolerant to a broad range of [O2] reflective of their environment (80 – 260 μmol kg−1). The role of pH variability should be recognized as an important feature in coastal oceans that has the capacity to modulate the effects of ocean acidification on biological responses.

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Sensitivity to ocean acidification parallels natural pCO2 gradients experienced by Arctic copepods under winter sea ice

The Arctic Ocean already experiences areas of low pH and high CO2, and it is expected to be most rapidly affected by future ocean acidification (OA). Copepods comprise the dominant Arctic zooplankton; hence, their responses to OA have important implications for Arctic ecosystems, yet there is little data on their current under-ice winter ecology on which to base future monitoring or make predictions about climate-induced change. Here, we report results from Arctic under-ice investigations of copepod natural distributions associated with late-winter carbonate chemistry environmental data and their response to manipulated pCO2 conditions (OA exposures). Our data reveal that species and life stage sensitivities to manipulated OA conditions were correlated with their vertical migration behavior and with their natural exposures to different pCO2 ranges. Vertically migrating adult Calanus spp. crossed a pCO2 range of >140 μatm daily and showed only minor responses to manipulated high CO2. Oithona similis, which remained in the surface waters and experienced a pCO2 range of <75 μatm, showed significantly reduced adult and nauplii survival in high CO2 experiments. These results support the relatively untested hypothesis that the natural range of pCO2 experienced by an organism determines its sensitivity to future OA and highlight that the globally important copepod species, Oithona spp., may be more sensitive to future high pCO2 conditions compared with the more widely studied larger copepods.

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Impacts of food availability and pCO2 on planulation, juvenile survival, and calcification of the azooxanthellate scleractinian coral Balanophyllia elegans (update)

Ocean acidification, the assimilation of atmospheric CO2 by the oceans that decreases the pH and CaCO3 saturation state (Ω) of seawater, is projected to have severe adverse consequences for calcifying organisms. While strong evidence suggests calcification by tropical reef-building corals containing algal symbionts (zooxanthellae) will decline over the next century, likely responses of azooxanthellate corals to ocean acidification are less well understood. Because azooxanthellate corals do not obtain photosynthetic energy from symbionts, they provide a system for studying the direct effects of acidification on energy available for calcification. The solitary azooxanthellate orange cup coral Balanophyllia elegans often lives in low-pH, upwelled waters along the California coast. In an 8-month factorial experiment, we measured the effects of three pCO2 treatments (410, 770, and 1220 μatm) and two feeding frequencies (3-day and 21-day intervals) on “planulation” (larval release) by adult B. elegans, and on the survival, skeletal growth, and calcification of newly settled juveniles. Planulation rates were affected by food level but not pCO2. Juvenile mortality was highest under high pCO2 (1220 μatm) and low food (21-day intervals). Feeding rate had a greater impact on calcification of B. elegans than pCO2. While net calcification was positive even at 1220 μatm (~3 times current atmospheric pCO2), overall calcification declined by ~25–45%, and skeletal density declined by ~35–45% as pCO2 increased from 410 to 1220 μatm. Aragonite crystal morphology changed at high pCO2, becoming significantly shorter but not wider at 1220 μatm. We conclude that food abundance is critical for azooxanthellate coral calcification, and that B. elegans may be partially protected from adverse consequences of ocean acidification in habitats with abundant heterotrophic food.

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Habitat traits and food availability determine the response of marine invertebrates to ocean acidification

Energy availability and local adaptation are major components in mediating the effects of ocean acidification (OA) on marine species. In a long-term study, we investigated the effects of food availability and elevated pCO2 (~ 400, 1000 and 3000 μatm) on growth of newly settled Amphibalanus (Balanus) improvisus to reproduction, and on their offspring. We also compared two different populations, which were presumed to differ in their sensitivity to pCO2 due to differing habitat conditions: Kiel Fjord, Germany (Western Baltic Sea) with naturally strong pCO2 fluctuations, and the Tjärnö Archipelago, Sweden (Skagerrak) with far lower fluctuations. Over 20 weeks, survival, growth, reproduction and shell strength of Kiel barnacles were all unaffected by elevated pCO2, regardless of food availability. Moulting frequency and shell corrosion increased with increasing pCO2 in adults. Larval development and juvenile growth of the F1 generation were tolerant to increased pCO2, irrespective of parental treatment. In contrast, elevated pCO2 had a strong negative impact on survival of Tjärnö barnacles. Specimens from this population were able to withstand moderate levels of elevated pCO2 over 5 weeks when food was plentiful but showed reduced growth under food limitation. Severe levels of elevated pCO2 negatively impacted growth of Tjärnö barnacles in both food treatments. We demonstrate a conspicuously higher tolerance to elevated pCO2 in Kiel barnacles than in Tjärnö barnacles. This tolerance was carried-over from adults to their offspring. Our findings indicate that populations from fluctuating pCO2 environments are more tolerant to elevated pCO2 than populations from more stable pCO2 habitats. We furthermore provide evidence that energy availability can mediate the ability of barnacles to withstand moderate CO2 stress. Considering the high tolerance of Kiel specimens and the possibility to adapt over many generations, near future OA alone does not seem to present a major threat for A. improvisus.

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Medium-term exposure of the North Atlantic copepod Calanus finmarchicus (Gunnerus, 1770) to CO2-acidified seawater: effects on survival and development (update)

The impact of medium-term exposure to CO2-acidified seawater on survival, growth and development was investigated in the North Atlantic copepod Calanus finmarchicus. Using a custom developed experimental system, fertilized eggs and subsequent development stages were exposed to normal seawater (390 ppm CO2) or one of three different levels of CO2-induced acidification (3300, 7300, 9700 ppm CO2). Following the 28-day exposure period, survival was found to be unaffected by exposure to 3300 ppm CO2, but significantly reduced at 7300 and 9700 ppm CO2. Also, the proportion of copepodite stages IV to VI observed in the different treatments was significantly affected in a manner that may indicate a CO2-induced retardation of the rate of ontogenetic development. Morphometric analysis revealed a significant increase in size (prosome length) and lipid storage volume in stage IV copepodites exposed to 3300 ppm CO2 and reduced size in stage III copepodites exposed to 7300 ppm CO2. Together, the findings indicate that a pCO2 level ≤2000 ppm (the highest CO2 level expected by the year 2300) will probably not directly affect survival in C. finmarchicus. Longer term experiments at more moderate CO2 levels are, however, necessary before the possibility that growth and development may be affected below 2000 ppm CO2 can be ruled out.

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Effects of ocean acidification and warming on sperm activity and early life stages of the Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis)

Larval stages are among those most vulnerable to ocean acidification (OA). Projected atmospheric CO2 levels for the end of this century may lead to negative impacts on communities dominated by calcifying taxa with planktonic life stages. We exposed Mediterranean mussel (Mytilus galloprovincialis) sperm and early life stages to pHT levels of 8.0 (current pH) and 7.6 (2100 level) by manipulating pCO2 level (380 and 1000 ppm). Sperm activity was examined at ambient temperatures (16–17 °C) using individual males as replicates. We also assessed the effects of temperature (ambient and ≈20 °C) and pH on larval size, survival, respiration and calcification of late trochophore/early D-veliger stages using a cross-factorial design. Increased pCO2 had a negative effect on the percentage of motile sperm (mean response ratio R= 71%) and sperm swimming speed (R= 74%), possibly indicating reduced fertilization capacity of sperm in low concentrations. Increased temperature had a more prominent effect on larval stages than pCO2, reducing performance (RSize = 90% and RSurvival = 70%) and increasing energy demand (RRespiration = 429%). We observed no significant interactions between pCO2 and temperature. Our results suggest that increasing temperature might have a larger impact on very early larval stages of M. galloprovincialis than OA at levels predicted for the end of the century.

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The effects of ocean acidification on juvenile Haliotis iris

The world’s oceans are increasing in levels of anthropogenic CO2 resulting in reductions in seawater pH and the availability of carbonate ions which are essential to calcifying marine species. Ocean acidification is considered to be a potential threat to marine populations through changes to survival, growth and calcification. Very little information exists on the effects of reduced seawater pH on abalone molluscs, particularly the New Zealand black-foot abalone Haliotis iris. This thesis aimed to investigate the effects of reduced seawater pH, through elevating the partial pressure of carbon dioxide, on the growth, biomineralisation and respiration of juvenile H. iris. To assess the impacts of acidification, post-settlement (initial length 4-10 mm) and 30–40 mm juvenile H. iris were exposed to long-term (two separate 100 day experiments) pH levels of ambient pH, pH 7.8 and pH 7.6 across autumn/winter (6.4-11.6oC) and spring/summer (13.0-19.5oC) temperatures, and measured; survival, growth, and shell deposition, repair, microstructure, mineralogy and also metabolism in the form of oxygen consumption. The experiments were conducted using a flow-through design, and each pH treatment had three replicate 16 L aquaria containing equal numbers of abalone.

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Some like it hot: Temperature and pH modulate larval development and settlement of the sea urchin Arbacia lixula

We studied the effects of temperature and pH on larval development, settlement and juvenile survival of a Mediterranean population of the sea urchin Arbacia lixula. Three temperatures (16, 17.5 and 19 °C) were tested at present pH conditions (pHT 8.1). At 19 °C, two pH levels were compared to reflect present average (pHT 8.1) and near-future average conditions (pHT 7.7, expected by 2100). Larvae were reared for 52-days to achieve the full larval development and complete the metamorphosis to the settler stage. We analyzed larval survival, growth, morphology and settlement success. We also tested the carry-over effect of acidification on juvenile survival after 3 days. Our results showed that larval survival and size significantly increased with temperature. Acidification resulted in higher survival rates and developmental delay. Larval morphology was significantly altered by low temperatures, which led to narrower larvae with relatively shorter skeletal rods, but larval morphology was only marginally affected by acidification. No carry-over effects between larvae and juveniles were detected in early settler survival, though settlers from larvae reared at pH 7.7 were significantly smaller than their counterparts developed at pH 8.1. These results suggest an overall positive effect of environmental parameters related to global change on the reproduction of A. lixula, and reinforce the concerns about the increasing negative impact on shallow Mediterranean ecosystems of this post-glacial colonizer.

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Effect of increased pCO2 level on early shell development in great scallop (Pecten maximus Lamarck) larvae (update)

As a result of high anthropogenic CO2 emissions, the concentration of CO2 in the oceans has increased, causing a decrease in pH, known as ocean acidification (OA). Numerous studies have shown negative effects on marine invertebrates, and also that the early life stages are the most sensitive to OA. We studied the effects of OA on embryos and unfed larvae of the great scallop (Pecten maximus Lamarck), at pCO2 levels of 469 (ambient), 807, 1164, and 1599 μatm until seven days after fertilization. To our knowledge, this is the first study on OA effects on larvae of this species. A drop inpCO2 level the first 12 h was observed in the elevatedpCO2 groups due to a discontinuation in water flow to avoid escape of embryos. When the flow was restarted, pCO2 level stabilized and was significantly different between all groups. OA affected both survival and shell growth negatively after seven days. Survival was reduced from 45% in the ambient group to 12% in the highest pCO2 group. Shell length and height were reduced by 8 and 15%, respectively, when pCO2increased from ambient to 1599 μatm. Development of normal hinges was negatively affected by elevated pCO2 levels in both trochophore larvae after two days and veliger larvae after seven days. After seven days, deformities in the shell hinge were more connected to elevatedpCO2 levels than deformities in the shell edge. Embryos stained with calcein showed fluorescence in the newly formed shell area, indicating calcification of the shell at the early trochophore stage between one and two days after fertilization. Our results show that P. maximus embryos and early larvae may be negatively affected by elevated pCO2 levels within the range of what is projected towards year 2250, although the initial drop inpCO2 level may have overestimated the effect of the highestpCO2 levels. Future work should focus on long-term effects on this species from hatching, throughout the larval stages, and further into the juvenile and adult stages.

Continue reading ‘Effect of increased pCO2 level on early shell development in great scallop (Pecten maximus Lamarck) larvae (update)’


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