Posts Tagged 'survival'



Food availability and pCO2 impacts on planulation, juvenile survival, and calcification of the azooxanthellate scleractinian coral, Balanophyllia elegans

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 consequences for calcifying organisms. Strong evidence suggests that tropical reef-building corals containing algal symbionts (zooxanthellae) will experience dramatic declines in calcification over the next century. The responses of azooxanthellate corals to ocean acidification are less well understood, and because they cannot obtain extra photosynthetic energy from symbionts, they provide a system for studying the direct effects of acidification on the energy available for calcification. The orange cup coral Balanophyllia elegans is a solitary, azooxanthellate scleractinian species common on the California coast where it thrives in the low pH waters of an upwelling regime. During an 8 month study, we addressed the effects of three pCO2 treatments (410, 770, and 1230 μatm) and two feeding frequencies (High Food and Low Food) on adult Balanophyllia elegans planulation (larval release) rates, and on the survival, growth, and calcification of their juvenile offspring. Planulation rates were affected by food level but not pCO2, while juvenile survival was highest under 410 μatm and High Food conditions. Our results suggest that feeding rate has a greater impact on calcification of B. elegans than pCO2. Net calcification was positive even at 1230 μatm (~ 3 times current atmospheric pCO2), although the increase from 410 to 1230 μatm reduced overall calcification by ~ 25–45%, and reduced skeletal density by ~ 35–45%. Higher pCO2 also altered aragonite crystal morphology significantly. We discuss how feeding frequency affects azooxanthellate coral calcification, and how B. elegans may respond to ocean acidification in coastal upwelling waters.

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Potential acidification impacts on zooplankton in CCS leakage scenarios

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies involve localized acidification of significant volumes of seawater, inhabited mainly by planktonic species. Knowledge on potential impacts of these techniques on the survival and physiology of zooplankton, and subsequent consequences for ecosystem health in targeted areas, is scarce. The recent literature has a focus on anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, leading to enhanced absorption of CO2 by the oceans and a lowered seawater pH, termed ocean acidification. These studies explore the effects of changes in seawater chemistry, as predicted by climate models for the end of this century, on marine biota. Early studies have used unrealistically severe CO2/pH values in this context, but are relevant for CCS leakage scenarios. Little studied meso- and bathypelagic species of the deep sea may be especially vulnerable, as well as vertically migrating zooplankton, which require significant residence times at great depths as part of their life cycle.

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Interactive effects of ocean acidification and warming on sediment-dwelling marine calcifiers

The increase in human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, has elevated the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide and warmed the planet through the greenhouse effect. In addition, approximately 30% of the CO2 produced by human activities has dissolved into the oceans, lowering pH and reducing the abundance, and hence the availability, of carbonate ions (CO3 2-), which are essential for calcium carbonate deposition. Of great concern is the impact to photosynthetic marine calcifiers, elevated CO2 and temperature is expected to have a negative impact on the health and survivorship of calcifying marine organisms. This thesis explores the effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on the microenvironment, photosynthetic efficiency, calcification and biomechanical properties in important sediment producers on coral reefs. The reef-building and sedimentdwelling organisms, Halimeda and symbiont-bearing foraminifera are prominent, coexisting taxa in shallow coral reefs and play a vital role in tropical and subtropical ecosystems as producers of sediment and habitats and food sources for other marine organisms. However, there is limited evidence of the effects of ocean warming and acidification in these two keystone species. Irradiance alone was not found to influence photosynthetic efficiency, photoprotective mechanisms and calcification in Halimeda macroloba, Halimeda cylindracea and Halimeda opuntia (Chapter 2). There is also limited knowledge of foraminiferal biology on coral reefs, especially the symbiotic relationship between the protest host and algal symbionts. Marginopora vertebralis, the dominant tropical foraminifera, shows phototactic behavior, which is a unique mechanism for ensuring symbionts experience an ideal light environment. The diurnal photosynthetic responses of in hospite symbiont photosynthesis was linked to host movement and aided in preventing photoinhibition and bleaching by moving away from over-saturating irradiance, to more optimal light fields (Chapter 3). With this greater understanding of Halimeda and foraminiferan biology and photosynthesis, the impacts of ocean warming and acidification on photosynthesis and calcification were then tested (Chapter 4, 5 and 6). Impacts of ocean acidification and warming were investigated through exposure to a combination of four temperature (28, 30, 32, 34°C) and four pCO2 levels (380, 600, 1000, 2000 µatm; equivalent to future climate change scenarios for the current and the years 2065, 2100 and 2200 and simulating the IPCC A1F1 predictions) (Chapter 4). Elevated CO2 and temperature caused a decline in photosynthetic efficiency (FV/FM), calcification and growth in all species. After five weeks at 34°C under all CO2 levels, all species died. The elevated CO2 and temperature greatly affect the CaCO3 crystal formation with reductions in density and width. M. vertebralis experienced the greatest inhibition to crystal formation, suggesting that this high Mg-calcite depositing species is more sensitive to lower pH and higher temperature than aragonite-forming Halimeda species. Exposure to elevated temperature alone or reduced pH alone decreased photosynthesis and calcification in these species. However, there was a strong synergistic effect of elevated temperature and reduced pH, with dramatic reductions in photosynthesis and calcification in all three species. This study suggested that the elevated temperature of 32°C and the pCO2 concentration of 1000 µatm are the upper limit for survival of these species art our site of collection (Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia). Microsensors enabled the detection of O2 surrounding specimens at high spatial and temporal resolutions and revealed a 70-80% in decrease in O2 production under elevated CO2 and temperature (1200 µatm 32°C) in Halimeda (Chapter 5) and foraminifera (Chapter 6). The results from O2 microprofiles support the photosynthetic pigment and chlorophyll fluorescence data, showing decreasing O2 production with declining chlorophyll a and b concentrations and a decrease in photosynthetic efficiency under ocean acidification and/or temperature stress. This revealed that photosynthesis and calcification are closely coupled with reductions in photosynthetic efficiency leading to reductions in calcification. Reductions in carbonate availability reduced calcification and that can lead to weakened calcified structures. Elevations in water temperature is expected to augment this weakening, resulting in decreased mechanical integrity and increased susceptibility to storm- and herbivory-induced mortality in Halimeda sp. The morphological and biomechanical properties in H. macroloba and H. cylindracea at different wave exposures were then investigated in their natural reef habitats (Chapter 7). The results showed that both species have morphological (e.g. blade surface area, holdfast volume) and biomechanical (e.g. force required to uproot, force required to break thalli) adaptations to different levels of hydrodynamic exposure. The mechanical integrity and skeletal mineralogy of Halimeda was then investigated in response to future climate change scenarios (Chapter 7). The biomechanical properties (shear strength and punch strength) significantly declined in the more heavily calcified H. cylindracea at 32ºC and 1000 µatm, whereas were variable in less heavily calcified H. macroloba, indicating different responses between Halimeda species. An increase in less-soluble low Mgcalcite was observed under elevated CO2 conditions. Significant changes in Mg:Ca and Sr:Ca ratios under elevated CO2 and temperature conditions suggested that calcification was affected at the ionic level. It is concluded that Halimeda is biomechanically sensitive to elevated temperature and more acidic oceans and may lead to increasing susceptibility to herbivory and higher risk of thallus breakage or removal from the substrate. Experimental results throughout the thesis revealed that ocean acidification and warming have negative impacts on photosynthetic efficiency, productivity, calcification and mechanical integrity, which is likely to lead to increased mortality in these species under a changing climate. A loss of these calcifying keystone species will have a dramatic impact on carbonate accumulation, sediment turnover, and coral reef community and habitat structure.

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Early exposure of bay scallops (Argopecten irradians) to high CO2 causes a decrease in larval shell growth

Ocean acidification, characterized by elevated pCO2 and the associated decreases in seawater pH and calcium carbonate saturation state (Ω), has a variable impact on the growth and survival of marine invertebrates. Larval stages are thought to be particularly vulnerable to environmental stressors, and negative impacts of ocean acidification have been seen on fertilization as well as on embryonic, larval, and juvenile development and growth of bivalve molluscs. We investigated the effects of high CO2 exposure (resulting in pH = 7.39, Ωar = 0.74) on the larvae of the bay scallop Argopecten irradians from 12 h to 7 d old, including a switch from high CO2 to ambient CO2 conditions (pH = 7.93, Ωar = 2.26) after 3 d, to assess the possibility of persistent effects of early exposure. The survival of larvae in the high CO2 treatment was consistently lower than the survival of larvae in ambient conditions, and was already significantly lower at 1 d. Likewise, the shell length of larvae in the high CO2 treatment was significantly smaller than larvae in the ambient conditions throughout the experiment and by 7 d, was reduced by 11.5%. This study also demonstrates that the size effects of short-term exposure to high CO2 are still detectable after 7 d of larval development; the shells of larvae exposed to high CO2 for the first 3 d of development and subsequently exposed to ambient CO2 were not significantly different in size at 3 and 7 d than the shells of larvae exposed to high CO2 throughout the experiment.

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Effects of seawater temperature and pH on the boring rates of the sponge Cliona celata in scallop shells

Warmer, more acidic water resulting from greenhouse gas emissions could influence ecosystem processes like bioerosion of calcifying organisms. Based on summer-maxima values (temperature = 26 °C; pH = 8.1) at a collection site in New York (40°56″ N, 72°30″ W), explants of the boring sponge Cliona celata Grant, 1826 were grown for 133 days on scallop shells in seawater ranging from current values to one scenario predicted for the year 2100 (T = 31 °C; pH = 7.8). High water temperature had little effect on sponge growth, survival, or boring rates. Lower pH slightly reduced sponge survival, while greatly influencing shell boring. At pH = 7.8, sponges bored twice the number of papillar holes and removed two times more shell weight than at pH = 8.1. Greater erosion resulted in weaker scallop shells. This study suggests that lower seawater pH may increase boring rates of C. celata in shellfish, with potentially severe implications for wild and farmed shellfish populations.

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Predicting the response of molluscs to the impact of ocean acidification

Elevations in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) are anticipated to acidify oceans because of fundamental changes in ocean chemistry created by CO2 absorption from the atmosphere. Over the next century, these elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are expected to result in a reduction of the surface ocean waters from 8.1 to 7.7 units as well as a reduction in carbonate ion (CO32−) concentration. The potential impact that this change in ocean chemistry will have on marine and estuarine organisms and ecosystems is a growing concern for scientists worldwide. While species-specific responses to ocean acidification are widespread across a number of marine taxa, molluscs are one animal phylum with many species which are particularly vulnerable across a number of life-history stages. Molluscs make up the second largest animal phylum on earth with 30,000 species and are a major producer of CaCO3. Molluscs also provide essential ecosystem services including habitat structure and food for benthic organisms (i.e., mussel and oyster beds), purification of water through filtration and are economically valuable. Even sub lethal impacts on molluscs due to climate changed oceans will have serious consequences for global protein sources and marine ecosystems.

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Effects of ocean acidification on juvenile red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) and tanner crab (Chionoecetes bairdi) growth, condition, calcification, and survival

Ocean acidification, a decrease in the pH in marine waters associated with rising atmospheric CO2 levels, is a serious threat to marine ecosystems. In this paper, we determine the effects of long-term exposure to near-future levels of ocean acidification on the growth, condition, calcification, and survival of juvenile red king crabs, Paralithodes camtschaticus, and Tanner crabs, Chionoecetes bairdi. Juveniles were reared in individual containers for nearly 200 days in flowing control (pH 8.0), pH 7.8, and pH 7.5 seawater at ambient temperatures (range 4.4–11.9 °C). In both species, survival decreased with pH, with 100% mortality of red king crabs occurring after 95 days in pH 7.5 water. Though the morphology of neither species was affected by acidification, both species grew slower in acidified water. At the end of the experiment, calcium concentration was measured in each crab and the dry mass and condition index of each crab were determined. Ocean acidification did not affect the calcium content of red king crab but did decrease the condition index, while it had the opposite effect on Tanner crabs, decreasing calcium content but leaving the condition index unchanged. This suggests that red king crab may be able to maintain calcification rates, but at a high energetic cost. The decrease in survival and growth of each species is likely to have a serious negative effect on their populations in the absence of evolutionary adaptation or acclimatization over the coming decades.

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Short- and long-term consequences of larval stage exposure to constantly and ephemerally elevated carbon dioxide for marine bivalve populations (update)

While larval bivalves are highly sensitive to ocean acidification, the basis for this sensitivity and the longer-term implications of this sensitivity are unclear. Experiments were performed to assess the short-term (days) and long-term (months) consequences of larval stage exposure to varying CO2 concentrations for calcifying bivalves. Higher CO2 concentrations depressed both calcification rates assessed using 45Ca uptake and RNA : DNA ratios in Mercenaria mercenaria and Argopecten irradians larvae with RNA : DNA ratios being highly correlated with larval growth rates (r2>0.9). These findings suggested that high CO2 has a cascading negative physiological impact on bivalve larvae stemming in part from lower calcification rates. Exposure to elevated CO2 during the first four days of larval development significantly depressed A. irradians larval survival rates, while a 10-day exposure later in larval development did not, demonstrating the extreme CO2 sensitivity of bivalve larvae during first days of development. Short- (weeks) and long-term (10 month) experiments revealed that individuals surviving exposure to high CO2 during larval development grew faster when exposed to normal CO2 as juveniles compared to individuals reared under ambient CO2 as larvae. These increased growth rates could not, however, overcome size differences established during larval development, as size deficits of individuals exposed to even moderate levels of CO2 as larvae were evident even after 10 months of growth under normal CO2 concentrations. This “legacy effect” emphasizes the central role larval stage CO2 exposure can play in shaping the success of modern-day bivalve populations.

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Environmental salinity modulates the effects of elevated CO2 levels on juvenile hard shell clams, Mercenaria mercenaria

Ocean acidification due to increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations results in a decrease in seawater pH and shifts in the carbonate chemistry that can negatively affect marine organisms. Marine bivalves such as the hard shell clams Mercenaria mercenaria serve as ecosystem engineers in estuaries and coastal zones of the western Atlantic and, as for many marine calcifiers, are sensitive to the impacts of ocean acidification. In estuaries, the effects of ocean acidification can be exacerbated by low buffering capacity of brackish waters, acidic inputs from freshwaters and land, and/or the negative effects of salinity on organisms’ physiology. We determined the interactive effects of 21 weeks of exposure to different levels of CO2 (~395, 800 and 1500 µatm corresponding to pH of 8.2, 8.1 and 7.7 respectively) and salinity (32 vs. 16) on biomineralization, shell properties and energy metabolism of juveniles of the hard shell clam M. mercenaria. Low salinity had profound effects on survival, energy metabolism and biomineralization of hard shell clams and modulated their responses to elevated PCO2. Negative effects of low salinity in juvenile clams were mostly due to the strongly elevated basal energy demand indicating energy deficiency that led to reduced growth, elevated mortality and impaired shell maintenance (evidenced by the extensive damage to the periostracum). The effects of elevated PCO2 on physiology and biomineralization of hard shell clams were more complex. Elevated PCO2 (~800-1500 µatm) had no significant effects on standard metabolic rates (indicative of the basal energy demand), but affected growth and shell mechanical properties in juvenile clams. Moderate hypercapnia (~800 µatm PCO2) increased shell and tissue growth and reduced mortality of juvenile clams in high salinity exposures; however, these effects were abolished under the low salinity conditions or at high PCO2 (~1500 µatm). Mechanical properties of the shell (measured as microhardness and fracture toughness of the shells) were negatively affected by elevated CO2 alone or in combination with low salinity, which may have important implications for protection against predators or environmental stressors. Our data indicate that environmental salinity can strongly modulate responses to ocean acidification in hard shell clams and thus should be taken into account when predicting the effects of ocean acidification on estuarine bivalves.

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Effects of ocean acidification on early life-history stages of the intertidal porcelain crab Petrolisthes cinctipes

Intertidal zone organisms naturally experience daily fluctuations in pH, presently reaching values beyond what is predicted for open ocean surface waters from ocean acidification (OA) by the year 2100, and thus present an opportunity to study the pH sensitivity of organisms that are presumably adapted to an acidified environment. The intertidal zone porcelain crab, Petrolisthes cinctipes, was used to study physiological responses to low pH in embryonic, larval and newly recruited juvenile life-history stages. In these crabs, embryonic development occurs in the pH-variable intertidal zone (pH 6.9–9.5), larvae mature in the more stable pelagic environment (pH 7.9–8.2), and juvenile crabs settle back into the pH-variable intertidal zone. We examined survival, cardiac performance, energetics and morphology in embryonic, larval and juvenile crabs exposed to two pH conditions (pH 7.9 and 7.6). Embryos and larvae were split by brood between the pH treatments for 9 days to examine brood-specific responses to low pH. Hatching success did not differ between pH conditions, but ranged from 30% to 95% among broods. Larval survival was not affected by acidification, but juvenile survival was reduced by ~30% after longer (40 days) exposure to low pH. Embryonic and larval heart rates were 37% and 20% lower at low pH, and there was a brood-specific response in embryos. Embryos did not increase in volume under acidified conditions, compared with a 15% increase in ambient conditions. We conclude that sustained exposure to low pH could be detrimental to P. cinctipes embryos and larvae despite the fact that embryos are regularly exposed to naturally fluctuating hypercapnic water in the intertidal zone. Importantly, our results indicate that early life-history stage responses to OA may be brood specific through as yet undetermined mechanisms.

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Growth and development of larval bay scallops (Argopecten irradians) in response to early exposure to high CO2

Coastal and estuarine environments experience large variability and rapid shifts in pCO2 levels. Elevated pCO2, or ocean acidification, often negatively affects early life stages of calcifying marine invertebrates, including bivalves, but it is unclear which developmental stage is most sensitive. I hypothesized that initial calcification is a critical stage during which high pCO2 exposure has severe effects on larval growth and development of bay scallop (Argopecten irradians). Using five experiments varying the timing of exposure of embryonic and larval bay scallops to high CO2, this thesis identifies two distinct stages of development during which exposure to high CO2/low pH causes different effects on bay scallop larvae. I show that any exposure to high CO2 consistently reduces survival of bay scallop larvae. I also show that high CO2 exposure during initial calcification (12-24 h post-fertilization) results in significantly smaller shells, relative to ambient conditions, and this size decrease persists through the first week of development. High CO2 exposure at 2-12 h post-­ fertilization (pre-calcification), does not impact shell size, suggesting that the CO2 impact on size is a consequence of water chemistry during calcification. However, high CO2 exposure prior to shell formation (2-12 h post-fertilization) causes a high incidence of larval shell deformity, regardless of CO2 conditions during initial calcification. This impact does not occur in response to high CO2 exposure after the 2-12 h period. The observations of two critical stages in early development has implications for both field and hatchery populations. If field populations were able to time their spawning to occur during the night, larvae would undergo initial calcification during the daytime, when CO2 conditions are more favorable, resulting in larger veliger larvae. Hatcheries could invest minimal resources to monitor and modify water chemistry only during the first day of development to ensure larva are exposed to favorable conditions during that critical period.

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The response of abyssal organisms to low pH conditions during a series of CO2-release experiments simulating deep-sea carbon sequestration

The effects of low-pH, high-pCO2 conditions on deep-sea organisms were examined during four deep-sea CO2 release experiments simulating deep-ocean C sequestration by the direct injection of CO2 into the deep sea. We examined the survival of common deep-sea, benthic organisms (microbes; macrofauna, dominated by Polychaeta, Nematoda, Crustacea, Mollusca; megafauna, Echinodermata, Mollusca, Pisces) exposed to low-pH waters emanating as a dissolution plume from pools of liquid carbon dioxide released on the seabed during four abyssal CO2-release experiments. Microbial abundance in deep-sea sediments was unchanged in one experiment, but increased under environmental hypercapnia during another, where the microbial assemblage may have benefited indirectly from the negative impact of low-pH conditions on other taxa. Lower abyssal metazoans exhibited low survival rates near CO2 pools. No urchins or holothurians survived during 30–42 days of exposure to episodic, but severe environmental hypercapnia during one experiment (E1; pH reduced by as much as ca. 1.4 units). These large pH reductions also caused 75% mortality for the deep-sea amphipod, Haploops lodo, near CO2 pools. Survival under smaller pH reductions (ΔpH<0.4 units) in other experiments (E2, E3, E5) was higher for all taxa, including echinoderms. Cephalopods, gastropods, and fish were more tolerant than most other taxa. The gastropod Mohnia vernalis and octopus Benthoctopus sp. survived exposure to pH reductions that episodically reached −0.3 pH units. Ninety percent of abyssal zoarcids (Pachycara bulbiceps) survived exposure to pH changes reaching ca. −0.3 pH units during 30–42 day-long experiments.

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Chronic exposure of the North Atlantic copepod Calanus finmarchicus (Gunnerus, 1770) to CO2-acidified seawater; effects on survival, growth and development

The impact of chronic exposure to CO2-acidified seawater on survival, growth and development was investigated in the North Atlantic copepod Calanus finmarchicus. Using a custom developed microcosm 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 within year 2300) will probably not directly affect survival in C. finmarchicus. Long-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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Meta-analysis reveals complex marine biological responses to the interactive effects of ocean acidification and warming

Ocean acidification and warming are considered two of the greatest threats to marine biodiversity, yet the combined effect of these stressors on marine organisms remains largely unclear. Using a meta-analytical approach, we assessed the biological responses of marine organisms to the effects of ocean acidification and warming in isolation and combination. As expected biological responses varied across taxonomic groups, life-history stages, and trophic levels, but importantly, combining stressors generally exhibited a stronger biological (either positive or negative) effect. Using a subset of orthogonal studies, we show that four of five of the biological responses measured (calcification, photosynthesis, reproduction, and survival, but not growth) interacted synergistically when warming and acidification were combined. The observed synergisms between interacting stressors suggest that care must be made in making inferences from single-stressor studies. Our findings clearly have implications for the development of adaptive management strategies particularly given that the frequency of stressors interacting in marine systems will be likely to intensify in the future. There is now an urgent need to move toward more robust, holistic, and ecologically realistic climate change experiments that incorporate interactions. Without them accurate predictions about the likely deleterious impacts to marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning over the next century will not be possible.

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Functional diversity and climate change: effects on the invasibility of macroalgal assemblages

Climate-driven and biodiversity effects on the structure and functioning of ecosystems are increasingly studied as multiple stressors, which subsequently may influence species invasions. We used a mesocosm experiment to test how increases in temperature and CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) interact with functional diversity of resident macroalgal assemblages and affect the invasion success of the non-indigenous macroalga Sargassum muticum. Early settlement of S. muticum germlings was assessed in the laboratory under common environmental conditions across three monocultures and a polyculture of functional groups of native macroalgae, which had previously grown for 3 weeks under crossed treatments of temperature and pCO2. Functional diversity was a key driver shaping early settlement of the invader, with significant identity and richness effects: higher settlement occurred in low-diversity and low-stature assemblages, even after accounting for treatment biomass. Overall, early survivorship of settled germlings responded to an interaction of temperature and pCO2 treatments, with survivorship enhanced in one treatment (high pCO2 at ambient Temperature) after 3 days, and reduced in another (ambient pCO2 at high Temperature) after 10 days, although size was enhanced in this same treatment. After 6 months in the field, legacy effects of laboratory treatments remained, with S. muticum reaching higher cover in most assemblages previously subjected to ambient pCO2, but ephemeral green algae appearing disproportionately after elevated-pCO2 treatment. These results caution that invasion outcomes may change at multiple points in the life cycle under higher-CO2, higher-temperature conditions, in addition to supporting a role for intact, functionally diverse assemblages in limiting invader colonization.

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Impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms: quantifying sensitivities and interaction with warming

Ocean acidification represents a threat to marine species worldwide, and forecasting the ecological impacts of acidification is a high priority for science, management, and policy. As research on the topic expands at an exponential rate, a comprehensive understanding of the variability in organisms’ responses and corresponding levels of certainty is necessary to forecast the ecological effects. Here, we perform the most comprehensive meta-analysis to date by synthesizing the results of 228 studies examining biological responses to ocean acidification. The results reveal decreased survival, calcification, growth, development and abundance in response to acidification when the broad range of marine organisms is pooled together. However, the magnitude of these responses varies among taxonomic groups, suggesting there is some predictable trait-based variation in sensitivity despite the investigation of approximately 100 new species in recent research. The results also reveal an enhanced sensitivity of mollusc larvae, but suggest that an enhanced sensitivity of early life history stages is not universal across all taxonomic groups. In addition, the variability in species’ responses is enhanced when they are exposed to acidification in multi-species assemblages, suggesting it is important to consider indirect effects and exercise caution when forecasting abundance patterns from single species laboratory experiments. Furthermore, the results suggest that other factors, such as nutritional status or source population, could cause substantial variation in organisms’ responses. Last, the results highlight a trend towards enhanced sensitivity to acidification when taxa are concurrently exposed to elevated seawater temperature.

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The effects of intermittent exposure to low pH and oxygen conditions on survival and growth of juvenile red abalone

Exposure of nearshore animals to hypoxic, low pH waters upwelled from below the continental shelf and advected near the coast may be stressful to marine organisms and lead to impaired physiological performance. We mimicked upwelling conditions in the laboratory and tested the effect of fluctuating exposure to water with low pH and/or low oxygen levels on the mortality and growth of juvenile red abalone (Haliotis rufescens, shell length 5–10 mm). Mortality rates of juvenile abalone exposed to low pH (7.5, total scale) and low O2 (40% saturation, 5 mg L−1) conditions for periods of 3 to 6 h every 3–5 days over 2 weeks did not differ from those exposed to control conditions (O2: 100% saturation, 12 mg L−1; pH 8.0). However, when exposure was extended to 24 h repeated twice over a 15 day period, juveniles experienced higher mortality in the low oxygen treatments compared to control conditions, regardless of pH levels (pH 7.5 vs. 8.0). Growth rates were reduced significantly when juveniles were exposed to low pH or low oxygen treatments and the growth was lowest when low pH exposure was combined with low O2. Furthermore, individual variation of growth rate increased when they were exposed to low pH and low O2 conditions. These results indicate that prolonged exposure to low oxygen levels is detrimental for the survival of red abalone, whereas both pH and oxygen is a crucial factor for their growth. However, given the higher individual variation in growth rate, they may have an ability to adapt to extended exposure to upwelling conditions.

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Temperature affects the early life history stages of corals more than near future ocean acidification

Climate change is projected to increase ocean temperatures by at least 2°C, and levels of pH by ~0.2 units (ocean acidification, OA) by the end of this century. While the effects of these stressors on marine organisms have been relatively well explored in isolation, possible interactions between temperature and OA have yet to be thoroughly investigated. OA at levels projected to occur within this century has few direct ecological effects on the early life history stages of corals. In contrast, temperature has pronounced effects on many stages in the early life history of corals. Here, we test whether temperature might act in combination with OA to produce a measurable ecological effect on fertilization, development, larval survivorship or metamorphosis of 2 broadcast spawning species, Acropora millepora and A. tenuis, from the Great Barrier Reef. We used 4 treatments: control, high temperature (+2°C), high partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) (700 µatm) and a combination of high temperature and high pCO2, corresponding to the current levels of these variables and the projected values for the end of this century under the IPCC A2 scenario. We found no consistent effect of elevated pCO2 on fertilization, development, survivorship or metamorphosis, neither alone nor in combination with temperature. In contrast, a 2°C rise in temperature increased rates of development, but otherwise had no consistent effect on fertilization, survivorship or metamorphosis. We conclude that OA is unlikely to be a direct threat to the early life history stages of corals, at least in the near future. In contrast, rising sea temperatures are likely to affect coral population dynamics by increasing the rate of larval development with resulting changes in patterns of connectivity.

Continue reading ‘Temperature affects the early life history stages of corals more than near future ocean acidification’

Effects of ocean acidification on the embryos and larvae of red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus

The effects of the decline in ocean pH, known as ocean acidification, on marine species are not well understood. To test the effects on embryos and larvae of red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus, ovigerous crab and their larvae were held in CO2-acidified (pH 7.7) and control (ambient; pH 8.0) seawater during development. Morphometrics, hatch duration, fecundity, survival, mineral content, and condition were measured. Acidified embryos had 4% larger eyes and 5% smaller yolks, while mean hatch duration was 33% longer and female fecundity was unaffected. Acidified embryos also resulted in 4% longer larvae while acidified larvae had lower survival. Calcium content of both larvae and female carapaces after molting increased by 5% and 19%, respectively. Although ocean acidification may increase larval size and calcium content, the implications of this are unclear and decreased survival is likely to harm red king crab populations.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on the embryos and larvae of red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus’

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

As a result of high anthropogenic emission of CO2, partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) in the oceans has increased causing a drop in pH, known as ocean acidification (OA). Numerous studies have shown negative effects on marine invertebrates, and that the early life stages are the most sensitive to OA. We studied the effects on embryo and larvae of great scallop (Pecten maximus L.), using mean pCO2-levels of 477 (ambient), 821, 1184, and 1627 ppm. OA affected both survival and shell growth negatively after seven days. Growth was reduced with 5–10% when pCO2 increased from ambient 477 ppm to 1627 ppm, and survival based on egg number was reduced from 40.4% in the ambient group to 10.7% in the highest pCO2-group. Larvae/embryos stained with calcein one day after fertilization, showed fluorescence in the newly formed shell area indicating calcification of the shell already at the trochophore stage. Shell hinge deformities were observed at elevated pCO2-levels in trochophore larvae after two days. After seven days, deformities in both shell hinge and shell edge were observed in veliger larvae at elevated pCO2-levels. Although the growth showed a moderate reduction, survival rate and increased amount of deformed larvae indicates that P. Maximus larvae are affected by elevated pCO2 levels within the range of what is projected for the next century.

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


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