Posts Tagged 'temperature'

The effects of climate change on the heart rates & growth of sea slugs in the Gulf of Maine

In the next 80 years, sea surface temperatures are expected to increase by 1.5o to 2oC and ocean pH is expected to drop by 0.06 to 0.32 units, with exacerbated effects seen in coastal waters. Temperature increase has already forced organisms to shift their range polewards and ocean acidification has negatively affected calcifying organisms. Interactive effects, only more recently studied, vary depending on phylum and life cycle stage. This study examined both the upper thermal tolerance and interactive effect of temperature and acidification on the heart rate of five cold-water species of nudibranchs (Aeolidia papillosa, Cuthona gymnota, Dendronotus frondosus, Flabellina verrucosa, and Onchidoris bilamellata) and one species of sacoglossan (Placida dendritica) from the Gulf of Maine. Thermal tolerance was determined by recording heart rate for each organism starting at 4oC and increasing the temperature by increments of 4oC until the organism’s heartbeat slowed or ceased. For interactive effects, pH levels used were pH 8 (control) and pH 7 at temperatures: 4o, 8o (control), 12o, and 16oC. Upper thermal tolerance limits ranged from 16o to 20oC for the nudibranchs and 24oC for the sacoglossan. The combined effects of increasing temperature and lower pH were neutral, negatively additive, and antagonistic. Only F. verrucosa exhibited an interactive effect, with higher temperature and lower pH leading to decreased heart rate. Although no interactive effect was demonstrated in C. xgymnota, D. frondosus, and O. bilamellata, lower pH slowed heart rates across all temperatures. Subsequently, the relationship between temperature and growth rates was examined in D. frondosus and F. verrucosa. The nudibranchs were reared for eight weeks at 4o, 10o, or 16oC and growth was measured weekly. The ideal temperature for growth appeared to be 10oC, whereas 16oC was lethal. Additionally, an unsuccessful attempt was made to culture A. papillosa, but the number of embryos per egg capsule and larval growth rates were examined. Size of adult sea slug positively impacted the number of embryos per egg capsule, with embryos increasing in length by 50% over the first week and 10% over subsequent weeks. With an interactive effect only seen in one species and upper temperatures being lethal if held constant for a month, temperature appears to be the greatest threat to survival. What is happening to these sea slugs in the GOM is likely happening to other snails and marine invertebrates throughout the ocean. Knowing how organisms will react to the projected changes can help inform future policies and practices.

Continue reading ‘The effects of climate change on the heart rates & growth of sea slugs in the Gulf of Maine’

Combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature on larval and juvenile growth, development and swimming performance of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

Ocean acidification and ocean warming (OAW) are simultaneously occurring and could pose ecological challenges to marine life, particularly early life stages of fish that, although they are internal calcifiers, may have poorly developed acid-base regulation. This study assessed the effect of projected OAW on key fitness traits (growth, development and swimming ability) in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) larvae and juveniles. Starting at 2 days post-hatch (dph), larvae were exposed to one of three levels of PCO2 (650, 1150, 1700 μatm; pH 8.0, 7.8, 7.6) at either a cold (15°C) or warm (20°C) temperature. Growth rate, development stage and critical swimming speed (Ucrit) were repeatedly measured as sea bass grew from 0.6 to ~10.0 (cold) or ~14.0 (warm) cm body length. Exposure to different levels of PCO2 had no significant effect on growth, development or Ucrit of larvae and juveniles. At the warmer temperature, larvae displayed faster growth and deeper bodies. Notochord flexion occurred at 0.8 and 1.2 cm and metamorphosis was completed at an age of ~45 and ~60 days post-hatch for sea bass in the warm and cold treatments, respectively. Swimming performance increased rapidly with larval development but better swimmers were observed in the cold treatment, reflecting a potential trade-off between fast grow and swimming ability. A comparison of the results of this and other studies on marine fish indicates that the effects of OAW on the growth, development and swimming ability of early life stages are species-specific and that generalizing the impacts of climate-driven warming or ocean acidification is not warranted.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of ocean acidification and temperature on larval and juvenile growth, development and swimming performance of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)’

Neurobiological and behavioural responses of cleaning mutualisms to ocean warming and acidification

Cleaning interactions are textbook examples of mutualisms. On coral reefs, most fishes engage in cooperative interactions with cleaners fishes, where they benefit from ectoparasite reduction and ultimately stress relief. Furthermore, such interactions elicit beneficial effects on clients’ ecophysiology. However, the potential effects of future ocean warming (OW) and acidification (OA) on these charismatic associations are unknown. Here we show that a 45-day acclimation period to OW (+3 °C) and OA (980 μatm pCO2) decreased interactions between cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus) and clients (Naso elegans). Cleaners also invested more in the interactions by providing tactile stimulation under OA. Although this form of investment is typically used by cleaners to prolong interactions and reconcile after cheating, interaction time and client jolt rate (a correlate of dishonesty) were not affected by any stressor. In both partners, the dopaminergic (in all brain regions) and serotoninergic (forebrain) systems were significantly altered by these stressors. On the other hand, in cleaners, the interaction with warming ameliorated dopaminergic and serotonergic responses to OA. Dopamine and serotonin correlated positively with motivation to interact and cleaners interaction investment (tactile stimulation). We advocate that such neurobiological changes associated with cleaning behaviour may affect the maintenance of community structures on coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Neurobiological and behavioural responses of cleaning mutualisms to ocean warming and acidification’

Restoring the flat oyster Ostrea angasi in the face of a changing climate

Across the globe, restoration efforts are stemming the loss of native oyster reefs and the ecosystem services they provide, but these efforts will need to consider climate change in order to be sustainable. South-eastern Australia is the focus of restoring the once abundant oyster Ostrea angasi. This region is also a climate change ‘hot spot’ where the ocean is warming rapidly, with the potential to be exacerbated by marine heatwaves and coastal acidification. In this study, the impact of near-future (~2050) elevated temperature and pCO2 on O. angasi was determined and considered in context with concerns for the long-term sustainability of oyster reef restoration efforts. Oysters were exposed to ambient and elevated pCO2 concentrations (mean ± SE: 408 ± 19.8 and 1070 ± 53.4 µatm) and ambient and elevated temperatures (22.78 ± 0.17 and 25.73 ± 0.21°C) for 10 wk in outdoor flow-through mesocosms. Shell growth, condition index, standard metabolic rate (SMR), extracellular pH and survival were measured. Elevated temperature caused high mortality (36%) and decreased the condition of oysters (33%). Elevated pCO2 increased SMR almost 4-fold and lowered the extracellular pH of O. angasi by a mean 0.29 pH units. In combination, elevated pCO2 and temperature ameliorated effects on SMR and survivorship of oysters. O. angasi appears to be living near the limits of its thermal tolerance. Restoration projects will need to account for the temperature sensitivity of this species and its changing habitat to ‘climate proof’ long-term restoration efforts.

Continue reading ‘Restoring the flat oyster Ostrea angasi in the face of a changing climate’

Positive genetic associations among fitness traits support evolvability of a reef‐building coral under multiple stressors

Climate change threatens organisms in a variety of interactive ways that requires simultaneous adaptation of multiple traits. Predicting evolutionary responses requires an understanding of the potential for interactions among stressors and the genetic variance and covariance among fitness‐related traits that may reinforce or constrain an adaptive response. Here we investigate the capacity of Acropora millepora, a reef‐building coral, to adapt to multiple environmental stressors: rising sea surface temperature, ocean acidification, and increased prevalence of infectious diseases. We measured growth rates (weight gain), coral color (a proxy for Symbiodiniaceae density), and survival, in addition to nine physiological indicators of coral and algal health in 40 coral genets exposed to each of these three stressors singly and combined. Individual stressors resulted in predicted responses (e.g., corals developed lesions after bacterial challenge and bleached under thermal stress). However, corals did not suffer substantially more when all three stressors were combined. Nor were trade‐offs observed between tolerances to different stressors; instead, individuals performing well under one stressor also tended to perform well under every other stressor. An analysis of genetic correlations between traits revealed positive covariances, suggesting that selection to multiple stressors will reinforce rather than constrain the simultaneous evolution of traits related to holobiont health (e.g., weight gain and algal density). These findings support the potential for rapid coral adaptation under climate change and emphasize the importance of accounting for corals’ adaptive capacity when predicting the future of coral reefs.

Continue reading ‘Positive genetic associations among fitness traits support evolvability of a reef‐building coral under multiple stressors’

Climate change erodes competitive hierarchies among native, alien and range-extending crabs


• Ocean warming and acidification can alter species behaviour and competition.

• We tested this on co-occurring native, alien, and range-extending crab species.

• Range-extending crabs outperformed the alien and native crabs in current conditions.

• Under future climate conditions, the three crabs no longer differed in competition.

• Climate change can drive homogenisation in behavioural competitiveness.


Global warming and ocean acidification alter a wide range of animal behaviours, yet the effect on resource competition among species is poorly understood. We tested whether the combination of moderate levels of ocean acidification and warming altered the feeding success of co-occurring native, alien, and range-extending crab species, and how these changes affected their hierarchical dominance. Under contemporary conditions the range-extending species spent more time feeding, than the alien and the native species. Under conditions simulating future climate there was no difference in the proportion of time spent feeding among the three species. These behavioural changes translated to alterations in their dominance hierarchy (based on feeding success) with the most dominant species under present day conditions becoming less dominant under future conditions, and vice versa for the least dominant species. While empirical studies have predicted either reversal or strengthening of hierarchical dominance in animal species, we suggest that even moderate increases in ocean temperature and acidification can drive a homogenisation in behavioural competitiveness, eroding dominance differences among species that are linked to fitness-related traits in nature and hence important for their population persistence.

Continue reading ‘Climate change erodes competitive hierarchies among native, alien and range-extending crabs’

Elevated temperature does not substantially modify the interactive effects between elevated CO2 and diel CO2 cycles on the survival, growth and behavior of a coral reef fish

Recent studies demonstrate that diel CO2 cycles, such as those prevalent in many shallow water habitats, can potentially modify the effects of ocean acidification conditions on marine organisms. However, whether the interaction between elevated CO2 and diel CO2 cycles is further modified by elevated temperature is unknown. To test this, we reared juvenile spiny damselfish, Acanthochromis polyacanthus, for 11 weeks in two stable (450 and 1000 μatm) and two diel- cycling elevated CO2 treatments (1000 ± 300 and 1000 ± 500 μatm) at both current-day (29°C) and projected future temperature (31°C). We measured the effects on survivorship, growth, behavioral lateralization, activity, boldness and escape performance (fast starts). A significant interaction between CO2 and temperature was only detected for survivorship. Survival was lower in the two cycling CO2 treatments at 31°C compared with 29°C but did not differ between temperatures in the two stable CO2 treatments. In other traits we observed independent effects of elevated CO2, and interactions between elevated CO2 and diel CO2 cycles, but these effects were not influenced by temperature. There was a trend toward decreased growth in fish reared under stable elevated CO2 that was counteracted by diel CO2 cycles, with fish reared under cycling CO2 being significantly larger than fish reared under stable elevated CO2. Diel CO2 cycles also mediated the negative effect of elevated CO2 on behavioral lateralization, as previously reported. Routine activity was reduced in the 1000 ± 500 μatm CO2 treatment compared to control fish. In contrast, neither boldness nor fast-starts were affected by any of the CO2 treatments. Elevated temperature had significant independent effects on growth, routine activity and fast start performance. Our results demonstrate that diel CO2 cycles can significantly modify the growth and behavioral responses of fish under elevated CO2 and that these effects are not altered by elevated temperature, at least in this species. Our findings add to a growing body of work that highlights the critical importance of incorporating natural CO2 variability in ocean acidification experiments to more accurately assess the effects of ocean climate change on marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Elevated temperature does not substantially modify the interactive effects between elevated CO2 and diel CO2 cycles on the survival, growth and behavior of a coral reef fish’

Subscribe to the RSS feed

Powered by FeedBurner

Follow AnneMarin on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 1,284,647 hits


Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book