Posts Tagged 'temperature'

Coral physiology and microbiome dynamics under combined warming and ocean acidification

Rising seawater temperature and ocean acidification threaten the survival of coral reefs. The relationship between coral physiology and its microbiome may reveal why some corals are more resilient to these global change conditions. Here, we conducted the first experiment to simultaneously investigate changes in the coral microbiome and coral physiology in response to the dual stress of elevated seawater temperature and ocean acidification expected by the end of this century. Two species of corals, Acropora millepora containing the thermally sensitive endosymbiont C21a and Turbinaria reniformis containing the thermally tolerant endosymbiont Symbiodinium trenchi, were exposed to control (26.5°C and pCO2 of 364 μatm) and treatment (29.0°C and pCO2 of 750 μatm) conditions for 24 days, after which we measured the microbial community composition. These microbial findings were interpreted within the context of previously published physiological measurements from the exact same corals in this study (calcification, organic carbon flux, ratio of photosynthesis to respiration, photosystem II maximal efficiency, total lipids, soluble animal protein, soluble animal carbohydrates, soluble algal protein, soluble algal carbohydrate, biomass, endosymbiotic algal density, and chlorophyll a). Overall, dually stressed A. millepora had reduced microbial diversity, experienced large changes in microbial community composition, and experienced dramatic physiological declines in calcification, photosystem II maximal efficiency, and algal carbohydrates. In contrast, the dually stressed coral T. reniformis experienced a stable and more diverse microbiome community with minimal physiological decline, coupled with very high total energy reserves and particulate organic carbon release rates. Thus, the microbiome changed and microbial diversity decreased in the physiologically sensitive coral with the thermally sensitive endosymbiotic algae but not in the physiologically tolerant coral with the thermally tolerant endosymbiont. Our results confirm recent findings that temperature-stress tolerant corals have a more stable microbiome, and demonstrate for the first time that this is also the case under the dual stresses of ocean warming and acidification. We propose that coral with a stable microbiome are also more physiologically resilient and thus more likely to persist in the future, and shape the coral species diversity of future reef ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Coral physiology and microbiome dynamics under combined warming and ocean acidification’

Climate change could drive marine food web collapse through altered trophic flows and cyanobacterial proliferation

Global warming and ocean acidification are forecast to exert significant impacts on marine ecosystems worldwide. However, most of these projections are based on ecological proxies or experiments on single species or simplified food webs. How energy fluxes are likely to change in marine food webs in response to future climates remains unclear, hampering forecasts of ecosystem functioning. Using a sophisticated mesocosm experiment, we model energy flows through a species-rich multilevel food web, with live habitats, natural abiotic variability, and the potential for intra- and intergenerational adaptation. We show experimentally that the combined stress of acidification and warming reduced energy flows from the first trophic level (primary producers and detritus) to the second (herbivores), and from the second to the third trophic level (carnivores). Warming in isolation also reduced the energy flow from herbivores to carnivores, the efficiency of energy transfer from primary producers and detritus to herbivores and detritivores, and the living biomass of detritivores, herbivores, and carnivores. Whilst warming and acidification jointly boosted primary producer biomass through an expansion of cyanobacteria, this biomass was converted to detritus rather than to biomass at higher trophic levels—i.e., production was constrained to the base of the food web. In contrast, ocean acidification affected the food web positively by enhancing trophic flow from detritus and primary producers to herbivores, and by increasing the biomass of carnivores. Our results show how future climate change can potentially weaken marine food webs through reduced energy flow to higher trophic levels and a shift towards a more detritus-based system, leading to food web simplification and altered producer–consumer dynamics, both of which have important implications for the structuring of benthic communities.

Continue reading ‘Climate change could drive marine food web collapse through altered trophic flows and cyanobacterial proliferation’

Diatom performance in a future ocean: interactions between nitrogen limitation, temperature, and CO2-induced seawater acidification

Phytoplankton cells living in the surface waters of oceans are experiencing alterations in environmental conditions associated with global change. Given their importance in global primary productivity, it is of considerable concern to know how these organisms will perform physiologically under the changing levels of pH, temperatures, and nutrients predicted for future oceanic ecosystems. Here we show that the model diatom, Thalassiosira pseudonana, when grown at different temperatures (20 or 24 °C), pCO2 (400 or 1000 µatm), and nitrate concentrations (2.5 or 102.5 µmol l−1), displayed contrasting performance in its physiology. Elevated pCO2 (and hence seawater acidification) under the nitrate-limited conditions led to decreases in specific growth rate, cell size, pigment content, photochemical quantum yield of PSII, and photosynthetic carbon fixation. Furthermore, increasing the temperature exacerbated the negative effects of the seawater acidification associated with elevated pCO2 on specific growth rate and chlorophyll content under the N-limited conditions. These results imply that a reduced upward transport of nutrients due to enhanced stratification associated with ocean warming might act synergistically to reduce growth and carbon fixation by diatoms under progressive ocean acidification, with important ramifications for ocean productivity and the strength of the biological CO2 pump.

Continue reading ‘Diatom performance in a future ocean: interactions between nitrogen limitation, temperature, and CO2-induced seawater acidification’

Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions

Ocean warming and acidification (OA) may alter the fitness of species in marine pelagic ecosystems through community effects or direct physiological impacts. We used the zooplanktonic appendicularian, Oikopleura dioica, to assess temperature and pH effects at mesocosm and microcosm scales. In mesocosms, both OA and warming positively impacted O. dioica abundance over successive generations. In microcosms, the positive impact of OA, was observed to result from increased fecundity. In contrast, increased pH, observed for example during phytoplankton blooms, reduced fecundity. Oocyte fertility and juvenile development were equivalent under all pH conditions, indicating that the positive effect of lower pH on O. dioica abundance was principally due to increased egg number. This effect was influenced by food quantity and quality, supporting possible improved digestion and assimilation at lowered pH. Higher temperature resulted in more rapid growth, faster maturation and earlier reproduction. Thus, increased temperature and reduced pH had significant positive impacts on O. dioica fitness through increased fecundity and shortened generation time, suggesting that predicted future ocean conditions may favour this zooplankton species.

Continue reading ‘Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions’

Assessing the effects of seawater temperature and pH on the bioaccumulation of emerging chemical contaminants in marine bivalves


• Temperature and pH effects on emerging contaminants’ bioaccumulation were assessed.
• Increased temperature promoted the bioaccumulation of Dec 602, Dec 604 and TBBPA.
• Lower pH increased Dec’s bioaccumulation, but also iAs and PFCs’ elimination.
• Human exposure to some compounds may increase with climate change.


Emerging chemical contaminants [e.g. toxic metals speciation, flame retardants (FRs) and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), among others], that have not been historically recognized as pollutants nor their toxicological hazards, are increasingly more present in the marine environment. Furthermore, the effects of environmental conditions (e.g. temperature and pH) on bioaccumulation and elimination mechanisms of these emerging contaminants in marine biota have been poorly studied until now. In this context, the aim of this study was to assess, for the first time, the effect of warmer seawater temperatures (Δ = + 4 °C) and lower pH levels (Δ = − 0.4 pH units), acting alone or combined, on the bioaccumulation and elimination of emerging FRs (dechloranes 602, 603 and 604, and TBBPA), inorganic arsenic (iAs), and PFCs (PFOA and PFOS) in two estuarine bivalve species (Mytilus galloprovincialis and Ruditapes philippinarum). Overall, results showed that warming alone or combined with acidification promoted the bioaccumulation of some compounds (i.e. dechloranes 602, 604, TBBPA), but also facilitated the elimination of others (i.e. iAs, TBBPA). Similarly, lower pH also resulted in higher levels of dechloranes, as well as enhanced iAs, PFOA and PFOS elimination. Data also suggests that, when both abiotic stressors are combined, bivalves’ capacity to accumulate contaminants may be time-dependent, considering significantly drastic increase observed with Dec 602 and TBBPA, during the last 10 days of exposure, when compared to reference conditions. Such changes in contaminants’ bioaccumulation/elimination patterns also suggest a potential increase of human health risks of some compounds, if the climate continues changing as forecasted. Therefore, this first study pointed out the urgent need for further research on the effects of abiotic conditions on emerging contaminants kinetics, to adequately estimate the potential toxicological hazards associated to these compounds and develop recommendations/regulations for their presence in seafood, considering the prevailing environmental conditions expected in tomorrow’s ocean.

Continue reading ‘Assessing the effects of seawater temperature and pH on the bioaccumulation of emerging chemical contaminants in marine bivalves’

Biogeographic vulnerability to ocean acidification and warming in a marine bivalve


• Low pH reduces hatching in the Baltic, southern and northern East Atlantic clade.
• Temperature rise alleviates pH effects on hatching success in the East Atlantic clades.
• Smallest hatching sizes were found in low pH (< 7.5) calcite-undersaturated seawater.
• Temperature rise reduces hatching size in the Baltic and northern East Atlantic clade.
• The Gulf of Finland population appears most endangered in future high pCO2waters.


Anthropogenic CO2 emissions are rapidly changing seawater temperature, pH and carbonate chemistry. This study compares the embryonic development under high pCO2conditions across the south-north distribution range of the marine clam Limecola balthicain NW Europe. The combined effects of elevated temperature and reduced pH on hatching success and size varied strongly between the three studied populations, with the Gulf of Finland population appearing most endangered under the conditions predicted to occur by 2100. These results demonstrate that the assessment of marine faunal population persistence to future climatic conditions needs to consider the interactive effects of co-occurring physico-chemical alterations in seawater within the local context that determines population fitness, adaptation potential and the system resilience to environmental change.

Continue reading ‘Biogeographic vulnerability to ocean acidification and warming in a marine bivalve’

Heatwaves diminish the survival of a subtidal gastropod through reduction in energy budget and depletion of energy reserves

Extreme climatic events, such as heatwaves, are predicted to be more prevalent in future due to global climate change. The devastating impacts of heatwaves on the survival of marine organisms may be further intensified by ocean acidification. Here, we tested the hypothesis that prolonged exposure to heatwave temperatures (24 °C, +3 °C summer seawater temperature) would diminish energy budget, body condition and ultimately survival of a subtidal gastropod (Thalotia conica) by pushing close to its critical thermal maximum (CTmax). We also tested whether ocean acidification (pCO2: 1000 ppm) affects energy budget, CTmax and hence survival of this gastropod. Following the 8-week experimental period, mortality was markedly higher at 24 °C irrespective of pCO2 level, probably attributed to energy deficit (negative scope for growth) and concomitant depletion of energy reserves (reduced organ weight to flesh weight ratio). CTmax of T. conica appeared at 27 °C and was unaffected by ocean acidification. Our findings imply that prolonged exposure to heatwaves can compromise the survival of marine organisms below CTmax via disruption in energy homeostasis, which possibly explains their mass mortality in the past heatwave events. Therefore, heatwaves would have more profound effects than ocean acidification on future marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Heatwaves diminish the survival of a subtidal gastropod through reduction in energy budget and depletion of energy reserves’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book