Posts Tagged 'temperature'

Adaptive responses and local stressor mitigation drive coral resilience in warmer, more acidic oceans

Coral reefs have great biological and socioeconomic value, but are threatened by ocean acidification, climate change and local human impacts. The capacity for corals to adapt or acclimatize to novel environmental conditions is unknown but fundamental to projected reef futures. The coral reefs of Kāne‘ohe Bay, Hawai‘i were devastated by anthropogenic insults from the 1930s to 1970s. These reefs experience naturally reduced pH and elevated temperature relative to many other Hawaiian reefs which are not expected to face similar conditions for decades. Despite catastrophic loss in coral cover owing to human disturbance, these reefs recovered under low pH and high temperature within 20 years after sewage input was diverted. We compare the pH and temperature tolerances of three dominant Hawaiian coral species from within Kāne‘ohe Bay to conspecifics from a nearby control site and show that corals from Kāne‘ohe are far more resistant to acidification and warming. These results show that corals can have different pH and temperature tolerances among habitats and understanding the mechanisms by which coral cover rebounded within two decades under projected future ocean conditions will be critical to management. Together these results indicate that reducing human stressors offers hope for reef resilience and effective conservation over coming decades.

Continue reading ‘Adaptive responses and local stressor mitigation drive coral resilience in warmer, more acidic oceans’

Limited response of a spring bloom community inoculated with filamentous cyanobacteria to elevated temperature and pCO2

Temperature and CO2 levels are projected to increase in the future, with consequences for carbon and nutrient cycling in brackish environments, such as the Baltic Sea. Moreover, filamentous cyanobacteria are predicted to be favored over other phytoplankton groups under these conditions. Under a 12-day outdoor experiment, we examined the effect on a natural phytoplankton spring bloom community of elevated temperature (from 1°C to 4°C) and elevated pCO2 (from 390 to 970 μatm). No effects of elevated pCO2 or temperature were observed on phytoplankton biovolumes, but a significantly higher photosystem II activity was observed at elevated temperature after 9 days. In addition, three species of diazotrophic filamentous cyanobacteria were inoculated to test their competitive capacity under spring bloom conditions. The toxic cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena exhibited an average specific growth rate of 0.10 d−1 by the end of the experiment, indicating potential prevalence even during wintertime in the Baltic Sea. Generally, none of the inoculated cyanobacteria species were able to outcompete the natural phytoplankton species at temperatures ≤4°C. No direct effects were found on heterotrophic bacteria. This study demonstrates the highly efficient resistance towards short-term (12 days) changes in abiotic factors by the natural Baltic Sea spring bloom community.

Continue reading ‘Limited response of a spring bloom community inoculated with filamentous cyanobacteria to elevated temperature and pCO2’

Impact de l’acidification et du réchauffement sur les communautés planctoniques de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent et la production de diméthylsulfure (in French)

Anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions have increased since the industrial revolution, leading to modifications in atmospheric CO2 content and an increase in oceanic CO2 partial pressures (pCO2). The uptake of CO2 by the oceans has resulted in a lowering of surface water pH, corresponding to an increase in the acidity of the oceans by ~30 % compared with pre-industrial times. Furthermore, climate change resulting from the accumulation of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is responsible for the observed warming of sea surface temperatures since the mid 20th century. The fate of planktonic communities in the face of these changes in the marine environment over the next century remains uncertain. Even less understood are the possible interactions of acidification and warming on the production of dimethylsulfide (DMS), a sulfur-containing gas produced by planktonic communities and involved in climate regulation. The aim of this thesis is to determine the impact of heightened pCO2 on the development of the phytoplanktonic blooms in the Lower St. Lawrence Estuary (LSLE), and their production of DMS, as well as to evaluate how concomitant warming could modulate the effects of acidification. Two intricate experiments were carried out during this study. First, a microcosm experiment (~20 L) was conducted in the summer of 2013 to assess the effects of pCO2 on the development of the LSLE spring diatom bloom, paying special attention to the microbial processes governing the production of DMS. Second, a multifactorial mesocosm experiment (~2600 L) was carried out in the fall of 2014 to investigate the combined effects of pCO2 and temperature on the development of the fall bloom in the LSLE and the production of DMS. Results from our microcosm experiment show that the blooming phytoplankton community of the LSLE during spring is resistant to pCO2 increases superior to the expected values for 2100. This resistance likely reflects its adaptation to the estuarine setting, an environment known for rapid and intense fluctuations of pCO2. This first experiment has also highlighted a reduction of the average concentrations of DMS by 15 and 40 % in planktonic assemblages respectively subjected to pCO2 of ~1850 μatm and ~2700 μatm compared to the control (~775 μatm). Parallel incubations have shown, using 35S-DMSPd, that the negative effect of acidification on DMS mostly stemmed from a decrease in the conversion efficiency of DMSP to DMS by bacteria. The second experiment has also highlighted a strong resistance of the diatom Skeletonema costatum to a wide range of pH (~8.0–7.2), and corresponding pCO2 (~90–3000 μatm). In this study, a warming of 5 °C accelerated the development and decline of the bloom, but did not affect the integrated primary production over the duration of the experiment. As in the first experiment, heightened pCO2 resulted in a decrease of average concentrations of DMS of ~66 % in the most acidified mesocosms compared to the least acidified mesocosms at in situ temperature (10 °C). However, the negative effect of an increase in pCO2 on the net production of DMS could be mitigated by a warming of surface waters. Indeed, my results reveal that the net production of DMS was higher at 15 °C compared to 10 °C over the whole pCO2 gradient in our mesocosm study. These novel results suggest that warming of surface waters could mitigate, at least partly, the negative effect of acidification on DMS net production in the LSLE and perhaps in the world’s oceans.

Continue reading ‘Impact de l’acidification et du réchauffement sur les communautés planctoniques de l’estuaire du Saint-Laurent et la production de diméthylsulfure (in French)’

Transgenerational effects in an ecological context: conditioning of adult sea urchins to upwelling conditions alters maternal provisioning and progeny phenotype


• Differential maternal conditioning did not affect egg size or protein content.

• Simulated upwelling conditions increased maternal provisioning of lipids to eggs.

• Maternal conditioning to simulated upwelling increased embryo body size.


Transgenerational plasticity occurs when the conditions experienced by the parental generation influence the phenotype of their progeny. This may in turn affect progeny performance and physiological tolerance, providing a means by which organisms cope with rapid environmental change. We conditioned adult purple sea urchins, Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, to combined pCO2 and temperature conditions reflective of in situ conditions of their natural habitat, the benthos in kelp forests of nearshore California, and then assessed the performance of their progeny raised under different pCO2 levels. Adults were conditioned during gametogenesis to treatments that reflected static non-upwelling (~650 μatm pCO2, ~17 °C) and upwelling (~1300 μatm pCO2, ~13 °C) conditions. Following approximately 4 months of conditioning, the adults were spawned and embryos were raised under low pCO2 (~450 μatm pCO2) or high pCO2 (~1050 μatm pCO2) treatments to determine if differential maternal conditioning impacted the progeny response to a single abiotic stressor: pCO2. We examined the size, protein content, and lipid content of eggs from both sets of conditioned female urchins. Offspring were sampled at four stages of early development: hatched blastula, gastrula, prism, and echinopluteus. This resulted in four sets of offspring: (1) progeny from non-upwelling-conditioned mothers raised under low pCO2, (2) progeny from non-upwelling-conditioned mothers raised under high pCO2, (3) progeny from upwelling-conditioned mothers raised under low pCO2, and (4) progeny from upwelling-conditioned mothers raised under high pCO2. We then assessed the effects of maternal conditioning along with the effects of developmental pCO2 levels on body size of the progeny. Our results showed that differential maternal conditioning had no impact on average egg size, although non-upwelling females produced eggs that were more variable in size. Maternal conditioning did not affect protein content but did have a modest impact on egg lipid content. Developing embryos whose mothers were conditioned to simulated upwelling conditions (~1300 μatm pCO2, ~13 °C) were greater in body size, although this effect was no longer evident at the echinopluteus larval stage. Although maternal conditioning affected offspring body size, the pCO2 levels under which the embryos were raised did not. Overall, this laboratory study provides insight into how transgenerational effects may function in nature. The impacts of parental environmental history on progeny phenotype during early development have important implications regarding recruitment success and population-level effects.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational effects in an ecological context: conditioning of adult sea urchins to upwelling conditions alters maternal provisioning and progeny phenotype’

Temporal effects of ocean warming and acidification on coral–algal competition

While there is an ever-expanding list of impacts on coral reefs as a result of ocean warming and acidification, there is little information on how these global changes influence coral–algal competition. The present study assessed the impact of business-as-usual ocean warming and acidification conditions on the survivorship, calcification, photosynthesis and respiration of the coral–algal interaction between the macroalga Halimeda heteromorpha and the coral Acropora intermedia over 8 weeks in two seasons. The physiological responses of A. intermedia and H. heteromorpha were highly dependent on season, with both organisms demonstrating optimal rates of calcification and photosynthesis under present-day conditions in summer. Contact with H. heteromorpha did not influence A. intermedia survivorship, however did reduce long-term calcification rates. Photosynthetic rates of A. intermedia were influenced by algal contact temporally in opposing directions, with rates reduced in winter and increased in summer. Enhanced photosynthetic rates as a result of algal contact were not enough to offset the combined effects of ocean warming and acidification, which regardless of coral–algal contact, reduced survivorship, calcification and photosynthesis of A. intermedia and the calcification rates of H. heteromorpha. These findings provide experimental support for the idea that the effects of coral–algal competition are temporally variable, and help improve our understanding of how future ocean warming and acidification may alter the dynamics of coral–algal interactions.

Continue reading ‘Temporal effects of ocean warming and acidification on coral–algal competition’

The combined effects of pH and temperature on the physiology of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula

The purpose of this investigation was to investigate the impact of ocean acidification and warming sea temperature on Oculina arbuscula, a temperate scleractinian coral found in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) off the coast of Sapelo Island, GA. GRNMS experiences seasonal fluctuations in temperatures that reach 30°C and concurrent decreases in pH to approximately 8.0, thus naturally modelling the projected effects of anthropogenic climate change on an annual basis. Oculina arbuscula colonies in GRNMS are exposed to these natural fluctuations in temperature and pH, therefore I hypothesized that this species is resistant to the combined effects of high temperature and low pH. Specifically, I predicted that there would be no effects on calcification rates, symbiont densities, or chlorophyll a concentrations. To test these predictions, O. arbuscula colonies were collected from GRNMS, divided into three treatments and a control, and maintained for 75 days. Ambient temperature was applied at 26°C while high temperature was 31°C, and the ambient pH was 7.9 with a low pH of 7.65. The ambient values were applied to the control aquaria, and the three treatments experienced ocean acidification (ambient temperature, low pH), ocean warming (high temperature, ambient pH), and combined ocean warming and acidification (high temperature, low pH). Results showed that calcification rates were significantly reduced by the combined stressors and symbiont densities and chlorophyll concentrations were significantly reduced by high temperature treatments. These results indicated that with continued ocean acidification and warming, the success of Oculina arbsucula within the spatially competitive benthic communities in GRNMS may be compromised.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of pH and temperature on the physiology of the temperate coral Oculina arbuscula’

Responses to ocean acidification and diurnal temperature variation in a commercially farmed seaweed, Pyropia haitanensis (Rhodophyta)

To investigate carbon and nitrogen metabolism in Pyropia haitanensis in response to the combined conditions of ocean acidification and diurnal temperature variation, maricultured thalli were tested in acidified culture under different temperature treatments. The results showed a combined effect of ocean acidification and diurnal temperature difference on the C and N metabolism and growth of P. haitanensis. In acidifed culture, algal growth, maximum photosynthetic rate, nitrate reductase (NR) activity, amino acid (AA) content and AA score (AAS) were more significantly enhanced in seaweed under diurnal temperature variation than in seaweed at constant temperature. In acidified seawater, soluble carbohydrates in P. haitanensis increased due to greater dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC), whereas soluble proteins decreased. Under the diurnal temperature treatment, higher temperature during the light period enhanced accumulation of algal photosynthates, whereas lower temperature in the dark period reduced energy consumption, resulting in enhanced algal growth, AA content and AAS. We concluded that suitable diurnal temperature difference would be conducive to C fixation and N assimilation under ocean acidification. However, excessively high temperatures would depress algal photosynthesis and increase energy consumption, thereby exerting a negative effect on algal growth.

Continue reading ‘Responses to ocean acidification and diurnal temperature variation in a commercially farmed seaweed, Pyropia haitanensis (Rhodophyta)’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book