Posts Tagged 'temperature'

Transgenerational exposure of North Atlantic bivalves to ocean acidification renders offspring more vulnerable to low pH and additional stressors

While early life-stage marine bivalves are vulnerable to ocean acidification, effects over successive generations are poorly characterized. The objective of this work was to assess the transgenerational effects of ocean acidification on two species of North Atlantic bivalve shellfish, Mercenaria mercenaria and Argopecten irradians. Adults of both species were subjected to high and low pCO2 conditions during gametogenesis. Resultant larvae were exposed to low and ambient pH conditions in addition to multiple, additional stressors including thermal stress, food-limitation, and exposure to a harmful alga. There were no indications of transgenerational acclimation to ocean acidification during experiments. Offspring of elevated pCO2-treatment adults were significantly more vulnerable to acidification as well as the additional stressors. Our results suggest that clams and scallops are unlikely to acclimate to ocean acidification over short time scales and that as coastal oceans continue to acidify, negative effects on these populations may become compounded and more severe.

Continue reading ‘Transgenerational exposure of North Atlantic bivalves to ocean acidification renders offspring more vulnerable to low pH and additional stressors’

Sponge bioerosion on changing reefs: ocean warming poses physiological constraints to the success of a photosymbiotic excavating sponge

Excavating sponges are prominent bioeroders on coral reefs that in comparison to other benthic organisms may suffer less or may even benefit from warmer, more acidic and more eutrophic waters. Here, the photosymbiotic excavating sponge Cliona orientalis from the Great Barrier Reef was subjected to a prolonged simulation of both global and local environmental change: future seawater temperature, partial pressure of carbon dioxide (as for 2100 summer conditions under “business-as-usual” emissions), and diet supplementation with particulate organics. The individual and combined effects of the three factors on the bioerosion rates, metabolic oxygen and carbon flux, biomass change and survival of the sponge were monitored over the height of summer. Diet supplementation accelerated bioerosion rates. Acidification alone did not have a strong effect on total bioerosion or survival rates, yet it co-occurred with reduced heterotrophy. Warming above 30 °C (+2.7 °C above the local maximum monthly mean) caused extensive bleaching, lower bioerosion, and prevailing mortality, overriding the other factors and suggesting a strong metabolic dependence of the sponge on its resident symbionts. The growth, bioerosion capacity and likelihood of survival of C. orientalis and similar photosymbiotic excavating sponges could be substantially reduced rather than increased on end-of-the-century reefs under “business-as-usual” emission profiles.

Continue reading ‘Sponge bioerosion on changing reefs: ocean warming poses physiological constraints to the success of a photosymbiotic excavating sponge’

Metabolic response and thermal tolerance of green abalone juveniles (Haliotis fulgens: Gastropoda) under acute hypoxia and hypercapnia


  • Assessment of the impacts of hypoxia and hypercapnia on thermal tolerance
  • Hypoxia induced a downshift in critical temperature.
  • Hypercapnia did not affect thermal tolerance.
  • Both drivers combined prompted a stronger narrowing of thermal tolerance.
  • Warming stress induced protein degradation under all experimental conditions.


With ongoing climate change, rising ocean temperature is usually accompanied by falling oxygen levels (hypoxia) and increasing CO2 concentration (hypercapnia). Both drivers may impose constraints on physiological mechanisms that define thermal limits resulting in increased vulnerability towards warming in marine ectotherms. The present study aimed to detect differences in thermal tolerance by investigating the underlying metabolic responses in the green abalone (Haliotis fulgens) under conditions of hypoxia and hypercapnia. Juvenile abalones were exposed to a temperature ramp (+ 3 °C day− 1) under hypoxia (50% air saturation) and hypercapnia (~ 1000 μatm pCO2), both individually and in combination. Impacts on energy metabolism were assessed by analyzing whole animal respiration rates and metabolic profiles of gills and hepatopancreas via 1H NMR spectroscopy. While hypercapnia had a minor impact on the results of the temperature treatment, hypoxia strongly increased the vulnerability to warming, indicated by respiration rates falling below values expected from an exponential increase and by the onset of anaerobic metabolism suggesting a downward shift of the upper critical temperature. Warming under combined hypoxia and hypercapnia elicited a severe change in metabolism involving a strong accumulation of amino acids, osmolytes and anaerobic end products at intermediate temperatures, followed by declining concentrations at warmer temperatures. This matched the limited capacity to increase metabolic rate, loss of attachment and mortality observed under these conditions suggesting a strong narrowing of the thermal window. In all cases, the accumulation of free amino acids identified proteins as a significant energy source during warming stress.

Continue reading ‘Metabolic response and thermal tolerance of green abalone juveniles (Haliotis fulgens: Gastropoda) under acute hypoxia and hypercapnia’

The combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on shallow-water meiofaunal assemblages


  • Higher seawater temperature did not effect meiofaunal abundance.
  • Lower seawater pH did reduce meiofaunal abundance and species richness.
  • Nematode assemblages showed increased dominance under a future OW/OA scenario.


Climate change due to increased anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere is causing an increase in seawater temperatures referred to as ocean warming and a decrease in seawater pH, referred to as ocean acidification. The meiofauna play an important role in the ecology of marine ecosystems and the functions they provide. Using microcosms, meiofaunal assemblages were exposed to two temperatures (15 and 19 °C) and two pHs (pCO2 of 400 and 1000 ppm), both individually and in combination, for a period of 90 days. The hypothesis that increased temperature will increase meiofaunal abundance was not supported. The hypothesis that a reduced pH will reduce meiofaunal abundance and species richness was supported. The combination of future conditions of temperature and pH (19 °C and pCO2 of 1000 ppm) did not affect overall abundance but the structure of the nematode assemblage changed becoming dominated by a few opportunistic species.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on shallow-water meiofaunal assemblages’

Biochemical composition of turbinid snails and its sensitivity to ocean climate change

Information on the biochemical composition of under-utilised species, such as turban snails, is required to establish their nutritional quality, and improve consumer acceptance as a novel food source. Turbo militaris, Lunella undulata and L. torquata are large common gastropod species with overlapping distributions in eastern Australia. The edible foot tissue from these three species was analysed for comparison of their proximate composition, fatty acids and mineral elements. All species were found to have a high protein content and low lipid levels that are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), with a favourable ratio of omega–3/omega–6 PUFAs for human consumption. Turban snails also provide a good source of essential elements. To quantify the temporal changes in nutritional properties, L. undulata was collected monthly from the same site, Evans head, NSW from December 2013 to January 2015. Sex, shell sizes and gonadosomatic index (GSI) were recorded in order to investigate if these parameters influence the condition index (CI), meat yield (MY), proximate composition and trace elements of the edible foot tissue. The flesh of L. undulata can be considered nutritious and generally safe for human consumption all year round, but for the purpose of sustainable harvest, the peak spawning should be avoided to allow for successful reproduction. A manipulative experiment to investigate the effects of 38-day exposure to near-future ocean warming and acidification revealed that temperature alone affects the percentages of PUFAs in the foot tissue. Nevertheless, the main nutritional properties of high protein and low lipids dominated by PUFAs were consistently found in the Turbinidae. Toxic heavy metal elements remained well below the maximum allowed under Australia and New Zealand Food Standards. Based on their upper thermal limit, turban snails may be resilient to near-future ocean-warming, but they prefer lower temperatures, which could result in a southward retraction of the distribution of these species in NSW, Australia. Overall, this study shows that turban snails can provide a fisheries resource of similar quality to abalone, but ocean warming may influence the range of the target populations and the quality of lipids, but the product would be otherwise little-affected.

Continue reading ‘Biochemical composition of turbinid snails and its sensitivity to ocean climate change’

Global and local disturbances interact to modify seagrass palatability

Global change, such as warming and ocean acidification, and local anthropogenic disturbances, such as eutrophication, can have profound impacts on marine organisms. However, we are far from being able to predict the outcome of multiple interacting disturbances on seagrass communities. Herbivores are key in determining plant community structure and the transfer of energy up the food web. Global and local disturbances may alter the ecological role of herbivory by modifying leaf palatability (i.e. leaf traits) and consequently, the feeding patterns of herbivores. This study evaluates the main and interactive effects of factors related to global change (i.e. elevated temperature, lower pH levels and associated ocean acidification) and local disturbance (i.e. eutrophication through ammonium enrichment) on a broad spectrum of leaf traits using the temperate seagrass Cymodocea nodosa, including structural, nutritional, biomechanical and chemical traits. The effect of these traits on the consumption rates of the generalist herbivore Paracentrotus lividus (purple sea urchin) is evaluated. The three disturbances of warming, low pH level and eutrophication, alone and in combination, increased the consumption rate of seagrass by modifying all leaf traits. Leaf nutritional quality, measured as nitrogen content, was positively correlated to consumption rate. In contrast, a negative correlation was found between feeding decisions by sea urchins and structural, biomechanical and chemical leaf traits. In addition, a notable accomplishment of this work is the identification of phenolic compounds not previously reported for C. nodosa. Our results suggest that global and local disturbances may trigger a major shift in the herbivory of seagrass communities, with important implications for the resilience of seagrass ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Global and local disturbances interact to modify seagrass palatability’

Interactive effects of elevated temperature and CO2 on nitrate, urea, and dissolved inorganic carbon uptake by a coastal California, USA, microbial community

Average global temperatures and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels are expected to increase in the coming decades. Implications for ocean ecosystems include shifts in microbial community structure and subsequent modifications to nutrient pathways. Studying how predicted future temperature and CO2 conditions will impact the biogeochemistry of the ocean is important because of the ocean’s role in regulating global climate. We determined how elevated temperature and CO2 affect uptake rates of nitrate, urea, and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) by 2 size classes (0.7-5.0 and >5.0 µm) of a microbial assemblage collected from coastal California, USA. This microbial community was incubated for 10 d using an ecostat continuous culture system that supplied the microorganisms with either nitrate or urea as the dominant nitrogen source. Biomass parameters, nutrient concentrations, and uptake rates were measured throughout the experiment. In all treatments, urea uptake rates were greater than nitrate, and larger microorganisms had higher uptake rates than smaller microorganisms. Uptake rates of urea and DIC within both size fractions were higher at elevated temperature, and uptake rates of nitrate by smaller microorganisms increased with elevated CO2. These findings suggest that the rate at which nutrients cycle in temperate coastal waters will increase as temperature and CO2 levels rise and that the effect will vary between nitrogen substrates and different microorganisms.

Continue reading ‘Interactive effects of elevated temperature and CO2 on nitrate, urea, and dissolved inorganic carbon uptake by a coastal California, USA, microbial community’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book