Posts Tagged 'temperature'

The evolution of phenotypic plasticity under global change

Marine ecosystems are currently in a state of flux, with ocean warming and acidification occurring at unprecedented rates. Phenotypic plasticity underpins acclimatory responses by shifting the mean phenotype in a population, which may buffer the negative effects of global change. However, little is known about how phenotypic plasticity evolves across multiple generations. We tested this by reciprocally-transplanting the polychaete Ophryotrocha labronica between control and global change scenarios (ocean warming and acidification in isolation and combined) over five generations. By comparing the reaction norms of four life-history traits across generations, we show that juvenile developmental rate in the combined scenario was the only trait that changed its plastic response across generations when transplanted back to control conditions, and that adaptive plasticity was conserved in most traits, despite significant levels of selection and strong declines in individual fitness in the multi-generational exposure. We suggest the change in level of plasticity in the combined scenario is caused by differential allocation of energy between the mean and the plasticity of the trait along the multigenerational exposure. The ability to maintain within-generational levels of plasticity under global change scenarios has important eco-evolutionary and conservation implications, which are examined under the framework of assisted evolution programs.

Continue reading ‘The evolution of phenotypic plasticity under global change’

Reduced spore germination explains sensitivity of reef-building algae to climate change stressors

Reduced seawater pH and changes in carbonate chemistry associated with ocean acidification (OA) decrease the recruitment of crustose coralline algae (CCAcf.), an important coral-reef builder. However, it is unclear whether the observed decline in recruitment is driven by impairment of spore germination, or post-settlement processes (e.g. space competition). To address this, we conducted an experiment using a dominant CCA, Porolithon cf. onkodes to test the independent and combined effects of OA, warming, and irradiance on its germination success and early development. Elevated CO2 negatively affected several processes of spore germination, including formation of the germination disc, initial growth, and germling survival. The magnitude of these effects varied depending on the levels of temperature and irradiance. For example, the combination of high CO2 and high temperature reduced formation of the germination disc, but this effect was independent of irradiance levels, while spore abnormalities increased under high CO2 and high temperature particularly in combination with low irradiance intensity. This study demonstrates that spore germination of CCA is impacted by the independent and interactive effects of OA, increasing seawater temperature and irradiance intensity. For the first time, this provides a mechanism for how the sensitivity of critical early life history processes to global change may drive declines of adult populations of key marine calcifiers.

Continue reading ‘Reduced spore germination explains sensitivity of reef-building algae to climate change stressors’

Biological responses of the marine diatom Chaetoceros socialis to changing environmental conditions: a laboratory experiment

Diatoms constitute a major group of phytoplankton, accounting for ~20% of the world’s primary production. It has been shown that iron (Fe) can be the limiting factor for phytoplankton growth, in particular, in the HNLC (High Nutrient Low Chlorophyll) regions. Iron plays thus an essential role in governing the marine primary productivity and the efficiency of biological carbon pump. Oceanic systems are undergoing continuous modifications at varying rates and magnitudes as a result of changing climate. The objective of our research is to evaluate how changing environmental conditions (dust deposition, ocean warming and acidification) can affect marine Fe biogeochemistry and diatom growth. Laboratory culture experiments using a marine diatom Chaetoceros socialis were conducted at two temperatures (13°C and 18°C) and under two pCO2 (carbon dioxide partial pressure) (400 μatm and 800 μatm) conditions. The present study clearly highlights the effect of ocean acidification on enhancing the release of Fe upon dust deposition. Our results also confirm that being a potential source of Fe, dust provides in addition a readily utilizable source of macronutrients such as dissolved phosphate (PO4) and silicate (DSi). However, elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations may also have an adverse impact on diatom growth, causing a decrease in cell size and possible further changes in phytoplankton composition. Meanwhile, ocean warming may lead to the reduction of diatom production and cell size, inducing poleward shifts in the biogeographic distribution of diatoms. The changing climate has thus a significant implication for ocean phytoplankton growth, cell size and primary productivity, phytoplankton distribution and community composition, and carbon (C), nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), silicon (Si) and Fe biogeochemical cycles in various ways.

Continue reading ‘Biological responses of the marine diatom Chaetoceros socialis to changing environmental conditions: a laboratory experiment’

Coral calcification mechanisms facilitate adaptive responses to ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) is a pressing threat to reef-building corals, but it remains poorly understood how coral calcification is inhibited by OA and whether corals could acclimatize and/or adapt to OA. Using a novel geochemical approach, we reconstructed the carbonate chemistry of the calcifying fluid in two coral species using both a pH and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) proxy (δ11B and B/Ca, respectively). To address the potential for adaptive responses, both species were collected from two sites spanning a natural gradient in seawater pH and temperature, and then subjected to three pHT levels (8.04, 7.88, 7.71) crossed by two temperatures (control, +1.5°C) for 14 weeks. Corals from the site with naturally lower seawater pH calcified faster and maintained growth better under simulated OA than corals from the higher-pH site. This ability was consistently linked to higher pH yet lower DIC values in the calcifying fluid, suggesting that these differences are the result of long-term acclimatization and/or local adaptation to naturally lower seawater pH. Nevertheless, all corals elevated both pH and DIC significantly over seawater values, even under OA. This implies that high pH upregulation combined with moderate levels of DIC upregulation promote resistance and adaptive responses of coral calcification to OA.

Continue reading ‘Coral calcification mechanisms facilitate adaptive responses to ocean acidification’

Effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on phytoplankton community biomass, species composition and photosynthesis during an autumn bloom in the Western English Channel

The combined effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature were investigated during an autumn phytoplankton bloom in the Western English Channel (WEC). A full factorial 36-day microcosm experiment was conducted under year 2100 predicted temperature (+4.5 °C) and pCO2 levels (800 μatm). The starting phytoplankton community biomass was 110.2 (±5.7 sd) mg carbon (C) m−3 and was dominated by dinoflagellates (~ 50 %) with smaller contributions from nanophytoplankton (~ 13 %), cryptophytes (~ 11 %)and diatoms (~ 9 %). Over the experimental period total biomass was significantly increased by elevated pCO2 (20-fold increase) and elevated temperature (15-fold increase). In contrast, the combined influence of these two factors had little effect on biomass relative to the ambient control. The phytoplankton community structure shifted from dinoflagellates to nanophytoplankton at the end of the experiment in all treatments. Under elevated pCO2 nanophytoplankton contributed 90% of community biomass and was dominated by Phaeocystis spp., while under elevated temperature nanophytoplankton contributed 85 % of the community biomass and was dominated by smaller nano-flagellates. Under ambient conditions larger nano-flagellates dominated while the smallest nanophytoplankton contribution was observed under combined elevated pCO2 and temperature (~ 40 %). Dinoflagellate biomass declined significantly under the individual influences of elevated pCO2, temperature and ambient conditions. Under the combined effects of elevated pCO2 and temperature, dinoflagellate biomass almost doubled from the starting biomass and there was a 30-fold increase in the harmful algal bloom (HAB) species, Prorocentrum cordatum. Chlorophyll a normalised maximum photosynthetic rates (PBm) increased > 6-fold under elevated pCO2 and > 3-fold under elevated temperature while no effect on PBm was observed when pCO2 and temperature were elevated simultaneously. The results suggest that future increases in temperature and pCO2 do not appear to influence coastal phytoplankton productivity during autumn in the WEC which would have a negative feedback on atmospheric CO2.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on phytoplankton community biomass, species composition and photosynthesis during an autumn bloom in the Western English Channel’

Global warming interacts with ocean acidification to alter PSII function and protection in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii


  • Global warming increases the photoinactivation rate.
  • Ocean acidification alleviates the effect of global warming on photoinactivation.
  • Global warming does not affect PsbA removal but ocean acidification enhances it.
  • Ocean acidification induces high nonphotochemical quenching.
  • Global warming increases antioxidant systems, but ocean acidification does not


Diatoms, as important contributors to aquatic primary production, are critical to the global carbon cycle. They tend to dominate phytoplankton communities experiencing rapid changes of underwater light. However, little is known regarding how climate change impacts diatoms’ capacity in coping with variable light environments. Here we grew a globally abundant diatom T. weissflogii, under two levels of temperature (18, 24 °C) and pCO2 (400, 1000 μatm), and then treated it with a light challenge to understand the combined effects of ocean warming and acidification on its exploitation of variable light environments. The higher temperature increased the photoinactivation rate at 400 μatm pCO2 and the higher pCO2 alleviated the negative effect of the higher temperature on PSII photoinactivation. Temperature did not affect the PsbA removal rate, but higher pCO2 stimulated PsbA removal. Photoinactivation outran repair, leading to decreased maximum photochemical yield in PSII. The higher pCO2 induced high sustained phase of nonphotochemical quenching when cells were less photoinhibited. The high light exposure induced the activity of both superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) and the higher temperature stimulated them further, with insignificant effect of pCO2. Our findings suggest that ocean warming, ocean acidification and high light exposure would interact on PSII function and protection, and combination of these three environmental factors would lead to a reduced PSII activity in T. weissflogii. This study provides helpful insight into how climate change variables combined with local stressor impact diatoms’ photosynthetic physiology.

Continue reading ‘Global warming interacts with ocean acidification to alter PSII function and protection in the diatom Thalassiosira weissflogii’

Species interactions can shift the response of a maerl bed community to ocean acidification and warming (update)

Predicted ocean acidification and warming are likely to have major implications for marine organisms, especially marine calcifiers. However, little information is available on the response of marine benthic communities as a whole to predicted changes. Here, we experimentally examined the combined effects of temperature and partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) increases on the response of maerl bed assemblages, composed of living and dead thalli of the free-living coralline alga Lithothamnion corallioides, epiphytic fleshy algae, and grazer species. Two 3-month experiments were performed in the winter and summer seasons in mesocosms with four different combinations of pCO2 (ambient and high pCO2) and temperature (ambient and +3 °C). The response of maerl assemblages was assessed using metabolic measurements at the species and assemblage scales. This study suggests that seasonal variability represents an important driver influencing the magnitude and the direction of species and community response to climate change. Gross primary production and respiration of assemblages was enhanced by high pCO2 conditions in the summer. This positive effect was attributed to the increase in epiphyte biomass, which benefited from higher CO2 concentrations for growth and primary production. Conversely, high pCO2 drastically decreased the calcification rates in assemblages. This response can be attributed to the decline in calcification rates of living L. corallioides due to acidification and increased dissolution of dead L. corallioides. Future changes in pCO2 and temperature are likely to promote the development of non-calcifying algae to the detriment of the engineer species L. corallioides. The development of fleshy algae may be modulated by the ability of grazers to regulate epiphyte growth. However, our results suggest that predicted changes will negatively affect the metabolism of grazers and potentially their ability to control epiphyte abundance. We show here that the effects of pCO2 and temperature on maerl bed communities were weakened when these factors were combined. This underlines the importance of examining multi-factorial approaches and community-level processes, which integrate species interactions, to better understand the impact of global change on marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Species interactions can shift the response of a maerl bed community to ocean acidification and warming (update)’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book