Posts Tagged 'vents'

Impact of carbonate saturation on large Caribbean benthic foraminifera assemblages

Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide and its dissolution in seawater have reduced ocean pH and carbonate ion concentrations, with potential implications on calcifying organisms. To assess the response of large Caribbean benthic foraminifera to low carbonate saturation conditions, we analyzed benthic foraminifers’ abundance and relative distribution in surface sediments in proximity to low-carbonate-saturation submarine springs and at adjacent control sites. Our results show that the total abundance of large benthic foraminifera was significantly lower at the low-pH submarine springs than at control sites, although responses were species specific. The relative abundance of high-magnesium, porcelaneous foraminifera was higher than that of hyaline foraminifera at the low-pH springs due to the abundant Archaias angulatus, a chlorophyte-bearing foraminifer, which secretes a large and robust test that is more resilient to dissolution at low-calcite saturation. The different assemblages found at the submarine springs indicate that calcareous symbiont-barren foraminifera are more sensitive to the effects of ocean acidification than agglutinated and symbiont-bearing foraminifera, suggesting that future ocean acidification will likely impact natural benthic foraminifera populations.

Continue reading ‘Impact of carbonate saturation on large Caribbean benthic foraminifera assemblages’

Condition of pteropod shells near a volcanic CO2 vent region


 • in situ shell dissolution and change in shell biomass were the predominant features observed in the live pteropods collected within and nearby CO2 vent regions.

• Low pteropod biomass shells (collected nearby the CO2 vents) were more fragile and therefore more prone to fracture than the more robust, high biomass shells (collected in the control stations).

• In the Gulf of Naples, intermittent shifts away from optimum Ωar values can significantly affect pteropod calcification despite waters remaining oversaturated.


Natural gradients of pH in the ocean are useful analogues for studying the projected impacts of Ocean Acidification (OA) on marine ecosystems. Here we document the in situ impact of submarine CO2 volcanic emissions (CO2 vents) on live shelled-pteropods (planktonic gastropods) species Creseis conica in the Gulf of Naples (Tyrrhenian Sea, Mediterranean). Since the currents inside the Gulf will likely drive those pelagic calcifying organisms into and out of the CO2 vent zones, we assume that pteropods will be occasionally exposed to the vents during their life cycle. Shell degradation and biomass were investigated in the stations located within and nearby the CO2 vent emission in relation to the variability of sea water carbonate chemistry. A relative decrease in shell biomass (22%), increase in incidence of shell fractures (38%) and extent of dissolution were observed in Creseis conica collected in the Gulf of Naples compared to those from the Northern Tyrrhenian Sea (control stations). These results suggest that discontinuous but recurrent exposure to highly variable carbonate chemistry could consistently affect the characteristic of the pteropod shells.

Continue reading ‘Condition of pteropod shells near a volcanic CO2 vent region’

Elevated CO2 has little influence on the bacterial communities associated with the pH-tolerant coral, massive Porites spp.

Ocean acidification (OA) as a result of increased anthropogenic CO2 input into the atmosphere carries consequences for all ocean life. Low pH can cause a shift in coral-associated microbial communities of pCO2-sensitive corals, however, it remains unknown whether the microbial community is also influenced in corals known to be more tolerant to high pCO2/low pH. This study profiles the bacterial communities associated with the tissues of the pCO2-tolerant coral, massive Porites spp., from two natural CO2 seep sites in Papua New Guinea. Amplicon sequencing of the hypervariable V3-V4 regions of the 16S rRNA gene revealed that microbial communities remained stable across CO2 seep sites (pH = 7.44–7.85) and adjacent control sites (ambient pH = 8.0–8.1). Microbial communities were more significantly influenced by reef location than pH, with the relative abundance of dominant microbial taxa differing between reefs. These results directly contrast with previous findings that increased CO2 has a strong effect on structuring microbial communities. The stable structure of microbial communities associated with the tissues of massive Porites spp. under high pCO2/low pH conditions confirms a high degree of tolerance by the whole Porites holobiont to OA, and suggest that pH tolerant corals such as Porites may dominate reef assemblages in an increasingly acidic ocean.

Continue reading ‘Elevated CO2 has little influence on the bacterial communities associated with the pH-tolerant coral, massive Porites spp.’

In situ responses of the sponge microbiome to ocean acidification

Climate change is causing rapid changes in reef structure, biodiversity, and function, though most sponges are predicted to tolerate conditions projected for 2100. Sponges maintain intimate relationships with microbial symbionts, with previous studies suggesting that microbial flexibility may be pivotal to success under ocean acidification. We performed a reciprocal transplantation of the coral reef sponges Coelocarteria singaporensis and Stylissa cf. flabelliformis between a control reef site and an adjacent CO2 vent site in Papua New Guinea to explore how the sponge microbiome responds to ocean acidification. Microbial communities of C. singaporensis, which differed initially between sites, did not shift towards characteristic control or vent microbiomes, even though relative abundances of Chloroflexi and Cyanobacteria increased and that of Thaumarchaeota decreased seven months after transplantation to the control site. Microbial communities of S. cf. flabelliformis, which were initially stable between sites, did not respond specifically to transplantation but collectively exhibited a significant change over time, with a relative increase in Thaumarchaeota and decrease in Proteobacteria in all treatment groups. The lack of a community shift upon transplantation to the vent site suggests that microbial flexibility, at least in the adult life-history stage, does not necessarily underpin host survival under ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘In situ responses of the sponge microbiome to ocean acidification’

Dissolution: The Achilles’ heel of the triton shell in an acidifying ocean

Ocean acidification is expected to negatively impact many calcifying marine organisms by impairing their ability to build their protective shells and skeletons, and by causing dissolution and erosion. Here we investigated the large predatory “triton shell” gastropod Charonia lampas in acidified conditions near CO2 seeps off Shikine-jima (Japan) and compared them with individuals from an adjacent bay with seawater pH at present-day levels (outside the influence of the CO2 seep). By using computed tomography we show that acidification negatively impacts their thickness, density, and shell structure, causing visible deterioration to the shell surface. Periods of aragonite undersaturation caused the loss of the apex region and exposing body tissues. While gross calcification rates were likely reduced near CO2 seeps, the corrosive effects of acidification were far more pronounced around the oldest parts of the shell. As a result, the capacity of C. lampas to maintain their shells under ocean acidification may be strongly driven by abiotic dissolution and erosion, and not under biological control of the calcification process. Understanding the response of marine calcifying organisms and their ability to build and maintain their protective shells and skeletons will be important for our understanding of future marine ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Dissolution: The Achilles’ heel of the triton shell in an acidifying ocean’

The emissions of the Tagoro submarine volcano (Canary Islands, Atlantic Ocean): effects on the physical and chemical properties of the seawater

This chapter presents the changes and evolution of the physical and chemical properties of the seawater south of the El Hierro Island (Canary archipelago, Atlantic Ocean) as a consequence of the emissions of the Tagoro submarine volcano, over a 6 year study from 2011 to 2016. Since the eruption, a series of oceanographic studies have been carried out in the area focusing on the evolution of the redox potential and the pH, two master variables that control the chemical equilibrium in seawater. The changes experienced by the carbon dioxide system, the variations in the concentration of Fe(II) and their correlation with the decrease in the pH during the evolution of the volcano, from the beginning of the eruptive stage to the post-eruptive phase, are discussed. The increased TDFe(II) concentrations and the low associated pHT values have controlled the occurrence of an important fertilization event in the sea water around the volcano at the Island of El Hierro, providing optimal conditions for the regeneration of the area. The sites like the Tagoro submarine volcano, in its degasification stage, provide an excellent opportunity to study the carbonate system in a high CO2 world, the volcanic contribution to the global volcanic carbon flux and the potential environmental impact of these emissions on the surrounding ocean and the ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘The emissions of the Tagoro submarine volcano (Canary Islands, Atlantic Ocean): effects on the physical and chemical properties of the seawater’

Ocean acidification drives community shifts towards simplified non-calcified habitats in a subtropical−temperate transition zone

Rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide are causing surface seawater pH and carbonate ion concentrations to fall in a process known as ocean acidification. To assess the likely ecological effects of ocean acidification we compared intertidal and subtidal marine communities at increasing levels of pCO2 at recently discovered volcanic seeps off the Pacific coast of Japan (34° N). This study region is of particular interest for ocean acidification research as it has naturally low levels of surface seawater pCO2 (280–320 µatm) and is located at a transition zone between temperate and sub-tropical communities. We provide the first assessment of ocean acidification effects at a biogeographic boundary. Marine communities exposed to mean levels of pCO2 predicted by 2050 experienced periods of low aragonite saturation and high dissolved inorganic carbon. These two factors combined to cause marked community shifts and a major decline in biodiversity, including the loss of key habitat-forming species, with even more extreme community changes expected by 2100. Our results provide empirical evidence that near-future levels of pCO2 shift sub-tropical ecosystems from carbonate to fleshy algal dominated systems, accompanied by biodiversity loss and major simplification of the ecosystem.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification drives community shifts towards simplified non-calcified habitats in a subtropical−temperate transition zone’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book