Ocean acidification has been broadly recognised to have effects on the structure and functioning of marine benthic communities. The selection of tolerant or vulnerable species can also occur during settlement phases, especially for calcifying organisms which are more vulnerable to low pH–high pCO2 conditions. Here, we use three natural CO2 vents (Castello Aragonese north and south sides, and Vullatura, Ischia, Italy) to assess the effect of a decrease of seawater pH on the settlement of Mollusca in Posidonia oceanica meadows, and to test the possible buffering effect provided by the seagrass. Artificial collectors were installed and collected after 33 days, during April–May 2019, in three different microhabitats within the meadow (canopy, bottom/rhizome level, and dead matte without plant cover), following a pH decreasing gradient from an extremely low pH zone (pH < 7.4), to ambient pH conditions (pH = 8.10). A total of 4659 specimens of Mollusca, belonging to 57 different taxa, were collected. The number of taxa was lower in low and extremely low pH conditions. Reduced mollusc assemblages were reported at the acidified stations, where few taxa accounted for a high number of individuals. Multivariate analyses revealed significant differences in mollusc assemblages among pH conditions, microhabitat, and the interaction of these two factors. Acanthocardia echinata, Alvania lineata, Alvania sp. juv, Eatonina fulgida, Hiatella arctica, Mytilys galloprovincialis, Musculus subpictus, Phorcus sp. juv, and Rissoa variabilis were the species mostly found in low and extremely low pH stations, and were all relatively robust to acidified conditions. Samples placed on the dead matte under acidified conditions at the Vullatura vent showed lower diversity and abundances if compared to canopy and bottom/rhizome samples, suggesting a possible buffering role of the Posidonia on mollusc settlement. Our study provides new evidence of shifts in marine benthic communities due to ocean acidification and evidence of how P. oceanica meadows could mitigate its effects on associated biota in light of future climate change.
Negative interactions among species are a major force shaping natural communities and are predicted to strengthen as climate change intensifies. Similarly, positive interactions are anticipated to intensify and could buffer the consequences of climate-driven disturbances. We used in situ experiments at volcanic CO2 vents within a temperate rocky reef to show that ocean acidification can drive community reorganization through indirect and direct positive pathways. A keystone species, the algal-farming damselfish Parma alboscapularis, enhanced primary productivity through its weeding of algae whose productivity was also boosted by elevated CO2. The accelerated primary productivity was associated with increased densities of primary consumers (herbivorous invertebrates), which indirectly supported increased secondary consumers densities (predatory fish) (i.e. strengthening of bottom-up fuelling). However, this keystone species also reduced predatory fish densities through behavioural interference, releasing invertebrate prey from predation pressure and enabling a further boost in prey densities (i.e. weakening of top-down control). We uncover a novel mechanism where a keystone herbivore mediates bottom-up and top-down processes simultaneously to boost populations of a coexisting herbivore, resulting in altered food web interactions and predator populations under future ocean acidification.
Studying the local impacts of natural marine discharges can help in understanding the local impacts of large-scale restoration programs. This paper reviews studies of naturally occurring CO2 rich hydrothermal vents to understand how nature responds. Venting CO2 raises both total DIC, and the CO2 partial pressure by a factor of 10 or 20 times, lowering the pH and the saturation state of calcium carbonate, impeding calcification by calcifying organisms.
The ocean is a relatively stable environment and significant changes to water chemistry caused by high levels of CO2 input impacts marine organisms. Many algae are able to survive and photosynthesise at low pH levels, and some may actually benefit from an increase in dissolved CO2. However, coralline and calcareous algae that form carbonate skeletons are negatively impacted at low pH. Ecologically and economically valuable marine flora such as kelp, seagrass and certain seaweeds can benefit from increased DIC, exhibiting increases in photosynthetic and growth rates. Kelp and seagrass may also increase local pH levels, creating refuges for calcifying marine species.
The calcification rates of Many marine invertebrates decrease with increasing pCO2. At sites closer to vent openings, with lower pH, the abundance and diversity of invertebrates is significantly reduced. This can impact species valuable to the fishery and aquaculture industry by directly affecting recruitment, growth and survivorship of species such as mussels and oysters and indirectly through reduced abundance of invertebrate prey for herring and mackerel. Corals are also negatively impacted by declining pH and calcium carbonate saturation, yet not all hard corals respond evenly. More resilient genera such as Porites can survive pH drops to approximately 7.8, however below this value reef development is virtually absent and the habitat is dominated by algae and soft corals.
Naturally occurring low pH sites are relatively common in the marine environment and though they clearly alter species composition and abundance, the locally lower pH does not kill marine life, and beyond dispersion zones species are unaffected. Global ocean acidification is a serious problem, however the impacts of local releases of CO2 are relatively limited, resulting in community shifts towards low pH tolerant species. Reversal of global ocean acidification is essential, and restoration of the oceans will require huge carbon dioxide removal (CDR) processes.
Effects of ocean acidification (OA) on the plant phenology and colonization/settlement pattern of the hydrozoan epibiont community of the leaves of the seagrass Posidonia oceanica have been studied at volcanic CO2 vents off Ischia (Italy). The study was conducted in shallow Posidonia stands (2.5–3.5 m depth), in three stations on the north and three on the south sides of the vent’s area (Castello Aragonese vents), distributed along a pH gradient. At each station, 10–15 P. oceanica shoots were collected every three months for one-year cycle (Sept 2009–2010). The shoot density of Posidonia beds in the most acidified stations along the gradient (pH < 7.4) was significantly higher than that in the control area (pH = 8.10). On the other hand, we recorded lower leaf lengths and widths in the acidified stations in the whole year of observations, compared to those in the control stations. However, the overall leaf surface (Leaf Area Index) available for epiphytes under ocean acidification conditions was higher on the south side and on both the most acidified stations because of the higher shoot density under OA conditions. The hydrozoan epibiont community on the leaf canopy accounted for seven species, three of which were relatively abundant and occurring all year around (Sertularia perpusilla, Plumularia obliqua, Clytia hemisphaerica). All hydroids species showed a clear tolerance to low pH levels, including chitinous and non-calcifying forms, likely favoured also by the absence of competition for substratum with the calcareous forms of epiphytes selected against OA.
Volcanic CO2 seeps are natural laboratories that can provide insights into the adaptation of species to ocean acidification. Whilst many species are challenged by reduced pH levels, some species benefit from the altered environment and thrive. Here, we explore the molecular mechanisms of adaptation to ocean acidification in a population of a temperate fish species that experiences increased population sizes under elevated CO2. Fish from CO2 seeps exhibited an overall increased gene expression in gonad tissue compared to those from ambient CO2 sites. Up‐regulated genes at CO2 seeps are possible targets of adaptive selection as they can directly influence the physiological performance of fishes exposed to ocean acidification. Most of the up‐regulated genes at seeps were functionally involved in the maintenance of pH homeostasis and increased metabolism, and presented a deviation from neutral evolution expectations in their patterns of DNA polymorphisms, providing evidence for adaptive selection to ocean acidification. The targets of this adaptive selection are likely regulatory sequences responsible for the increased expression of these genes which would allow a fine‐tuned physiological regulation to maintain homeostasis and thrive at CO2 seeps. Our findings reveal that standing genetic variation in DNA sequences regulating the expression of genes in response to a reduced pH environment could provide for adaptive potential to near‐future ocean acidification in fishes. Moreover, with this study we provide a forthright methodology combining transcriptomics and genomics which can be applied to infer the adaptive potential to different environmental conditions in wild marine populations.
Acidified marine systems represent “natural laboratories”, which provide opportunities to investigate the impacts of ocean acidification on different living components, including microbes. Here, we compared the benthic microbial response in four naturally acidified sites within the Southern Tyrrhenian Sea characterized by different acidification sources (i.e., CO2 emissions at Ischia, mixed gases at Panarea and Basiluzzo and acidified freshwater from karst rocks at Presidiana) and pH values. We investigated prokaryotic abundance, activity and biodiversity, viral abundance and prokaryotic infections, along with the biochemical composition of the sediment organic matter. We found that, despite differences in local environmental dynamics, viral life strategies change in acidified conditions from mainly lytic to temperate lifestyles (e.g., chronic infection), also resulting in a lowered impact on prokaryotic communities, which shift towards (chemo)autotrophic assemblages, with lower organic matter consumption. Taken together, these results suggest that ocean acidification exerts a deep control on microbial benthic assemblages, with important feedbacks on ecosystem functioning.
Human activities are rapidly changing the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems. Large-scale replacement of kelp forests and coral reefs with turf algal mats is resulting in homogenous habitats that have less ecological and human value. Ocean acidification has strong potential to substantially favour turf algae growth, which led us to examine the mechanisms that stabilise turf algal states. Here we show that ocean acidification promotes turf algae over corals and macroalgae, mediating new habitat conditions that create stabilising feedback loops (altered physicochemical environment and microbial community, and an inhibition of recruitment) capable of locking turf systems in place. Such feedbacks help explain why degraded coastal habitats persist after being initially pushed past the tipping point by global and local anthropogenic stressors. An understanding of the mechanisms that stabilise degraded coastal habitats can be incorporated into adaptive management to better protect the contribution of coastal systems to human wellbeing.
Poleward range extensions by warm-adapted sea urchins are switching temperate marine ecosystems from kelp-dominated to barren-dominated systems that favour the establishment of range-extending tropical fishes. Yet, such tropicalization may be buffered by ocean acidification, which reduces urchin grazing performance and the urchin barrens that tropical range-extending fishes prefer. Using ecosystems experiencing natural warming and acidification, we show that ocean acidification could buffer warming-facilitated tropicalization by reducing urchin populations (by 87%) and inhibiting the formation of barrens. This buffering effect of CO2 enrichment was observed at natural CO2 vents that are associated with a shift from a barren-dominated to a turf-dominated state, which we found is less favourable to tropical fishes. Together, these observations suggest that ocean acidification may buffer the tropicalization effect of ocean warming against urchin barren formation via multiple processes (fewer urchins and barrens) and consequently slow the increasing rate of tropicalization of temperate fish communities.
Nanipora Miyazaki & Reimer, 2015 is a recently discovered genus of aragonite-skeleton producing octocorals closely related to the blue coral genus Heliopora de Blainville, 1830. Since its discovery, Nanipora has been reported from coral reefs in Okinawa, Japan, and Thailand, and from seagrass beds in the northern South China Sea. However, it remains little known and studied. Here, we report on the unexpected discovery of an abundance of Nanipora colonies in shallow waters less than 2-m deep around a CO2 vent from the uninhabited volcanic island of Iwotorishima, Okinawa, in southern Japan. Nanipora colonies were found covering both coral rubble and hard substrates, alongside a few soft coral and zoantharian species. Polyps were pale white in color with none brown or darker in coloration as in some recent reports. As the original description of N. kamurai from Zamami Island in Okinawa describes the species as azooxanthellate, as the current Iwotorishima specimens also appear to be, and recently reported specimens from Thailand, Dongsha Atoll, and Yaeyama are zooxanthellate, it may be that there are more than one Nanipora species; the type species N. kamurai that is also likely at Iwotorishima, and a zooxanthellate species that constitutes the other records. Although Nanipora is not well studied, its presence at this volcanic CO2 seep suggests it has the ability to survive under unique and extreme environmental conditions, rendering it as a potentially important subject of study in the face of increasing ocean acidification.
- Ocean acidification (OA) may induce shifts in the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems
- CO2 vents were used to assess the effects of OA on fish assemblages associated with Posidonia oceanica
- Posidonia structure and associated fish assemblages were compared at vents and off-vents using underwater visual census
- Posidonia density increases and fish show boosted abundance but not reduced diversity at vents
- Mediterranean Posidonia fish assemblages may cope with OA under near-future acidification level
Ocean acidification (OA) may induce major shifts in the structure and function of coastal marine ecosystems. Studies in volcanic CO2 vents, where seawater is naturally acidified, have reported an overall simplification of fish assemblages structure, while some primary producers are likely to increase their biomass under elevated concentration of CO2. Here we used temperate shallow CO2 vents located around the coast of Ischia island (Italy) to assess the effects of OA on necto-benthic fish assemblages associated with the foundation seagrass species Posidonia oceanica in the Mediterranean Sea. We compared P. oceanica meadow structure, its epiphytic community and the associated fish assemblage structure and diversity at vents with low pH sites and reference sites with ambient pH using underwater visual census strip transects, in two seasons (fall 2018 and summer 2019). Data were analysed using both univariate and multivariate statistical techniques. Results showed greater P. oceanica habitat complexity (i.e. shoot density) and lower abundance of epiphytic calcareous species (e.g. coralline algae) at the vents than reference sites. Total abundance of adult and juvenile fish was higher at vents than reference sites, while no differences were found for species richness and composition. Overall, the herbivore Sarpa salpa stands out among the species contributing the most to dissimilarity between vents and reference sites, showing higher abundances under OA conditions. This pattern could be explained by the combined effect of a positive response to the higher structural meadows complexity and the greater seagrasses palatability / nutritional value occurring at the vents, which may help herbivores to withstand the higher energetic cost to live under high pCO2 / low pH conditions. Our results indicate that necto-benthic fish assemblages associated with the Mediterranean P. oceanica ecosystem may cope with OA under the CO2 emission scenarios forecasted for the end of this century.
Oceans have absorbed approximately 30% of anthropogenic CO2 emissions, causing a phenomenon known as ‘ocean acidification’. With surface ocean pH changing at a rapid pace, continued uptake of CO2 is expected to decrease ocean pH by 0.3 pH units as early as 2081, accompanied by a decrease in the saturation of calcium carbonate minerals needed to produce skeletons and shells (RCP 8.5 scenario, IPCC 2019).
Although the rise of antibiotic and multidrug resistant bacteria is one of the biggest current threats to human health, our understanding of the mechanisms involved in antibiotic resistance selection remains scarce. We performed whole genome sequencing of 21 Pseudomonas strains, previously isolated from an active submarine volcano of Greece, the Kolumbo volcano. Our goal was to identify the genetic basis of the enhanced co-tolerance to antibiotics and acidity of these Pseudomonas strains. Pangenome analysis identified 10,908 Gene Clusters (GCs). It revealed that the numbers of phage-related GCs and sigma factors, which both provide the mechanisms of adaptation to environmental stressors, were much higher in the high tolerant Pseudomonas strains compared to the rest ones. All identified GCs of these strains were associated with antimicrobial and multidrug resistance. The present study provides strong evidence that the CO2-rich seawater of the volcano associated with low pH might be a reservoir of microorganisms carrying multidrug efflux-mediated systems and pumps. We, therefore, suggest further studies of other extreme environments (or ecosystems) and their associated physicochemical parameters (or factors) in the rise of antibiotic resistance.
Ocean acidification affects species populations and biodiversity through direct negative effects on physiology and behaviour. The indirect effects of elevated CO2 are less well known and can sometimes be counterintuitive. Reproduction lies at the crux of species population replenishment, but we do not know how ocean acidification affects reproduction in the wild. Here, we use natural CO2 vents at a temperate rocky reef and show that even though ocean acidification acts as a direct stressor, it can indirectly increase energy budgets of fish to stimulate reproduction at no cost to physiological homeostasis. Female fish maintained energy levels by compensation: They reduced activity (foraging and aggression) to increase reproduction. In male fish, increased reproductive investment was linked to increased energy intake as mediated by intensified foraging on more abundant prey. Greater biomass of prey at the vents was linked to greater biomass of algae, as mediated by a fertilisation effect of elevated CO2 on primary production. Additionally, the abundance and aggression of paternal carers were elevated at the CO2 vents, which may further boost reproductive success. These positive indirect effects of elevated CO2 were only observed for the species of fish that was generalistic and competitively dominant, but not for 3 species of subordinate and more specialised fishes. Hence, species that capitalise on future resource enrichment can accelerate their reproduction and increase their populations, thereby altering species communities in a future ocean.
Coral communities around the world are projected to be negatively affected by ocean acidification. Not all coral species will respond in the same manner to rising CO2 levels. Evidence from naturally acidified areas such as CO2 seeps have shown that although a few species are resistant to elevated CO2, most lack sufficient resistance resulting in their decline. This has led to the simple grouping of coral species into “winners” and “losers,” but the physiological traits supporting this ecological assessment are yet to be fully understood. Here using CO2 seeps, in two biogeographically distinct regions, we investigated whether physiological traits related to energy production [mitochondrial electron transport systems (ETSAs) activities] and biomass (protein contents) differed between winning and losing species in order to identify possible physiological traits of resistance to ocean acidification and whether they can be acquired during short-term transplantations. We show that winning species had a lower biomass (protein contents per coral surface area) resulting in a higher potential for energy production (biomass specific ETSA: ETSA per protein contents) compared to losing species. We hypothesize that winning species inherently allocate more energy toward inorganic growth (calcification) compared to somatic (tissue) growth. In contrast, we found that losing species that show a higher biomass under reference pCO2 experienced a loss in biomass and variable response in area-specific ETSA that did not translate in an increase in biomass-specific ETSA following either short-term (4–5 months) or even life-long acclimation to elevated pCO2 conditions. Our results suggest that resistance to ocean acidification in corals may not be acquired within a single generation or through the selection of physiologically resistant individuals. This reinforces current evidence suggesting that ocean acidification will reshape coral communities around the world, selecting species that have an inherent resistance to elevated pCO2.
Ocean acidification (OA) threatens the growth and function of coral reef ecosystems. A key component to coral health is the microbiome, but little is known about the impact of OA on coral microbiomes. A submarine CO2 vent at Maug Island in the Northern Marianas Islands provides a natural pH gradient to investigate coral responses to long-term OA conditions. Three coral species (Pocillopora eydouxi, Porites lobata, and Porites rus) were sampled from three sites where mean seawater pH is 8.04, 7.98, and 7.94. We characterized coral bacterial communities (using 16S rRNA gene sequencing) and determined pH of the extracellular calcifying fluid (ECF) (using skeletal boron isotopes) across the seawater pH gradient. Bacterial communities of both Porites species stabilized (decreases in community dispersion) with decreased seawater pH, coupled with large increases in the abundance of Endozoicomonas, an endosymbiont. P. lobata experienced a significant decrease in ECF pH near the vent, whereas P. rus experienced a trending decrease in ECF pH near the vent. By contrast, Pocillopora exhibited bacterial community destabilization (increases in community dispersion), with significant decreases in Endozoicomonas abundance, while its ECF pH remained unchanged across the pH gradient. Our study shows that OA has multiple consequences on Endozoicomonas abundance and suggests that Endozoicomonas abundance may be an indicator of coral response to OA. We reveal an interesting dichotomy between two facets of coral physiology (regulation of bacterial communities and regulation of calcification), highlighting the importance of multidisciplinary approaches to understanding coral health and function in a changing ocean.
Long‐term exposure to CO2‐enriched waters can considerably alter marine biological community development, often resulting in simplified systems dominated by turf algae that possess reduced biodiversity and low ecological complexity. Current understanding of the underlying processes by which ocean acidification alters biological community development and stability remains limited, making the management of such shifts problematic. Here, we deployed recruitment tiles in reference (pHT 8.137 ± 0.056 SD) and CO2‐enriched conditions (pHT 7.788 ± 0.105 SD) at a volcanic CO2 seep in Japan to assess the underlying processes and patterns of algal community development. We assessed (i) algal community succession in two different seasons (Cooler months: January–July, and warmer months: July–January), (ii) the effects of initial community composition on subsequent community succession (by reciprocally transplanting preestablished communities for a further 6 months), and (iii) the community production of resulting communities, to assess how their functioning was altered (following 12 months recruitment). Settlement tiles became dominated by turf algae under CO2‐enrichment and had lower biomass, diversity and complexity, a pattern consistent across seasons. This locked the community in a species‐poor early successional stage. In terms of community functioning, the elevated pCO2 community had greater net community production, but this did not result in increased algal community cover, biomass, biodiversity or structural complexity. Taken together, this shows that both new and established communities become simplified by rising CO2 levels. Our transplant of preestablished communities from enriched CO2 to reference conditions demonstrated their high resilience, since they became indistinguishable from communities maintained entirely in reference conditions. This shows that meaningful reductions in pCO2 can enable the recovery of algal communities. By understanding the ecological processes responsible for driving shifts in community composition, we can better assess how communities are likely to be altered by ocean acidification.
The responses of corals and other marine calcifying organisms to ocean acidification (OA) are variable and span from no effect to severe responses. Here we investigated the effect of long-term exposure to OA on skeletal parameters of four tropical zooxanthellate corals living at two CO2 vents in Papua New Guinea, namely in Dobu and Upa Upasina. The skeletal porosity of Galaxea fascicularis, Acropora millepora, and Pocillopora damicornis was higher (from 17% to 38%, depending on the species) at the seep site compared to the control only at Upa Upasina. Massive Porites showed no differences at any of the locations. Pocillopora damicornis also showed a ~ 7% decrease of micro-density and an increase of the volume fraction of the larger pores, a decrease of the intraskeletal organic matrix content with an increase of the intraskeletal water content, and no variation in the organic matrix related strain and crystallite size. The fact that the skeletal parameters varied only at one of the two seep sites suggests that other local environmental conditions interact with OA to modify the coral skeletal parameters. This might also contribute to explain the great deal of responses to OA reported for corals and other marine calcifying organisms.
Seagrass Cymodocea nodosa was sampled off the Vulcano island, in the vicinity of a submarine volcanic vent. Leaf samples were collected from plants growing in a naturally acidified site, influenced by the long-term exposure to high CO2 emissions, and compared with others collected in a nearby meadow living at normal pCO2 conditions. The differential accumulated proteins in leaves growing in the two contrasting pCO2 environments was investigated. Acidified leaf tissues had less total protein content and the semi-quantitative proteomic comparison revealed a strong general depletion of proteins belonging to the carbon metabolism and protein metabolism. A very large accumulation of proteins related to the cell respiration and to light harvesting process was found in acidified leaves in comparison with those growing in the normal pCO2 site. The metabolic pathways linked to cytoskeleton turnover also seemed affected by the acidified condition, since a strong reduction in the concentration of cytoskeleton structural proteins was found in comparison with the normal pCO2 leaves. Results coming from the comparative proteomics were validated by the histological and cytological measurements, suggesting that the long lasting exposure and acclimation of C. nodosa to the vents involved phenotypic adjustments that can offer physiological and structural tools to survive the suboptimal conditions at the vents vicinity.
Ocean acidification is one of the most dramatic effects of the massive atmospheric release of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) that has occurred since the Industrial Revolution, although its effects on marine ecosystems are not well understood. Submarine volcanic hydrothermal fields have geochemical conditions that provide opportunities to characterise the effects of elevated levels of seawater CO2 on marine life in the field. Here, we review the geochemical aspects of shallow marine CO2-rich seeps worldwide, focusing on both gas composition and water chemistry. We then describe the geochemical effects of volcanic CO2 seepage on the overlying seawater column. We also present new geochemical data and the first synthesis of marine biological community changes from one of the best-studied marine CO2 seep sites in the world (off Vulcano Island, Sicily). In areas of intense bubbling, extremely high levels of pCO2 (> 10,000 μatm) result in low seawater pH (< 6) and undersaturation of aragonite and calcite in an area devoid of calcified organisms such as shelled molluscs and hard corals. Around 100–400 m away from the Vulcano seeps the geochemistry of the seawater becomes analogous to future ocean acidification conditions with dissolved carbon dioxide levels falling from 900 to 420 μatm as seawater pH rises from 7.6 to 8.0. Calcified species such as coralline algae and sea urchins fare increasingly well as sessile communities shift from domination by a few resilient species (such as uncalcified algae and polychaetes) to a diverse and complex community (including abundant calcified algae and sea urchins) as the seawater returns to ambient levels of CO2. Laboratory advances in our understanding of species sensitivity to high CO2 and low pH seawater, reveal how marine organisms react to simulated ocean acidification conditions (e.g., using energetic trade-offs for calcification, reproduction, growth and survival). Research at volcanic marine seeps, such as those off Vulcano, highlight consistent ecosystem responses to rising levels of seawater CO2, with the simplification of food webs, losses in functional diversity and reduced provisioning of goods and services for humans.
One of the most important pieces of climate change evidence is ocean acidification. Acidification effects on marine organisms are widely studied, while very little is known regarding its effects on assemblages’ β-diversity. In this framework, shallow hydrothermal vents within a Marine Protected Area (MPA) represent natural ecosystems acting as laboratory set-ups where the continuous carbon dioxide emissions affect assemblages with consequences that can be reasonably comparable to the effects of global water acidification. The aim of the present study is to test the impact of seawater acidification on the β-diversity of soft-bottom assemblages in a shallow vent field located in the Underwater Archeological Park of Baia MPA (Gulf of Naples, Mediterranean Sea). We investigated macro- and meiofauna communities of the ‘Secca delle fumose’ vent system in sites characterized by sulfurous (G) and carbon dioxide emissions (H) that are compared with control/inactive sites (CN and CS). Statistical analyses were performed on the most represented macrobenthic (Mollusca, Polychaeta, and Crustacea), and meiobenthic (Nematoda) taxa. Results show that the lowest synecological values are detected at H and, to a lesser extent, at G. Multivariate analyses show significant differences between hydrothermal vents (G, H) and control/inactive sites; the highest small-scale heterogeneities (measure of β-diversity) are detected at sites H and G and are mainly affected by pH, TOC (Total Organic Carbon), and cations concentrations. Such findings are probably related to acidification effects, since MPA excludes anthropic impacts. In particular, acidification markedly affects β-diversity and an increase in heterogeneity among sample replicates coupled to a decrease in number of taxa is an indicator of redundancy loss and, thus, of resilience capacity. The survival is assured to either tolerant species or those opportunistic taxa that can find good environmental conditions among gravels of sand.