The ocean is undergoing warming and acidification. Thermal tolerance is affected both by evolutionary adaptation and developmental plasticity. Yet, thermal tolerance in animals adapted to simultaneous warming and acidification is unknown. We experimentally evolved the ubiquitous copepod Acartia tonsa to future combined ocean warming and acidification conditions (OWA approx. 22°C, 2000 µatm CO2) and then compared its thermal tolerance relative to ambient conditions (AM approx. 18°C, 400 µatm CO2). The OWA and AM treatments were reciprocally transplanted after 65 generations to assess effects of developmental conditions on thermal tolerance and potential costs of adaptation. Treatments transplanted from OWA to AM conditions were assessed at the F1 and F9 generations following transplant. Adaptation to warming and acidification, paradoxically, reduces both thermal tolerance and phenotypic plasticity. These costs of adaptation to combined warming and acidification may limit future population resilience.
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.
Planktic foraminifera and shelled pteropods are some of the major producers of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) in the ocean. Their calcitic (foraminifera) and aragonitic (pteropods) shells are particularly sensitive to changes in the carbonate chemistry and play an important role for the inorganic and organic carbon pump of the ocean. Here, we have studied the abundance distribution of planktic foraminifera and pteropods (individuals m–3) and their contribution to the inorganic and organic carbon standing stocks (μg m–3) and export production (mg m–2 day–1) along a longitudinal transect north of Svalbard at 81° N, 22–32° E, in the Arctic Ocean. This transect, sampled in September 2018 consists of seven stations covering different oceanographic regimes, from the shelf to the slope and into the deep Nansen Basin. The sea surface temperature ranged between 1 and 5°C in the upper 300 m. Conditions were supersaturated with respect to CaCO3 (Ω > 1 for both calcite and aragonite). The abundance of planktic foraminifera ranged from 2.3 to 52.6 ind m–3 and pteropods from 0.1 to 21.3 ind m–3. The planktic foraminiferal population was composed mainly of the polar species Neogloboquadrina pachyderma (55.9%) and the subpolar species Turborotalita quinqueloba (21.7%), Neogloboquadrina incompta (13.5%) and Globigerina bulloides (5.2%). The pteropod population was dominated by the polar species Limacina helicina (99.6%). The rather high abundance of subpolar foraminiferal species is likely connected to the West Spitsbergen Current bringing warm Atlantic water to the study area. Pteropods dominated at the surface and subsurface. Below 100 m water depth, foraminifera predominated. Pteropods contribute 66–96% to the inorganic carbon standing stocks compared to 4–34% by the planktic foraminifera. The inorganic export production of planktic foraminifera and pteropods together exceeds their organic contribution by a factor of 3. The overall predominance of pteropods over foraminifera in this high Arctic region during the sampling period suggest that inorganic standing stocks and export production of biogenic carbonate would be reduced under the effects of ocean acidification.
- Seawater acidification reduced the hatching, survival and growth of Artemia franciscana.
- Acidified seawater inhibited the biochemical constituents in A. franciscana.
- Franciscana showed oxidative and metabolic stress under acidified seawater.
Ocean acidification is becoming a potential threat to marine animals. The present study investigated the effect of seawater acidification on Artemia franciscana. A. franciscana cysts were allowed to hatch at different pH levels of pH 8.2 (control), 7.8, and 6.8. After 48 h incubation, the hatching percentage was significantly reduced in acidified seawater compared to that in control. Further, the hatched Artemia nauplii from each pH treatment were transferred to freshly acidified seawater for chronic study for 15 days. At the end of the experiment, survival, growth, and biochemical constituents were significantly decreased in Artemia at pH 7.8 and 6.8 compared to that in control, which indicates the adverse effects of acidified seawater on Artemia. The antioxidants, lipid peroxidation, and metabolic enzymes were significantly elevated in A. franciscana exposed to acidified seawater compared to that in control, which shows oxidative and metabolic stress on A. franciscana under acidified environment.
Zooplankton can serve as indicators of ecosystem health, water quality, food web structure, and environmental change, including those associated with climate change and ocean acidification (OA). Laboratory studies demonstrate that low pH and high pCO2 associated with OA can significantly affect the physiology and survival of zooplankton, with differential responses among taxa. While laboratory studies can be indicative of zooplankton response to OA, in situ responses will ultimately determine the fate of populations and ecosystems. In this perspective, we compare expectations from experimental studies with observations made in Puget Sound (Washington, United States), a highly dynamic estuary with known vulnerabilities to low pH and high pCO2. We found little association between empirical measures of in situ pH and the abundance of sensitive taxa as revealed by meta-analysis, calling into question the coherence between experimental studies and field observations. The apparent mismatch between laboratory and field studies has important ramifications for the design of long-term monitoring programs and interpretation and use of the data produced. Important work remains to be done to connect traits that are sensitive to OA with those that are ecologically relevant and reliably observable in the field.
Antarctic krill Euphausia superba is a key species in the Southern Ocean, where its habitat is projected to undergo continued warming and increases in pCO2. Experiments during 2 summer field seasons at Palmer Station, Antarctica, investigated the independent and interactive effects of elevated temperature and pCO2 (decreased pH) on feeding, growth, acid-base physiology, metabolic rate, and survival of adult Antarctic krill. Ingestion and clearance rates of chlorophyll were depressed under low pH (7.7) compared to ambient pH (8.1) after a 48 h acclimation period, but this difference disappeared after a 21 d acclimation. Growth rates were negligible and frequently negative, but were significantly more negative at high (3°C, -0.03 mm d-1) compared to ambient temperature (0°C, -0.01 mm d-1) with no effect of pH. Modest elevations in tissue total CO2 and tissue pH were apparent at low pH but were short-lived. Metabolic rate increased with temperature but was suppressed at low pH in smaller but not larger krill. Although effects of elevated temperature and/or decreased pH were mostly sublethal, mortality was higher at high temperature/low pH (58%) compared to ambient temperature/pH or ambient temperature/low pH (>90%). This study identified 3 dominant patterns: (1) shorter-term effects were primarily pH-dependent; (2) krill compensated for lower pH relatively quickly; and (3) longer-term effects on krill growth and survival were strongly driven by temperature with little to no pH effect.
- Copepods were subjected to OA and Hg pollution under multigenerational exposure.
- OA reduced Hg accumulation and its toxicity to the growth/reproduction in copepods.
- Copepod proteome enabled its physiological resilience to decreasing pH.
- Proteomics indicated many toxic events, ensuring Hg toxicity to the copepod’s traits.
- Proteome compensation was accounting for the alleviative effect of OA on Hg toxicity.
Here, we examined the combinational effect of ocean acidification (OA) and mercury (Hg) in the planktonic copepod Pseudodiaptomus annandalei in cross-factored response to different pCO2 (400, 800 μatm) and Hg (control, 1.0 and 2.5 μg/L) exposures for three generations (F0-F2), followed by single-generation recovery (F3) under clean condition. Several phenotypic traits and Hg accumulation were analyzed for F0-F3. Furthermore, shotgun-based quantitative proteomics was performed for F0 and F2. Our results showed that OA insignificantly influenced the traits. During F0-F2, combined exposure reduced Hg accumulation as compared with the counterpart Hg treatment, supporting the mitigating effect of OA on Hg toxicity in copepods. Proteomics analysis indicated that the copepods probably increased energy production/storage and stress response to ensure physiological resilience against OA. However, Hg induced many toxic events (e.g., energy depletion and degenerated organomorphogenesis/embryogenesis for F0; cell cycle arrest and detrimental stress-defense for F2), which were translated to the population-level adverse outcome, i.e., compromised growth/reproduction. Particularly, compensatory proteome response was identified (e.g., increased immune defense for F0; energetic compensation and enhanced embryogenesis for F2), accounting for a negative interaction between OA and Hg. Together, this study provides the molecular mechanisms behind the effects of OA and Hg pollution in marine copepods.
The Arctic may be particularly vulnerable to the consequences of both ocean acidification (OA) and global warming, given the faster pace of warming and acidification. Here, we use the Atlantis ecosystem model to assess how the trophic network of marine fishes and invertebrates in the Icelandic waters is responding to the combined pressures of OA and warming. We develop an approach which allows us to focus on species of economic (catch-value), social (number of participants in fisheries), or ecological (keystone species) importance. We parameterize the model with literature-determined ranges of sensitivity to OA and warming for different species and functional groups in the Icelandic waters. We found divergent species responses to warming and acidification levels; (mainly) planktonic groups and forage fish benefited while (mainly) benthic groups and predatory fish decreased under warming and acidification scenarios. Assuming conservative harvest rates for the largest catch-value species, Atlantic cod, we see that the population is projected to remain stable under even the harshest acidification and warming scenario. Further, for the scenarios where the model projects reductions in biomass of Atlantic cod, other species in the ecosystem increase, likely due to a reduction in competition and predation. These results highlight the interdependencies of multiple global change drivers and their cascading effects on trophic organization, and the supply of an important species from a socio-economic perspective in the Icelandic fisheries.
Effect of global change variables on the structure and photosynthesis of phytoplankton communities was evaluated in three different sites of the Patagonian coast of Argentina: enclosed bay (Puerto Madryn, PM), estuarine (Playa Unión, PU), and open waters (Isla Escondida, IE). We exposed samples to two contrasting scenarios: Present (nutrients at in situ levels) vs. Future (with lowered pH and higher nutrients inputs), and determined growth and photosynthetic responses after 2 days of acclimation. Under the Future condition phytoplankton growth was higher in the estuarine site compared to those in PM and IE. This effect was the most pronounced on large diatoms. While the increase of photosynthetic activity was not always observed in the Future scenario, the lower photosynthetic electron requirement for carbon fixation (Φe,C = ETR/PmB) in this scenario compared to the Present, suggests a more effective energy utilization. Long-term experiments were also conducted to assess the responses along a 4 days acclimation period in PU. Diatoms benefited from the Future conditions and had significantly higher growth rates than in the Present. In addition, Φe,C was lower after the acclimation period in the Future scenario, compared to the Present. Our results suggest that the availability, frequency and amount of nutrients play a key role when evaluating the effects of global change on natural phytoplankton communities. The observed changes in diatom growth under the Future scenario in PU and IE and photosynthesis may have implications in the local trophodynamics by bottom up control.
Microzooplankton communities are fundamental components of marine food webs and have the potential to impact the functioning of carbon pumps. The identification of common responses of microzooplankton to global change has been challenging due to their plasticity and complex community-level interactions. However, accumulating research is providing new insights on the vulnerability of this group to different climate and other human-related hazards. Here, the current and future risk levels of microzooplankton associated with global change are assessed by identifying prevailing hazards, exposure, sensitivity, natural adaptability, and observed impacts based on available evidence. Most documented hazards for the survival and yield of microzooplankton are ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation, and coastal eutrophication. Overall, heterotrophic protists are expected to respond and adapt rapidly to global trends. Fast growing, mixotrophy, wide internal stoichiometry, and their capacity to track optimal environmental conditions by changing species’ range distribution are among the most important traits that shape their high adaptability to global change. Community-level responses to warming, however, are predicted to be amplified in polar and subpolar regions. At the individual level, the highest risk is associated with the sensitivity to deoxygenation since microzooplankton, especially ciliates, are known to reduce metabolic rates under hypoxic episodes; however, vulnerable species can be readily replaced by specialized taxa from a similar functional type. Microzooplankton seem to act as functional buffers of environmental threats, thus conferring stability, in terms of community connectedness to marine food webs and ecosystems against external disturbances.
Model projections of ocean circulation and biogeochemistry are used to investigate large scale climate changes under moderate mitigation (RCP 4.5) and high emissions (RCP 8.5) scenarios along the continental shelf of the Canadian Pacific Coast. To reduce computational cost, an approach for dynamical downscaling of climate projections was developed that uses atmospheric climatologies with augmented winds to simulate historical (1986–2005) and future (2046–2065) periods separately. The two simulations differ in initial and lateral open boundary conditions. For each simulation, the daily climatology of surface winds in the driving model was augmented with high-frequency variability from an atmospheric reanalysis product. The “time-slice” approach was able to reproduce the observed climate state for the historical period. Sensitivity tests confirmed that the high frequency wind variability plays an essential role in freshwater distribution in this region. Projections suggest that sea surface temperature will increase by 1.8–2.4°C and surface salinity will decrease between −0.08 and −0.23 depending on whether a moderate or high emissions scenario is used. Stratification increases throughout the region and there is some evidence of nutrient limitation near the surface. Primary production and phytoplankton productivity (chlorophyll) also increase. Density surfaces are relocated deeper in the water column and this change is mainly driven by surface heating and freshening. Changes in saturation state are mainly due to anthropogenic CO2 with minor contributions from solubility, remineralization and advection. There is little difference between RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 with regard to projections of deoxygenation and acidification. The depths of the aragonite saturation state and the oxygen minimum zone are projected to become shallower by ≃ 100 and ≃ 75 m respectively. Extreme states of temperature, oxygen and acidification are projected to become more frequent and more extreme, with the frequency of occurrence of [O2]<60 mmolm−3[O2]<60 mmolm-3 expected to approximately double under either scenario.
• Spatial and temporal variation in estuarine acidification cause severe biological responses.
• Extreme low saturation state and duration of exposure cause pteropod shell dissolution.
• Changing estuarine conditions cause cumulative stress that was used to generate stress index.
• Compensatory mechanisms allow pelagic calcifiers to persist in extreme OA estuarine habitats.
Estuaries are recognized as one of the habitats most vulnerable to coastal ocean acidification due to seasonal extremes and prolonged duration of acidified conditions. This is combined with co-occurring environmental stressors such as increased temperature and low dissolved oxygen. Despite this, evidence of biological impacts of ocean acidification in estuarine habitats is largely lacking. By combining physical, biogeochemical, and biological time-series observations over relevant seasonal-to-interannual time scales, this study is the first to describe both the spatial and temporal variation of biological response in the pteropod Limacina helicina to estuarine acidification in association with other stressors. Using clustering and principal component analyses, sampling sites were grouped according to their distribution of physical and biogeochemical variables over space and time. This identified the most exposed habitats and time intervals corresponding to the most severe negative biological impacts across three seasons and three years. We developed a cumulative stress index as a means of integrating spatial-temporal OA variation over the organismal life history. Our findings show that over the 2014–2016 study period, the severity of low aragonite saturation state combined with the duration of exposure contributed to overall cumulative stress and resulted in severe shell dissolution. Seasonally-variable estuaries such as the Salish Sea (Washington, U.S.A.) predispose sensitive organisms to more severe acidified conditions than those of coastal and open-ocean habitats, yet the sensitive organisms persist. We suggest potential environmental factors and compensatory mechanisms that allow pelagic calcifiers to inhabit less favorable habitats and partially offset associated stressors, for instance through food supply, increased temperature, and adaptation of their life history. The novel metric of cumulative stress developed here can be applied to other estuarine environments with similar physical and chemical dynamics, providing a new tool for monitoring biological response in estuaries under pressure from accelerating global change.
Krill are abundant and ecologically important zooplankton that inhabit dynamic environments characterized by strong natural variability, but global ocean change is shifting the range of conditions that they experience. Laboratory tests reveal that krill are sensitive to ocean acidification despite residing in naturally low pH areas, showing the importance of modulating factors for determining their responses. This study combines laboratory manipulations with field observations across a strong natural water chemistry gradient in Puget Sound, Washington, USA to investigate the effects of pH and oxygen on adult female North Pacific krill, Euphausia pacifica. Enzyme activities of the Electron Transport System (ETS) and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (AARS) were used as indices of zooplankton metabolism and growth, respectively, and were paired with traditional incubation methods. Acclimation to pH and oxygen conditions in the laboratory did not reveal effects on respiration rate, ETS, or AARS activity of krill. However, field observations showed that respiratory potential, as estimated by ETS activity, decreased with decreasing oxygen, declining 9% (95% confidence interval 2.5–15%) over the range of conditions we observed (3.9–8.1 mg O2 L−1). This reduction would depress the metabolic potential of krill in areas of stressful conditions (concurrent low pH), though krill also displayed a high degree of inter-individual variability. Although differences in age structure suggest different patterns of recruitment between E. pacifica populations in areas with stressful conditions and those without, populations persist at stressful sites. Lower temperature of waters with low oxygen and pH, as well as high food concentrations, may contribute to these populations’ success.
The oceans’ uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) decreases seawater pH and alters the inorganic carbon speciation – summarized in the term ocean acidification (OA). Already today, coastal regions experience episodic pH events during which surface layer pH drops below values projected for the surface ocean at the end of the century. Future OA is expected to further enhance the intensity of these coastal extreme pH events. To evaluate the influence of such episodic OA events in coastal regions, we deployed eight pelagic mesocosms for 53 days in Raunefjord, Norway, and enclosed 56–61 m3 of local seawater containing a natural plankton community under nutrient limited post-bloom conditions. Four mesocosms were enriched with CO2 to simulate extreme pCO2 levels of 1978 – 2069 μatm while the other four served as untreated controls. Here, we present results from multivariate analyses on OA-induced changes in the phyto-, micro-, and mesozooplankton community structure. Pronounced differences in the plankton community emerged early in the experiment, and were amplified by enhanced top-down control throughout the study period. The plankton groups responding most profoundly to high CO2 conditions were cyanobacteria (negative), chlorophyceae (negative), auto- and heterotrophic microzooplankton (negative), and a variety of mesozooplanktonic taxa, including copepoda (mixed), appendicularia (positive), hydrozoa (positive), fish larvae (positive), and gastropoda (negative). The restructuring of the community coincided with significant changes in the concentration and elemental stoichiometry of particulate organic matter. Results imply that extreme CO2 events can lead to a substantial reorganization of the planktonic food web, affecting multiple trophic levels from phytoplankton to primary and secondary consumers.
Ocean warming and acidification caused by the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide are now thought to be major threats to coral reefs on a global scale. Here we evaluated the environmental conditions and benthic community structures in semi-closed Nikko Bay at the inner reef area in Palau, which has high p CO 2 and seawater temperature conditions with high zooxanthellate coral coverage. This bay is a highly sheltered system with organisms showing low connectivity with surrounding environments, making this bay a unique site for evaluating adaptation and acclimatization responses of organisms to warmed and acidified environments. Seawater p CO 2 /Ω arag showed strong graduation ranging from 380 to 982 µatm (Ω arag : 1.79-3.66) and benthic coverage, including soft corals and turf algae, changed along with Ω arag while hard coral coverage did not. In contrast to previous studies, net calcification was maintained in Nikko Bay even under very low mean Ω arag (2.44). Reciprocal transplantation of the dominant coral Porites cylindrica showed that the calcification rate of corals from Nikko Bay did not change when transplanted to a reference site, while calcification of reference site corals decreased when transplanted to Nikko Bay. Corals transplanted out of their origin sites also showed the highest interactive respiration (R) and lower photosynthesis (P) to respiration (P:R). The results of this study give important insights about the potential local acclimatization and adaptation capacity of corals to different environmental conditions including p CO 2 and temperature.
Shelled pteropods are widely regarded as bioindicators for ocean acidification, because their fragile aragonite shells are susceptible to increasing ocean acidity. While short-term incubations have demonstrated that pteropod calcification is negatively impacted by ocean acidification, we know little about net calcification in response to varying ocean conditions in natural populations. Here, we examine in situ calcification of Limacina helicina pteropods collected from the California Current Ecosystem, a coastal upwelling system with strong spatial gradients in ocean carbonate chemistry, dissolved oxygen and temperature. Depth-averaged pH ranged from 8.03 in warmer offshore waters to 7.77 in cold CO2-rich waters nearshore. Based on high-resolution micro-CT technology, we showed that shell thickness declined by ~ 37% along the upwelling gradient from offshore to nearshore water. Dissolution marks covered only ~ 2% of the shell surface area and were not associated with the observed variation in shell thickness. We thus infer that pteropods make thinner shells where upwelling brings more acidified and colder waters to the surface. Probably the thinner shells do not result from enhanced dissolution, but are due to a decline in calcification. Reduced calcification of pteropods is likely to have major ecological and biogeochemical implications for the cycling of calcium carbonate in the oceans.
- Harmonized simulation of DO, pH, and Y2095 climate change impacts in the Salish Sea
- A 52-fold increase in exposure and near-bed pelagic species to hypoxic waters in Y2095
- Ocean acidification projections for Y2095 indicate ≈ 20 −114% increase in water column (ΩA) <1)
- Primary productivity propagation to zooplankton projected for Y2095 with ≈ 13%−25% increases.
- Eelgrass sensitive to stressors and potential for loss of eelgrass biomass in the future.
Future projections based on the IPCC high emissions scenario RCP8.5 have previously shown that the Pacific Northwest coastal waters will be subjected to altered ocean states in the upwelled shelf waters, resulting in higher primary productivity and increased regions of hypoxia and acidification in the inner estuarine waters such as the Salish Sea. However, corresponding effects on the lower trophic levels and submerged aquatic vegetation have not yet been quantified. Supported by new synoptic field data, explicit coupled simulation of algae, zooplankton, and eelgrass biomass was accomplished for the first time in the Salish Sea. We re-applied the improved model to evaluate future ecological response and examined potential algal species shift, but with the effects of zooplankton production, metabolism, and predation-prey interactions included. We also evaluated the role of eelgrass with respect to potential for improvements to dissolved oxygen and pH levels and as a mitigation measure against hypoxia and ocean acidification. The results re-confirm the possibility that there could be a substantial area-days increase (≈52-fold) in exposure of benthic and near-bed pelagic species to hypoxic waters in 2095. The projections for ocean acidification similarly indicate ≈ 20 -114% increase in exposure to lower pH corrosive waters with aragonite saturation state ΩA <1. Importantly, projected increase in primary productivity was shown to propagate to higher trophic levels, with ≈ 13% and 25% increases in micro and mesozooplankton biomass levels. However, the preliminary results also point to sensitivity of the eelgrass model to environmental stressor and potential loss eelgrass biomass in the future.
Studies of the ecological effects of global change often focus on one or a few species at a time. Consequently, we know relatively little about the changes underway at real-world scales of biological communities, which typically have hundreds or thousands of interacting species. Here, we use COI mtDNA amplicons from monthly samples of environmental DNA to survey 221 planktonic taxa along a gradient of temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen and carbonate chemistry in nearshore marine habitat. The result is a high-resolution picture of changes in ecological communities using a technique replicable across a wide variety of ecosystems. We estimate community-level differences associated with time, space and environmental variables, and use these results to forecast near-term community changes due to warming and ocean acidification. We find distinct communities in warmer and more acidified conditions, with overall reduced richness in diatom assemblages and increased richness in dinoflagellates. Individual taxa finding more suitable habitat in near-future waters are more taxonomically varied and include the ubiquitous coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi and the harmful dinoflagellate Alexandrium sp. These results suggest foundational changes for nearshore food webs under near-future conditions.
Rising atmospheric CO2 alters the ocean biochemistry in the process known as ocean acidification (OA). It influences biodiversity at different levels, including zooplankton, which is a key component of aquatic communities and plays a pivotal role in the structure and functioning of marine planktonic food webs as a major link between pelagic primary producers and planktivorous. The effect of OA on the fitness of individual zooplanktonic species has been reported by many studies mostly developed under laboratory conditions. In this context, this chapter reviews the OA effects on zooplankton and describes the potential of natural shallow-water CO2 vents as in situ laboratories. The impact on zooplankton assemblages is shown from a study in the North Atlantic (Azores islands) and the suitability of this area for future studies on marine organisms and ecosystems. Sites with naturally elevated CO2 conditions are described, including which variables and limitations must be considered. Results shown are highly relevant to improve our predictions of the responses of zooplankton to climate change stressors including OA. Future studies including long-term multigenerational exposure to multiple stressors (e.g. increased pCO2 and food shortage) are a priority to understand the adaptation capacity of common species and how the zooplankton communities will shift.
Understanding the vulnerability of marine calcifiers to ocean acidification is a critical issue, especially in the Southern Ocean (SO), which is likely to be the one of the first, and most severely affected regions. Since the industrial revolution, ~30% of anthropogenic CO2 has been absorbed by the oceans. Seawater pH levels have already decreased by 0.1 and are predicted to decline by ~ 0.3 by the year 2100. This process, known as ocean acidification (OA), is shallowing the saturation horizon, which is the depth below which calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolves, likely increasing the vulnerability of many marine calcifiers to dissolution. The negative impact of OA may be seen first in species depositing more soluble CaCO3 mineral phases such as aragonite and high-Mg calcite (HMC). These negative effects may become even exacerbated by increasing sea temperatures. Here we combine a review and a quantitative meta-analysis to provide an overview of the current state of knowledge about skeletal mineralogy of major taxonomic groups of SO marine calcifiers and to make predictions about how OA might affect different taxa. We consider their geographic range, skeletal mineralogy, biological traits and potential strategies to overcome OA. The meta-analysis of studies investigating the effects of the OA on a range of biological responses such as shell state, development and growth rate shows response variation depending on mineralogical composition. Species-specific responses due to mineralogical composition suggest taxa with calcitic, aragonitic and HMC skeletons may be more vulnerable to the expected carbonate chemistry alterations, and low magnesium calcite (LMC) species may be mostly resilient. Environmental and biological control on the calcification process and/or Mg content in calcite, biological traits and physiological processes are also expected to influence species specific responses.