Posts Tagged 'zooplankton'

Cascading effects augment the direct impact of CO2 on phytoplankton growth in a biogeochemical model

Atmospheric and oceanic CO2 concentrations are rising at an unprecedented rate. Laboratory studies indicate a positive effect of rising CO2 on phytoplankton growth until an optimum is reached, after which the negative impact of accompanying acidification dominates. Here, we implemented carbonate system sensitivities of phytoplankton growth into our global biogeochemical model FESOM-REcoM and accounted explicitly for coccolithophores as the group most sensitive to CO2. In idealized simulations in which solely the atmospheric CO2 mixing ratio was modified, changes in competitive fitness and biomass are not only caused by the direct effects of CO2, but also by indirect effects via nutrient and light limitation as well as grazing. These cascading effects can both amplify or dampen phytoplankton responses to changing ocean pCO2 levels. For example, coccolithophore growth is negatively affected both directly by future pCO2 and indirectly by changes in light limitation, but these effects are compensated by a weakened nutrient limitation resulting from the decrease in small-phytoplankton biomass. In the Southern Ocean, future pCO2 decreases small-phytoplankton biomass and hereby the preferred prey of zooplankton, which reduces the grazing pressure on diatoms and allows them to proliferate more strongly. In simulations that encompass CO2-driven warming and acidification, our model reveals that recent observed changes in North Atlantic coccolithophore biomass are driven primarily by warming and not by CO2. Our results highlight that CO2 can change the effects of other environmental drivers on phytoplankton growth, and that cascading effects may play an important role in projections of future net primary production.

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Effects of hypoxia and acidification on Calanus pacificus: behavioral changes in response to stressful environments

Copepods, which play major roles in marine food webs and biogeochemical cycling, frequently undergo diel vertical migration (DVM), swimming downwards during the day to avoid visual predation and upwards at night to feed. Natural water columns that are stratified with chemical stressors at depth, such as hypoxia and acidification, are increasing with climate change. Understanding behavioral responses of copepods to these stresses—in particular, whether copepods alter their natural migration—is important to anticipating impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems. We conducted laboratory experiments using stratified water columns to measure the effects of bottom water hypoxia and pH on mortality, distribution, and swimming behaviors of the calanoid copepod Calanus pacificus. When exposed to hypoxic (0.65 mg O2 l-1) bottom waters, the height of C. pacificus from the bottom increased 20% within hypoxic columns, and swimming speed decreased 46% at the bottom of hypoxic columns and increased 12% above hypoxic waters. When exposed to low pH (7.48) bottom waters, swimming speeds decreased by 8 and 9% at the base of the tanks and above acidic waters, respectively. Additionally, we found a 118% increase in ‘moribund’ (immobile on the bottom) copepods when exposed to hypoxic, but not acidic, bottom waters. Some swimming statistics differed between copepods collected from sites with versus without historical hypoxia and acidity. Observed responses suggest potential mechanisms underlying in situ changes in copepod population distributions when exposed to chemical stressors at depth.

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Marine heatwave impacts on newly-hatched planktonic larvae of an estuarine crab

Graphical abstract.


  • Larvae survival was affected by temperature increase regardless of pH conditions.
  • Larvae heart beating and abdominal contractions were affected by temperature and pH.
  • Over the past 38 years Santos/São Vicente coast had a mean SST increase of 0.85 °C.
  • Higher intensity and duration of heatwaves are expected to reduce larval recruitment.


Climate change is imposing constant and more severe environmental challenges to coastal and marine species. Regional climate and species acclimation capacity determine the communities’ ecological response to stressors. Marine heatwave events are of serious threat to species fitness and survivorship, even more to the sensitive early-history stages of ectotherms. By combining modeled regional historical data and climate change predictions with manipulative experiments, we evaluated the potential impact of marine heatwaves in a widespread and abundant planktonic larvae of the fiddler crab Leptuca thayeri. Larvae survival was affected by temperature increase with lowest survival probability under higher temperature treatments regardless of pH conditions. Larval physiology was affected by both temperature increase and pH conditions. With heatwaves becoming more frequent, hotter, and lasting longer in the region, we could expect potential reductions in the larval recruitment and stocks with cascade ecological negative effects on estuarine habitats.

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Epigenetic plasticity enables copepods to cope with ocean acidification

Plasticity enhances species fitness and survival under climate change. Ocean acidification poses a potential threat to copepods, a major zooplankton group that serves as a key link between the lower and higher trophic levels in the marine environment, yet the mechanisms underlying different adaptive responses remain poorly understood. Here we show that although elevated CO2 can exert negative effects on reproduction of Paracyclopina nana, multigenerational plasticity can enable recovery after three generations. By integrating the methylome and transcriptome with the draft genome and undertaking DNA methylation treatments, we demonstrate the vital role of epigenetic modifications in ocean acidification responses and identify regions associated with reproductive resilience. Our results demonstrate that DNA methylation might play an important role in enhancing species fitness of copepods and that failing to consider phenotypic plasticity could lead to overestimation of species’ vulnerabilities.

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Different responses of phytoplankton and zooplankton communities to current changing coastal environments

Marine plankton are faced with novel challenges associated with environmental changes such as ocean acidification, warming, and eutrophication. However, data on the effects of simultaneous environmental changes on complex natural communities in coastal ecosystems are relatively limited. Here we made a systematic analysis of biological and environmental parameters in the Bohai Sea over the past three years to suggest that plankton communities responded differently to current changing coastal environments, with the increase of phytoplankton and the decrease of zooplankton. These different changes of phyto- and zooplankton potentially resulted from the fact that both the effect of acidification as a result of pH decline and the effect of warming as a consequence of increasing temperature favored phytoplankton over zooplankton at present. Furthermore, water eutrophication and salinity as well as heavy metals Hg, Zn, and As had more or less diverse consequences for the dynamics of phytoplankton and zooplankton. Differently, with ongoing climate change, we also revealed that both phytoplankton and zooplankton would decrease in the future under the influence of interactions between acidification and warming.

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Experimental evolution reveals the synergistic genomic mechanisms of adaptation to ocean warming and acidification in a marine copepod

Metazoan adaptation to global change relies on selection of standing genetic variation. Determining the extent to which this variation exists in natural populations, particularly for responses to simultaneous stressors, is essential to make accurate predictions for persistence in future conditions. Here, we identified the genetic variation enabling the copepod Acartia tonsa to adapt to experimental ocean warming, acidification, and combined ocean warming and acidification (OWA) over 25 generations of continual selection. Replicate populations showed a consistent polygenic response to each condition, targeting an array of adaptive mechanisms including cellular homeostasis, development, and stress response. We used a genome-wide covariance approach to partition the allelic changes into three categories: selection, drift and replicate-specific selection, and laboratory adaptation responses. The majority of allele frequency change in warming (57%) and OWA (63%) was driven by shared selection pressures across replicates, but this effect was weaker under acidification alone (20%). OWA and warming shared 37% of their response to selection but OWA and acidification shared just 1%, indicating that warming is the dominant driver of selection in OWA. Despite the dominance of warming, the interaction with acidification was still critical as the OWA selection response was highly synergistic with 47% of the allelic selection response unique from either individual treatment. These results disentangle how genomic targets of selection differ between single and multiple stressors and demonstrate the complexity that nonadditive multiple stressors will contribute to predictions of adaptation to complex environmental shifts caused by global change.

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Intergenerational effects of ocean acidification on reproductive traits of an estuarine copepod

Graphical abstract

Copepods are an important part of the marine food web because of their high biomass productivity and nutrient turnover rate compared to other zooplankton in the marine ecosystem. Despite their great ecological role in the ocean, there is only limited information available on the consequences of ocean acidification (OA) induced by the future increase in CO2 on the planet. More specifically, there is almost no information about the impact of OA on the European copepod Calanipeda aquaedulcis Kritschagin, 1873. Therefore, the present investigation hypothesized that OA would not produce negative multigenerational effects on the survival and reproductive performance of this copepod species. Here we assessed, the multigenerational (F1 and F2) effect of OA on eight important reproductive traits (maturity, prosome length, fertility, egg release, hatching success, survival rate, reproductive performance, and the total number of adults per generation). For this study, C. aquaedulcis were collected from the Guadalquivir River (southwest of Spain) and were exposed to four different pH gradients (pH 8.1 as control and pH 7.5, 7.0, 6.5 as acidified conditions) to mimic the future seawater acidification scenarios. The survival rate from nauplius to adult, C. aquaedulcis was significantly reduced by pHs and across generations. Besides, results also indicated that there were marked effects on fertility, reflected by a significantly lower number of eggs per female in each generation. Similarly, hatching success also showed a decreasing pattern towards low pH, and importantly, F1 females had lower hatching success than F0 females. While a beneficial parental effect was detected in the offspring in response to OA, it was insufficient to offset the negative effects caused by it. The findings presented here appear to have ecological significance, as decreasing the reproductive performance of copepods may have a negative impact on the marine food web, as ichthyofaunal feeding and growth are heavily reliant on this component of the food web.

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Membrane lipid sensitivity to ocean warming and acidification poses a severe threat to Arctic pteropods

Ocean warming and acidification will be most pronounced in the Arctic. Both phenomena severely threaten thecosome pteropods (holoplanktonic marine gastropods) by reducing their survival (warming) and causing the dissolution of their aragonitic shell (acidification). Lipids, particularly phospholipids, play a major role in veligers and juveniles of the polar thecosome pteropod Limacina helicina comprising more than two-thirds of their total lipids. Membrane lipids (phospholipids) are important for the temperature acclimation of ectotherms. Hence, we experimentally investigated ocean warming and acidification effects on total lipids, lipid classes, and fatty acids of Arctic early-stage L. helicina. The temperature and pCO2 treatments chosen resembled Representative Concentration Pathway model scenarios for this century. We found a massive decrease in total lipids at elevated temperatures and at the highest CO2 concentration (1,100 μatm) of the in situ temperature. Clearly, temperature was the overriding factor. Total lipids were reduced by 47%–70%, mainly caused by a reduction of phospholipids by up to 60%. Further, based on pHT development in the incubation water of pteropods during the experiment, some evidence exists for metabolic downregulation in pteropods at high factor levels of temperature and pCO2. Consequently, the cell differentiation and energy balance of early-stage larvae were probably severely compromised. Comparison of our experimental with ‘wild’ organisms suggests phospholipid reduction to values clearly outside natural variability. Based on the well-known significance of phospholipids for membranogenesis, early development, and reproduction, negative warming effects on such a basal metabolic function may be a much more immediate threat for pteropods than so far anticipated shell dissolution effects due to acidification.

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Diel fluctuation superimposed on steady high pCO2 generates the most serious cadmium toxicity to marine copepods

Graphical abstract

Coastal systems experience diel fluctuation of pCO2 and cadmium (Cd) pollution; nevertheless, the effect of fluctuating pCO2 on Cd biotoxicity is poorly known. In this study, we initially performed the isotopically enriched organism bioassay to label Tigriopus japonicus with 113Cd (5 μg/L) to determine the Cd accumulation rate constant (kaccu) under ambient (400 μatm) and steadily (1000 μatm) and fluctuatingly elevated (1000 ± 600 μatm) pCO2 conditions for 48 h. Next, T. japonicus was interactively subjected to the above pCO2 exposures at Cd (control, 5, and 500 μg/L) treatments for 7 d. Biochemical and physiological responses for copepods were analyzed. The results showed that steadily increased pCO2 facilitated Cd bioaccumulation compared to ambient pCO2, and it was more under fluctuating acidification conditions. Despite compensatory reactions (e.g., increased energy production), Cd ultimately induced oxidative damage and apoptosis. Meanwhile, combined treatment exhibited higher toxicity (e.g., increased apoptosis) relative to Cd exposure, and even more if fluctuating acidification was considered. Intriguingly, fluctuating acidification inhibited Cd exclusion in Cd-treated copepods compared to steady acidification, linking to higher Cd kaccu and bioaccumulation. Collectively, CO2-driven acidification could aggravate Cd toxicity, providing a mechanistic understanding of the interaction between seawater acidification and Cd pollution in marine copepods.

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Pelagic calcifiers face increased mortality and habitat loss with warming and ocean acidification

Global change is impacting the oceans in an unprecedented way, and multiple lines of evidence suggest that species distributions are changing in space and time. There is increasing evidence that multiple environmental stressors act together to constrain species habitat more than expected from warming alone. Here, we conducted a comprehensive study of how temperature and aragonite saturation state act together to limit Limacina helicina, globally distributed pteropods that are ecologically important pelagic calcifiers and an indicator species for ocean change. We co-validated three different approaches to evaluate the impact of ocean warming and acidification (OWA) on the survival and distribution of this species in the California Current Ecosystem. First, we used colocated physical, chemical, and biological data from three large-scale west coast cruises and regional time series; second, we conducted multifactorial experimental incubations to evaluate how OWA impacts pteropod survival; and third, we validated the relationships we found against global distributions of pteropods and carbonate chemistry. OWA experimental work revealed mortality increases under OWA, while regional habitat suitability indices and global distributions of L. helicina suggest that a multi-stressor framework is essential for understanding pteropod distributions. In California Current Ecosystem habitats, where pteropods are living close to their thermal maximum already, additional warming and acidification through unabated fossil fuel emissions (RCP 8.5) are expected to dramatically reduce habitat suitability.

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Elevated pCO2 induced physiological, molecular and metabolic changes in Nannochloropsis oceanica and its effects on trophic transfer

The rise of dissolution of anthropogenic CO2 into the ocean alters marine carbonate chemistry and then results in ocean acidification (OA). It has been observed that OA induced different effects on different microalgae. In this study, we explored the physiological and biochemical changes in Nannochloropsis oceanica in response to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and tested the effect of ocean acidification (OA) on the food web through animal feeding experiments at a laboratory scale. We found that the levels of C, N, C/N, Fv/Fm, and photosynthetic carbon fixation rate of algae cells were increased under high carbon dioxide concentration. Under short-term acidification, soluble carbohydrate, protein, and proportion of unsaturated fatty acids in cells were significantly increased. Under long-term acidification, the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) (~33.83%) increased compared with that in control (~30.89%), but total protein decreased significantly compared with the control. Transcriptome and metabonomics analysis showed that the differential expression of genes in some metabolic pathways was not significant in short-term acidification, but most genes in the Calvin cycle were significantly downregulated. Under long-term acidification, the Calvin cycle, fatty acid biosynthesis, TAG synthesis, and nitrogen assimilation pathways were significantly downregulated, but the fatty acid β-oxidation pathway was significantly upregulated. Metabolome results showed that under long-term acidification, the levels of some amino acids increased significantly, while carbohydrates decreased, and the proportion of PUFAs increased. The rotifer Brachionus plicatilis grew slowly when fed on N. oceanica grown under short and long-term acidification conditions, and fatty acid profile analysis indicated that eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) levels increased significantly under long-term acidification in both N. oceanica (~9.48%) and its consumer B. Plicatilis (~27.67%). It can be seen that N. oceanica formed a specific adaptation mechanism to OA by regulating carbon and nitrogen metabolism, and at the same time caused changes of cellular metabolic components. Although PUFAs were increased, they still had adverse effects on downstream consumers.

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Surviving in a changing ocean. Tolerance to acidification might affect the susceptibility of polychaetes to chemical contamination

Graphical abstract


  • CO2 vent systems are natural laboratory for studying the effects of multiple stressors.
  • We assess the effects of OA and pollution, using polychaetes naturally exposed to OA.
  • Limited influence of OA on the activity of antioxidant enzymes in polychaetes.
  • Polychaetes from the vent were more susceptible to acetone but more tolerant to Cu respect to controls.
  • Tolerance to OA could influence polychaete susceptibility to environmental pollution.


This study aimed to assess the combined effects of ocean acidification (OA) and pollution to the polychaete Syllis prolifera inhabiting the CO2 vent system of the Castello Aragonese (Ischia Island, Italy). We investigated the basal activities of antioxidant enzymes in organisms from the acidified site and from an ambient-pH control site in two different periods of the year. Results showed a limited influence of acidified conditions on the functionality of the antioxidant system. We then investigated the responsiveness of individuals living inside the CO2 vent compared to those from the control to face exposure to acetone and copper. Results highlighted a higher susceptibility of organisms from the vent to acetone and a different response of antioxidant enzymes in individuals from the two sites. Conversely, a higher tolerance to copper was observed in polychaetes from the acidified-site with respect to controls, but any significant oxidative stress was induced at sublethal concentrations.

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Amino acid nitrogen stable isotopes as biomarkers of coastal phytoplankton assemblages and food web interactions

Marine phytoplankton and zooplankton face rapidly changing environments in the face of global warming and climate change. We investigated the effect of warmer water and lower pH conditions—projected for New Zealand coastal waters at the start of the next century—on both phytoplankton and zooplankton in a 20 d mesocosm experiment to determine whether amino acid stable isotopes could be used as biomarkers of environmental change. We also assessed whether key environmental drivers, such as those linked to climate change, altered the processing of amino acids at the base of the food web. Despite changes in phytoplankton biomass and community composition, we found no significant difference in either particulate organic matter (POM) bulk or amino acid-specific δ15N values, indicating that the trophic status of POM was not significantly influenced by lower pH and warming. Threonine δ15N values were the most sensitive to changes in the phytoplankton community and showed correlations with diatoms (positive) and small flagellates (negative), demonstrating potential as a biomarker for detecting changes related to these phytoplankton groups and thus making threonine a promising indirect indicator of climate change. Finally, δ15NPhe values tracked changes in the lower food web, likely due to faster turnover times, showing its valuable role as a tracer of the nitrogen baseline, even during accelerated metabolism in zooplankton.

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The influence of climate change on marine bacterioplankton communities and greenhouse gases in New Zealand waters

Bacterioplankton communities play a fundamental role in the cycling of carbon and nitrogen in the oceans. Cycling of these nutrients by bacterioplankton also contributes to the production of nitrous oxide and methane, resulting in the oceans being a net source of both these greenhouse gases. Climate change is impacting the oceans through warming and acidification resulting in alteration of planktonic ecosystems, via changes in productivity, biomass, and species composition. The response of marine bacterioplankton communities to the direct effects of ocean warming and lowered pH, and to the indirect effects of changes in phytoplankton and zooplankton, has implications for biogeochemical cycling and therefore the production of nitrous oxide and methane. This thesis investigates the impact of both direct and indirect climate pressures by determining the influence of ocean warming and lowered pH on bacterioplankton and the production of methane and nitrous oxide in New Zealand coastal waters. It also assesses how open ocean bacterioplankton communities and dissolved methane and nitrous oxide are influenced by water mass properties and, in particular, how they may be affected by climate-induced changes in the distribution and abundance of salps, a dominant group of zooplankton.

To determine the impact of lower pH and warming on bacterioplankton community, production and abundance, coastal water was manipulated in three mesocosm experiments to projected future ocean temperature and pH. The experiments ran for 18-21 days using 4000-Litre mesocosms filled with coastal water and associated plankton communities, with pH and temperature continuously regulated. High-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene was used to determine bacterioplankton community composition and leucine incorporation was used to measure bacterial production during the experiments. Minor but significant increases in alpha diversity were seen under low pH and warming. However, overall results from the mesocosm experiments indicate resilience to ocean warming and low pH in coastal bacterioplankton communities, with no significant impacts on production, abundance or beta-diversity found. Bacterioplankton communities in coastal sites are likely to experience high natural variability, which may result in lack of sensitivity to projected climate change.

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A promising approach to quantifying pteropod eggs using image analysis and machine learning

A newly developed protocol to semi-automate egg counting in Southern Ocean shelled (thecosome) pteropods using image analysis software and machine learning algorithms was developed and tested for accuracy. Preserved thecosome pteropod (Limacina helicina antarctica) egg masses collected from two austral summer research voyages in East Antarctica were digitally photographed to develop a streamlined approach to enumerate eggs within egg masses using Fiji/ImageJ and the associated machine learning plugin known as Trainable Weka Segmentation. Results from this semi-automated approach were then used to compare with manual egg counts from eggs dissected from egg masses under stereomicroscope. A statistically significant correlation was observed between manual and semi-automated approaches (R2 = 0.92, p < 0.05). There was no significant difference between manual and automated protocols when egg counts were divided by the egg mass areas (mm2) (t(29.6) = 1.98, p = 0.06). However, the average time to conduct semi-automated counts (M = 7.4, SD = 1.2) was significantly less than that for the manual enumeration technique (M = 35.9, SD = 5.7; t(30) = 2.042, p < 0.05). This new approach is promising and, unlike manual enumeration, could allow specimens to remain intact for use in live culturing experiments. Despite some limitations that are discussed, this user-friendly and simplistic protocol can provide the basis for further future development, including the addition of macro scripts to improve reproducibility and through the association with other imaging platforms to enhance interoperability. Furthermore, egg counting using this technique may lead to a relatively unexplored monitoring tool to better understand the responses of a species highly sensitive to multiple stressors connected to climate change.

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Becoming nose-blind—climate change impacts on chemical communication

Chemical communication via infochemicals plays a pivotal role in ecological interactions, allowing organisms to sense their environment, locate predators, food, habitats, or mates. A growing number of studies suggest that climate change-associated stressors can modify these chemically mediated interactions, causing info-disruption that scales up to the ecosystem level. However, our understanding of the underlying mechanisms is scarce. Evidenced by a range of examples, we illustrate in this opinion piece that climate change affects different realms in similar patterns, from molecular to ecosystem-wide levels. We assess the importance of different stressors for terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems and propose a systematic approach to address highlighted knowledge gaps and cross-disciplinary research avenues.

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Ocean acidification alters the predator – prey relationship between hydrozoa and fish larvae

Anthropogenic CO2 emissions cause a drop in seawater pH and shift the inorganic carbon speciation. Collectively, the term ocean acidification (OA) summarizes these changes. Few studies have examined OA effects on predatory plankton, e.g. Hydrozoa and fish larvae as well as their interaction in complex natural communities. Because Hydrozoa can seriously compete with and prey on other higher-level predators such as fish, changes in their abundances may have significant consequences for marine food webs and ecosystem services. To investigate the interaction between Hydrozoa and fish larvae influenced by OA, we enclosed a natural plankton community in Raunefjord, Norway, for 53 days in eight ≈ 58 m³ pelagic mesocosms. CO2 levels in four mesocosms were increased to ≈ 2000 µatm pCO2, whereas the other four served as untreated controls. We studied OA-induced changes at the top of the food web by following ≈2000 larvae of Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) hatched inside each mesocosm during the first week of the experiment, and a Hydrozoa population that had already established inside the mesocosms. Under OA, we detected 20% higher abundance of hydromedusae staged jellyfish, but 25% lower biomass. At the same time, survival rates of Atlantic herring larvae were higher under OA (control pCO2: 0.1%, high pCO2: 1.7%) in the final phase of the study. These results indicate that a decrease in predation pressure shortly after hatch likely shaped higher herring larvae survival, when hydromedusae abundance was lower in the OA treatment compared to control conditions. We conclude that indirect food-web mediated OA effects drove the observed changes in the Hydrozoa – fish relationship, based on significant changes in the phyto-, micro-, and mesoplankton community under high pCO2. Ultimately, the observed immediate consequences of these changes for fish larvae survival and the balance of the Hydrozoa – fish larvae predator – prey relationship has important implications for the functioning of oceanic food webs.

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Individual-based modeling of shelled pteropods


  • First shelled pteropod individual-based model (IBM) based on Limacinidae species.
  • Shelled pteropod IBM reproduces the abundance signal measured at temperate latitudes.
  • The pteropod IBM provides the life-stage composition, and life-stage progression of populations.
  • IBM might be used for quantifying ongoing and future effects of climate change.


Shelled pteropods are cosmopolitan, free-swimming organisms of biogeochemical and commercial importance. They are widely used as sentinel species for the overall response of marine ecosystems to environmental stressors associated with climate change and changes in ocean chemistry. However, currently we are unable to project the effects of climate change on shelled pteropods at the population level, due to the missing spatio-temporal characterization of the response of pteropods to environmental stressors, and the limited information on the pteropod life history and life-cycle. In this study, we implement a shelled pteropod Individual-Based Model (IBM), i.e. we simulate a pteropod population as a set of discrete individuals over several generations, life-stages (eggs, larvae, juveniles and adults) and as a function of temperature, food availability, and aragonite saturation state. The model is able to provide an abundance signal that is consistent with the abundance signal measured in the temperate region. In addition, the modeled life-stage progression matches the reported size spectrum across the year, with two major spawning periods in spring and fall, and maturation in March and September. Furthermore, our IBM correctly predicts the abundance maxima of younger, smaller and potentially more susceptible life-stages in spring and winter. Thus, our model provides a tool for advancing our understanding of the response of pteropod populations to future environmental changes.

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Transcriptomic responses of adult versus juvenile Atlantids to ocean acidification

Shelled holoplanktonic gastropods are among the most vulnerable calcifiers to ocean acidification. They inhabit the pelagic environment and build thin and transparent shells of aragonite, a metastable form of calcium carbonate. While shelled pteropods have received considerable attention and are widely regarded as bioindicators of ocean acidification, atlantids have been much less studied. In the open ocean, atlantids are uniquely positioned to address the effects of ocean acidification at distinct trophic levels. From juvenile to adult, they undergo dramatic metamorphosis. As adults they are predatory, feeding primarily on shelled pteropods, copepods and other zooplankton, while as juveniles they feed on algae. Here we investigated the transcriptome and the impact of a three-day CO2 exposure on the gene expression of adults of the atlantid Atlanta ariejansseni and compared these to results previously obtained from juveniles. Individuals were sampled in the Southern Subtropical Convergence Zone (Atlantic Ocean) and exposed to ocean chemistry simulating past (~mid-1960s), present (ambient) and future (2050) conditions. In adults we found that the changes in seawater chemistry had significantly affected the expression of genes involved in biomineralization and the immune response, although there were no significant differences in shell growth between the three conditions. In contrast, juveniles experienced substantial changes in shell growth and a broader transcriptomic response. In adults, 1170 genes had the same direction of expression in the past and future treatments when compared to the ambient. Overall, this type of response was more common in adults (8.6% of all the genes) than in juveniles (3.9%), whereas a linear response with decreasing pH was more common in juveniles (7.7%) than in adults (4.5%). Taken together, these results suggest that juveniles are more sensitive to increased acidification than adults. However, experimental limitations including short incubation times, one carboy used for each treatment and two replicates for transcriptome analysis, require us to be cautious about these conclusions. We show that distinct transcriptome profiles characterize the two life stages, with less than 50% of shared transcripts. This study provides an initial framework to understand how ocean acidification may affect the molecular and calcification responses of adult and juvenile atlantids.

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Effect of different pCO2 concentrations in seawater on meiofauna: abundance of communities in sediment and survival rate of harpacticoid copepods

The amount of CO2 dissolved in the ocean has been increasing continuously, and the results using climate change models show that the CO2 concentration of the ocean will increase by over 1000 ppm by 2100. Ocean acidification is expected to have a considerable impact on marine ecosystems. To find out about the impacts of ocean acidification on meiofaunal communities and copepod groups, we analyzed the differences in the abundance of meiofauna communities in sediment and the survival rate of harpacticoid copepod assemblages separated from the sediment, between 400 and 1000 ppm pCO2 for a short period of 5 days. In experiments with communities in sediments exposed to different pCO2 concentrations, there was no significant difference in the abundance of total meiofauna and nematodes. However, the abundance of the harpacticoid copepod community was significantly lower at 1000 ppm than that at 400 ppm pCO2. On the other hand, in experiments with assemblages of harpacticoid copepods directly exposed to seawater, there was no significant difference in their survival rates between the two concentrations. Our findings suggest that a CO2 concentration of 1000 ppm in seawater can cause changes in the abundance of specific taxa such as harpacticoid copepods among the meiofauna communities in sediments.

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