Posts Tagged 'zooplankton'

Comparison of two carbon-nitrogen regulatory models calibrated with mesocosm data


• OBM is more skilful than CN-REcoM when calibrated and validated with mesocosm data.

• OBM suggests that ocean acidification (OA) may stimulate carbon fixation rates in algae.

• Also, OA may elevate metabolic stress in phytoplankton, according to OBM.

• CN-REcoM imposes weak constraints on parameter values, hence solutions are flexible.

• As OBM is constrained by the physiological trade-offs, solutions are rigid and robust.


Marine phytoplankton can regulate their stoichiometric composition in response to variations in the availability of nutrients, light and the pH of seawater. Varying elemental composition of photoautotrophs affects several important ecological and biogeochemical processes, e.g., primary and export production, nutrient cycling, calcification, and grazing. Here we compare two plankton ecosystem models that consider regulatory mechanisms of cellular carbon and nitrogen, driving the physiological acclimation of photoautotrophs. The Carbon:Nitrogen Regulated Ecosystem Model (CN-REcoM) and the optimality-based model (OBM) differ in their representation of phytoplankton dynamics, i.e. nutrient acquisition, synthesis of chlorophyll a, and growth. All other model compartments (zooplankton, detritus, dissolved inorganic and organic matter) and processes (grazing, aggregation, remineralisation) remain identical in both models.

We assess the skills of the two models against data from an ocean acidification mesocosm experiment with three CO2 treatments. Neither model accounts for any carbon dioxide (CO2) effects explicitly. Instead, we assimilate data of the different CO2 treatments separately into the models. Thereby we aim at identifying optimal model parameter values that might correlate with differences in CO2 conditions. For the OBM, optimal parameter estimates of Qmin (subsistence N:C ratio) and V (maximum potential photosynthesis rate of photoautotrophs) turned out to be higher for mesocosms exposed to high CO2 compared to those with low CO2 concentrations. By contrast, a similar correlation is not observed for the CN-REcoM. A possible physiological interpretation of higher estimates of Qmin and V according to the OBM is that phytoplankton may experience environmental stress under more acidic conditions, and hence must invest more energy/resources for maintaining basic cellular functions. Our data assimilation reveals that the parameters of the OBM are better constrained by the data than those of the CN-REcoM. Furthermore, the OBM is better able than CN-REcoM to reproduce data that were not used for parameter optimization.

Continue reading ‘Comparison of two carbon-nitrogen regulatory models calibrated with mesocosm data’

The potential impact of underwater exhausted CO2 from innovative ships on invertebrate communities

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered ships equipped with an underwater exhaust system to reduce the ship’s water resistance could form a future generation of energy-efficient ships. The potential consequences of the underwater exhaust gas to the local ecosystems are still unknown. Especially, the CO2 levels may locally exceed estimated future global levels. The present study exposes marine communities to a wide range of CO2 dosages, resulting in pH 8.6–5.8 that was remained for 49 days. We found that the zooplankton and benthic community were adversely affected by high CO2 exposure levels. In detail, (1) between pH 6.6 and 7.1 polychaete worms became the dominating group of the benthic community and their larvae dominated the zooplankton group. (2) Due to the reduced grazing pressure and the flux of nutrients from decaying organic material planktonic microalgae (phytoplankton) stared blooming at the highest exposure level. The periphyton (fouling microalgae) community was not able to take advantage under these conditions. (3) Marine snails’ (periwinkle) shell damage and high mortality were observed at pH < 6.6. However, the growth of the surviving periwinkles was not directly related to pH, but was positively correlated with the availability of periphyton and negatively correlated with the polychaete worm density that most likely also used the periphyton as food source. Our result indicates that the impact of underwater exhaust gasses depends on various factors including local biological and abiotic conditions, which will be included in future research.

Continue reading ‘The potential impact of underwater exhausted CO2 from innovative ships on invertebrate communities’

Future ocean climate homogenizes communities across habitats through diversity loss and rise of generalist species

Predictions of the effects of global change on ecological communities are largely based on single habitats. Yet in nature, habitats are interconnected through the exchange of energy and organisms, and the responses of local communities may not extend to emerging community networks (i.e. metacommunities). Using large mesocosms and meiofauna communities as a model system, we investigated the interactive effects of ocean warming and acidification on the structure of marine metacommunities from three shallow‐water habitats: sandy soft‐bottoms, marine vegetation and rocky reef substrates. Primary producers and detritus – key food sources for meiofauna – increased in biomass under the combined effect of temperature and acidification. The enhanced bottom‐up forcing boosted nematode densities but impoverished the functional and trophic diversity of nematode metacommunities. The combined climate stressors further homogenized meiofauna communities across habitats. Under present‐day conditions metacommunities were structured by habitat type, but under future conditions they showed an unstructured random pattern with fast‐growing generalist species dominating the communities of all habitats. Homogenization was likely driven by local species extinctions, reducing interspecific competition that otherwise could have prevented single species from dominating multiple niches. Our findings reveal that climate change may simplify metacommunity structure and prompt biodiversity loss, which may affect the biological organization and resilience of marine communities.

Continue reading ‘Future ocean climate homogenizes communities across habitats through diversity loss and rise of generalist species’

Acclimation and adaptation of the coastal calanoid copepod Acartia tonsa to ocean acidification: a long-term laboratory investigation

Ocean acidification impacts many marine biota. Although evolutionary responses should occur during persisting environmental change, little is known about the adaptability of copepods. Therefore, we set up a 3½ yr long selection experiment, maintaining Acartia tonsa populations in seawater treated with 200 and 800 μatm CO2, and feeding them with algae cultured under corresponding CO2 conditions. In 3 reciprocal transplant experiments, roughly 1 yr apart, we measured developmental rates, C:N and C:P ratios, egg production and hatching rates of the different lines. In the transplant experiments, we observed significantly lower developmental rates in the high CO2 treatment independent of the selective history. Egg production and hatching success were unaffected by the experimental conditions, but we observed an earlier hatching of eggs from females with a high CO2 selective history. Over the experimental period, beneficial adaptations of the copepods cultured under high CO2 conditions of elevated seawater pCO2 and associated food quality were not detected. However, towards the end of the experiment, copepods cultured under elevated pCO2 and fed with high CO2 algae showed increased body mass and decreased prosome length.

Continue reading ‘Acclimation and adaptation of the coastal calanoid copepod Acartia tonsa to ocean acidification: a long-term laboratory investigation’

Effect of ocean acidification on the nutritional quality of marine phytoplankton for copepod reproduction

Phytoplankton are the oceans’ principal source of polyunsaturated fatty acids that support the growth and reproduction of consumers such as copepods. Previous studies have demonstrated ocean acidification (OA) can change the availability of polyunsaturated fatty acids to consumer diets which may affect consumer reproduction. Two laboratory experiments were conducted to examine the effects of feeding high-pCO2-reared phytoplankton on copepod egg production, hatching success, and naupliar survival. Marine phytoplankton Rhodomonas salina, Skeletonema marinoi, Prorocentrum micans, and Isochrysis galbana were exponentially grown in semi-continuous cultures at present (control) (400 ppm CO2, pH~8.1) and future (1,000 ppm CO2, pH~7.8) conditions and provided to Acartia tonsa copepods over 4 consecutive days as either nitrogen-limited (Exp. I) or nitrogen-depleted (Exp. II) mixed assemblage of phytoplankton. The composition of FAs in the phytoplankton diet was affected by pCO2 concentration and nitrogen deficiency; the ratio of essential fatty acids to total polyunsaturated fatty acids decreased in phytoplankton grown under high pCO2 and the mass of total fatty acids increased under nitrogen depletion. Additionally, total concentrations of essential fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids in the diet mixtures were less under the high-pCO2 compared to the control-pCO2 treatments. Median egg production, hatching success, and naupliar survival were 48–52%, 4–87%, and 9–100% lower, respectively, in females fed high-pCO2 than females fed low-pCO2 phytoplankton, but this decrease in reproductive success was less severe when fed N-depleted, but fatty acid-rich cells. This study demonstrates that the effects of OA on the nutritional quality of phytoplankton (i.e., their cellular fatty acid composition and quota) were modified by the level of nitrogen deficiency and the resulting negative reproductive response of marine primary consumers.

Continue reading ‘Effect of ocean acidification on the nutritional quality of marine phytoplankton for copepod reproduction’

Effects of ocean acidification on life parameters and antioxidant system in the marine copepod Tigriopus japonicus


• Exposure of OA to copepod resulted in reduction in the growth rate with decreased fecundity and body length.

• GST and GR activities were increased in response to OA-induced oxidative stress while GPx and SOD activities were decreased in a pH-dependent manner.

• GSTs2b was significantly up-regulated in response to OA.


Ocean acidification (OA) is caused by alteration of global ocean carbon chemistry due to the increased pCO2 in the atmosphere and caused deleterious impacts on the marine ecosystem. Although various detrimental effects of OA were reported in marine organisms, the potential impact of OA on aquatic invertebrates still remains largely unknown. Here, we examined changes in life parameters and antioxidant system in response to low pH (7.5 and 7) in the marine copepod Tigriopus japonicus. Exposures to lower pHs (pH 7.5 and 7.0) of copepods resulted in lengthening of the developmental time with decreased fecundity and body length. Also, they showed increased reactive oxygen species contents with enhanced glutathione S-transferase and glutathione reductase activities but decreased glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase activities in pH-dependent manner, indicating that OA exposure caused disturbance of the redox system in T. japonicus. Among several oxidative stress-related genes, GSTs2b was significantly up-regulated in response to OA. These findings will be helpful for a better understanding on the potential impact of OA on life parameters and antioxidant system in the marine copepod T. japonicus.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on life parameters and antioxidant system in the marine copepod Tigriopus japonicus’

Degradation of internal organic matter is the main control on pteropod shell dissolution after death

The potential for preservation of thecosome pteropods is thought to be largely governed by the chemical stability of their delicate aragonitic shells in seawater. However, sediment trap studies have found that significant carbonate dissolution can occur above the carbonate saturation horizon. Here we present the results from experiments conducted on two cruises to the Scotia Sea to directly test whether the breakdown of the organic pteropod body influences shell dissolution. We find that, on the timescales of three to thirteen days, the oxidation of organic matter within the shells of dead pteropods is a stronger driver of shell dissolution than the saturation state of seawater. Three to four days after death, shells became milky white and nano‐SEM images reveal smoothing of internal surface features and increased shell porosity, both indicative of aragonite dissolution. These findings have implications for the interpretation of the condition of pteropod shells from sediment traps and the fossil record, as well as for understanding the processes controlling particulate carbonate export from the surface ocean.

Continue reading ‘Degradation of internal organic matter is the main control on pteropod shell dissolution after death’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book