Posts Tagged 'zooplankton'

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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Multigenerational life-history responses to pH in distinct populations of the copepod Tigriopus californicus

Intertidal zones are highly dynamic and harsh habitats: organisms that persist there must face many stressors, including drastic changes in seawater pH, which can be strongly influenced by biological processes. Coastal ecosystems are heterogeneous in space and time, and populations can be exposed to distinct selective pressures and evolve different capacities for acclimation to changes in pH. Tigriopus californicus is a harpacticoid copepod found in high-shore rock pools on the west coast of North America. It is a model system for studying population dynamics in diverse environments, but little is known about its responses to changes in seawater pH. I quantified the effects of pH on the survivorship, fecundity, and development of four T. californicus populations from San Juan Island, Washington, across three generations. For all populations and generations, copepod cultures had lower survivorship and delayed development under extended exposure to higher pH treatments (pH 7.5 and pH 8.0), whereas cultures maintained in lower pH (7.0) displayed stable population growth over time. Reciprocal transplants between treatments demonstrated that these pH effects were reversible. Life histories were distinct between populations, and there were differences in the magnitudes of pH effects on development and culture growth that persisted through multiple generations. These results suggest that T. californicus might not have the generalist physiology that might be expected of an intertidal species, and it could be adapted to lower average pH conditions than those that occur in adjacent open waters.

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Global climate change and the Baltic Sea ecosystem: direct and indirect effects on species, communities and ecosystem functioning

Climate change has multiple effects on Baltic Sea species, communities and ecosystem functioning through changes in physical and biogeochemical environmental characteristics of the sea. Associated indirect and secondary effects on species interactions, trophic dynamics and ecosystem function are expected to be significant. We review studies investigating species-, population- and ecosystem-level effects of abiotic factors that may change due to global climate change, such as temperature, salinity, oxygen, pH, nutrient levels, and the more indirect biogeochemical and food web processes, primarily based on peer-reviewed literature published since 2010.

For phytoplankton, clear symptoms of climate change, such as prolongation of the growing season, are evident and can be explained by the warming, but otherwise climate effects vary from species to species and area to area. Several modelling studies project a decrease of phytoplankton bloom in spring and an increase in cyanobacteria blooms in summer. The associated increase in N:P ratio may contribute to maintaining the “vicious circle of eutrophication”. However, uncertainties remain because some field studies claim that cyanobacteria have not increased and some experimental studies show that responses of cyanobacteria to temperature, salinity and pH vary from species to species. An increase of riverine dissolved organic matter (DOM) may also decrease primary production, but the relative importance of this process in different sea areas is not well known. Bacteria growth is favoured by increasing temperature and DOM, but complex effects in the microbial food web are probable. Warming of seawater in spring also speeds up zooplankton growth and shortens the time lag between phytoplankton and zooplankton peaks, which may lead to decreasing of phytoplankton in spring. In summer, a shift towards smaller-sized zooplankton and a decline of marine copepod species has been projected.

In deep benthic communities, continued eutrophication promotes high sedimentation and maintains good food conditions for zoobenthos. If nutrient abatement proceeds, improving oxygen conditions will first increase zoobenthos biomass, but the subsequent decrease of sedimenting matter will disrupt the pelagic–benthic coupling and lead to a decreased zoobenthos biomass. In the shallower photic systems, heatwaves may produce eutrophication-like effects, e.g. overgrowth of bladderwrack by epiphytes, due to a trophic cascade. If salinity also declines, marine species such as bladderwrack, eelgrass and blue mussel may decline. Freshwater vascular plants will be favoured but they cannot replace macroalgae on rocky substrates. Consequently invertebrates and fish benefiting from macroalgal belts may also suffer. Climate-induced changes in the environment also favour establishment of non-indigenous species, potentially affecting food web dynamics in the Baltic Sea.

As for fish, salinity decline and continuing of hypoxia is projected to keep cod stocks low, whereas the increasing temperature has been projected to favour sprat and certain coastal fish. Regime shifts and cascading effects have been observed in both pelagic and benthic systems as a result of several climatic and environmental effects acting synergistically.

Knowledge gaps include uncertainties in projecting the future salinity level, as well as stratification and potential rate of internal loading, under different climate forcings. This weakens our ability to project how pelagic productivity, fish populations and macroalgal communities may change in the future. The 3D ecosystem models, food web models and 2D species distribution models would benefit from integration, but progress is slowed down by scale problems and inability of models to consider the complex interactions between species. Experimental work should be better integrated into empirical and modelling studies of food web dynamics to get a more comprehensive view of the responses of the pelagic and benthic systems to climate change, from bacteria to fish. In addition, to better understand the effects of climate change on the biodiversity of the Baltic Sea, more emphasis should be placed on studies of shallow photic environments.

The fate of the Baltic Sea ecosystem will depend on various intertwined environmental factors and on development of the society. Climate change will probably delay the effects of nutrient abatement and tend to keep the ecosystem in its “novel” state. However, several modelling studies conclude that nutrient reductions will be a stronger driver for ecosystem functioning of the Baltic Sea than climate change. Such studies highlight the importance of studying the Baltic Sea as an interlinked socio-ecological system.

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No evidence of altered relationship between diet and consumer fatty acid composition in a natural plankton community under combined climate drivers

Fatty acids (FA), especially polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), are key biomolecules involved in immune responses, reproduction, and membrane fluidity. PUFA in marine environments are synthesized exclusively by primary producers. Therefore the FA composition of these organisms at the base of the food web (i.e., phytoplankton) and their primary consumers (i.e., zooplankton) are important determinants of the health and productivity of entire ecosystems as they are transferred to higher trophic levels. However, environmental conditions such as seawater pH and temperature, which are already changing in response to climate change and predicted to continue to change in the future, can affect the FA composition of phytoplankton and zooplankton at both the organismal and community level. During a 20 day mesocosm experiment, we tested the effect of ocean acidification alone and in combination with ocean warming on 1) the fatty acid composition of a natural prey community for zooplankton (i.e. phytoplankton and microzooplankton), 2) the fatty acid composition of zooplankton, and 3) the relationship between prey and consumer fatty acid compositions in coastal waters. Significant effects of the climate stressors were not detected in the fatty acid composition of the prey or the relationship between diet and consumer fatty acids. A significant decrease in C18:4n-3 (stearidonic acid) was observed in the zooplankton but not their diet, but understanding the mechanism behind this decrease and its potential biological implications requires further investigation. These results highlight the importance of multi-stressor investigations on dynamics and variability contained within natural coastal plankton communities.

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Species specific responses to grazer cues and acidification in phytoplankton- winners and losers in a changing world

Phytoplankton induce defensive traits in response to chemical alarm signals from grazing zooplankton. However, these signals are potentially vulnerable to changes in pH and it is not yet known how predator recognition may be affected by ocean acidification. We exposed four species of diatoms and one toxic dinoflagellate to future pCO2 levels, projected by the turn of the century, in factorial combinations with predatory cues from copepods (copepodamides). We measured the change in growth, chain length, silica content, and toxin content. Effects of increased pCO2 were highly species specific. The induction of defensive traits was accompanied by a significant reduction in growth rate in three out of five species. The reduction averaged 39% and we interpret this as an allocation cost associated with defensive traits. Copepodamides induced significant chain length reduction in three of the four diatom species. Under elevated pCO2 Skeletonema marinoi reduced silica content by 30% and in Alexandrium minutum the toxin content was reduced by 30%. Using copepodamides to induce defensive traits in the absence of direct grazing provides a straightforward methodology to assess costs of defense in microplankton. We conclude that copepodamide signalling system is likely robust to ocean acidification. Moreover, the variable responses of different taxa to ocean acidification suggest that there will be winners and losers in a high pCO2 world, and that ocean acidification may have structuring effects on phytoplankton communities.

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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 with resulting changes in species distributions or species loss. There is increasing evidence that multiple environmental stressors act together to constrain species habitat more than expected from single stressor. Here, we conducted a comprehensive study of the combined impact of ocean warming and acidification (OWA) on a global distribution of pteropods, ecologically important pelagic calcifiers and an indicator species for ocean change. We co-validated three different approaches to evaluate the impact of OWA on pteropod survival and distribution. First, we used co-located physical, chemical, and biological data from oceanographic cruises and regional time-series; second, we conducted multifactorial experimental incubations using OWA to evaluate survival; and third, we validated pteropod distributions using global carbonate chemistry and observation datasets. Habitat suitability indices and global distributions suggest that a multi-stressor framework is essential for understanding distributions of this pelagic calcifier.

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Elevated temperature and low pH affect the development, reproduction, and feeding preference of the tropical cyclopoid copepod Oithona rigida

The copepod genus Oithona is among the most abundant mesozooplankton in both eutrophic and oligotrophic waters. This paper reports the individual and combined effect of temperature and pH on the development, reproduction success, and feeding preference of the tropical species Oithona rigida. Experiments were conducted at different temperature (28, 30, 31, and 32°C) and pH (7.7, 7.9, and 8.1) conditions. Effects on vital rates were observed for different developmental stages and adult males. Sex ratio varied from near 1:1 at 28°C to almost entirely female at 32°C. Egg production and hatching success were maximum at 30°C and pH at 7.9. O. rigida preferred the motile green alga Dunaliella salina in terms of ingestion rate, feed selectivity, and egg production across all the temperature and pH conditions. Long-term studies are needed to validate the adaptability of this species to a variety of climate impacts.

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Loss of transcriptional plasticity but sustained adaptive capacity after adaptation to global change conditions in a marine copepod

Adaptive evolution and phenotypic plasticity will fuel resilience in the geologically unprecedented warming and acidification of the earth’s oceans, however, we have much to learn about the interactions and costs of these mechanisms of resilience. Here, using 20 generations of experimental evolution followed by three generations of reciprocal transplants, we investigated the relationship between adaptation and plasticity in the marine copepod, Acartia tonsa, in future global change conditions (high temperature and high CO2). We found parallel adaptation to global change conditions in genes related to stress response, gene expression regulation, actin regulation, developmental processes, and energy production. However, reciprocal transplantation showed that adaptation resulted in a loss of transcriptional plasticity, reduced fecundity, and reduced population growth when global change-adapted animals were returned to ambient conditions or reared in low food conditions. However, after three successive transplant generations, global change-adapted animals were able to match the ambient-adaptive transcriptional profile. Concurrent changes in allele frequencies and erosion of nucleotide diversity suggest that this recovery occurred via adaptation back to ancestral conditions. These results demonstrate that while plasticity facilitated initial survival in global change conditions, it eroded after 20 generations as populations adapted, limiting resilience to new stressors and previously benign environments.

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Effects of local acidification on benthic communities at shallow hydrothermal vents of the Aeolian Islands (Southern Tyrrhenian, Mediterranean Sea)

Simple Summary

Ocean acidification is causing major changes in marine ecosystems, with varying levels of impact depending on the region and habitat investigated. Here, we report noticeable changes in both meio- and macrobenthic assemblages at shallow hydrothermal vents located in the Mediterranean Sea. In general, the areas impacted by the vent fluids showed decrease in the abundance of several taxa and a shift in community composition, but with a clear biomass reduction evident only for macrofauna. CO2 emissions at shallow hydrothermal vents cause a progressive simplification of community structure and a general biodiversity decline due to the loss of the most sensitive meio- and macrofaunal taxa, which were replaced by the more tolerant groups, such as oligochaetes, or highly mobile species, able to escape from extreme conditions. Our results provide new insight on the tolerance of marine meio- and macrofaunal taxa to the extreme conditions generated by hydrothermal vent emissions in shallow-water ecosystems.


The Aeolian Islands (Mediterranean Sea) host a unique hydrothermal system called the “Smoking Land” due to the presence of over 200 volcanic CO2-vents, resulting in water acidification phenomena and the creation of an acidified benthic environment. Here, we report the results of a study conducted at three sites located at ca. 16, 40, and 80 m of depth, and characterized by CO2 emissions to assess the effects of acidification on meio- and macrobenthic assemblages. Acidification caused significant changes in both meio- and macrofaunal assemblages, with a clear decrease in terms of abundance and a shift in community composition. A noticeable reduction in biomass was observed only for macrofauna. The most sensitive meiofaunal taxa were kinorhynchs and turbellarians that disappeared at the CO2 sites, while the abundance of halacarids and ostracods increased, possibly as a result of the larger food availability and the lower predatory pressures by the sensitive meiofaunal and macrofaunal taxa. Sediment acidification also causes the disappearance of more sensitive macrofaunal taxa, such as gastropods, and the increase in tolerant taxa such as oligochaetes. We conclude that the effects of shallow CO2-vents result in the progressive simplification of community structure and biodiversity loss due to the disappearance of the most sensitive meio- and macrofaunal taxa.

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Ocean acidification induces distinct metabolic responses in subtropical zooplankton under oligotrophic conditions and after simulated upwelling


  • Effects of rising atmospheric CO2 on zooplankton were studied in coastal mesocosms.
  • Mesozooplankton metabolism was more affected by elevated CO2 than microzooplankton.
  • CO2-induced effects were more marked in eutrophic than in oligotrophic conditions.
  • Elevated CO2 impacts the role of zooplankton on the carbon and nitrogen cycles.


Ocean acidification (OA) is one of the most critical anthropogenic threats to marine ecosystems. While significant ecological responses of plankton communities to OA have been revealed mainly by small-scale laboratory approaches, the interactive effect of OA-related changes on zooplankton metabolism and their biogeochemical implications in the natural environment still remains less well understood. Here, we explore the responses of zooplankton respiration and ammonium excretion, two key processes in the nutrient cycling, to high pCO2 levels in a 9-week in situ mesocosm experiment conducted during the autumn oligotrophic season in the subtropical northeast Atlantic. By simulating an upwelling event halfway through the study, we further evaluated the combined effects of OA and nutrient availability on the physiology of micro-and mesozooplankton. OA conditions generally resulted in a reduction in the biomass-specific metabolic and enzymatic rates, particularly in the mesozooplankton community. The situation reversed after the nutrient-rich deep-water addition, which initially promoted a diatom bloom and increased heterotrophic activities in all mesocosms. Under high pCO2 conditions (>800 μatm), however, the nutrient fertilization triggered the proliferation of the harmful alga Vicicitus globosus, with important consequences for the metabolic performance of the two zooplankton size classes. Here, the zooplankton contribution to the remineralization of organic matter and nitrogen regeneration dropped by 30% and 24%, respectively, during the oligotrophic period, and by 40% and 70% during simulated upwelling. Overall, our results indicate a potential reduction in the biogeochemical role of zooplankton under future ocean conditions, with more evident effects on the large mesozooplankton and during high productivity events.

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Under pressure: nanoplastics as a further stressor for sub-Antarctic pteropods already tackling ocean acidification

In the Southern Ocean (SO), plastic debris has already been found in waters and sediments. Nanoplastics (<1 μm) are expected to be as pervasive as their larger counterparts, but more harmful to biological systems, being able to enter cells and provoke toxicity. In the SO, (nano)plastic pollution occurs concomitantly with other environmental threats such as ocean acidification (OA), but the potential cumulative impact of these two challenges on SO marine ecosystems is still overlooked. Here the single and combined effects of nanoplastics and OA on the sub-Antarctic pteropod Limacina retroversa are investigated under laboratory conditions, using two surface charged polystyrene nanoparticles (PS NPs) as a proxy for nanoplastics. Sub-Antarctic pteropods are threatened by OA due to the sensitivity of their shells to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry. Short-term exposure (48 h) to PS NPs compromised the ability of pteropods to counteract OA stress, resulting in a negative effect on their survival. Our results highlights the importance of addressing plastic pollution in the context of climate change to identify realistic critical thresholds of SO pteropods.

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Arctic planktonic calcifiers in a changing ocean – A study on recent planktonic foraminifera and shelled pteropods in the Fram Strait-Barents Sea region

The Arctic marine realm is being transformed due to the anthropogenically-induced climate change. In the Arctic, the effects of climate change are intensified due to polar amplification and have led to processes in the ocean such as sea-ice retreat, ocean acidification and the increased presence of boreal species referred to as ‘Atlantification’. This thesis presents rare investigations of marine calcifiers in the Fram Strait-Barents Sea region; planktonic foraminifera (Phylum Retaria) and the shelled pteropod Limacina helicina (Phylum Mollusca). There are few previous studies signifying several unknowns pertaining to their ecology and life cycles, and hence how they have and will continue to respond to climate change. The overarching aim of the thesis is to increase the knowledge of living planktonic foraminifera and pteropods in the Arctic, more specifically their distribution patterns, absolute and relative abundance, seasonality, diversity, ontogeny, and calcification. These studies are based on investigations from two dynamic areas; the Bjørnøyrenna Craters in the northern Barents Sea that is a site of intense methane seepage, and the Northeast Greenland Shelf where there is a rapid sea-ice reduction and interplay between Polar and Atlantic water masses. This thesis has shown that the Fram Strait-Barents Sea region is characterized by low species diversity of the planktonic foraminiferal faunas, where Neogloboquadrina pachyderma dominates in Polar Water and Turborotalita quinqueloba dominates in Atlantic Water. Our study areas have low standing stock of both planktonic foraminifera and pteropods in spring and a medium to high standing stock in summer. They have a distinct vertical shell density gradient and are not affected by intense methane seepage even in the relatively shallow Barents Sea. In terms recent impact of climate, there may be a decrease in the relative abundance of N. pachyderma on the Northeast Greenland shelf compared to studies from the 1990s, and sub-tropical species can be found in the Barents Sea. Furthermore, this thesis has helped in filling gaps in research into the impacts of ocean acidification in the Arctic, especially pertaining to methane release from dissociation of methane hydrates. Lastly, we have been able to show that planktonic foraminifera and pteropods in the same size class captured from the same location and depth interval have a wide range of shell densities. The same is also true for planktonic foraminifera found in surface sediments. These two points may complicate modern geochemical or ocean acidification studies as well as paleo-studies.

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CO2-driven seawater acidification increases cadmium toxicity in a marine copepod


  • Copepods were interactively exposed to higher pCO2 (1000 μatm) and Cd (500 μg/L).
  • Elevated pCO2 significantly increased Cd bioaccumulation in Tigriopus japonicus.
  • Copepods enhanced energy production and stress response to counteract Cd toxicity.
  • Increased pCO2 aggravated Cd-induced oxidative damage and apoptosis.
  • Seawater acidification will potentially boost Cd toxicity in marine copepods.


Here, we examined the 48-h acute toxicity of cadmium (Cd) in the marine copepod Tigriopus japonicus under two pCO2 concentrations (400 and 1000 μatm). Subsequently, T. japonicus was interactively exposed to different pCO2 (400, 1000 μatm) and Cd (control, 500 μg/L) treatments for 48 h. After exposure, biochemical and physiological responses were analyzed for the copepods. The results showed that the 48-h LC50 values of Cd were calculated as 12.03 mg/L and 9.08 mg/L in T. japonicus, respectively, under 400 and 1000 μatm pCO2 conditions. Cd exposure significantly promoted Cd exclusion/glycolysis, detoxification/stress response, and oxidative stress/apoptosis while it depressed that of antioxidant capacity. Intriguingly, CO2-driven acidification enhanced Cd bioaccumulation and its toxicity in T. japonicus. Overall, our study provides a mechanistic understanding about the interaction between seawater acidification and Cd pollution in marine copepods.

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Gene expression and epigenetic responses of the marine Cladoceran, Evadne nordmanni, and the copepod, Acartia clausi, to elevated CO2

Characterizing the capacity of marine organisms to adapt to climate change related drivers (e.g., pCO2 and temperature), and the possible rate of this adaptation, is required to assess their resilience (or lack thereof) to these drivers. Several studies have hypothesized that epigenetic markers such as DNA methylation, histone modifications and noncoding RNAs, act as drivers of adaptation in marine organisms, especially corals. However, this hypothesis has not been tested in zooplankton, a keystone organism in marine food webs. The objective of this study is to test the hypothesis that acute ocean acidification (OA) exposure alters DNA methylation in two zooplanktonic species—copepods (Acartia clausii) and cladocerans (Evadne nordmanii). We exposed these two species to near-future OA conditions (400 and 900 ppm pCO2) for 24 h and assessed transcriptional and DNA methylation patterns using RNA sequencing and Reduced Representation Bisulfite Sequencing (RRBS). OA exposure caused differential expression of genes associated with energy metabolism, cytoskeletal and extracellular matrix functions, hypoxia and one-carbon metabolism. Similarly, OA exposure also caused altered DNA methylation patterns in both species but the effect of these changes on gene expression and physiological effects remains to be determined. The results from this study form the basis for studies investigating the potential role of epigenetic mechanisms in OA induced phenotypic plasticity and/or adaptive responses in zooplanktonic organisms.

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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 will rely on selection of standing genetic variation. Determining the extent to which this variation exists in natural populations, particularly for responses to simultaneous stressors, is therefore essential to make accurate predictions for persistence in future conditions. Here, we identify the genetic variation enabling the copepod Acartia tonsa to adapt to experimental ocean warming, acidification, and combined ocean warming and acidification (OWA) conditions over 25 generations. Replicate populations showed a strong and 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 genomic changes into selection, drift, and lab adaptation and found that the majority of allele frequency change in warming (56%) and OWA (63%) was driven by selection but acidification was dominated by drift (66%). OWA and warming shared 37% of their response to selection but OWA and acidification shared just 1%. Accounting for lab adaptation was essential for not inflating a shared response to selection between all treatments. Finally, the mechanisms of adaptation in the multiple-stressor OWA conditions were not an additive product of warming and acidification, but rather a synergistic response where 47% of the allelic responses to selection were unique. These results are among the first to disentangle how the genomic targets of selection differ between single and multiple stressors and to demonstrate the complexity that non-additive multiple stressors will contribute to attempts to predict adaptive responses to complex environments.

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Influence of global environmental change on plankton

Much has been published on the effects of ocean acidification on plankton since the original Royal Society 2005 report. In addition to direct effects on primary production, it is clear that ocean acidification also has profound consequences for biogeochemistry. Furthermore, although ocean acidification can have direct effects of on grazers such as copepods, acidification induces changes in nutritional value of phytoplankton which can be passed on up the food chain. There has also been recognition of the complexity of the interactions between elevated CO2 and other environmental factors and this has seen an upsurge in climate change research involving multifactorial experiments. In particular, the interaction of ocean acidification with global warming resulting from the increasing greenhouse effect has been investigated. There has also been research on acidification and warming effects in inland water plankton. These, combined with novel experimental techniques and long term studies of genetic adaptation, are providing better insights to plankton biology and communities in a future world.

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Composition and dominance of edible and inedible phytoplankton predict responses of Baltic Sea summer communities to elevated temperature and CO2

Previous studies with Baltic Sea phytoplankton combining elevated seawater temperature with CO2 revealed the importance of size trait-based analyses, in particular dividing the plankton into edible (>5 and <100 µm) and inedible (<5 and >100 µm) size classes for mesozoopankton grazers. While the edible phytoplankton responded predominantly negative to warming and the inedible group stayed unaffected or increased, independent from edibility most phytoplankton groups gained from CO2. Because the ratio between edible and inedible taxa changes profoundly over seasons, we investigated if community responses can be predicted according to the prevailing composition of edible and inedible groups. We experimentally explored the combined effects of elevated temperatures and CO2 concentrations on a late-summer Baltic Sea community. Total phytoplankton significantly increased in response to elevated CO2 in particular in combination with temperature, driven by a significant gain of the inedible <5 µm fraction and large filamentous cyanobacteria. Large flagellates disappeared. The edible group was low as usual in summer and decreased with both factors due to enhanced copepod grazing and overall decline of small flagellates. Our results emphasize that the responses of summer communities are complex, but can be predicted by the composition and dominance of size classes and groups.

Continue reading ‘Composition and dominance of edible and inedible phytoplankton predict responses of Baltic Sea summer communities to elevated temperature and CO2’

Distribution and abundances of planktic foraminifera and shelled pteropods during the polar night in the sea-ice covered Northern Barents Sea

Planktic foraminfera and shelled pteropods are important calcifying groups of zooplankton in all oceans. Their calcium carbonate shells are sensitive to changes in ocean carbonate chemistry predisposing them as an important indicator of ocean acidification. Moreover, planktic foraminfera and shelled pteropods contribute significantly to food webs and vertical flux of calcium carbonate in polar pelagic ecosystems. Here we provide, for the first time, information on the under-ice planktic foraminifera and shelled pteropod abundance, species composition and vertical distribution along a transect (82°–76°N) covering the Nansen Basin and the northern Barents Sea during the polar night in December 2019. The two groups of calcifiers were examined in different environments in the context of water masses, sea ice cover, and ocean chemistry (nutrients and carbonate system). The average abundance of planktic foraminifera under the sea-ice was low with the highest average abundance (2 ind. m–3) close to the sea-ice margin. The maximum abundances of planktic foraminifera were concentrated at 20–50 m depth (4 and 7 ind. m–3) in the Nansen Basin and at 80–100 m depth (13 ind. m–3) close to the sea-ice margin. The highest average abundance (13 ind. m–3) and the maximum abundance of pteropods (40 ind. m–3) were found in the surface Polar Water at 0–20 m depth with very low temperatures (–1.9 to –1°C), low salinity (<34.4) and relatively low aragonite saturation of 1.43–1.68. The lowest aragonite saturation (<1.3) was observed in the bottom water in the northern Barents Sea. The species distribution of these calcifiers reflected the water mass distribution with subpolar species at locations and depths influenced by warm and saline Atlantic Water, and polar species in very cold and less saline Polar Water. The population of planktic foraminifera was represented by adults and juveniles of the polar species Neogloboquadrina pachyderma and the subpolar species Turborotalita quinqueloba. The dominating polar pteropod species Limacina helicina was represented by the juvenile and veliger stages. This winter study offers a unique contribution to our understanding of the inter-seasonal variability of planktic foraminfera and shelled pteropods abundance, distribution and population size structure in the Arctic Ocean.

Continue reading ‘Distribution and abundances of planktic foraminifera and shelled pteropods during the polar night in the sea-ice covered Northern Barents Sea’

Species’ distribution and evolutionary history influence the responses of marine copepods to climate change: a global meta-analysis

Ocean acidification (OA) and ocean warming (OW) are predicted to drive changes to the distribution of species and the structure of biological communities globally. Differences in life-history, physical traits, and the phenotypic response of organisms will, however, mean that the effects of OA and OW will differ among species. Geographical differences in environmental characteristics across habitats will also influence the effects of OA and OW, thereby driving inter-population differences in phenotypic response as determined by local adaptations. While is it accepted that the response of species will vary globally, predicting the trends in response of species remains highly uncertain. We undertook a meta-analysis of key biological traits of 47 marine copepod species from 88 studies to identify the intrinsic and extrinsic factors influencing the effects of OA and OW on copepod population demographics. Data from OA and OW were analysed independently due to insufficient two-stressor studies. We found that the large disparity in the response of species to OA and OW is largely defined by their environmental history. Additionally, the response of copepod species to OW is related to their evolutionary history which has less influence on their response to OA. Therefore, our study identified that the response of copepods to OA is driven by a combination of biotic and abiotic factors in their habitats. Under OA alone, copepods from less variable environments may be more susceptible, but the effects of OA will only be strongly negative at extreme low pH (<7). On the other hand, the response to OW is deeply tied to their phylogeny, whereby closely related species share similar costs and trade-offs. However, the effects of near-future OW (+2 to 4°C) seem mainly positive unless these temperatures exceed a species’ thermal limit. Finally, our analysis revealed that OW has a greater influence on key copepod traits than OA. Overall, this study shows that attempting to draw global patterns in the response of species to climate change from a single species or habitat without consideration of environmental and evolutionary history could lead to inaccurate and misleading predictions with respect to the future of biological communities.

Continue reading ‘Species’ distribution and evolutionary history influence the responses of marine copepods to climate change: a global meta-analysis’

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