Posts Tagged 'zooplankton'

Relationship between shell integrity of pelagic gastropods and carbonate chemistry parameters at a Scottish Coastal Observatory monitoring site

Ocean acidification (OA), the anthropogenic carbon dioxide-induced changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, is likely to have a significant impact on calcifying plankton. Most planktonic studies on OA are based on “one-off” cruises focused on offshore areas while observations from inshore waters are scarce. This study presents the first analysis on the shell integrity of pelagic gastropods (holoplanktonic pteropods and planktonic larvae of otherwise benthic species) at the Scottish Coastal Observatory monitoring site at Stonehaven on the east coast of Scotland. The shell integrity of archived pelagic gastropods specimens from 2011 to 2013 was examined using Scanning Electron Microscopy and the relationship with OA (pH and aragonite saturation, Ωarg) and other environmental parameters was investigated. Evidence of shell dissolution was detected in all analysed taxa even though the seawater was supersaturated with respect to aragonite. The shell condition matched the temporal pattern observed in Ωarg, with higher proportion of dissolution associated with decreasing Ωarg, suggesting that the seasonality component of carbonate chemistry might affect the shell integrity of pelagic gastropods. The proportion of shell dissolution differed significantly between larvae and adult stages of pteropods, supporting the hypothesis that early-life stages would be more vulnerable to OA-induced changes. Our data also suggest that sensitivity to OA may differ even between closely related taxonomic groups. The strong interannual variability revealed by the year-to-year shell dissolution and Ωarg illustrates the difficulty in assessing the plankton response to OA in the field and the value of time series studies.

Continue reading ‘Relationship between shell integrity of pelagic gastropods and carbonate chemistry parameters at a Scottish Coastal Observatory monitoring site’

State and trends of Australia’s ocean report: ocean acidification and calcifying zooplankton

There is no evidence of a decline in calcifying zooplankton at the IMOS National
Reference Stations over the past 10 years, suggesting ocean acidification
over this time span is unlikely to be having a substantial impact on calcifying
zooplankton. However, there is some evidence that calcifying zooplankton
might at Maria Island and Yongala be sensitive to the aragonite saturation state
at the range of values currently observed.

Continue reading ‘State and trends of Australia’s ocean report: ocean acidification and calcifying zooplankton’

Spring distribution of shelled pteropods across the Mediterranean Sea

Shelled pteropods represent an excellent sentinel for indicating exposure to ocean acidification (OA). Here, for the first time, we characterise spring pteropod distribution throughout the Mediterranean Sea, a region that has been identified as a climate change hot-spot. The presence of a west–east natural biogeochemical gradient makes this region a natural laboratory to investigate how the variability in environmental parameters may affect pteropod distribution. Results show that pteropod abundance is significantly higher in the eastern Mediterranean Sea where there is a higher aragonite saturation state (Ωar), showing that distribution is positively correlated with Ωar. We also observed a resilience of pteropods to higher temperatures and low nutrient conditions, including phosphorous limitation. The higher abundance of pteropods in ultra-oligotrophic conditions (eastern Mediterranean Sea) suggests that this organism can play an important role as the prime calcifying zooplankton within specific oligotrophic regions.

Continue reading ‘Spring distribution of shelled pteropods across the Mediterranean Sea’

Seasonal variation in physiology and shell condition of the pteropod Limacina retroversa in the Gulf of Maine relative to life cycle and carbonate chemistry

Natural cycles in the seawater partial pressure of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Gulf of Maine, which vary from ∼250-550 µatm seasonally, provide an opportunity to observe how the life cycle and phenology of the shelled pteropod Limacina retroversa responds to changing food, temperature and carbonate chemistry conditions. Distributional, hydrographic, and physiological sampling suggest that pteropod populations are located in the upper portion of the water column (0-150 m) with a maximum abundance above 50 m, allowing them to generally avoid aragonite undersaturation. Gene expression and shell condition measurements show, however, that the population already experiences biomineralization stress in the winter months even when aragonite is slightly oversaturated, reinforcing the usefulness of this organism as a bio-indicator for pelagic ecosystem response to ocean acidification. There appear to be two reproductive events per year with one pulse timed to coincide with the spring bloom, the period with highest respiration rate, fluorescence, and pH, and a second more extended pulse in the late summer and fall. During the fall there is evidence of lipid storage for overwintering, allowing the second generation to survive the period of low food and aragonite saturation state. Based on these observations we predict that in the future pteropods will likely be most vulnerable to changing CO2 regionally during the fall reproductive event when CO2 concentration already naturally rises and there is the added stress of generating lipid stores.

Continue reading ‘Seasonal variation in physiology and shell condition of the pteropod Limacina retroversa in the Gulf of Maine relative to life cycle and carbonate chemistry’

Zooplankton growth and survival differentially respond to interactive warming and acidification effects

The copepod Acartia tonsa is a key component of a wide range of marine ecosystems, linking energy transfer from phytoplankton to higher trophic levels, and has a central role in productivity and biogeochemistry. The interaction of end-of-century global warming and ocean acidification scenarios with testing moderate temperature effects on a seminatural copepod community is needed to understand future community functioning. Here, we deployed a mesocosm experimental set-up with a full factorial design using two temperatures (13°C and 19°C) crossed with a pCO2 gradient ranging from ambient (550 μatm) to 3000 μatm. We used the natural bacteria, phyto- and microzooplankton species composition and biomass of the Kiel Bight and tested the response of A. tonsa development, carbon growth, mortality, size and condition. The tested traits were differently affected by the interaction of temperature and acidification. Ocean acidification increased development, carbon growth, size and mortality under the warming scenario of 19°C. At 13°C mortality rates decreased, while carbon growth, size and condition increased with acidification. We conclude from our experimental approach that a single species shows a variety of responses depending on the focal functional trait. Trait-specific mesozooplankton responses need to be further investigated and compared between geographical regions, seasons and taxonomic groups.

Continue reading ‘Zooplankton growth and survival differentially respond to interactive warming and acidification effects’

Cascading effects of climate change on plankton community structure

Plankton communities account for at least half of global primary production and play a key role in the global carbon cycle. Warming and acidification may alter the interaction chains in these communities from the bottom and top of the food web. Yet, the relative importance of these potentially complex interactions has not yet been quantified. Here, we examine the isolated and combined effects of warming, acidification, and reductions in phytoplankton and predator abundances in a series of factorial experiments. We find that warming directly impacts the top of the food web, but that the intermediate trophic groups are more strongly influenced by indirect effects mediated by altered top-down interactions. Direct manipulations of predator and phytoplankton abundance reveal similar strong top-down interactions following top predator decline. A meta-analysis of published experiments further supports the conclusion that warming has stronger direct impacts on the top and bottom of the food web rather than the intermediate trophic groups, with important differences between freshwater and marine plankton communities. Our results reveal that the trophic effect of warming cascading down from the top of the plankton food web is a powerful agent of global change.

Continue reading ‘Cascading effects of climate change on plankton community structure’

Changes in genome-wide methylation and gene expression in response to future pCO2 extremes in the Antarctic pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica

Epigenetic processes such as variation in DNA methylation may promote phenotypic plasticity and the rapid acclimatization of species to environmental change. The extent to which an organism can mount an epigenetic response to current and future climate extremes may influence its capacity to acclimatize or adapt to global change on ecological rather than evolutionary time scales. The thecosome pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica is an abundant macrozooplankton endemic to the Southern Ocean and is considered a bellwether of ocean acidification as it is highly sensitive to variation in carbonate chemistry. In this study, we quantified variation in DNA methylation and gene expression over time across different ocean acidification regimes. We exposed L. helicina antarctica to pCO2 levels mimicking present-day norms in the coastal Southern Ocean of 255 μatm pCO2, present-day extremes of 530 μatm pCO2, and projected extremes of 918 μatm pCO2 for up to 7 days before measuring global DNA methylation and sequencing transcriptomes in animals from each treatment across time. L. helicina antarctica significantly reduced DNA methylation by 29–56% after 1 day of exposure to 918 μatm pCO2 before DNA methylation returned to control levels after 6 days. In addition, L. helicina antarctica exposed to 918 μatm pCO2 exhibited drastically more differential expression compared to cultures replicating present-day pCO2 extremes. Differentially expressed transcripts were predominantly downregulated. Furthermore, downregulated genes were enriched with signatures of gene body methylation. These findings support the potential role of DNA methylation in regulating transcriptomic responses by L. helicina antarctica to future ocean acidification and in situ variation in pCO2 experienced seasonally or during vertical migration. More broadly, L. helicina antarctica was capable of mounting a substantial epigenetic response to ocean acidification despite little evidence of metabolic compensation or recovery of the cellular stress response in this species at future pCO2 levels.

Continue reading ‘Changes in genome-wide methylation and gene expression in response to future pCO2 extremes in the Antarctic pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica’


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