Posts Tagged 'zooplankton'

Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions

Ocean warming and acidification (OA) may alter the fitness of species in marine pelagic ecosystems through community effects or direct physiological impacts. We used the zooplanktonic appendicularian, Oikopleura dioica, to assess temperature and pH effects at mesocosm and microcosm scales. In mesocosms, both OA and warming positively impacted O. dioica abundance over successive generations. In microcosms, the positive impact of OA, was observed to result from increased fecundity. In contrast, increased pH, observed for example during phytoplankton blooms, reduced fecundity. Oocyte fertility and juvenile development were equivalent under all pH conditions, indicating that the positive effect of lower pH on O. dioica abundance was principally due to increased egg number. This effect was influenced by food quantity and quality, supporting possible improved digestion and assimilation at lowered pH. Higher temperature resulted in more rapid growth, faster maturation and earlier reproduction. Thus, increased temperature and reduced pH had significant positive impacts on O. dioica fitness through increased fecundity and shortened generation time, suggesting that predicted future ocean conditions may favour this zooplankton species.

Continue reading ‘Increased fitness of a key appendicularian zooplankton species under warmer, acidified seawater conditions’

Effects of ocean acidification on copepods


• Ocean acidification (OA) has been a global threat to marine ecosystem.
• Copepods display species-specific and stage-dependent responses against OA.
• OA effects on copepods can be modulated by acclimatization/adaptation.
• The response of copepods against OA interacts with other co-stressors.
• Future priority researches have been suggested for OA stress study.


Ocean acidification (OA) leads to significant changes in seawater carbon chemistry, broadly affects marine organisms, and considered as a global threat to the fitness of marine ecosystems. Due to the crucial role of copepods in marine food webs of transferring energy from primary producers to higher trophic levels, numerous studies have been conducted to examine the impacts of OA on biological traits of copepods such as growth and reproduction. Under OA stress, the copepods demonstrated species-specific and stage-dependent responses. Notably, different populations of the same copepod species demonstrated different sensitivities to the increased pCO2. In copepods, the deleterious effects of OA are also reinforced by other naturally occurring co-stressors (e.g., thermal stress, food deprivation, and metal pollution). Given that most OA stress studies have focused on the effects of short-term exposure (shorter than a single generation), experiments using adults might have underestimated the damaging effects of OA and the long-term multigenerational exposure to multiple stressors (e.g., increased pCO2 and food shortage) will be required. Particularly, omics-based technologies (e.g., genomics, proteomics, and metabolomics) will be helpful to better understand the underlying processes behind biological responses (e.g., survival, development, and offspring production) at the mechanistic level which will improve our predictions of the responses of copepods to climate change stressors including OA.

Continue reading ‘Effects of ocean acidification on copepods’

The relationship among environmental variables, jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton: a case study in the north of the Gulf of Oman

Processes underlying the temporal and spatial variations observed in the distribution of jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton in the Gulf of Oman are not well understood. This information gap is clearly a major issue in controlling the harmful blooms of jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton. Samples of jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton were collected from six stations in Chabahar Bay and three stations in Pozm Bay within four seasons. At each station, environmental variables were also recorded from bottom and surface water. A total of 83 individuals of medusae representing four species of Scyphozoa (i.e., Cyanea nozakii, Chrysaora sp., Pelagia noctiluca, Catostylus tagi) and species of Hydrozoa (i.e., Diphyes sp., Rhacostoma sp., Aequorea spp.) were observed in the study area. A total of 70,727.25 individuals/m−3 of non-gelatinous zooplankton dominated by copepods and cladocerans were collected in nine stations within the four seasons. The results of a RELATE analysis yielded no significant association between species composition for jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton. Among environmental variables, water transparency, nitrite concentration, water depth and temperature were better associated with the total variation in jellyfish species composition than with that of non-gelatinous zooplankton. Dissolved oxygen, pH, and phosphate concentration were significant environmental variables associated with the variation in the spatial and temporal distribution patterns of non-gelatinous zooplankton assemblages. Although some jellyfish species (i.e., Rhacostoma sp., Pelagia noctiluca, Catostylus tagi) occur independently of non-gelatinous zooplankton assemblages, other jellyfish (i.e., Chrysaora sp., Aequorea spp., Cyanea nozakii, Diphyes sp.) are strongly correlated with non-gelatinous zooplankton assemblages.

Continue reading ‘The relationship among environmental variables, jellyfish and non-gelatinous zooplankton: a case study in the north of the Gulf of Oman’

Ocean acidification ameliorates harmful effects of warming in primary consumer

Climate change-induced warming and ocean acidification are considered two imminent threats to marine biodiversity and current ecosystem structures. Here, we have for the first time examined an animal’s response to a complete life cycle of exposure to co-occurring warming (+3°C) and ocean acidification (+1,600 μatm CO2), using the key subarctic planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus, as a model species. The animals were generally negatively affected by warming, which significantly reduced the females’ energy status and reproductive parameters (respectively, 95% and 69%–87% vs. control). Unexpectedly, simultaneous acidification partially offset the negative effect of warming in an antagonistic manner, significantly improving reproductive parameters and hatching success (233%–340% improvement vs. single warming exposure). The results provide proof of concept that ocean acidification may partially offset negative effects caused by warming in some species. Possible explanations and ecological implications for the observed antagonistic effect are discussed.

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The effect of elevated carbon dioxide on the sinking and swimming of the shelled pteropod Limacina retroversa

Shelled pteropods are planktonic molluscs that may be affected by ocean acidification. Limacina retroversa from the Gulf of Maine were used to investigate the impact of elevated carbon dioxide (CO2) on shell condition as well as swimming and sinking behaviours. Limacina retroversa were maintained at either ambient (ca. 400 µatm) or two levels of elevated CO2 (800 and 1200 µatm) for up to 4 weeks, and then examined for changes in shell transparency, sinking speed, and swimming behaviour assessed through a variety of metrics (e.g. speed, path tortuosity, and wing beat frequency). After exposures to elevated CO2 for as little as 4 d, the pteropod shells were significantly darker and more opaque in the elevated CO2 treatments. Sinking speeds were significantly slower for pteropods exposed to medium and high CO2 in comparison to the ambient treatment. Swimming behaviour showed less clear patterns of response to treatment and duration of exposure, but overall, swimming did not appear to be hindered under elevated CO2. Sinking is used by L. retroversa for predator evasion, and altered speeds and increased visibility could increase the susceptibility of pteropods to predation.

Continue reading ‘The effect of elevated carbon dioxide on the sinking and swimming of the shelled pteropod Limacina retroversa’

Southern Ocean pteropods at risk from ocean warming and acidification

Early life stages of marine calcifiers are particularly vulnerable to climate change. In the Southern Ocean aragonite undersaturation events and areas of rapid warming already occur and are predicted to increase in extent. Here, we present the first study to successfully hatch the polar pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica and observe the potential impact of exposure to increased temperature and aragonite undersaturation resulting from ocean acidification (OA) on the early life stage survival and shell morphology. High larval mortality (up to 39%) was observed in individuals exposed to perturbed conditions. Warming and OA induced extensive shell malformation and dissolution, respectively, increasing shell fragility. Furthermore, shell growth decreased, with variation between treatments and exposure time. Our results demonstrate that short-term exposure through passing through hotspots of OA and warming poses a serious threat to pteropod recruitment and long-term population viability.

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Effects of pH and temperature on egg hatching success of the marine planktonic copepod, Calanus finmarchicus

Calanus finmarchicus is a predominant planktonic copepod in the northern North Atlantic Ocean, where it is a fundamental link in the transfer of energy from phytoplankton to fish. Here, we investigate whether ocean acidification at present-day and future levels will cause a significant decrease in the egg hatching success (HS) of C. finmarchicus in the Gulf of Maine. Eggs spawned by female C. finmarchicus collected from the coastal Gulf of Maine were incubated in seawater acidified by addition of CO2 to selected pH levels at 3.5 °C (in a single experiment), 6 °C and 14–15 °C (in multiple experiments). HS was unaffected by pH between 6.58 and 8.0 at 3.5 and 6 °C, and between 7.1 and 8.0 when incubated at 15 °C. A significant interactive effect between temperature and pH on HS was found using a two-way ANOVA of the data from experiments at 6 °C and 14–15 °C, temperatures that are experienced in summer in the Gulf of Maine. HS of eggs spawned from C. finmarchicus females immediately after capture from a coastal station was significantly reduced at pH ≤ 7.0 when incubated at 14–15 °C, although HS of eggs collected from well-fed females in the laboratory in water from the Damariscotta Estuary was not significantly reduced at pH levels as low as 6.6 at 15 °C. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that parental history and possibly maternal provisioning can influence capability of eggs to adjust to lower pH environments. While an interaction between pH and temperatures experienced by C. finmarchicus at the southern edge of its biogeographic range was observed, the pH at which this interaction occurred is substantially lower than pH levels predicted for the surface ocean over the surface ocean.

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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