Posts Tagged 'zooplankton'

Ocean acidification effects on mesozooplankton community development: Results from a long-term mesocosm experiment

Ocean acidification may affect zooplankton directly by decreasing in pH, as well as indirectly via trophic pathways, where changes in carbon availability or pH effects on primary producers may cascade up the food web thereby altering ecosystem functioning and community composition. Here, we present results from a mesocosm experiment carried out during 113 days in the Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak coast of Sweden, studying plankton responses to predicted end-of-century pCO2 levels. We did not observe any pCO2 effect on the diversity of the mesozooplankton community, but a positive pCO2 effect on the total mesozooplankton abundance. Furthermore, we observed species-specific sensitivities to pCO2 in the two major groups in this experiment, copepods and hydromedusae. Also stage-specific pCO2 sensitivities were detected in copepods, with copepodites being the most responsive stage. Focusing on the most abundant species, Pseudocalanus acuspes, we observed that copepodites were significantly more abundant in the high-pCO2 treatment during most of the experiment, probably fuelled by phytoplankton community responses to high-pCO2 conditions. Physiological and reproductive output was analysed on P. acuspes females through two additional laboratory experiments, showing no pCO2 effect on females’ condition nor on egg hatching. Overall, our results suggest that the Gullmar Fjord mesozooplankton community structure is not expected to change much under realistic end-of-century OA scenarios as used here. However, the positive pCO2 effect detected on mesozooplankton abundance could potentially affect biomass transfer to higher trophic levels in the future.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification effects on mesozooplankton community development: Results from a long-term mesocosm experiment’

A combination of salinity and pH affects the recruitment of Gladioferens pectinatus (Brady) (Copepoda; Calanoida)

Carbon dioxide levels in many estuaries fluctuate and, in several cases, reach extremes much higher than those predicted for oceans by the end of the century. Moreover, estuaries are characterized by natural fluctuations in salinity, and reduced pH, from increased pCO2, exposes estuarine organisms to multiple stresses. Although the effects of low pH on the reproduction of several marine copepod species have been assessed, studies examining effects of pH in estuarine copepod species are extremely scarce. Here, we aim at understanding the reproductive response of Gladioferens pectinatus to the stress posed by both salinity and pH. G. pectinatus was exposed to salinities 2 and 10, at four different pH levels each. Our results show no impairment in the brood size, embryonic development time and hatching success under low pH levels at either salinities. However, at salinity 2, the percentage of nauplii growing into adults significantly decreased at low pH, whereas at salinity 10, no major effect was observed. We argue that the combination of osmoregulation and acidity induced stress response can affect the development of nauplii and copepodites, as well as adult recruitment, likely due to energy reallocation and molting impairment. We also argue that resilience and phenotypic plasticity highly influence the ability of different copepod species and populations to reproduce and grow under stressful combinations of environmental parameters. This study points out the importance of understanding the effects of multiple stresses or parameters on the adaptability of organisms to water acidification.

Continue reading ‘A combination of salinity and pH affects the recruitment of Gladioferens pectinatus (Brady) (Copepoda; Calanoida)’

Assembly of a reference transcriptome for the gymnosome pteropod Clione limacina and profiling responses to short-term CO2 exposure

The gymnosome (unshelled) pteropod Clione limacina is a pelagic predatory mollusc found in polar and sub-polar regions. It has been studied for its distinctive swimming behavior and as an obligate predator on the closely related thecosome (shelled) pteropods. As concern about ocean acidification increases, it becomes useful to compare the physiological responses of closely-related calcifying and non-calcifying species to acidification. The goals of this study were thus to generate a reference transcriptome for Clione limacina, to expose individuals to CO2 for a period of 3 days, and to explore differential patterns of gene expression. Our Trinity assembly contained 300,994 transcripts of which ~ 26% could be annotated. In total, only 41 transcripts were differentially expressed following the CO2 treatment, consistent with a limited physiological response of this species to short-term CO2 exposure. The differentially expressed genes identified in our study were largely distinct from those identified in previous studies of thecosome pteropods, although some similar transcripts were identified, suggesting that comparison of these transcriptomes and responses may provide insight into differences in responses to ocean acidification among phylogenetically and functionally distinct molluscan lineages.

Continue reading ‘Assembly of a reference transcriptome for the gymnosome pteropod Clione limacina and profiling responses to short-term CO2 exposure’

The combined effects of elevated pCO2 and food availability on Tigriopus japonicus Mori larval development, reproduction, and superoxide dismutase activity

Previous studies have shown that ocean acidification has little effect on adult Tigriopus japonicus copepods, and mainly impairs the early development and reproduction of females. This study investigated the possible interactive effect between CO2-induced seawater acidification and food availability on larval development and reproductive output in T. japonicus. Copepods were exposed to either pH 8.1 or pH 7.3 under different food concentrations (0.5 × 104–80.0 × 104 cells/mL). Both the development of nauplii and copepodites was delayed at pH 7.3 with a greater effect at lower food concentrations. The reproductive output followed a bell-shaped curve with the highest reproductive output at food concentrations between 30 × 104 and 40 × 104 cells/mL. As an indicator of oxidative stress, the activity of superoxide dismutase increased at lower pH, with a greater increase at lower food concentrations. Therefore, the effect of elevated pCO2 on T. japonicus was food dependent.

Continue reading ‘The combined effects of elevated pCO2 and food availability on Tigriopus japonicus Mori larval development, reproduction, and superoxide dismutase activity’

Increased appendicularian zooplankton alter carbon cycling under warmer more acidified ocean conditions

Anthropogenic atmospheric loading of CO2 raises concerns about combined effects of increasing ocean temperature and acidification, on biological processes. In particular, the response of appendicularian zooplankton to climate change may have significant ecosystem implications as they can alter biogeochemical cycling compared to classical copepod dominated food webs. However, the response of appendicularians to multiple climate drivers and effect on carbon cycling are still not well understood. Here, we investigated how gelatinous zooplankton (appendicularians) affect carbon cycling of marine food webs under conditions predicted by future climate scenarios. Appendicularians performed well in warmer conditions and benefited from low pH levels, which in turn altered the direction of carbon flow. Increased appendicularians removed particles from the water column that might otherwise nourish copepods by increasing carbon transport to depth from continuous discarding of filtration houses and fecal pellets. This helps to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and may also have fisheries implications.

Continue reading ‘Increased appendicularian zooplankton alter carbon cycling under warmer more acidified ocean conditions’

Alleviation of mercury toxicity to a marine copepod under multigenerational exposure by ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) may potentially modify the responses of aquatic organisms to other environmental stressors including metals. In this study, we investigated the effects of near-future OA (pCO2 1000 μatm) and mercury (Hg) on the development and reproduction of marine copepod Tigriopus japonicus under multigenerational life-cycle exposure. Metal accumulation as well as seven life history traits (survival rate, sex ratio, developmental time from nauplius to copepodite, developmental time from nauplius to adult, number of clutches, number of nauplii/clutch and fecundity) was quantified for each generation. Hg exposure alone evidently suppressed the number of nauplii/clutch, whereas single OA exposure negligibly affected the seven traits of copepods. However, OA exposure significantly alleviated the Hg inhibitory effects on number of nauplii/clutch and fecundity, which could be explained by the reduced Hg accumulation under OA. Such combined exposure also significantly shortened the development time. Thus, in contrast to earlier findings for other toxic metals, this study demonstrated that OA potentially mitigated the Hg toxicity to some important life traits in marine copepods during multigenerational exposure.

Continue reading ‘Alleviation of mercury toxicity to a marine copepod under multigenerational exposure by ocean acidification’

Influence of ocean acidification and deep water upwelling on oligotrophic plankton communities in the subtropical North Atlantic: Insights from an in situ mesocosm study

Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) causes pronounced shifts in marine carbonate chemistry and a decrease in seawater pH. Increasing evidence indicates that these changes – summarized by the term ocean acidification (OA) – can significantly affect marine food webs and biogeochemical cycles. However, current scientific knowledge is largely based on laboratory experiments with single species and artificial boundary conditions, whereas studies of natural plankton communities are still relatively rare. Moreover, the few existing community-level studies were mostly conducted in rather eutrophic environments, while less attention has been paid to oligotrophic systems such as the subtropical ocean gyres.

Here we report from a recent in situ mesocosm experiment off the coast of Gran Canaria in the eastern subtropical North Atlantic, where we investigated the influence of OA on the ecology and biogeochemistry of plankton communities in oligotrophic waters under close-to-natural conditions. This paper is the first in this Research Topic of Frontiers in Marine Biogeochemistry and provides (1) a detailed overview of the experimental design and important events during our mesocosm campaign, and (2) first insights into the ecological responses of plankton communities to simulated OA over the course of the 62-day experiment.

One particular scientific objective of our mesocosm experiment was to investigate how OA impacts might differ between oligotrophic conditions and phases of high biological productivity, which regularly occur in response to upwelling of nutrient-rich deep water in the study region. Therefore, we specifically developed a deep water collection system that allowed us to obtain ~85 m3 of seawater from ~650 m depth. Thereby, we replaced ~20% of each mesocosm’s volume with deep water, and thus successfully simulated a deep water upwelling event that induced a pronounced plankton bloom.

Our study revealed significant effects of OA on the entire food web, leading to a restructuring of plankton communities that emerged during the oligotrophic phase, and was further amplified during the bloom that developed in response to deep water addition. Such CO2-related shifts in plankton community composition could have consequences for ecosystem productivity, biomass transfer to higher trophic levels, and biogeochemical element cycling of oligotrophic ocean regions.

Continue reading ‘Influence of ocean acidification and deep water upwelling on oligotrophic plankton communities in the subtropical North Atlantic: Insights from an in situ mesocosm study’


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