Posts Tagged 'zooplankton'

Ocean acidification alters zooplankton communities and increases top-down pressure of a cubozoan predator

The composition of local ecological communities is determined by the members of the regional community that are able to survive the abiotic and biotic conditions of a local ecosystem. Anthropogenic activities since the industrial revolution have increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations, which have in turn decreased ocean pH and altered carbonate ion concentrations: so called ocean acidification (OA). Single-species experiments have shown how OA can dramatically affect zooplankton development, physiology and skeletal mineralization status, potentially reducing their defensive function and altering their predatory and antipredatory behaviors. This means that increased OA may indirectly alter the biotic conditions by modifying trophic interactions. We investigated how OA affects the impact of a cubozoan predator on their zooplankton prey, predominantly Copepoda, Pleocyemata, Dendrobranchiata, and Amphipoda. Experimental conditions were set at either current (pCO2 370 μatm) or end-of-the-century OA (pCO2 1,100 μatm) scenarios, crossed in an orthogonal experimental design with the presence/absence of the cubozoan predator Carybdea rastoni. The combined effects of exposure to OA and predation by C. rastoni caused greater shifts in community structure, and greater reductions in the abundance of key taxa than would be predicted from combining the effect of each stressor in isolation. Specifically, we show that in the combined presence of OA and a cubozoan predator, populations of the most abundant member of the zooplankton community (calanoid copepods) were reduced 27% more than it would be predicted based on the effects of these stressors in isolation, suggesting that OA increases the susceptibility of plankton to predation. Our results indicate that the ecological consequences of OA may be greater than predicted from single-species experiments, and highlight the need to understand future marine global change from a community perspective.

Continue reading ‘Ocean acidification alters zooplankton communities and increases top-down pressure of a cubozoan predator’

Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)

Ocean acidification resulting from the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) by the ocean is considered a major threat to marine ecosystems. Here we examined the effects of ocean acidification on microbial community dynamics in the eastern Baltic Sea during the summer of 2012 when inorganic nitrogen and phosphorus were strongly depleted. Large-volume in situ mesocosms were employed to mimic present, future and far future CO2 scenarios. All six groups of phytoplankton enumerated by flow cytometry ( <  20 µm cell diameter) showed distinct trends in net growth and abundance with CO2 enrichment. The picoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups Pico-I and Pico-II displayed enhanced abundances, whilst Pico-III, Synechococcus and the nanoeukaryotic phytoplankton groups were negatively affected by elevated fugacity of CO2 (fCO2). Specifically, the numerically dominant eukaryote, Pico-I, demonstrated increases in gross growth rate with increasing fCO2 sufficient to double its abundance. The dynamics of the prokaryote community closely followed trends in total algal biomass despite differential effects of fCO2 on algal groups. Similarly, viral abundances corresponded to prokaryotic host population dynamics. Viral lysis and grazing were both important in controlling microbial abundances. Overall our results point to a shift, with increasing fCO2, towards a more regenerative system with production dominated by small picoeukaryotic phytoplankton.

Continue reading ‘Alterations in microbial community composition with increasing fCO2: a mesocosm study in the eastern Baltic Sea (update)’

Effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on an intertidal harpacticoid copepod community

Warming and ocean acidification have been shown to have significant impacts on marine organisms. However, none studies have addressed the impact of these two stressors on harpacticoid copepod community structure. A mesocosm experiment was conducted to assess the potential interactive impact of different levels of elevated CO2 and temperature on an intertidal harpacticoid copepod community. Artificial substrate units (ASUs) colonized by meiofauna from the extreme low intertidal zone were exposed to eight experimental treatments (four pH levels: 8.0, 7.7, 7.3 and 6.7, crossed with two temperature levels: 12 and 16 °C). After 60 days exposure communities were significantly affected by both stressors. The dominant harpacticoid species were mainly affected at treatments held at pH 6.7, but with divergent biological response patterns. At pH 6.7 Tisbe sp and Ectinosoma sp2 exhibited important density reductions, while considerable density increases were observed for Amphiascus longarticulatus and Amphiascoides golikovi. This study has demonstrated that elevated levels of CO2 and ocean warming may have substantial effects on the structure of harpacticoid communities. Importantly, the increase in malformations observed at pH 6.7 indicated that we need to consider sub-lethal effects that could have consequences for populations after long periods of exposure.

Continue reading ‘Effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on an intertidal harpacticoid copepod community’

Contrasting physiological responses to future ocean acidification among Arctic copepod populations

Widespread ocean acidification (OA) is modifying the chemistry of the global ocean, and the Arctic is recognised as the region where the changes will progress at the fastest rate. Moreover, Arctic species show lower capacity for cellular homeostasis and acid-base regulation rendering them particularly vulnerable to OA. In the present study, we found physiological differences in OA response across geographically separated populations of the keystone Arctic copepod Calanus glacialis. In copepodite stage CIV, measured reaction norms of ingestion rate and metabolic rate showed severe reductions in ingestion and increased metabolic expenses in two populations from Svalbard (Kongsfjord and Billefjord) whereas no effects were observed in a population from the Disko Bay, West Greenland. At pHT 7.87, which has been predicted for the Svalbard west coast by year 2100, these changes resulted in reductions in scope for growth of 19% in the Kongsfjord and a staggering 50% in the Billefjord. Interestingly, these effects were not observed in stage CV copepodites from any of the three locations. It seems that CVs may be more tolerant to OA perhaps due to a general physiological reorganisation to meet low intracellular pH during hibernation. Needless to say, the observed changes in the CIV stage will have serious implications for the C. glacialis population health status and growth around Svalbard. However, OA tolerant populations such as the one in the Disko Bay could help to alleviate severe effects in C. glacialis as a species.

Continue reading ‘Contrasting physiological responses to future ocean acidification among Arctic copepod populations’

Community barcoding reveals little effect of ocean acidification on the composition of coastal plankton communities: Evidence from a long-term mesocosm study in the Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak

The acidification of the oceans could potentially alter marine plankton communities with consequences for ecosystem functioning. While several studies have investigated effects of ocean acidification on communities using traditional methods, few have used genetic analyses. Here, we use community barcoding to assess the impact of ocean acidification on the composition of a coastal plankton community in a large scale, in situ, long-term mesocosm experiment. High-throughput sequencing resulted in the identification of a wide range of planktonic taxa (Alveolata, Cryptophyta, Haptophyceae, Fungi, Metazoa, Hydrozoa, Rhizaria, Straminipila, Chlorophyta). Analyses based on predicted operational taxonomical units as well as taxonomical compositions revealed no differences between communities in high CO2mesocosms (~ 760 μatm) and those exposed to present-day CO2 conditions. Observed shifts in the planktonic community composition were mainly related to seasonal changes in temperature and nutrients. Furthermore, based on our investigations, the elevated CO2 did not affect the intraspecific diversity of the most common mesozooplankter, the calanoid copepod Pseudocalanus acuspes. Nevertheless, accompanying studies found temporary effects attributed to a raise in CO2. Differences in taxa composition between the CO2 treatments could, however, only be observed in a specific period of the experiment. Based on our genetic investigations, no compositional long-term shifts of the plankton communities exposed to elevated CO2 conditions were observed. Thus, we conclude that the compositions of planktonic communities, especially those in coastal areas, remain rather unaffected by increased CO2.

Continue reading ‘Community barcoding reveals little effect of ocean acidification on the composition of coastal plankton communities: Evidence from a long-term mesocosm study in the Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak’

Effect of increased pCO2 in seawater on survival rate of different developmental stages of the harpacticoid copepod Tigriopus japonicus

The rapid increase in carbon dioxide levels in seawater is causing ocean acidification and is expected to have significant effects on marine life. To explore the ability of the harpacticoid copepod Tigriopus japonicus to adapt to an increased concentration of dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) in seawater, we compared the survival rates of adult and nauplius stages at 400, 1000, and 1550 ppm pCO2 over a 14-day period. The survival rate of T. japonicus dramatically decreased over time with increase in pCO2concentration. At 1550 ppm, the survival rate showed a decrease of more than 20% at the end of the experimental period over that at 400 ppm. Furthermore, the survival rate decreased by a greater amount at all concentrations in nauplii than in adults, with a greater effect in wild-collected specimens than in culture-derived individuals. The results suggest that future ocean acidification may negatively influence the sustainability of T. japonicus and thus may eventually influence benthic ecosystems.

Continue reading ‘Effect of increased pCO2 in seawater on survival rate of different developmental stages of the harpacticoid copepod Tigriopus japonicus’

Response of Posidonia oceanica seagrass and its epibiont communities to ocean acidification

The unprecedented rate of CO2 increase in our atmosphere and subsequent ocean acidification (OA) threatens coastal ecosystems. To forecast the functioning of coastal seagrass ecosystems in acidified oceans, more knowledge on the long-term adaptive capacities of seagrass species and their epibionts is needed. Therefore we studied morphological characteristics of Posidonia oceanica and the structure of its epibiont communities at a Mediterranean volcanic CO2 vent off Panarea Island (Italy) and performed a laboratory experiment to test the effect of OA on P. oceanica photosynthesis and its potential buffering capacity. At the study site east of Basiluzzo Islet, venting of CO2 gas was controlled by tides, resulting in an average pH difference of 0.1 between the vent and reference site. P. oceanicashoot and leaf density was unaffected by these levels of OA, although shorter leaves at the vent site suggest increased susceptibility to erosion, potentially by herbivores. The community of sessile epibionts differed in composition and was characterized by a higher species richness at the vent site, though net epiphytic calcium carbonate concentration was similar. These findings suggest a higher ecosystem complexity at the vent site, which may have facilitated the higher diversity of copepods in the otherwise unaffected motile epibiont community. In the laboratory experiment, P. oceanica photosynthesis increased with decreasing pHT (7.6, 6.6, 5.5), which induced an elevated pH at the leaf surfaces of up to 0.5 units compared to the ambient seawater pHT of 6.6. This suggests a temporary pH buffering in the diffusive boundary layer of leaves, which could be favorable for epibiont organisms. The results of this multispecies study contribute to understanding community-level responses and underlying processes in long-term acidified conditions. Increased replication and monitoring of physico-chemical parameters on an annual scale are, however, recommended to assure that the biological responses observed during a short period reflect long-term dynamics of these parameters.

Continue reading ‘Response of Posidonia oceanica seagrass and its epibiont communities to ocean acidification’


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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

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