Posts Tagged 'zooplankton'

Combined effects of ocean acidification and elevated temperature on feeding, growth, and physiological processes of Antarctic krill Euphausia superba

Antarctic krill Euphausia superba is a key species in the Southern Ocean, where its habitat is projected to undergo continued warming and increases in pCO2. Experiments during 2 summer field seasons at Palmer Station, Antarctica, investigated the independent and interactive effects of elevated temperature and pCO2 (decreased pH) on feeding, growth, acid-base physiology, metabolic rate, and survival of adult Antarctic krill. Ingestion and clearance rates of chlorophyll were depressed under low pH (7.7) compared to ambient pH (8.1) after a 48 h acclimation period, but this difference disappeared after a 21 d acclimation. Growth rates were negligible and frequently negative, but were significantly more negative at high (3°C, -0.03 mm d-1) compared to ambient temperature (0°C, -0.01 mm d-1) with no effect of pH. Modest elevations in tissue total CO2 and tissue pH were apparent at low pH but were short-lived. Metabolic rate increased with temperature but was suppressed at low pH in smaller but not larger krill. Although effects of elevated temperature and/or decreased pH were mostly sublethal, mortality was higher at high temperature/low pH (58%) compared to ambient temperature/pH or ambient temperature/low pH (>90%). This study identified 3 dominant patterns: (1) shorter-term effects were primarily pH-dependent; (2) krill compensated for lower pH relatively quickly; and (3) longer-term effects on krill growth and survival were strongly driven by temperature with little to no pH effect.

Continue reading ‘Combined effects of ocean acidification and elevated temperature on feeding, growth, and physiological processes of Antarctic krill Euphausia superba’

Projected near-future ocean acidification decreases mercury toxicity in marine copepods


  • Copepods were subjected to OA and Hg pollution under multigenerational exposure.
  • OA reduced Hg accumulation and its toxicity to the growth/reproduction in copepods.
  • Copepod proteome enabled its physiological resilience to decreasing pH.
  • Proteomics indicated many toxic events, ensuring Hg toxicity to the copepod’s traits.
  • Proteome compensation was accounting for the alleviative effect of OA on Hg toxicity.


Here, we examined the combinational effect of ocean acidification (OA) and mercury (Hg) in the planktonic copepod Pseudodiaptomus annandalei in cross-factored response to different pCO2 (400, 800 μatm) and Hg (control, 1.0 and 2.5 μg/L) exposures for three generations (F0-F2), followed by single-generation recovery (F3) under clean condition. Several phenotypic traits and Hg accumulation were analyzed for F0-F3. Furthermore, shotgun-based quantitative proteomics was performed for F0 and F2. Our results showed that OA insignificantly influenced the traits. During F0-F2, combined exposure reduced Hg accumulation as compared with the counterpart Hg treatment, supporting the mitigating effect of OA on Hg toxicity in copepods. Proteomics analysis indicated that the copepods probably increased energy production/storage and stress response to ensure physiological resilience against OA. However, Hg induced many toxic events (e.g., energy depletion and degenerated organomorphogenesis/embryogenesis for F0; cell cycle arrest and detrimental stress-defense for F2), which were translated to the population-level adverse outcome, i.e., compromised growth/reproduction. Particularly, compensatory proteome response was identified (e.g., increased immune defense for F0; energetic compensation and enhanced embryogenesis for F2), accounting for a negative interaction between OA and Hg. Together, this study provides the molecular mechanisms behind the effects of OA and Hg pollution in marine copepods.

Continue reading ‘Projected near-future ocean acidification decreases mercury toxicity in marine copepods’

Risk assessment for key socio-economic and ecological species in a sub-arctic marine ecosystem under combined ocean acidification and warming

The Arctic may be particularly vulnerable to the consequences of both ocean acidification (OA) and global warming, given the faster pace of warming and acidification. Here, we use the Atlantis ecosystem model to assess how the trophic network of marine fishes and invertebrates in the Icelandic waters is responding to the combined pressures of OA and warming. We develop an approach which allows us to focus on species of economic (catch-value), social (number of participants in fisheries), or ecological (keystone species) importance. We parameterize the model with literature-determined ranges of sensitivity to OA and warming for different species and functional groups in the Icelandic waters. We found divergent species responses to warming and acidification levels; (mainly) planktonic groups and forage fish benefited while (mainly) benthic groups and predatory fish decreased under warming and acidification scenarios. Assuming conservative harvest rates for the largest catch-value species, Atlantic cod, we see that the population is projected to remain stable under even the harshest acidification and warming scenario. Further, for the scenarios where the model projects reductions in biomass of Atlantic cod, other species in the ecosystem increase, likely due to a reduction in competition and predation. These results highlight the interdependencies of multiple global change drivers and their cascading effects on trophic organization, and the supply of an important species from a socio-economic perspective in the Icelandic fisheries.

Continue reading ‘Risk assessment for key socio-economic and ecological species in a sub-arctic marine ecosystem under combined ocean acidification and warming’

Impact of increased nutrients and lowered pH on photosynthesis and growth of three marine phytoplankton communities from the coastal South West Atlantic (Patagonia, Argentina)

Effect of global change variables on the structure and photosynthesis of phytoplankton communities was evaluated in three different sites of the Patagonian coast of Argentina: enclosed bay (Puerto Madryn, PM), estuarine (Playa Unión, PU), and open waters (Isla Escondida, IE). We exposed samples to two contrasting scenarios: Present (nutrients at in situ levels) vs. Future (with lowered pH and higher nutrients inputs), and determined growth and photosynthetic responses after 2 days of acclimation. Under the Future condition phytoplankton growth was higher in the estuarine site compared to those in PM and IE. This effect was the most pronounced on large diatoms. While the increase of photosynthetic activity was not always observed in the Future scenario, the lower photosynthetic electron requirement for carbon fixation (Φe,C = ETR/PmB) in this scenario compared to the Present, suggests a more effective energy utilization. Long-term experiments were also conducted to assess the responses along a 4 days acclimation period in PU. Diatoms benefited from the Future conditions and had significantly higher growth rates than in the Present. In addition, Φe,C was lower after the acclimation period in the Future scenario, compared to the Present. Our results suggest that the availability, frequency and amount of nutrients play a key role when evaluating the effects of global change on natural phytoplankton communities. The observed changes in diatom growth under the Future scenario in PU and IE and photosynthesis may have implications in the local trophodynamics by bottom up control.

Continue reading ‘Impact of increased nutrients and lowered pH on photosynthesis and growth of three marine phytoplankton communities from the coastal South West Atlantic (Patagonia, Argentina)’

Microzooplankton communities in a changing ocean: A risk assessment

Microzooplankton communities are fundamental components of marine food webs and have the potential to impact the functioning of carbon pumps. The identification of common responses of microzooplankton to global change has been challenging due to their plasticity and complex community-level interactions. However, accumulating research is providing new insights on the vulnerability of this group to different climate and other human-related hazards. Here, the current and future risk levels of microzooplankton associated with global change are assessed by identifying prevailing hazards, exposure, sensitivity, natural adaptability, and observed impacts based on available evidence. Most documented hazards for the survival and yield of microzooplankton are ocean warming, acidification, deoxygenation, and coastal eutrophication. Overall, heterotrophic protists are expected to respond and adapt rapidly to global trends. Fast growing, mixotrophy, wide internal stoichiometry, and their capacity to track optimal environmental conditions by changing species’ range distribution are among the most important traits that shape their high adaptability to global change. Community-level responses to warming, however, are predicted to be amplified in polar and subpolar regions. At the individual level, the highest risk is associated with the sensitivity to deoxygenation since microzooplankton, especially ciliates, are known to reduce metabolic rates under hypoxic episodes; however, vulnerable species can be readily replaced by specialized taxa from a similar functional type. Microzooplankton seem to act as functional buffers of environmental threats, thus conferring stability, in terms of community connectedness to marine food webs and ecosystems against external disturbances.

Continue reading ‘Microzooplankton communities in a changing ocean: A risk assessment’

Future changes in oceanography and biogeochemistry along the Canadian Pacific continental margin

Model projections of ocean circulation and biogeochemistry are used to investigate large scale climate changes under moderate mitigation (RCP 4.5) and high emissions (RCP 8.5) scenarios along the continental shelf of the Canadian Pacific Coast. To reduce computational cost, an approach for dynamical downscaling of climate projections was developed that uses atmospheric climatologies with augmented winds to simulate historical (1986–2005) and future (2046–2065) periods separately. The two simulations differ in initial and lateral open boundary conditions. For each simulation, the daily climatology of surface winds in the driving model was augmented with high-frequency variability from an atmospheric reanalysis product. The “time-slice” approach was able to reproduce the observed climate state for the historical period. Sensitivity tests confirmed that the high frequency wind variability plays an essential role in freshwater distribution in this region. Projections suggest that sea surface temperature will increase by 1.8–2.4°C and surface salinity will decrease between −0.08 and −0.23 depending on whether a moderate or high emissions scenario is used. Stratification increases throughout the region and there is some evidence of nutrient limitation near the surface. Primary production and phytoplankton productivity (chlorophyll) also increase. Density surfaces are relocated deeper in the water column and this change is mainly driven by surface heating and freshening. Changes in saturation state are mainly due to anthropogenic CO2 with minor contributions from solubility, remineralization and advection. There is little difference between RCP 4.5 and RCP 8.5 with regard to projections of deoxygenation and acidification. The depths of the aragonite saturation state and the oxygen minimum zone are projected to become shallower by ≃ 100 and ≃ 75 m respectively. Extreme states of temperature, oxygen and acidification are projected to become more frequent and more extreme, with the frequency of occurrence of [O2]<60 mmolm−3[O2]<60 mmolm-3 expected to approximately double under either scenario.

Continue reading ‘Future changes in oceanography and biogeochemistry along the Canadian Pacific continental margin’

Severe biological effects under present-day estuarine acidification in the seasonally variable Salish Sea


• Spatial and temporal variation in estuarine acidification cause severe biological responses.

• Extreme low saturation state and duration of exposure cause pteropod shell dissolution.

• Changing estuarine conditions cause cumulative stress that was used to generate stress index.

• Compensatory mechanisms allow pelagic calcifiers to persist in extreme OA estuarine habitats.


Estuaries are recognized as one of the habitats most vulnerable to coastal ocean acidification due to seasonal extremes and prolonged duration of acidified conditions. This is combined with co-occurring environmental stressors such as increased temperature and low dissolved oxygen. Despite this, evidence of biological impacts of ocean acidification in estuarine habitats is largely lacking. By combining physical, biogeochemical, and biological time-series observations over relevant seasonal-to-interannual time scales, this study is the first to describe both the spatial and temporal variation of biological response in the pteropod Limacina helicina to estuarine acidification in association with other stressors. Using clustering and principal component analyses, sampling sites were grouped according to their distribution of physical and biogeochemical variables over space and time. This identified the most exposed habitats and time intervals corresponding to the most severe negative biological impacts across three seasons and three years. We developed a cumulative stress index as a means of integrating spatial-temporal OA variation over the organismal life history. Our findings show that over the 2014–2016 study period, the severity of low aragonite saturation state combined with the duration of exposure contributed to overall cumulative stress and resulted in severe shell dissolution. Seasonally-variable estuaries such as the Salish Sea (Washington, U.S.A.) predispose sensitive organisms to more severe acidified conditions than those of coastal and open-ocean habitats, yet the sensitive organisms persist. We suggest potential environmental factors and compensatory mechanisms that allow pelagic calcifiers to inhabit less favorable habitats and partially offset associated stressors, for instance through food supply, increased temperature, and adaptation of their life history. The novel metric of cumulative stress developed here can be applied to other estuarine environments with similar physical and chemical dynamics, providing a new tool for monitoring biological response in estuaries under pressure from accelerating global change.

Continue reading ‘Severe biological effects under present-day estuarine acidification in the seasonally variable Salish Sea’

An integrated field-laboratory investigation of the effects of low oxygen and pH on North Pacific krill (Euphausia pacifica)

Krill are abundant and ecologically important zooplankton that inhabit dynamic environments characterized by strong natural variability, but global ocean change is shifting the range of conditions that they experience. Laboratory tests reveal that krill are sensitive to ocean acidification despite residing in naturally low pH areas, showing the importance of modulating factors for determining their responses. This study combines laboratory manipulations with field observations across a strong natural water chemistry gradient in Puget Sound, Washington, USA to investigate the effects of pH and oxygen on adult female North Pacific krill, Euphausia pacifica. Enzyme activities of the Electron Transport System (ETS) and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (AARS) were used as indices of zooplankton metabolism and growth, respectively, and were paired with traditional incubation methods. Acclimation to pH and oxygen conditions in the laboratory did not reveal effects on respiration rate, ETS, or AARS activity of krill. However, field observations showed that respiratory potential, as estimated by ETS activity, decreased with decreasing oxygen, declining 9% (95% confidence interval 2.5–15%) over the range of conditions we observed (3.9–8.1 mg O2 L−1). This reduction would depress the metabolic potential of krill in areas of stressful conditions (concurrent low pH), though krill also displayed a high degree of inter-individual variability. Although differences in age structure suggest different patterns of recruitment between E. pacifica populations in areas with stressful conditions and those without, populations persist at stressful sites. Lower temperature of waters with low oxygen and pH, as well as high food concentrations, may contribute to these populations’ success.

Continue reading ‘An integrated field-laboratory investigation of the effects of low oxygen and pH on North Pacific krill (Euphausia pacifica)’

Extreme levels of ocean acidification restructure the plankton community and biogeochemistry of a temperate coastal ecosystem: a mesocosm study

The oceans’ uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) decreases seawater pH and alters the inorganic carbon speciation – summarized in the term ocean acidification (OA). Already today, coastal regions experience episodic pH events during which surface layer pH drops below values projected for the surface ocean at the end of the century. Future OA is expected to further enhance the intensity of these coastal extreme pH events. To evaluate the influence of such episodic OA events in coastal regions, we deployed eight pelagic mesocosms for 53 days in Raunefjord, Norway, and enclosed 56–61 m3 of local seawater containing a natural plankton community under nutrient limited post-bloom conditions. Four mesocosms were enriched with CO2 to simulate extreme pCO2 levels of 1978 – 2069 μatm while the other four served as untreated controls. Here, we present results from multivariate analyses on OA-induced changes in the phyto-, micro-, and mesozooplankton community structure. Pronounced differences in the plankton community emerged early in the experiment, and were amplified by enhanced top-down control throughout the study period. The plankton groups responding most profoundly to high CO2 conditions were cyanobacteria (negative), chlorophyceae (negative), auto- and heterotrophic microzooplankton (negative), and a variety of mesozooplanktonic taxa, including copepoda (mixed), appendicularia (positive), hydrozoa (positive), fish larvae (positive), and gastropoda (negative). The restructuring of the community coincided with significant changes in the concentration and elemental stoichiometry of particulate organic matter. Results imply that extreme CO2 events can lead to a substantial reorganization of the planktonic food web, affecting multiple trophic levels from phytoplankton to primary and secondary consumers.

Continue reading ‘Extreme levels of ocean acidification restructure the plankton community and biogeochemistry of a temperate coastal ecosystem: a mesocosm study’

Potential local adaptation of corals at acidified and warmed Nikko Bay, Palau

Ocean warming and acidification caused by the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide are now thought to be major threats to coral reefs on a global scale. Here we evaluated the environmental conditions and benthic community structures in semi-closed Nikko Bay at the inner reef area in Palau, which has high p CO 2 and seawater temperature conditions with high zooxanthellate coral coverage. This bay is a highly sheltered system with organisms showing low connectivity with surrounding environments, making this bay a unique site for evaluating adaptation and acclimatization responses of organisms to warmed and acidified environments. Seawater p CO 2 /Ω arag showed strong graduation ranging from 380 to 982 µatm (Ω arag : 1.79-3.66) and benthic coverage, including soft corals and turf algae, changed along with Ω arag while hard coral coverage did not. In contrast to previous studies, net calcification was maintained in Nikko Bay even under very low mean Ω arag (2.44). Reciprocal transplantation of the dominant coral Porites cylindrica showed that the calcification rate of corals from Nikko Bay did not change when transplanted to a reference site, while calcification of reference site corals decreased when transplanted to Nikko Bay. Corals transplanted out of their origin sites also showed the highest interactive respiration (R) and lower photosynthesis (P) to respiration (P:R). The results of this study give important insights about the potential local acclimatization and adaptation capacity of corals to different environmental conditions including p CO 2 and temperature.

Continue reading ‘Potential local adaptation of corals at acidified and warmed Nikko Bay, Palau’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book