Posts Tagged 'zooplankton'

The effect of elevated CO2 on the production and respiration of a Sargassum thunbergii community: a mesocosm study

Approximately one‐third of anthropogenic carbon dioxide is absorbed into the ocean and causes it to become more acidic. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggested that the surface ocean pH, by the year 2100, would drop by a further 0.3 and 0.4 pH units under RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) 6.0 and 8.5 climate scenarios. The macroalgae communities that consisted of Sargassum thunbergii and naturally attached epibionts were exposed to fluctuations of ambient and manipulated pH (0.3–0.4 units below ambient pH). The production and respiration in S. thunbergii communities were calculated from dissolved oxygen time‐series recorded with optical dissolved oxygen sensors. The pH, irradiance, and dissolved oxygen occurred in parallel with diurnal (day/night) patterns. According to net mesocosm production – photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) model, the saturation and compensation PAR, the mean maximum gross mesocosm production (GMP), and daily mesocosm respiration were higher in the CO2 enrichment, than in the ambient condition, while the mean of photosynthetic coefficient was similar. In conclusion, elevated CO2 stimulated oxygen production and consumption of S. thunbergii communities in the mesocosm. Furthermore, the sensitivity of the GMP of the S. thunbergii community to irradiance was reduced, and achieved maximum production rate at higher PAR. These positive responses to CO2 enrichment suggest that S. thunbergii communities may thrive in under high CO2 conditions.

Continue reading ‘The effect of elevated CO2 on the production and respiration of a Sargassum thunbergii community: a mesocosm study’

Ocean freshening and acidification differentially influences mortality and behavior of the Antarctic amphipod Gondogeneia antarctica


• Glacier retreat induced by global warming can decrease pH and salinity of the Antarctic ocean.

• The Antarctic amphipod Gondogeneia antarctica was exposed to low pH (7.6) and low salinity (27 psμ) conditions.

• Low pH increased mortality, impaired food detection, reduced shelter-use during daytime. .

• Low salinity increased cannibalism and induced abnormal swimming.

• Ocean acidification and freshening act as independent stressors influencing behavior and physiology of Antarctic amphipods.


The Western Antarctic Peninsula (WAP) has experienced rapid atmospheric and ocean warming over the past few decades and many marine-terminating glaciers have considerably retreated. Glacial retreat is accompanied by fresh meltwater intrusion, which may result in the freshening and acidification of coastal waters. Marian Cove (MC), on King George Island in the WAP, undergoes one of the highest rates of glacial retreat. Intertidal and shallow subtidal waters are likely more susceptible to these processes, and sensitive biological responses are expected from the organisms inhabiting this area. The gammarid amphipod Gondogeneia antarctica is one of the most abundant species in the shallow, nearshore Antarctic waters, and it occupies an essential ecological niche in the coastal marine WAP ecosystem. In this study, we tested the sensitivity of G. antarctica to lowered salinity and pH by meltwater intrusion following glacial retreat. We exposed G. antarctica to four different treatments combining two salinities (34 and 27 psμ) and pH (8.0 and 7.6) levels for 26 days. Mortality, excluding cannibalized individuals, increased under low pH but decreased under low salinity conditions. Meanwhile, low salinity increased cannibalism, whereas low pH reduced food detection. Shelter use during the daytime decreased under each low salinity and pH condition, indicating that the two stressors act as disruptors of amphipod behavior. Under low salinity conditions, swimming increased during the daytime but decreased at night. Although interactions between low salinity and low pH were not observed during the experiment, the results suggest that each stressor, likely induced by glacial melting, causes altered behaviors in amphipods. These environmental factors may threaten population persistence in Marian Cove and possibly other similar glacial embayments.

Continue reading ‘Ocean freshening and acidification differentially influences mortality and behavior of the Antarctic amphipod Gondogeneia antarctica’

Early life stages of Calanus pacificus are neither exposed nor sensitive to low pH waters

We characterized the vertical distribution of Calanus pacificus eggs and larvae and the carbonate chemistry that they are exposed to in Puget Sound, WA. We found that, under stratified conditions, more than 90% of eggs and nauplii stages 1–4 were distributed above the pycnocline, in seawater with pH higher than 7.7. In addition, eggs and larvae from 101 females were reared for 5 days under a range of pH conditions (7.2–8.0) to investigate how pH sensitivity varies among individuals. We observed a slight increase in naupliar survival at pH 7.3 in Individual Brood experiments, while in Mixed Brood experiments, exposure to pH 7.3 led to a small decline in hatching success. In a Split Brood experiment, inter-individual variability among different females’ broods masked pH effects. These results indicate that C. pacificus early life stages are generally tolerant to short-term direct effects of ocean acidification.

Continue reading ‘Early life stages of Calanus pacificus are neither exposed nor sensitive to low pH waters’

Season affects strength and direction of the interactive impacts of ocean warming and biotic stress in a coastal seaweed ecosystem

The plea for using more “realistic,” community‐level, investigations to assess the ecological impacts of global change has recently intensified. Such experiments are typically more complex, longer, more expensive, and harder to interpret than simple organism‐level benchtop experiments. Are they worth the extra effort? Using outdoor mesocosms, we investigated the effects of ocean warming (OW) and acidification (OA), their combination (OAW), and their natural fluctuations on coastal communities of the western Baltic Sea during all four seasons. These communities are dominated by the perennial and canopy‐forming macrophyte Fucus vesiculosus—an important ecosystem engineer Baltic‐wide. We, additionally, assessed the direct response of organisms to temperature and pH in benchtop experiments, and examined how well organism‐level responses can predict community‐level responses to the dominant driver, OW. OW affected the mesocosm communities substantially stronger than acidification. OW provoked structural and functional shifts in the community that differed in strength and direction among seasons. The organism‐level response to OW matched well the community‐level response of a given species only under warm and cold thermal stress, that is, in summer and winter. In other seasons, shifts in biotic interactions masked the direct OW effects. The combination of direct OW effects and OW‐driven shifts of biotic interactions is likely to jeopardize the future of the habitat‐forming macroalga F. vesiculosus in the Baltic Sea. Furthermore, we conclude that seasonal mesocosm experiments are essential for our understanding of global change impact because they take into account the important fluctuations of abiotic and biotic pressures.

Continue reading ‘Season affects strength and direction of the interactive impacts of ocean warming and biotic stress in a coastal seaweed ecosystem’

The planktonic stages of the salmon louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) are tolerant of end-of-century pCO2 concentrations

The copepod Lepeophtheirus salmonis is an obligate ectoparasite of salmonids. Salmon lice are major pests in salmon aquaculture and due to its economic impact Lepeophtheirus salmonis is one of the most well studied species of marine parasite. However, there is limited understanding of how increased concentration of pCO2 associated with ocean acidification will impact host-parasite relationships. We investigated the effects of increased pCO2 on growth and metabolic rates in the planktonic stages, rearing L. salmonis from eggs to 12 days post hatch copepodids under three treatment levels: Control (416 µatm), Mid (747 µatm), and High (942 µatm). The pCO2 treatment had a significant effect on oxygen consumption rate with the High treatment animals exhibiting the greatest respiration. The treatments did not have a significant effect on the other biological endpoints measured (carbon, nitrogen, lipid volume, and fatty acid content). The results indicate that L. salmonis have mechanisms to compensate for increased concentration of pCO2and that populations will be tolerant of projected future ocean acidification scenarios. The work reported here also describes catabolism during the lecithotrophic development of L. salmonis, information that is not currently available to parameterize models of dispersal and viability of the planktonic free-living stages.

Continue reading ‘The planktonic stages of the salmon louse (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) are tolerant of end-of-century pCO2 concentrations’

Assessing annual variability in the shell thickness of the pteropod Heliconoides inflatus in the Cariaco Basin using micro-CT scanning

Pteropods have been nicknamed the canary in the coal mine for ocean acidification because they are predicted to be among the first organisms to be affected by future changes in ocean chemistry. This is due to their fragile, aragonitic shells and high abundances in polar and sub-polar regions where the impacts of ocean acidification will manifest first. For pteropods to be used most effectively as indicators of ocean acidification, their natural variability in the modern ocean needs to be quantified and understood. Here, we measured the shell condition (i.e., the degree to which a shell has dissolved) and shell characteristics, including size, number of whorls, shell thickness, and shell volume (i.e., amount of shell material) of nearly fifty specimens of the pteropod species Heliconoides inflatus from a sediment trap in the Cariaco Basin, Venezuela sampled over an 11-month period. The water in the Cariaco Basin is supersaturated with respect to aragonite year-round, and hydrographic and chemical properties vary seasonally due to the movement of the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ). Shell condition was assessed using with two methods: the Limacina Dissolution Index (LDX) and the opacity method. The opacity method captured changes in shell condition only in the early stages of dissolution, whereas the LDX recorded dissolution changes over a much larger range. Shell condition did not deteriorate with the length of time in the sediment trap. Instead, the most altered shells occurred in samples collected in September and October when water temperatures were warmest, and the amount of organic matter degradation in the water column was likely to have been the greatest. Shells of H. inflatus varied in size, number of whorls, and thickness throughout the year. The number of whorls did not correlate with shell diameter, suggesting that shell growth is plastic. H. inflatus formed shells that were 40 % thicker and 20 % larger in diameter when nutrient concentrations were high during times of upwelling, compared to specimens sampled from the oligotrophic rainy season. This study produces a baseline dataset of the variability in shell characteristics of H. inflatus in the Cariaco Basin and establishes a methodology for generating similar baseline records for pteropod populations globally.

Continue reading ‘Assessing annual variability in the shell thickness of the pteropod Heliconoides inflatus in the Cariaco Basin using micro-CT scanning’

Comparison of two carbon-nitrogen regulatory models calibrated with mesocosm data


• OBM is more skilful than CN-REcoM when calibrated and validated with mesocosm data.

• OBM suggests that ocean acidification (OA) may stimulate carbon fixation rates in algae.

• Also, OA may elevate metabolic stress in phytoplankton, according to OBM.

• CN-REcoM imposes weak constraints on parameter values, hence solutions are flexible.

• As OBM is constrained by the physiological trade-offs, solutions are rigid and robust.


Marine phytoplankton can regulate their stoichiometric composition in response to variations in the availability of nutrients, light and the pH of seawater. Varying elemental composition of photoautotrophs affects several important ecological and biogeochemical processes, e.g., primary and export production, nutrient cycling, calcification, and grazing. Here we compare two plankton ecosystem models that consider regulatory mechanisms of cellular carbon and nitrogen, driving the physiological acclimation of photoautotrophs. The Carbon:Nitrogen Regulated Ecosystem Model (CN-REcoM) and the optimality-based model (OBM) differ in their representation of phytoplankton dynamics, i.e. nutrient acquisition, synthesis of chlorophyll a, and growth. All other model compartments (zooplankton, detritus, dissolved inorganic and organic matter) and processes (grazing, aggregation, remineralisation) remain identical in both models.

We assess the skills of the two models against data from an ocean acidification mesocosm experiment with three CO2 treatments. Neither model accounts for any carbon dioxide (CO2) effects explicitly. Instead, we assimilate data of the different CO2 treatments separately into the models. Thereby we aim at identifying optimal model parameter values that might correlate with differences in CO2 conditions. For the OBM, optimal parameter estimates of Qmin (subsistence N:C ratio) and V (maximum potential photosynthesis rate of photoautotrophs) turned out to be higher for mesocosms exposed to high CO2 compared to those with low CO2 concentrations. By contrast, a similar correlation is not observed for the CN-REcoM. A possible physiological interpretation of higher estimates of Qmin and V according to the OBM is that phytoplankton may experience environmental stress under more acidic conditions, and hence must invest more energy/resources for maintaining basic cellular functions. Our data assimilation reveals that the parameters of the OBM are better constrained by the data than those of the CN-REcoM. Furthermore, the OBM is better able than CN-REcoM to reproduce data that were not used for parameter optimization.

Continue reading ‘Comparison of two carbon-nitrogen regulatory models calibrated with mesocosm data’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book