The impacts of climatic change on organisms depend on the interaction of multiple stressors and how these may affect the interactions among species. Consumer–prey relationships may be altered by changes to the abundance of either species, or by changes to the per capita interaction strength among species. To examine the effects of multiple stressors on a species interaction, we test the direct, interactive effects of ocean warming and lowered pH on an abundant marine herbivore (the amphipod Peramphithoe parmerong), and whether this herbivore is affected indirectly by these stressors altering the palatability of its algal food (Sargassum linearifolium). Both increased temperature and lowered pH independently reduced amphipod survival and growth, with the impacts of temperature outweighing those associated with reduced pH. Amphipods were further affected indirectly by changes to the palatability of their food source. The temperature and pH conditions in which algae were grown interacted to affect algal palatability, with acidified conditions only affecting feeding rates when algae were also grown at elevated temperatures. Feeding rates were largely unaffected by the conditions faced by the herbivore while feeding. These results indicate that, in addition to the direct effects on herbivore abundance, climatic stressors will affect the strength of plant–herbivore interactions by changes to the susceptibility of plant tissues to herbivory.
Posts Tagged 'algae'
Direct and indirect effects of ocean acidification and warming on a marine plant–herbivore interactionPublished 24 May 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: algae, biological response, crustaceans, multiple factors, performance, survival, temperature
Tags: biological response, algae, Mediterranean, field, community composition, abundance
Marine algae exhibit different responses to ocean acidification, suggesting that a decrease in pH does not always favour marine photosynthetic organisms. In order to understand the effect of acidification on algal community development, early colonization stages were investigated using carbon dioxide vents around the Castello Aragonese (Ischia, Italy) as a natural laboratory. Settlement tiles were placed in zones with different pH (normal, medium and low), and species composition and coverage measured after 2, 3 and 4 months of deployment. The number of species decreased by 4 and 18 % at medium and low pH zones, respectively (P < 0.05). The structure of the algal assemblage differed between pH zones during the 4 months of the experiment, due to the addition and/or replacement of new species. This leads to a change in the succession of morphological forms as soft crustose algae replaced calcareous species, and turf species were dominant in cover; more complex thalli started to occur only at medium pH. These results support previous findings that ocean acidification will induce changes in benthic algal communities.
Tags: biological response, algae, chemistry, field, Arctic Ocean, abundance
Coralline algae (Corallinales, Rhodophyta) that form rhodoliths are important ecosystem engineers and carbonate producers in many polar coastal habitats. This study deals with rhodolith communities from Floskjeret (78°18′N), Krossfjorden (79°08′N), and Mosselbukta (79°53′N), off Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard Archipelago, Norway. Strong seasonal variations in temperature, salinity, light regime, sea-ice coverage, and turbidity characterize these localities. The coralline algal flora consists of Lithothamnion glaciale and Phymatolithon tenue. Well-developed rhodoliths were recorded between 27 and 47 m water depth, while coralline algal encrustations on lithoclastic cobbles were detected down to 77 m water depth. At all sites, ambient waters were saturated with respect to both aragonite and calcite, and the rhodolith beds were located predominately at dysphotic water depths. The rhodolith-associated macrobenthic fauna included grazing organisms such as chitons and echinoids. With decreasing water depth, the rhodolith pavements were regularly overgrown by non-calcareous Polysiphonia-like red algae. The corallines are thriving and are highly specialized in their adaptations to the physical environment as well as in their interaction with the associated benthic fauna, which is similar to other polar rhodolith communities. The marine environment of Spitsbergen is already affected by a climate-driven ecological regime shift and will lead to an increased borealization in the near future, with presently unpredictable consequences for coralline red algal communities.
Results of laboratory and field experiments of the direct effect of increasing CO2 on net primary production of macroalgal species in brackish-water ecosystemsPublished 22 May 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: algae, Baltic Sea, biological response, field, laboratory, mesocosms, primary production
Studies on the effects of increasing acidification on marine communities have been previously mostly carried out in truly marine areas whereas brackish-water ecosystems such as the Baltic Sea have been less studied. The current study analyses how acidification induced by elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide affects the photosynthetic net production of different macroalgal species in the brackish Baltic Sea. Research methods include sets of laboratory and field experiments carried out in shallow coastal brackish waters. The aim of the laboratory experiments was to develop the necessary techniques and experience for the mesocosm experiments. Laboratory experiments were carried out using specimens of the red alga Furcellaria lumbricalis collected from Kakumäe Bay. The mesocosm experiments were conducted in Kõiguste Bay during the field season of 2011. Separate mesocosms were operated in each set with different CO2 concentrations and a control treatment in natural conditions. Field experiments were carried out with three species representing three different morphological and ecological groups: Ulva intestinalis, a fast-growing green alga; Fucus vesiculosus, a perennial brown alga with a slow metabolism; and Furcellaria lumbricalis, a perennial red alga. Photosynthetic activity was used as the response variable. In the laboratory decreasing pH increased the net primary production of F. lumbricalis with the lowest net primary production values measured at pH 8.0 and the highest at pH 6.5. Results of the field experiments indicated that increased CO2 levels in seawater favoured photosynthetic activity of the macroalgae U. intestinalis and F. lumbricalis, but F. vesiculosus showed no response to elevated CO2. Elevated CO2 levels are suggested to favour the production of fast-growing filamentous species, which thus may indirectly enhance the effect of eutrophication in the shallow coastal brackish waters.
Effects of ocean acidification on growth and physiology of Ulva lactuca (Chlorophyta) in a rockpool-scenarioPublished 8 May 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: biological response, algae, physiology, North Atlantic, growth, photosynthesis, laboratory, morphology
Rising atmospheric CO2-concentrations will have severe consequences for a variety of biological processes. We investigated the responses of the green alga Ulva lactuca (Linnaeus) to rising CO2-concentrations in a rockpool scenario. U. lactuca was cultured under aeration with air containing either preindustrial pCO2 (280 μatm) or the pCO2 predicted by the end of the 21st century (700 μatm) for 31 days. We addressed the following question: Will elevated CO2-concentrations affect photosynthesis (net photosynthesis, maximum relative electron transport rate (rETR(max)), maximum quantum yield (Fv/Fm), pigment composition) and growth of U. lactuca in rockpools with limited water exchange? Two phases of the experiment were distinguished: In the initial phase (day 1–4) the Seawater Carbonate System (SWCS) of the culture medium could be adjusted to the selected atmospheric pCO2 condition by continuous aeration with target pCO2 values. In the second phase (day 4–31) the SWCS was largely determined by the metabolism of the growing U. lactuca biomass. In the initial phase, Fv/Fm and rETR(max) were only slightly elevated at high CO2-concentrations, whereas growth was significantly enhanced. After 31 days the Chl a content of the thalli was significantly lower under future conditions and the photosynthesis of thalli grown under preindustrial conditions was not dependent on external carbonic anhydrase. Biomass increased significantly at high CO2-concentrations. At low CO2-concentrations most adult thalli disintegrated between day 14 and 21, whereas at high CO2-concentrations most thalli remained integer until day 31. Thallus disintegration at low CO2-concentrations was mirrored by a drastic decline in seawater dissolved inorganic carbon and HCO3−. Accordingly, the SWCS differed significantly between the treatments. Our results indicated a slight enhancement of photosynthetic performance and significantly elevated growth of U. lactuca at future CO2-concentrations. The accelerated thallus disintegration at high CO2-concentrations under conditions of limited water exchange indicates additional CO2 effects on the life cycle of U. lactuca when living in rockpools.
Tags: algae, biological response, community, communitymodeling, grazing, mesocosms, modeling, morphology, multiple factors, North Atlantic, phanerogams, primary production, protists, temperature
It is well known that ocean acidification can have profound impacts on marine organisms. However, we know little about the direct and indirect effects of ocean acidification and also how these effects interact with other features of environmental change such as warming and declining consumer pressure. In this study, we tested whether the presence of consumers (invertebrate mesograzers) influenced the interactive effects of ocean acidification and warming on benthic microalgae in a seagrass community mesocosm experiment. Net effects of acidification and warming on benthic microalgal biomass and production, as assessed by analysis of variance, were relatively weak regardless of grazer presence. However, partitioning these net effects into direct and indirect effects using structural equation modeling revealed several strong relationships. In the absence of grazers, benthic microalgae were negatively and indirectly affected by sediment-associated microalgal grazers and macroalgal shading, but directly and positively affected by acidification and warming. Combining indirect and direct effects yielded no or weak net effects. In the presence of grazers, almost all direct and indirect climate effects were nonsignificant. Our analyses highlight that (i) indirect effects of climate change may be at least as strong as direct effects, (ii) grazers are crucial in mediating these effects, and (iii) effects of ocean acidification may be apparent only through indirect effects and in combination with other variables (e.g., warming). These findings highlight the importance of experimental designs and statistical analyses that allow us to separate and quantify the direct and indirect effects of multiple climate variables on natural communities.
Tags: algae, biological response, calcification, corals, laboratory, morphology, multiple factors, photosynthesis, protists, South Pacific, survival, temperature
The increase in human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, has elevated the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide and warmed the planet through the greenhouse effect. In addition, approximately 30% of the CO2 produced by human activities has dissolved into the oceans, lowering pH and reducing the abundance, and hence the availability, of carbonate ions (CO3 2-), which are essential for calcium carbonate deposition. Of great concern is the impact to photosynthetic marine calcifiers, elevated CO2 and temperature is expected to have a negative impact on the health and survivorship of calcifying marine organisms. This thesis explores the effects of elevated CO2 and temperature on the microenvironment, photosynthetic efficiency, calcification and biomechanical properties in important sediment producers on coral reefs. The reef-building and sedimentdwelling organisms, Halimeda and symbiont-bearing foraminifera are prominent, coexisting taxa in shallow coral reefs and play a vital role in tropical and subtropical ecosystems as producers of sediment and habitats and food sources for other marine organisms. However, there is limited evidence of the effects of ocean warming and acidification in these two keystone species. Irradiance alone was not found to influence photosynthetic efficiency, photoprotective mechanisms and calcification in Halimeda macroloba, Halimeda cylindracea and Halimeda opuntia (Chapter 2). There is also limited knowledge of foraminiferal biology on coral reefs, especially the symbiotic relationship between the protest host and algal symbionts. Marginopora vertebralis, the dominant tropical foraminifera, shows phototactic behavior, which is a unique mechanism for ensuring symbionts experience an ideal light environment. The diurnal photosynthetic responses of in hospite symbiont photosynthesis was linked to host movement and aided in preventing photoinhibition and bleaching by moving away from over-saturating irradiance, to more optimal light fields (Chapter 3). With this greater understanding of Halimeda and foraminiferan biology and photosynthesis, the impacts of ocean warming and acidification on photosynthesis and calcification were then tested (Chapter 4, 5 and 6). Impacts of ocean acidification and warming were investigated through exposure to a combination of four temperature (28, 30, 32, 34°C) and four pCO2 levels (380, 600, 1000, 2000 µatm; equivalent to future climate change scenarios for the current and the years 2065, 2100 and 2200 and simulating the IPCC A1F1 predictions) (Chapter 4). Elevated CO2 and temperature caused a decline in photosynthetic efficiency (FV/FM), calcification and growth in all species. After five weeks at 34°C under all CO2 levels, all species died. The elevated CO2 and temperature greatly affect the CaCO3 crystal formation with reductions in density and width. M. vertebralis experienced the greatest inhibition to crystal formation, suggesting that this high Mg-calcite depositing species is more sensitive to lower pH and higher temperature than aragonite-forming Halimeda species. Exposure to elevated temperature alone or reduced pH alone decreased photosynthesis and calcification in these species. However, there was a strong synergistic effect of elevated temperature and reduced pH, with dramatic reductions in photosynthesis and calcification in all three species. This study suggested that the elevated temperature of 32°C and the pCO2 concentration of 1000 µatm are the upper limit for survival of these species art our site of collection (Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia). Microsensors enabled the detection of O2 surrounding specimens at high spatial and temporal resolutions and revealed a 70-80% in decrease in O2 production under elevated CO2 and temperature (1200 µatm 32°C) in Halimeda (Chapter 5) and foraminifera (Chapter 6). The results from O2 microprofiles support the photosynthetic pigment and chlorophyll fluorescence data, showing decreasing O2 production with declining chlorophyll a and b concentrations and a decrease in photosynthetic efficiency under ocean acidification and/or temperature stress. This revealed that photosynthesis and calcification are closely coupled with reductions in photosynthetic efficiency leading to reductions in calcification. Reductions in carbonate availability reduced calcification and that can lead to weakened calcified structures. Elevations in water temperature is expected to augment this weakening, resulting in decreased mechanical integrity and increased susceptibility to storm- and herbivory-induced mortality in Halimeda sp. The morphological and biomechanical properties in H. macroloba and H. cylindracea at different wave exposures were then investigated in their natural reef habitats (Chapter 7). The results showed that both species have morphological (e.g. blade surface area, holdfast volume) and biomechanical (e.g. force required to uproot, force required to break thalli) adaptations to different levels of hydrodynamic exposure. The mechanical integrity and skeletal mineralogy of Halimeda was then investigated in response to future climate change scenarios (Chapter 7). The biomechanical properties (shear strength and punch strength) significantly declined in the more heavily calcified H. cylindracea at 32ºC and 1000 µatm, whereas were variable in less heavily calcified H. macroloba, indicating different responses between Halimeda species. An increase in less-soluble low Mgcalcite was observed under elevated CO2 conditions. Significant changes in Mg:Ca and Sr:Ca ratios under elevated CO2 and temperature conditions suggested that calcification was affected at the ionic level. It is concluded that Halimeda is biomechanically sensitive to elevated temperature and more acidic oceans and may lead to increasing susceptibility to herbivory and higher risk of thallus breakage or removal from the substrate. Experimental results throughout the thesis revealed that ocean acidification and warming have negative impacts on photosynthetic efficiency, productivity, calcification and mechanical integrity, which is likely to lead to increased mortality in these species under a changing climate. A loss of these calcifying keystone species will have a dramatic impact on carbonate accumulation, sediment turnover, and coral reef community and habitat structure.
Tags: algae, biological response, community composition, echinoderms, laboratory, Mediterranean, morphology
Temperate marine rocky habitats may be alternatively characterized by well vegetated macroalgal assemblages or barren grounds, as a consequence of direct and indirect human impacts (e.g. overfishing) and grazing pressure by herbivorous organisms. In future scenarios of ocean acidification, calcifying organisms are expected to be less competitive: among these two key elements of the rocky subtidal food web, coralline algae and sea urchins. In order to highlight how the effects of increased pCO2 on individual calcifying species will be exacerbated by interactions with other trophic levels, we performed an experiment simultaneously testing ocean acidification effects on primary producers (calcifying and non-calcifying algae) and their grazers (sea urchins). Artificial communities, composed by juveniles of the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus and calcifying (Corallina elongata) and non-calcifying (Cystoseira amentacea var stricta, Dictyota dichotoma) macroalgae, were subjected to pCO2 levels of 390, 550, 750 and 1000 µatm in the laboratory. Our study highlighted a direct pCO2 effect on coralline algae and on sea urchin defense from predation (test robustness). There was no direct effect on the non-calcifying macroalgae. More interestingly, we highlighted diet-mediated effects on test robustness and on the Aristotle’s lantern size. In a future scenario of ocean acidification a decrease of sea urchins’ density is expected, due to lower defense from predation, as a direct consequence of pH decrease, and to a reduced availability of calcifying macroalgae, important component of urchins’ diet. The effects of ocean acidification may therefore be contrasting on well vegetated macroalgal assemblages and barren grounds: in the absence of other human impacts, a decrease of biodiversity can be predicted in vegetated macroalgal assemblages, whereas a lower density of sea urchin could help the recovery of shallow subtidal rocky areas affected by overfishing from barren grounds to assemblages dominated by fleshy macroalgae.
Production and carbonate dynamics of Halimeda incrassata (Ellis) Lamouroux altered by Thalassia testudinum Banks and Soland ex KönigPublished 17 April 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: algae, biological response, calcification, chemistry, field, North Atlantic, photosynthesis, primary production
Ocean acidification poses a serious threat to a broad suite of calcifying organisms. Scleractinian corals and calcareous algae that occupy shallow, tropical waters are vulnerable to global changes in ocean chemistry because they already are subject to stressful and variable carbon dynamics at the local scale. For example, net heterotrophy increases carbon dioxide concentrations, and pH varies with diurnal fluctuations in photosynthesis and respiration. Few researchers, however, have investigated the possibility that carbon dioxide consumption during photosynthesis by non-calcifying photoautotrophs, such as seagrasses, can ameliorate deleterious effects of ocean acidification on sympatric calcareous algae. Naturally occurring variations in the density of seagrasses and associated calcareous algae provide an ecologically relevant test of the hypothesis that diel fluctuations in water chemistry driven by cycles of photosynthesis and respiration within seagrass beds create microenvironments that enhance macroalgal calcification. In Grape Tree Bay off Little Cayman Island BWI, we quantified net production and characterized calcification for thalli of the calcareous green alga Halimeda incrassata growing within beds of Thalassia testudinum with varying shoot densities. Results indicated that individual H. incrassata thalli were ~ 6% more calcified in dense seagrass beds. On an areal basis, however, far more calcium carbonate was produced by H. incrassata in areas where seagrasses were less dense due to higher rates of production. In addition, diel pH regimes in vegetated and unvegetated areas within the lagoon were not significantly different, suggesting a high degree of water exchange and mixing throughout the lagoon. These results suggest that, especially in well-mixed lagoons, carbonate production by calcareous algae may be more related to biotic interactions between seagrasses and calcareous algae than to seagrass-mediated changes in local water chemistry.
Ultraviolet radiation modulates the physiological responses of the calcified rhodophyte Corallina officinalis to elevated CO2Published 10 April 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: algae, biological response, laboratory, light, morphology, multiple factors, photosynthesis, physiology
Ocean acidification reduces the concentration of carbonate ions and increases those of bicarbonate ions in seawater compared with the present oceanic conditions. This altered composition of inorganic carbon species may, by interacting with ultraviolet radiation (UVR), affect the physiology of macroalgal species. However, very little is known about how calcareous algae respond to UVR and ocean acidification. Therefore, we conducted an experiment to determine the effects of UVR and ocean acidification on the calcified rhodophyte Corallina officinalis using CO2-enriched cultures with and without UVR exposure. Low pH increased the relative electron transport rates (rETR) but decreased the CaCO3 content and had a miniscule effect on growth. However, UVA (4.25 W m-2) and a moderate level of UVB (0.5 W m-2) increased the rETR and growth rates in C. officinalis, and there was a significant interactive effect of pH and UVR on UVR-absorbing compound concentrations. Thus, at low irradiance, pH and UVR interact in a way that affects the multiple physiological responses of C. officinalis differently. In particular, changes in the skeletal content induced by low pH may affect how C. officinalis absorbs and uses light. Therefore, the light quality used in ocean acidification experiments will affect the predictions of how calcified macroalgae will respond to elevated CO2.