Oceanic pH is projected to decrease by up to 0.5 units by 2100 (a process known as ocean acidification, OA), reducing the calcium carbonate saturation state of the oceans. The coastal ocean is expected to experience periods of even lower carbonate saturation state because of the inherent natural variability of coastal habitats. Thus, in order to accurately project the impact of OA on the coastal ocean, we must first understand its natural variability. The production of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP) by marine algae and the release of DMSP’s breakdown product dimethylsulphide (DMS) are often related to environmental stress. This study investigated the spatiotemporal response of tropical macroalgae (Padina sp., Amphiroa sp. and Turbinaria sp.) and the overlying water column to natural changes in reefal carbonate chemistry. We compared macroalgal intracellular DMSP and water column DMSP+DMS concentrations between the environmentally stable reef crest and environmentally variable reef flat of the fringing Suleman Reef, Egypt, over 45-hour sampling periods. Similar diel patterns were observed throughout: maximum intracellular DMSP and water column DMS/P concentrations were observed at night, coinciding with the time of lowest carbonate saturation state. Spatially, water column DMS/P concentrations were highest over areas dominated by seagrass and macroalgae (dissolved DMS/P) and phytoplankton (particulate DMS/P) rather than corals. This research suggests that macroalgae may use DMSP to maintain metabolic function during periods of low carbonate saturation state. In the reef system, seagrass and macroalgae may be more important benthic producers of dissolved DMS/P than corals. An increase in DMS/P concentrations during periods of low carbonate saturation state may become ecologically important in the future under an OA regime, impacting larval settlement and increasing atmospheric emissions of DMS.
Posts Tagged 'phanerogams'
Spatiotemporal variability of dimethylsulphoniopropionate on a fringing coral reef: the role of reefal carbonate chemistry and environmental variabilityPublished 30 May 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: algae, biogeochemistry, biological response, chemistry, corals, field, phanerogams, Red Sea
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.
Effects of in situ CO2 enrichment on the structural and chemical characteristics of the seagrass Thalassia testudinumPublished 21 March 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: biological response, field, morphology, North Atlantic, phanerogams, physiology
Seagrasses commonly display carbon-limited photosynthetic rates. Thus, increases in atmospheric pCO2, and consequentially oceanic CO2(aq) concentrations, may prove beneficial. While addressed in mesocosms, these hypotheses have not been tested in the field with manipulative experimentation. This study examines the effects of in situ CO2(aq) enrichment on the structural and chemical characteristics of the tropical seagrass, Thalassia testudinum. CO2(aq) availability was manipulated for 6 months in clear, open-top chambers within a shallow seagrass meadow in the Florida Keys (USA), reproducing forecasts for the year 2100. Structural characteristics (leaf area, leaf growth, shoot mass, and shoot density) were unresponsive to CO2(aq) enrichment. However, leaf nitrogen and phosphorus content declined on average by 11 and 21 %, respectively. Belowground, non-structural carbohydrates increased by 29 %. These results indicate that increased CO2(aq) availability may primarily alter the chemical composition of seagrasses, influencing both the nutrient status and resilience of these systems.
Meta-analysis reveals complex marine biological responses to the interactive effects of ocean acidification and warmingPublished 15 March 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: algae, calcification, corals, crustaceans, echinoderms, fish, mollusks, morphology, multiple factors, phanerogams, photosynthesis, phytoplankton, reproduction, survival, temperature
Ocean acidification and warming are considered two of the greatest threats to marine biodiversity, yet the combined effect of these stressors on marine organisms remains largely unclear. Using a meta-analytical approach, we assessed the biological responses of marine organisms to the effects of ocean acidification and warming in isolation and combination. As expected biological responses varied across taxonomic groups, life-history stages, and trophic levels, but importantly, combining stressors generally exhibited a stronger biological (either positive or negative) effect. Using a subset of orthogonal studies, we show that four of five of the biological responses measured (calcification, photosynthesis, reproduction, and survival, but not growth) interacted synergistically when warming and acidification were combined. The observed synergisms between interacting stressors suggest that care must be made in making inferences from single-stressor studies. Our findings clearly have implications for the development of adaptive management strategies particularly given that the frequency of stressors interacting in marine systems will be likely to intensify in the future. There is now an urgent need to move toward more robust, holistic, and ecologically realistic climate change experiments that incorporate interactions. Without them accurate predictions about the likely deleterious impacts to marine biodiversity and ecosystem functioning over the next century will not be possible.
Tags: abundance, biological response, field, phanerogams, primary production, respiration, South Pacific
While carbon capture and storage (CCS) is increasingly recognised as technologically possible, recent evidence from deep-sea CCS activities suggests that leakage from reservoirs may result in highly CO2 impacted biological communities. In contrast, shallow marine waters have higher primary productivity which may partially mitigate this leakage. We used natural CO2 seeps in shallow marine waters to assess if increased benthic primary productivity could capture and store CO2 leakage in areas targeted for CCS. We found that the productivity of seagrass communities (in situ, using natural CO2 seeps) and two individual species (ex situ, Cymodocea serrulata and Halophila ovalis) increased with CO2 concentration, but only species with dense belowground biomass increased in abundance (e.g. C. serrulata). Importantly, the ratio of below:above ground biomass of seagrass communities increased fivefold, making seagrass good candidates to partially mitigate CO2 leakage from sub-seabed reservoirs, since they form carbon sinks that can be buried for millennia.
Effects of CO2 enrichment on photosynthesis, growth, and nitrogen metabolism of the seagrass Zostera noltiiPublished 25 September 2012 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: biological response, field, growth, mesocosms, phanerogams, photosynthesis, physiology
Seagrass ecosystems are expected to benefit from the global increase in CO 2 in the ocean because the photosynthetic rate of these plants may be Ci-limited at the current CO 2 level. As well, it is expected that lower external pH will facilitate the nitrate uptake of seagrasses if nitrate is cotransported with H+ across the membrane as in terrestrial plants. Here, we investigate the effects of CO 2 enrichment on both carbon and nitrogen metabolism of the seagrass Zostera noltii in a mesocosm experiment where plants were exposed for 5 months to two experimental CO 2 concentrations (360 and 700 ppm). Both the maximum photosynthetic rate (Pm) and photosynthetic efficiency (α) were higher (1.3- and 4.1-fold, respectively) in plants exposed to CO 2-enriched conditions. On the other hand, no significant effects of CO 2 enrichment on leaf growth rates were observed, probably due to nitrogen limitation as revealed by the low nitrogen content of leaves. The leaf ammonium uptake rate and glutamine synthetase activity were not significantly affected by increased CO 2 concentrations. On the other hand, the leaf nitrate uptake rate of plants exposed to CO 2-enriched conditions was fourfold lower than the uptake of plants exposed to current CO 2 level, suggesting that in the seagrass Z. noltii nitrate is not cotransported with H+ as in terrestrial plants. In contrast, the activity of nitrate reductase was threefold higher in plant leaves grown at high-CO 2 concentrations. Our results suggest that the global effects of CO 2 on seagrass production may be spatially heterogeneous and depend on the specific nitrogen availability of each system. Under a CO 2 increase scenario, the natural levels of nutrients will probably become limiting for Z. noltii. This potential limitation becomes more relevant because the expected positive effect of CO 2 increase on nitrate uptake rate was not confirmed.
Tags: biological response, field, phanerogams, photosynthesis
Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations associated with climate change will likely influence a wide variety of ecosystems. Terrestrial research has examined the effects of increasing CO2 concentrations on the functionality of plant systems; with studies ranging in scale from the short-term responses of individual leaves, to long-term ecological responses of complete forests. While terrestrial plants have received much attention, studies on the responses of marine plants (seagrasses) to increased CO2(aq) concentrations remain relatively sparse, with most research limited to small-scale, ex situ experimentation. Furthermore, few studies have attempted to address similarities between terrestrial and seagrass responses to increases in CO2(aq). The goals of this dissertation are to expand the scope of marine climate change research, and examine how the tropical seagrass, Thalassia testudinum responds to increasing CO2(aq) concentrations over multiple spatial and temporal scales.
Manipulative laboratory and field experimentation reveal that, similar to terrestrial plants, seagrasses strongly respond to increases in CO2(aq) concentrations. Using a novel field technique, in situ field manipulations show that over short time scales, seagrasses respond to elevated CO2(aq) by increasing leaf photosynthetic rates and the production of soluble carbohydrates. Declines in leaf nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) content were additionally detected, paralleling responses from terrestrial systems. Over long time scales, seagrasses increase total above- and belowground biomass with elevated CO2(aq), suggesting that, similar to terrestrial research, pervasive increases in atmospheric and oceanic CO2(aq) concentrations stand to influence the productivity and functionality of these systems. Furthermore, field experiments reveal that seagrass epiphytes, which comprise an important component of seagrass ecosystems, additionally respond to increased CO2(aq) with strong declines in calcified taxa and increases in fleshy taxa.
Together, this work demonstrates that increasing CO2(aq) concentrations will alter the functionality of seagrass ecosystems by increasing plant productivity and shifting the composition of the epiphyte community. These results have implications for future rates of carbon storage and sediment production within these widely distributed systems.
Tags: algae, biological response, phanerogams, review
Although seagrasses and marine macroalgae (macro-autotrophs) play critical ecological roles in reef, lagoon, coastal and open-water ecosystems, thier response to ocean acidification (OA) and climate change is not well understood. In this review, we examine marine macro-autotroph biochemistry and physiology relevant to their response to elevated dissolved inorganic carbon [DIC], carbon dioxide [CO2],and lower carbonate [CO32-] and pH. We also explore the effects of increasing temperature under climate change and the interactions of elevated temperate and [CO2]. Finally, recommendations are made for future research based on this synthesis. A literature review of >100 species revealed that marine macro-autotrophphotosynthesis is overwhelmingly C3(≥85%) with most species capable of utilizing HCO3-; however, most are not saturated at current ocean[DIC]. These results, and the presence of CO2-only users, lead us to conclude that photosynthetic and growth rates of marine macro-autotrophs are likely to increase under elevated [CO2] similar to terrestrial C3 species. In the tropics, many species live close to their thermal limits and will have to up-regulate stress-response systems to tolerate sublethal temperature exposures with climate change, while elevated [CO2] effects on thermal acclimation are unknown. Fundamental linkages between elevated [CO2] and temperature on photorespiration, enzyme systems, carbohydrate production and calcification dictate the need to consider these two parameters simultaneously. Relevant to calcifiers, elevated [CO2]lowers net calcification and this effect is amplified by high temperature. Although the mechanisms are unclear, OA likely disrupts diffusion and transport systems of H+ and DIC. These fluxes control micro-environments that promote calcification over dissolution and maybe more important than CaCO3mineralogy in predicting macroalgal responses to OA. Calcareous macroalgae are highly vulnerable to OA, and it is likely that fleshy macroalgae will dominate in a higher CO2 ocean; therefore, it is critical to elucidate the research gaps identified in this review.
Tropical seagrass meadows modify seawater carbon chemistry: implications for coral reefs impacted by ocean acidificationPublished 3 July 2012 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: biological response, calcification, chemistry, community, corals, Indian, modeling, phanerogams, South Pacific
Highly productive tropical seagrasses often live adjacent to or among coral reefs and utilize large amounts of inorganic carbon. In this study, the effect of seagrass productivity on seawater carbonate chemistry and coral calcification was modelled on the basis of an analysis of published data.
Published data (11 studies, 64 records) reveal that seagrass meadows in the Indo-Pacific have an 83% chance of being net autotrophic, resulting in an average net sink of 155 gC m−2 yr−1. The capacities for seagrass productivity were analysed using an empirical model to examine the effect on seawater carbonate chemistry. Our analyses indicate that increases in pH of up to 0.38 units, and Ωarag increases of 2.9 are possible in the presence of seagrass meadows (compared to their absence) with the precise values of these increases dependent on water residence time (tidal flushing) and water depth. In shallow water reef environments, Scleractinian coral calcification downstream of seagrass has the potential to be ≈18% greater than in an environment without seagrass. If this potential benefit to reef calcifiers is supported by further study it offers a potential tool in marine park management at a local scale. The applicability of this will depend upon local physical conditions as well as the spatial configuration of habitats, and the factors that influence their productivity. This novel study suggests that, in addition to their importance to fisheries, sediment stabilization and primary production, seagrass meadows may enhance coral reef resilience to future ocean acidification.
Tags: biological response, BRcommunity, diversity, mesocosms, multiple factors, North Atlantic, phanerogams, temperature
Ecosystems are simultaneously affected by biodiversity loss and climate change, but we know little about how these factors interact. We predicted that climate warming and CO2-enrichment should strengthen trophic cascades by reducing the relative efficiency of predation-resistant herbivores, if herbivore consumption rate trades off with predation resistance. This weakens the insurance effect of herbivore diversity. We tested this prediction using experimental ocean warming and acidification in seagrass mesocosms. Meta-analyses of published experiments first indicated that consumption rate trades off with predation resistance. The experiment then showed that three common herbivores together controlled macroalgae and facilitated seagrass dominance, regardless of climate change. When the predation-vulnerable herbivore was excluded in normal conditions, the two resistant herbivores maintained top-down control. Under warming, however, increased algal growth outstripped control by herbivores and the system became algal-dominated. Consequently, climate change can reduce the relative efficiency of resistant herbivores and weaken the insurance effect of biodiversity.