Predicting the impact of ongoing anthropogenic CO2 emissions on calcifying marine organisms is complex, owing to the synergy between direct changes (acidification) and indirect changes through climate change (e.g., warming, changes in ocean circulation, and deoxygenation). Laboratory experiments, particularly on longer-lived organisms, tend to be too short to reveal the potential of organisms to acclimatize, adapt, or evolve and usually do not incorporate multiple stressors. We studied two examples of rapid carbon release in the geological record, Eocene Thermal Maximum 2 (∼53.2 Ma) and the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, ∼55.5 Ma), the best analogs over the last 65 Ma for future ocean acidification related to high atmospheric CO2 levels. We use benthic foraminifers, which suffered severe extinction during the PETM, as a model group. Using synchrotron radiation X-ray tomographic microscopy, we reconstruct the calcification response of survivor species and find, contrary to expectations, that calcification significantly increased during the PETM. In contrast, there was no significant response to the smaller Eocene Thermal Maximum 2, which was associated with a minor change in diversity only. These observations suggest that there is a response threshold for extinction and calcification response, while highlighting the utility of the geological record in helping constrain the sensitivity of biotic response to environmental change.
Posts Tagged 'protists'
Tags: biodiversity, biological response, calcification, morphology, multiple factors, oxygen, paleo, protists, temperature
Tags: abundance, biological response, diversity, field, morphology, paleo, protists, South Pacific
Increased atmospheric CO2 concentrations lead to decreased pH and carbonate availability in the ocean (Ocean Acidification, OA). Carbon dioxide seeps serve as ‘windows into the future’ to study the ability of marine invertebrates to acclimatise to OA. We studied benthic foraminifera in sediments from shallow volcanic CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea. Conditions follow a gradient from present day pH/pCO2 to those expected past 2100. We show that foraminiferal densities and diversity declined steeply with increasing pCO2. Foraminifera were almost absent at sites with pH < 7.9 (>700 μatm pCO2). Symbiont-bearing species did not exhibit reduced vulnerability to extinction at <7.9 pH. Non-calcifying taxa declined less steeply along pCO2 gradients, but were also absent in samples at pH < 7.9. Data suggest the possibility of an OA induced ecological extinction of shallow tropical benthic foraminifera by 2100; similar to extinctions observed in the geological past.
Tags: abundance, biological response, chemistry, echinoderms, field, mollusks, North Atlantic, phytoplankton, protists, zooplankton
Relationships between six calcifying plankton groups and pH are explored in a highly biologically productive and data-rich area of the central North Sea using time-series datasets. The long-term trends show that abundances of foraminiferans, coccolithophores, and echinoderm larvae have risen over the last few decades while the abundances of bivalves and pteropods have declined. Despite good coverage of pH data for the study area there is uncertainty over the quality of this historical dataset; pH appears to have been declining since the mid 1990s but there was no statistical connection between the abundance of the calcifying plankton and the pH trends. If there are any effects of pH on calcifying plankton in the North Sea they appear to be masked by the combined effects of other climatic (e.g. temperature), chemical (nutrient concentrations) and biotic (predation) drivers. Certain calcified plankton have proliferated in the central North Sea, and are tolerant of changes in pH that have occurred since the 1950s but bivalve larvae and pteropods have declined. An improved monitoring programme is required as ocean acidification may be occurring at a rate that will exceed the environmental niches of numerous planktonic taxa, testing their capacities for acclimation and genetic adaptation.
A core-top study of dissolution effect on B/Ca in Globigerinoides sacculifer from the tropical Atlantic: potential bias for paleo-reconstruction of seawater carbonate chemistry.Published 2 May 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: calcification, chemistry, dissolution, paleo, protists
It has been recently shown that B/Ca in planktonic foraminiferal calcite can be used as a proxy for seawater pH. Based on the study of surface sediments (multi-cores) retrieved along a depth transect on the Sierra Leone Rise (Eastern Equatorial Atlantic), we document the decrease of B/Ca and Mg/Ca of Globigerinoides sacculifer shells with increasing water depth and dissolution. This effect of dissolution on B/Ca may potentially represent a severe bias for paleo-pH reconstructions using this species. Samples of G. sacculifer were analyzed independently at two laboratories for B/Ca and Mg/Ca. Both sets of results show a systematic decrease of B/Ca and Mg/Ca along the depth transect, with an overall loss of ∼14 µmol/mol (∼15%) for B/Ca and of ∼0.7 mmol/mol (∼21%) for Mg/Ca between the shallowest (2640 m) and the deepest (4950 m) sites. Because of this dissolution effect, surface water pH reconstructed from B/Ca of G. sacculifer decreases by ∼0.11 units between the shallowest site and the deepest site, a magnitude similar to the expected glacial/interglacial surface water pH changes.
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: calcification, morphology, multiple factors, paleo, phytoplankton, protists, temperature
As a result of anthropogenic pCO2 increases future oceans are growing warmer and lower in pH and oxygen, conditions that are likely to impact planktic communities. Past intervals of elevated and changing pCO2 and temperatures can offer a glimpse into the response of marine calcifying plankton to changes in surface oceans under conditions similar to those projected for the future. Here we present new records of planktic foraminiferal and coccolith calcification from Deep Sea Drilling Project Site 607 (mid North Atlantic) and Ocean Drilling Program Site 999 (Caribbean Sea) from the Pliocene, the last time that pCO2 was similar to today, and extending through a global cooling event into the Intensification of Northern Hemisphere Glaciation (3.3 to 2.6 million years ago). Test weights of both surface-dwelling foraminifera Globigerina bulloides and thermocline-dwelling foraminifera Globorotalia puncticulata vary, with a potential link to regional temperature variation in the North Atlantic, whereas in the tropics Globigerinoides ruber test weight remains stable. In contrast, reticulofenestrid coccoliths show a narrowing size range and a decline in the largest lith diameters over this interval. Our results suggest no major changes in plankton calcification during the high pCO2 Pliocene or during the transition into an icehouse world.
Benthic foraminifera show some resilience to ocean acidification in the northern Gulf of California, MexicoPublished 8 March 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: biological response, community composition, dissolution, diversity, field, North Pacific, protists
Extensive CO2 vents have been discovered in the Wagner Basin, northern Gulf of California, where they create large areas with lowered seawater pH. Such areas are suitable for investigations of long-term biological effects of ocean acidification and effects of CO2 leakage from subsea carbon capture storage. Here, we show responses of benthic foraminifera to seawater pH gradients at 74–207 m water depth. Living (rose Bengal stained) benthic foraminifera included Nonionella basispinata, Epistominella bradyana and Bulimina marginata. Studies on foraminifera at CO2 vents in the Mediterranean and off Papua New Guinea have shown dramatic long-term effects of acidified seawater. We found living calcareous benthic foraminifera in low pH conditions in the northern Gulf of California, although there was an impoverished species assemblage and evidence of post-mortem test dissolution.
Tags: biological response, mollusks, morphology, paleo, protists, zooplankton
Recent concern over the effects of ocean acidification upon calcifying organisms in the modern ocean has highlighted the aragonitic shelled thecosomatous pteropods as being at a high risk. Laboratory studies have shown that increased pCO2, leading to decreased pH and low carbonate concentrations, has a negative impact on the ability of pteropods to calcify and maintain their shells. This study presents the micropalaeontological analysis of marine cores from the Caribbean Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. Pteropods, heteropods and planktic foraminifera were picked from samples to provide palaeoenvironmental data for each core. Determination of pteropod calcification was made using the Limacina Dissolution Index (LDX) and the average shell size of Limacina inflata specimens. Pteropod calcification indices were compared to global ice volume and Vostok atmospheric CO2 concentrations to determine any associations between climate and calcification. Results show that changes in surface ocean carbonate concentrations throughout the Late Pleistocene did affect the calcification of thecosomatous pteropods. These effects can be detected in shells from marine sediments that are located well above the aragonite lysocline and have not undergone post-depositional dissolution. The results of this study confirm the findings of laboratory studies, showing a decrease in calcification during interglacial periods, when surface ocean carbonate concentrations were lower. During glacial periods, calcification was enhanced due to the increased availability of carbonate. This trend was found in all sediments studied, indicating that the response of pteropods to past climate change is of global significance. These results demonstrate that pteropods have been negatively affected by oceanic pH levels relatively higher and changing at a lesser rate than those predicted for the 21st Century. Results also establish the use of pteropods and heteropods in reconstructing surface ocean conditions. The LDX is a fast and appropriate way of determining variations in surface water carbonate saturation. Abundances of key species were also found to constrain palaeotemperatures better than planktic foraminifera, a use which could be further developed.
Calibration of the boron isotope proxy in the planktonic foraminifera Globigerinoides ruber for use in palaeo-CO2 reconstructionPublished 20 February 2013 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: methods, paleo, protists
The boron isotope-pH proxy, applied to mixed-layer planktic foraminifera, has great potential for estimating past CO2 levels, which in turn is crucial to advance our understanding of how this greenhouse gas influences Earth’s climate. Previous culture experiments have shown that, although the boron isotopic compositions of various planktic foraminifera are pH dependent, they do not agree with the aqueous geochemical basis of the proxy. Here we outline the results of culture experiments on Globigerinoides ruber (white) across a range of pH (∼7.5–8.2) and analysed via multicollector inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS), and compare these data to core-top and sediment-trap samples to derive a robust new species-specific boron isotope-pH calibration. Consistent with earlier culture studies, we show a reduced pH dependency of the boron isotopic composition of symbiont-bearing planktonic foraminifera compared to borate ion in seawater. We also present evidence for a size fraction effect in the δ11B of G. ruber. Finally, we reconstruct atmospheric CO2 concentrations over the last deglacial using our new calibration at two equatorial sites, ODP Site 999A and Site GeoB1523-1. These data provide further grounding for the application of the boron isotope-pH proxy in reconstructions of past atmospheric CO2 levels.