Seaweeds are ecologically important primary producers, competitors, and ecosystem engineers that play a central role in coastal habitats ranging from kelp forests to coral reefs. Although seaweeds are known to be vulnerable to physical and chemical changes in the marine environment, the impacts of ongoing and future anthropogenic climate change in seaweed-dominated ecosystems remain poorly understood. In this review, we describe the ways in which changes in the environment directly affect seaweeds in terms of their physiology, growth, reproduction, and survival. We consider the extent to which seaweed species may be able to respond to these changes via adaptation or migration. We also examine the extensive reshuffling of communities that is occurring as the ecological balance between competing species changes, and as top-down control by herbivores becomes stronger or weaker. Finally, we delve into some of the ecosystem-level responses to these changes, including changes in primary productivity, diversity, and resilience. Although there are several key areas in which ecological insight is lacking, we suggest that reasonable climate-related hypotheses can be developed and tested based on current information. By strategically prioritizing research in the areas of complex environmental variation, multiple stressor effects, evolutionary adaptation, and population, community, and ecosystem-level responses, we can rapidly build upon our current understanding of seaweed biology and climate change ecology to more effectively conserve and manage coastal ecosystems.
Posts Tagged 'warming'
Tags: adaptation, algae, biological response, growth, morphology, multiple factors, physiology, reproduction, review, survival, warming
Tags: abundance, Arctic, biological response, dissolution, mollusks, morphology, mortality, multiple factors, warming, zooplankton
Ocean acidification and warming will be most pronounced in the Arctic Ocean. Aragonite shell-bearing pteropods in the Arctic are expected to be among the first species to suffer from ocean acidification. Carbonate undersaturation in the Arctic will first occur in winter and because this period is also characterized by low food availability, the overwintering stages of polar pteropods may develop into a bottleneck in their life cycle. The impacts of ocean acidification and warming on growth, shell degradation (dissolution), and mortality of two thecosome pteropods, the polar Limacina helicina and the boreal L. retroversa, were studied for the first time during the Arctic winter in the Kongsfjord (Svalbard). The abundance of L. helicina and L. retroversa varied from 23.5 to 120 ind m−2 and 12 to 38 ind m−2, and the mean shell size ranged from 920 to 981 μm and 810 to 823 μm, respectively. Seawater was aragonite-undersaturated at the overwintering depths of pteropods on two out of ten days of our observations. A seven-day experiment (temperature levels: 2 and 7°C, pCO2 levels: 350, 650 (only for L. helicina) and 880 μatm) revealed a significant pCO2 effect on shell degradation in both species, and synergistic effects between temperature and pCO2 for L. helicina. A comparison of live and dead specimens kept under the same experimental conditions indicated that both species were capable of actively reducing the impacts of acidification on shell dissolution. A higher vulnerability to increasing pCO2 and temperature during the winter season is indicated compared with a similar study from fall 2009. Considering the species winter phenology and the seasonal changes in carbonate chemistry in Arctic waters, negative climate change effects on Arctic thecosomes are likely to show up first during winter, possibly well before ocean acidification effects become detectable during the summer season.
Influence of temperature, hypercapnia, and development on the relative expression of different hemocyanin isoforms in the common cuttlefish Sepia officinalisPublished 18 July 2012 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: biological response, laboratory, molecular biology, mollusks, multiple stressors, physiology, warming
The cuttlefish Sepia officinalis expresses several hemocyanin isoforms with potentially different pH optima, indicating their reliance on efficient pH regulation in the blood. Ongoing ocean warming and acidification could influence the oxygen-binding properties of respiratory pigments in ectothermic marine invertebrates. This study examined whether S. officinalis differentially expresses individual hemocyanin isoforms to maintain optimal oxygen transport during development and acclimation to elevated seawater pCO2 and temperature. Using quantitative PCR, we measured relative mRNA expression levels of three different hemocyanin isoforms in several ontogenetic stages (embryos, hatchlings, juveniles, and adults), under different temperatures and elevated seawater pCO2. Our results indicate moderately altered hemocyanin expression in all embryonic stages acclimated to higher pCO2, while hemocyanin expression in hatchlings and juveniles remained unaffected. During the course of development, total hemocyanin expression increased independently of pCO2 or thermal acclimation status. Expression of isoform 3 is reported for the first time in a cephalopod in this study and was found to be generally low but highest in the embryonic stages (0.2% of total expression). Despite variable hemocyanin expression, hemolymph total protein concentrations remained constant in the experimental groups. Our data provide first evidence that ontogeny has a stronger influence on hemocyanin isoform expression than the environmental conditions chosen, and they suggest that hemocyanin protein abundance in response to thermal acclimation is regulated by post-transcriptional/translational rather than by transcriptional modifications.
Tags: Baltic Sea, biological response, crustaceans, mollusks, morphology, multiple stressors, performance, warming
Both ocean warming and acidification have been demonstrated to affect the growth, performance and reproductive success of calcifying invertebrates. However, relatively little is known regarding how such environmental change may affect interspecific interactions. We separately treated green crabs Carcinus maenas and periwinkles Littorina littorea under conditions that mimicked either ambient conditions (control) or warming and acidification, both separately and in combination, for 5 mo. After 5 mo, the predators, prey and predator-prey interactions were screened for changes in response to environmental change. Acidification negatively affected the closer-muscle length of the crusher chela and correspondingly the claw-strength increment in C. maenas. The effects of warming and/or acidification on L. littorea were less consistent but indicated weaker shells in response to acidification. On the community level, however, we found no evidence that predator-prey interactions will change in the future. Further experiments exploring the impacts of warming and acidification on key ecological interactions are needed instead of basing predictions of ecosystem change solely on species-specific responses to environmental change.