Community barcoding reveals little effect of ocean acidification on the composition of coastal plankton communities: Evidence from a long-term mesocosm study in the Gullmar Fjord, Skagerrak.
ABSTRACT: The acidification of the oceans could potentially alter marine plankton communities with consequences for ecosystem functioning. While several studies have investigated effects of ocean acidification on communities using traditional methods, few have used genetic analyses. Here, we use community barcoding to assess the impact of ocean acidification on the composition of a coastal plankton community in a large scale, in situ, long-term mesocosm experiment. High-throughput sequencing resulted in the identification of a wide range of planktonic taxa (Alveolata, Cryptophyta, Haptophyceae, Fungi, Metazoa, Hydrozoa, Rhizaria, Straminipila, Chlorophyta). Analyses based on predicted operational taxonomical units as well as taxonomical compositions revealed no differences between communities in high CO2 mesocosms (~ 760 ?atm) and those exposed to present-day CO2 conditions. Observed shifts in the planktonic community composition were mainly related to seasonal changes in temperature and nutrients. Furthermore, based on our investigations, the elevated CO2 did not affect the intraspecific diversity of the most common mesozooplankter, the calanoid copepod Pseudocalanus acuspes. Nevertheless, accompanying studies found temporary effects attributed to a raise in CO2. Differences in taxa composition between the CO2 treatments could, however, only be observed in a specific period of the experiment. Based on our genetic investigations, no compositional long-term shifts of the plankton communities exposed to elevated CO2 conditions were observed. Thus, we conclude that the compositions of planktonic communities, especially those in coastal areas, remain rather unaffected by increased CO2.
Project description:Ocean acidification is considered as a crucial stressor for marine communities. In this study, we tested the effects of the IPCC RPC6.0 end-of-century acidification scenario on a natural plankton community in the Gullmar Fjord, Sweden, during a long-term mesocosm experiment from a spring bloom to a mid-summer situation. The focus of this study was on microzooplankton and its interactions with phytoplankton and mesozooplankton. The microzooplankton community was dominated by ciliates, especially small Strombidium sp., with the exception of the last days when heterotrophic dinoflagellates increased in abundance. We did not observe any effects of high CO2 on the community composition and diversity of microzooplankton. While ciliate abundance, biomass and growth rate were not affected by elevated CO2, we observed a positive effect of elevated CO2 on dinoflagellate abundances. Additionally, growth rates of dinoflagellates were significantly higher in the high CO2 treatments. Given the higher Chlorophyll a content measured under high CO2, our results point at mainly indirect effects of CO2 on microzooplankton caused by changes in phytoplankton standing stocks, in this case most likely an increase in small-sized phytoplankton of <8 ?m. Overall, the results from the present study covering the most important part of the growing season indicate that coastal microzooplankton communities are rather robust towards realistic acidification scenarios.
Project description:The influence of resource availability on planktonic and biofilm microbial community membership is poorly understood. Heterotrophic bacteria derive some to all of their organic carbon (C) from photoautotrophs while simultaneously competing with photoautotrophs for inorganic nutrients such as phosphorus (P) or nitrogen (N). Therefore, C inputs have the potential to shift the competitive balance of aquatic microbial communities by increasing the resource space available to heterotrophs (more C) while decreasing the resource space available to photoautotrophs (less mineral nutrients due to increased competition from heterotrophs). To test how resource dynamics affect membership of planktonic communities and assembly of biofilm communities we amended a series of flow-through mesocosms with C to alter the availability of C among treatments. Each mesocosm was fed with unfiltered seawater and incubated with sterilized microscope slides as surfaces for biofilm formation. The highest C treatment had the highest planktonic heterotroph abundance, lowest planktonic photoautotroph abundance, and highest biofilm biomass. We surveyed bacterial 16S rRNA genes and plastid 23S rRNA genes to characterize biofilm and planktonic community membership and structure. Regardless of resource additions, biofilm communities had higher alpha diversity than planktonic communities in all mesocosms. Heterotrophic plankton communities were distinct from heterotrophic biofilm communities in all but the highest C treatment where heterotrophic plankton and biofilm communities resembled each other after 17 days. Unlike the heterotrophs, photoautotrophic plankton communities were different than photoautotrophic biofilm communities in composition in all treatments including the highest C treatment. Our results suggest that although resource amendments affect community membership and structure, microbial lifestyle (biofilm vs. planktonic) has a stronger influence on community composition.
Project description:Rising anthropogenic CO2 emissions are anticipated to drive change to ocean ecosystems, but a conceptualization of biological change derived from quantitative analyses is lacking. Derived from multiple ecosystems and latitudes, our metaanalysis of 632 published experiments quantified the direction and magnitude of ecological change resulting from ocean acidification and warming to conceptualize broadly based change. Primary production by temperate noncalcifying plankton increases with elevated temperature and CO2, whereas tropical plankton decreases productivity because of acidification. Temperature increases consumption by and metabolic rates of herbivores, but this response does not translate into greater secondary production, which instead decreases with acidification in calcifying and noncalcifying species. This effect creates a mismatch with carnivores whose metabolic and foraging costs increase with temperature. Species diversity and abundances of tropical as well as temperate species decline with acidification, with shifts favoring novel community compositions dominated by noncalcifiers and microorganisms. Both warming and acidification instigate reduced calcification in tropical and temperate reef-building species. Acidification leads to a decline in dimethylsulfide production by ocean plankton, which as a climate gas, contributes to cloud formation and maintenance of the Earth's heat budget. Analysis of responses in short- and long-term experiments and of studies at natural CO2 vents reveals little evidence of acclimation to acidification or temperature changes, except for microbes. This conceptualization of change across whole communities and their trophic linkages forecast a reduction in diversity and abundances of various key species that underpin current functioning of marine ecosystems.
Project description:The intertidal zone occupies the shore between the high and low tide marks and is subjected both to natural forces and anthropogenic activities. Compared with the coastal ecosystem, studies comparing diversity and community structure of intertidal planktonic and benthic microeukaryotes are limited. Therefore, the ecological processes mediating their assemblies remain poorly understood. Environmental rRNA from two size fractions (nano- and micro-sized) of plankton and from seasonally collected (spring and summer) benthos, together with water and sediment chemistry and concentrations of heavy metals, were used to explore diversity and community structure of microeukaryotes in intertidal zones of southeast Fujian Province, China. Benthic microeukaryotes harbored significantly higher alpha-diversity than those of the plankton, whereas no distinct patterns of organism size/seasonal distribution were observed for either community. Community compositions differed significantly between planktonic and benthic microeukaryotes, with the former presenting size-fractionated discrepancies and the latter showing seasonal variation. Community turnover between planktonic and benthic microeukaryotes was mainly driven by stramenopiles and alveolates. Distance-decay patterns were found in both communities, with the rate of community turnover being higher for planktonic than benthic microeukaryotes. Among the environmental factors measured, the concentration of Cd and the water content of sediment were closely associated with benthic community variations, whereas none of the factors measured was identified as being responsible for planktonic community variation. Phylogenetic null model analysis indicated that dispersal limitation was the most crucial ecological process mediating community assembly for both planktonic and benthic microeukaryotes in intertidal zones, with heterogeneous selection making a higher contribution to community variation of benthic than planktonic microeukaryotes. Stochastic processes, mainly dispersal limitation, were found to prevail in both communities. This study thus provides new insights into the diversity distribution and assembly mechanism of microeukaryotes in intertidal zones.
Project description:Every year, the oceans absorb about 30% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) leading to a re-equilibration of the marine carbonate system and decreasing seawater pH. Today, there is increasing awareness that these changes-summarized by the term ocean acidification (OA)-could differentially affect the competitive ability of marine organisms, thereby provoking a restructuring of marine ecosystems and biogeochemical element cycles. In winter 2013, we deployed ten pelagic mesocosms in the Gullmar Fjord at the Swedish west coast in order to study the effect of OA on plankton ecology and biogeochemistry under close to natural conditions. Five of the ten mesocosms were left unperturbed and served as controls (~380 ?atm pCO2), whereas the others were enriched with CO2-saturated water to simulate realistic end-of-the-century carbonate chemistry conditions (~760 ?atm pCO2). We ran the experiment for 113 days which allowed us to study the influence of high CO2 on an entire winter-to-summer plankton succession and to investigate the potential of some plankton organisms for evolutionary adaptation to OA in their natural environment. This paper is the first in a PLOS collection and provides a detailed overview on the experimental design, important events, and the key complexities of such a "long-term mesocosm" approach. Furthermore, we analyzed whether simulated end-of-the-century carbonate chemistry conditions could lead to a significant restructuring of the plankton community in the course of the succession. At the level of detail analyzed in this overview paper we found that CO2-induced differences in plankton community composition were non-detectable during most of the succession except for a period where a phytoplankton bloom was fueled by remineralized nutrients. These results indicate: (1) Long-term studies with pelagic ecosystems are necessary to uncover OA-sensitive stages of succession. (2) Plankton communities fueled by regenerated nutrients may be more responsive to changing carbonate chemistry than those having access to high inorganic nutrient concentrations and may deserve particular attention in future studies.
Project description:Microeukaryotes play key roles in the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems. Little is known about the relative importance of the processes that drive planktonic and benthic microeukaryotic biogeography in subtropical offshore areas. This study compares the microeukaryotic community compositions (MCCs) from offshore waters (n = 12) and intertidal sediments (n = 12) around Xiamen Island, southern China, using high-throughput sequencing of 18S rDNA. This work further quantifies the relative contributions of spatial and environmental variables on the distribution of marine MCCs (including total, dominant, rare and conditionally rare taxa). Our results showed that planktonic and benthic MCCs were significantly different, and the benthic richness (6627 OTUs) was much higher than that for plankton (4044 OTUs) with the same sequencing effort. Further, we found that benthic MCCs exhibited a significant distance-decay relationship, whereas the planktonic communities did not. After removing two unique sites (N2 and N3), however, 72% variation in planktonic community was explained well by stochastic processes. More importantly, both the environmental and spatial factors played significant roles in influencing the biogeography of total and dominant planktonic and benthic microeukaryotic communities, although their relative effects on these community variations were different. However, a high proportion of unexplained variation in the rare taxa (78.1-97.4%) and conditionally rare taxa (49.0-81.0%) indicated that more complex mechanisms may influence the assembly of the rare subcommunity. These results demonstrate that patterns and processes in marine microeukaryotic community assembly differ among the different habitats (coastal water vs. intertidal sediment) and different communities (total, dominant, rare and conditionally rare microeukaryotes), and provide novel insight on the microeukaryotic biogeography and ecological mechanisms in coastal waters and intertidal sediments at local scale.
Project description:Ocean acidification (OA), a process of increasing seawater acidity caused by the uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) by the ocean, is expected to change surface ocean pH to levels unprecedented for millions of years, affecting marine food web structures and trophic interactions. Using an in situ mesocosm approach we investigated effects of OA on community composition and trophic transfer of essential fatty acids (FA) in a natural plankton assemblage. Elevated pCO2 favored the smallest phytoplankton size class in terms of biomass, primarily picoeukaryotes, at the expense of chlorophyta and haptophyta in the nano-plankton size range. This shift in community composition and size structure was accompanied by a decline in the proportion of polyunsaturated FA (PUFA) to total FA content in the nano- and picophytoplankton size fractions. This decline was mirrored in a continuing reduction in the relative PUFA content of the dominant copepod, Calanus finmarchicus, which primarily fed on the nano-size class. Our results demonstrate that a shift in phytoplankton community composition and biochemical composition in response to rising CO2 can affect the transfer of essential compounds to higher trophic levels, which rely on their prey as a source for essential macromolecules.
Project description:The efficiency of deep-ocean CO2 sequestration is regulated by the relative balance between inorganic and organic carbon export respectively acting through the biological carbon pump (BCP) and the carbonate counter pump (CCP). The composition and abundance of calcifying species in the prevailing oceanic plankton community plays a major role in driving the CCP. Here we assess the role of these calcifying organisms in regulating the strength of the CCP in a Southern Ocean region (northern Scotia Sea) known to be a major hotspot for the drawdown of atmospheric CO2. We show that, when shelled pteropods dominate the calcifying community, the total annual reduction of CO2 transferred to the deep ocean doubles (17%) compared to when other plankton calcifiers dominate (3-9%). Furthermore, predation enhances their contribution through the removal of organic soft tissue. Pteropods are threatened in polar regions by ocean warming and acidification. We determine that their potential decline would have major implications to the comparative strengths of the BCP and CCP.
Project description:Contemporary insights from evolutionary ecology suggest that population divergence in ecologically important traits within predators can generate diversifying ecological selection on local community structure. Many studies acknowledging these effects of intraspecific variation assume that local populations are situated in communities that are unconnected to similar communities within a shared region. Recent work from metacommunity ecology suggests that species dispersal among communities can also influence species diversity and composition but can depend upon the relative importance of the local environment. Here, we study the relative effects of intraspecific phenotypic variation in a fish predator and spatial processes related to plankton species dispersal on multitrophic lake plankton metacommunity structure. Intraspecific diversification in foraging traits and residence time of the planktivorous fish alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) among coastal lakes yields lake metacommunities supporting three lake types which differ in the phenotype and incidence of alewife: lakes with anadromous, landlocked, or no alewives. In coastal lakes, plankton community composition was attributed to dispersal versus local environmental predictors, including intraspecific variation in alewives. Local and beta diversity of zooplankton and phytoplankton was additionally measured in response to intraspecific variation in alewives. Zooplankton communities were structured by species sorting, with a strong influence of intraspecific variation in A. pseudoharengus. Intraspecific variation altered zooplankton species richness and beta diversity, where lake communities with landlocked alewives exhibited intermediate richness between lakes with anadromous alewives and without alewives, and greater community similarity. Phytoplankton diversity, in contrast, was highest in lakes with landlocked alewives. The results indicate that plankton dispersal in the region supplied a migrant pool that was strongly structured by intraspecific variation in alewives. This is one of the first studies to demonstrate that intraspecific phenotypic variation in a predator can maintain contrasting patterns of multitrophic diversity in metacommunities.
Project description:Ocean acidification is expected to alter community composition on coral reefs, but its effects on reef community metabolism are poorly understood. Here we document how early successional benthic coral reef communities change in situ along gradients of carbon dioxide (CO2), and the consequences of these changes on rates of community photosynthesis, respiration, and light and dark calcification. Ninety standardised benthic communities were grown on PVC tiles deployed at two shallow-water volcanic CO2 seeps and two adjacent control sites in Papua New Guinea. Along the CO2 gradient, both the upward facing phototrophic and the downward facing cryptic communities changed in their composition. Under ambient CO2, both communities were dominated by calcifying algae, but with increasing CO2 they were gradually replaced by non-calcifying algae (predominantly green filamentous algae, cyanobacteria and macroalgae, which increased from ~30% to ~80% cover). Responses were weaker in the invertebrate communities, however ascidians and tube-forming polychaetes declined with increasing CO2. Differences in the carbonate chemistry explained a far greater amount of change in communities than differences between the two reefs and successional changes from five to 13 months, suggesting community successions are established early and are under strong chemical control. As pH declined from 8.0 to 7.8, rates of gross photosynthesis and dark respiration of the 13-month old reef communities (upper and cryptic surfaces combined) significantly increased by 10% and 20%, respectively, in response to altered community composition. As a consequence, net production remained constant. Light and dark calcification rates both gradually declined by 20%, and low or negative daily net calcification rates were observed at an aragonite saturation state of <2.3. The study demonstrates that ocean acidification as predicted for the end of this century will strongly alter reef communities, and will significantly change rates of community metabolism.