Pteropods are excellent recorders of surface temperature and carbonate ion concentration.
ABSTRACT: Pteropods are among the first responders to ocean acidification and warming, but have not yet been widely explored as carriers of marine paleoenvironmental signals. In order to characterize the stable isotopic composition of aragonitic pteropod shells and their variation in response to climate change parameters, such as seawater temperature, pteropod shells (Heliconoides inflatus) were collected along a latitudinal transect in the Atlantic Ocean (31° N to 38° S). Comparison of shell oxygen isotopic composition to depth changes in the calculated aragonite equilibrium oxygen isotope values implies shallow calcification depths for H. inflatus (75?m). This species is therefore a good potential proxy carrier for past variations in surface ocean properties. Furthermore, we identified pteropod shells to be excellent recorders of climate change, as carbonate ion concentration and temperature in the upper water column have dominant influences on pteropod shell carbon and oxygen isotopic composition. These results, in combination with a broad distribution and high abundance, make the pteropod species studied here, H. inflatus, a promising new proxy carrier in paleoceanography.
Project description:Pteropods are a group of small marine gastropods that are highly sensitive to multiple stressors associated with climate change. Their trophic ecology is not well studied, with most research having focused primarily on the effects of ocean acidification on their fragile, aragonite shells. Stable isotopes analysis coupled with isotope-based Bayesian niche metrics is useful for characterizing the trophic structure of biological assemblages. These approaches have not been implemented for pteropod assemblages. We used isotope-based Bayesian niche metrics to investigate the trophic relationships of three co-occurring pteropod species, with distinct feeding behaviors, sampled from the Southern Kerguelen Plateau area in the Indian Sector of the Southern Ocean-a biologically and economically important but poorly studied region. Two of these species were gymnosomes (shell-less pteropods), which are traditionally regarded as specialist predators on other pteropods, and the third species was a thecosome (shelled pteropod), which are typically generalist omnivores. For each species, we aimed to understand (a) variability and overlap among isotopic niches; and (b) whether there was a relationship between body size and trophic position. Observed isotopic niche areas were broadest for gymnosomes, especially <i>Clione limacina antarctica</i>, whose observed isotopic niche area was wider than expected on both ?<sup>13</sup>C and ?<sup>15</sup>N value axes. We also found that trophic position significantly increased with increasing body length for <i>Spongiobranchaea australis</i>. We found no indication of a dietary shift toward increased trophic position with increasing body size for <i>Clio pyramidata</i> f. <i>sulcata</i>. Trophic positions ranged from 2.8 to 3.5, revealing an assemblage composed of both primary and secondary consumer behaviors. This study provides a comprehensive comparative analysis on trophodynamics in Southern Ocean pteropod species, and supports previous studies using gut content, fatty acid and stable isotope analyses. Combined, our results illustrate differences in intraspecific trophic behavior that may be attributed to differential feeding strategies at species level.
Project description:The dissolution of the delicate shells of sea butterflies, or pteropods, has epitomised discussions regarding ecosystem vulnerability to ocean acidification over the last decade. However, a recent demonstration that the organic coating of the shell, the periostracum, is effective in inhibiting dissolution suggests that pteropod shells may not be as susceptible to ocean acidification as previously thought. Here we use micro-CT technology to show how, despite losing the entire thickness of the original shell in localised areas, specimens of polar species Limacina helicina maintain shell integrity by thickening the inner shell wall. One specimen collected within Fram Strait with a history of mechanical and dissolution damage generated four times the thickness of the original shell in repair material. The ability of pteropods to repair and maintain their shells, despite progressive loss, demonstrates a further resilience of these organisms to ocean acidification but at a likely metabolic cost.
Project description:The reconstruction of pre-depositional cooking treatments used by prehistoric coastal populations for processing aquatic faunal resources is often difficult in archaeological shell midden assemblages. Besides limiting our knowledge of various social, cultural, economic and technological aspects of shell midden formation, unknown pre-depositional cooking techniques can also introduce large errors in palaeoclimate reconstructions as they can considerably alter the geochemical proxy signatures in calcareous skeletal structures such as bivalve shells or fish otoliths. Based on experimental and archaeological data, we show that carbonate clumped-isotope thermometry can be used to detect and reconstruct prehistoric processing methods in skeletal aragonite from archaeological shell midden assemblages. Given the temperature-dependent re-equilibration of clumped isotopes in aragonitic carbonates, this allows specific processing, cooking or trash dispersal strategies such as boiling, roasting, or burning to be differentiated. Besides permitting the detailed reconstruction of cultural or technological aspects of shell midden formation, this also allows erroneous palaeoclimate reconstructions to be avoided as all aragonitic shells subjected to pre-historic cooking methods show a clear alteration of their initial oxygen isotopic composition.
Project description:Early life stages of marine calcifiers are particularly vulnerable to climate change. In the Southern Ocean aragonite undersaturation events and areas of rapid warming already occur and are predicted to increase in extent. Here, we present the first study to successfully hatch the polar pteropod Limacina helicina antarctica and observe the potential impact of exposure to increased temperature and aragonite undersaturation resulting from ocean acidification (OA) on the early life stage survival and shell morphology. High larval mortality (up to 39%) was observed in individuals exposed to perturbed conditions. Warming and OA induced extensive shell malformation and dissolution, respectively, increasing shell fragility. Furthermore, shell growth decreased, with variation between treatments and exposure time. Our results demonstrate that short-term exposure through passing through hotspots of OA and warming poses a serious threat to pteropod recruitment and long-term population viability.
Project description:Marine protists play an important role in oceanic ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles. However, the difficulties in culturing pelagic protists indicate that their ecology and behavior remain poorly understood; phylogeographic studies based on single-cell genetic analyses have often shown that they are highly divergent at the biological species level, with variable geographic distributions. This indicates that their ecology could be complex. On the other hand, the biomineral (calcareous) shells of planktic foraminifers are widely used in geochemical analyses to estimate marine paleoenvironmental characteristics (i.e., temperature), because the shell chemical composition reflects ambient seawater conditions. Among the pelagic protists, planktic foraminifers are ideal study candidates to develop a combined approach of genetic, morphological, and geochemical methods, thus reflecting environmental and ecological characteristics. The present study precisely tested whether the DNA extraction process physically and chemically affects the shells of the planktic foraminifer Globigerinoides ruber. We used a nondestructive method for analyzing physical changes (micro-focus X-ray computed tomography (MXCT) scanning) to compare specimens at the pre- and post-DNA extraction stages. Our results demonstrate that DNA extraction has no significant effect on shell density and thickness. We measured stable carbon and oxygen isotopes on the shell of each individual in a negative control or one of two DNA-extracted groups and detected no significant differences in isotopic values among the three groups. Moreover, we evaluated isotopic variations at the biological species level with regard to their ecological characteristics such as depth habitat, life stages, and symbionts. Thus, our examination of the physiochemical effects on biomineral shells through DNA extraction shows that morphological and isotopic analyses of foraminifers can be combined with genetic analysis. These analytical methods are applicable to other shell-forming protists and microorganisms. In this study, we developed a powerful analytical tool for use in ecological and environmental studies of modern and past oceans.
Project description:Anthropogenic carbon perturbation has caused decreases in seawater pH and increases in global temperatures since the start of the 20th century. The subsequent lowering of the saturation state of CaCO3 may make the secretion of skeletons more problematic for marine calcifiers. As organisms that precipitate thin aragonite shells, thecosome pteropods have been identified as being particularly vulnerable to climate change effects. Coupled with their global distribution, this makes them ideal for use as sentinel organisms. Recent studies have highlighted shell dissolution as a potential indicator of ocean acidification; however, this metric is not applicable for monitoring pH changes in supersaturated basins. In this study, the novel approach of high resolution computed tomography (CT) scanning was used to produce quantitative 3-dimensional renderings pteropod shells to assess the potential of using this method to monitor small changes in shell biometrics that may be driven by climate change drivers. An ontogenetic analysis of the shells of Cavolinia inflexa and Styliola subula collected from the Mediterranean was used to identify suitable monitoring metrics. Modern samples were then compared to historical samples of the same species, collected during the Mediterranean leg of the Thor (1910) and Dana (1921) cruises to assess whether any empirical differences could be detected. Shell densities were calculated and scanning electron microscopy was used to compare the aragonite crystal morphology. pH for the collection years was hind-cast using temperature and salinity time series with atmospheric CO2 concentrations from ice core data. Historical samples of S. subula were thicker than S. subula shells of the same size from 2012 and C. inflexa shells collected in 1910 were significantly denser than those from 2012. These results provide a baseline for future work to develop monitoring techniques for climate change in the oceans using the novel approach of high-resolution CT scanning.
Project description:Pteropods are a widespread group of holoplanktonic gastropod molluscs and are uniquely suitable for study of long-term evolutionary processes in the open ocean because they are the only living metazoan plankton with a good fossil record. Pteropods have been proposed as bioindicators to monitor the impacts of ocean acidification and in consequence have attracted considerable research interest, however, a robust evolutionary framework for the group is still lacking. Here we reconstruct their phylogenetic relationships and examine the evolutionary history of pteropods based on combined analyses of Cytochrome Oxidase I, 28S, and 18S ribosomal rRNA sequences and a molecular clock calibrated using fossils and the estimated timing of the formation of the Isthmus of Panama. Euthecosomes with uncoiled shells were monophyletic with Creseis as the earliest diverging lineage, estimated at 41-38 million years ago (mya). The coiled euthecosomes (Limacina, Heliconoides, Thielea) were not monophyletic contrary to the accepted morphology-based taxonomy; however, due to their high rate heterogeneity no firm conclusions can be drawn. We found strong support for monophyly of most euthecosome genera, but Clio appeared as a polyphyletic group, and Diacavolinia grouped within Cavolinia, making the latter genus paraphyletic. The highest evolutionary rates were observed in Heliconoides inflatus and Limacina bulimoides for both 28S and 18S partitions. Using a fossil-calibrated phylogeny that sets the first occurrence of coiled euthecosomes at 79-66 mya, we estimate that uncoiled euthecosomes evolved 51-42 mya and that most extant uncoiled genera originated 40-15 mya. These findings are congruent with a molecular clock analysis using the Isthmus of Panama formation as an independent calibration. Although not all phylogenetic relationships could be resolved based on three molecular markers, this study provides a useful resource to study pteropod diversity and provides general insight into the processes that generate and maintain their diversity in the open ocean.
Project description:Shelled pteropods play key roles in the global carbon cycle and foodwebs of various ecosystems. Their thin external shell is extremely sensitive to changes in pH and shell dissolution has already been observed in areas where aragonite saturation state is ~ 1. A decline in pteropod abundance has the potential to disrupt trophic networks and directly impact commercial fisheries. Therefore it is crucial to understand how pteropods will be affected by global environmental change, particularly ocean acidification. In the present study, physiological and molecular approaches were used to investigate the response of the Mediterranean pteropod, Heliconoides inflatus, to pH values projected for 2100 under a moderate emissions trajectory (RCP6.0). Pteropods were subjected to pHT 7.9 for 3d and gene expression levels, calcification and respiration rates measured relative to pHT 8.1 controls. Gross calcification decreased markedly under low pH conditions, while genes potentially involved in calcification were up-regulated, reflecting the inability of pteropods to maintain calcification rates. Gene expression data imply that under low pH conditions both metabolic processes and protein synthesis may be compromised, while genes involved in acid-base regulation were up-regulated. A large number of genes related to nervous system structure and function were also up-regulated in the low pH treatment, including a GABAA receptor subunit. This is particularly interesting because GABAA receptor disturbances, leading to altered behaviour, have been documented in several other marine animals after exposure to elevated CO2. The up-regulation of many genes involved in nervous system function suggests that, in addition to its impacts on other aspects of biology, exposure to low pH could have major effects on pteropod behavior. This study not only illustrates the utility of combining physiological and molecular approaches, but also highlights the desirability of including behavioural analyses in studies aimed at understanding the impacts of low pH on marine animals. Overall design: Six biological samples were sequenced, 3 replicates for the control condition and 3 replicates for the treatment. All samples were sequenced twice except the replicate treatment #3.
Project description:Pteropods are a group of planktonic gastropods that are widely regarded as biological indicators for assessing the impacts of ocean acidification. Their aragonitic shells are highly sensitive to acute changes in ocean chemistry. However, to gain insight into their potential to adapt to current climate change, we need to accurately reconstruct their evolutionary history and assess their responses to past changes in the Earth's carbon cycle. Here, we resolve the phylogeny and timing of pteropod evolution with a phylogenomic dataset (2,654 genes) incorporating new data for 21 pteropod species and revised fossil evidence. In agreement with traditional taxonomy, we recovered molecular support for a division between "sea butterflies" (Thecosomata; mucus-web feeders) and "sea angels" (Gymnosomata; active predators). Molecular dating demonstrated that these two lineages diverged in the early Cretaceous, and that all main pteropod clades, including shelled, partially-shelled, and unshelled groups, diverged in the mid- to late Cretaceous. Hence, these clades originated prior to and subsequently survived major global change events, including the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), the closest analog to modern-day ocean acidification and warming. Our findings indicate that planktonic aragonitic calcifiers have shown resilience to perturbations in the Earth's carbon cycle over evolutionary timescales.
Project description:Ocean acidification threatens organisms that produce calcium carbonate shells by potentially generating an under-saturated carbonate environment. Resultant reduced calcification and growth, and subsequent dissolution of exoskeletons, would raise concerns over the ability of the shell to provide protection for the marine organism under ocean acidification and increased temperatures. We examined the impact of combined ocean acidification and temperature increase on shell formation of the economically important edible mussel Mytilus edulis. Shell growth and thickness along with a shell thickness index and shape analysis were determined. The ability of M. edulis to produce a functional protective shell after 9 months of experimental culture under ocean acidification and increasing temperatures (380, 550, 750, 1000 ?atm pCO 2, and 750, 1000 ?atm pCO 2 + 2°C) was assessed. Mussel shells grown under ocean acidification conditions displayed significant reductions in shell aragonite thickness, shell thickness index, and changes to shell shape (750, 1000 ?atm pCO 2) compared to those shells grown under ambient conditions (380 ?atm pCO 2). Ocean acidification resulted in rounder, flatter mussel shells with thinner aragonite layers likely to be more vulnerable to fracture under changing environments and predation. The changes in shape presented here could present a compensatory mechanism to enhance protection against predators and changing environments under ocean acidification when mussels are unable to grow thicker shells. Here, we present the first assessment of mussel shell shape to determine implications for functional protection under ocean acidification.