Seagrass habitat metabolism increases short-term extremes and long-term offset of CO2 under future ocean acidification.
ABSTRACT: The role of rising atmospheric CO2 in modulating estuarine carbonate system dynamics remains poorly characterized, likely due to myriad processes driving the complex chemistry in these habitats. We reconstructed the full carbonate system of an estuarine seagrass habitat for a summer period of 2.5 months utilizing a combination of time-series observations and mechanistic modeling, and quantified the roles of aerobic metabolism, mixing, and gas exchange in the observed dynamics. The anthropogenic CO2 burden in the habitat was estimated for the years 1765-2100 to quantify changes in observed high-frequency carbonate chemistry dynamics. The addition of anthropogenic CO2 alters the thermodynamic buffer factors (e.g., the Revelle factor) of the carbonate system, decreasing the seagrass habitat's ability to buffer natural carbonate system fluctuations. As a result, the most harmful carbonate system indices for many estuarine organisms [minimum pHT, minimum ?arag, and maximum pCO2(s.w.)] change up to 1.8×, 2.3×, and 1.5× more rapidly than the medians for each parameter, respectively. In this system, the relative benefits of the seagrass habitat in locally mitigating ocean acidification increase with the higher atmospheric CO2 levels predicted toward 2100. Presently, however, these mitigating effects are mixed due to intense diel cycling of CO2 driven by aerobic metabolism. This study provides estimates of how high-frequency pHT, ?arag, and pCO2(s.w.) dynamics are altered by rising atmospheric CO2 in an estuarine habitat, and highlights nonlinear responses of coastal carbonate parameters to ocean acidification relevant for water quality management.
Project description:Surface ocean pH is likely to decrease by up to 0.4 units by 2100 due to the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere. Short-term experiments have revealed that this degree of seawater acidification can alter calcification rates in certain planktonic and benthic organisms, although the effects recorded may be shock responses and the long-term ecological effects are unknown. Here, we show the response of calcareous seagrass epibionts to elevated CO2 partial pressure in aquaria and at a volcanic vent area where seagrass habitat has been exposed to high CO2 levels for decades. Coralline algae were the dominant contributors to calcium carbonate mass on seagrass blades at normal pH but were absent from the system at mean pH 7.7 and were dissolved in aquaria enriched with CO2. In the field, bryozoans were the only calcifiers present on seagrass blades at mean pH 7.7 where the total mass of epiphytic calcium carbonate was 90 per cent lower than that at pH 8.2. These findings suggest that ocean acidification may have dramatic effects on the diversity of seagrass habitats and lead to a shift in the biogeochemical cycling of both carbon and carbonate in coastal ecosystems dominated by seagrass beds.
Project description:Free-ocean CO2 enrichment (FOCE) experiments have been deployed in marine ecosystems to manipulate carbonate system conditions to those predicted in future oceans. We investigated whether the pH/carbonate chemistry of extremely cold polar waters can be manipulated in an ecologically relevant way, to represent conditions under future atmospheric CO2 levels, in an in-situ FOCE experiment in Antarctica. We examined spatial and temporal variation in local ambient carbonate chemistry at hourly intervals at two sites between December and February and compared these with experimental conditions. We successfully maintained a mean pH offset in acidified benthic chambers of -0.38 (±0.07) from ambient for approximately 8 weeks. Local diel and seasonal fluctuations in ambient pH were duplicated in the FOCE system. Large temporal variability in acidified chambers resulted from system stoppages. The mean pH, ?arag and fCO2 values in the acidified chambers were 7.688?±?0.079, 0.62?±?0.13 and 912?±?150?µatm, respectively. Variation in ambient pH appeared to be mainly driven by salinity and biological production and ranged from 8.019 to 8.192 with significant spatio-temporal variation. This experiment demonstrates the utility of FOCE systems to create conditions expected in future oceans that represent ecologically relevant variation, even under polar conditions.
Project description:Ocean acidification (OA) is expected to reduce the calcification rates of marine organisms, yet we have little understanding of how OA will manifest within dynamic, real-world systems. Natural CO(2), alkalinity, and salinity gradients can significantly alter local carbonate chemistry, and thereby create a range of susceptibility for different ecosystems to OA. As such, there is a need to characterize this natural variability of seawater carbonate chemistry, especially within coastal ecosystems. Since 2009, carbonate chemistry data have been collected on the Florida Reef Tract (FRT). During periods of heightened productivity, there is a net uptake of total CO(2) (TCO(2)) which increases aragonite saturation state (?(arag)) values on inshore patch reefs of the upper FRT. These waters can exhibit greater ?(arag) than what has been modeled for the tropical surface ocean during preindustrial times, with mean (± std. error) ?(arag)-values in spring?=?4.69 (±0.101). Conversely, ?(arag)-values on offshore reefs generally represent oceanic carbonate chemistries consistent with present day tropical surface ocean conditions. This gradient is opposite from what has been reported for other reef environments. We hypothesize this pattern is caused by the photosynthetic uptake of TCO(2) mainly by seagrasses and, to a lesser extent, macroalgae in the inshore waters of the FRT. These inshore reef habitats are therefore potential acidification refugia that are defined not only in a spatial sense, but also in time; coinciding with seasonal productivity dynamics. Coral reefs located within or immediately downstream of seagrass beds may find refuge from OA.
Project description:The unprecedented rate of CO2 increase in our atmosphere and subsequent ocean acidification (OA) threatens coastal ecosystems. To forecast the functioning of coastal seagrass ecosystems in acidified oceans, more knowledge on the long-term adaptive capacities of seagrass species and their epibionts is needed. Therefore we studied morphological characteristics of Posidonia oceanica and the structure of its epibiont communities at a Mediterranean volcanic CO2 vent off Panarea Island (Italy) and performed a laboratory experiment to test the effect of OA on P. oceanica photosynthesis and its potential buffering capacity. At the study site east of Basiluzzo Islet, venting of CO2 gas was controlled by tides, resulting in an average pH difference of 0.1 between the vent and reference site. P. oceanica shoot and leaf density was unaffected by these levels of OA, although shorter leaves at the vent site suggest increased susceptibility to erosion, potentially by herbivores. The community of sessile epibionts differed in composition and was characterized by a higher species richness at the vent site, though net epiphytic calcium carbonate concentration was similar. These findings suggest a higher ecosystem complexity at the vent site, which may have facilitated the higher diversity of copepods in the otherwise unaffected motile epibiont community. In the laboratory experiment, P. oceanica photosynthesis increased with decreasing pHT (7.6, 6.6, 5.5), which induced an elevated pH at the leaf surfaces of up to 0.5 units compared to the ambient seawater pHT of 6.6. This suggests a temporary pH buffering in the diffusive boundary layer of leaves, which could be favorable for epibiont organisms. The results of this multispecies study contribute to understanding community-level responses and underlying processes in long-term acidified conditions. Increased replication and monitoring of physico-chemical parameters on an annual scale are, however, recommended to assure that the biological responses observed during a short period reflect long-term dynamics of these parameters.
Project description:Anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) are causing ocean acidification, lowering seawater aragonite (CaCO3) saturation state (? arag), with potentially substantial impacts on marine ecosystems over the 21(st) Century. Calcifying organisms have exhibited reduced calcification under lower saturation state conditions in aquaria. However, the in situ sensitivity of calcifying ecosystems to future ocean acidification remains unknown. Here we assess the community level sensitivity of calcification to local CO2-induced acidification caused by natural respiration in an unperturbed, biodiverse, temperate intertidal ecosystem. We find that on hourly timescales nighttime community calcification is strongly influenced by ? arag, with greater net calcium carbonate dissolution under more acidic conditions. Daytime calcification however, is not detectably affected by ? arag. If the short-term sensitivity of community calcification to ? arag is representative of the long-term sensitivity to ocean acidification, nighttime dissolution in these intertidal ecosystems could more than double by 2050, with significant ecological and economic consequences.
Project description:Precise measurements were conducted in continuous flow seawater mesocosms located in full sunlight that compared metabolic response of coral, coral-macroalgae and macroalgae systems over a diurnal cycle. Irradiance controlled net photosynthesis (P net), which in turn drove net calcification (G net), and altered pH. P net exerted the dominant control on [CO3 (2-)] and aragonite saturation state (?arag) over the diel cycle. Dark calcification rate decreased after sunset, reaching zero near midnight followed by an increasing rate that peaked at 03:00 h. Changes in ?arag and pH lagged behind G net throughout the daily cycle by two or more hours. The flux rate P net was the primary driver of calcification. Daytime coral metabolism rapidly removes dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) from the bulk seawater and photosynthesis provides the energy that drives G net while increasing the bulk water pH. These relationships result in a correlation between G net and ?arag, with ?arag as the dependent variable. High rates of H(+) efflux continued for several hours following mid-day peak G net suggesting that corals have difficulty in shedding waste protons as described by the Proton Flux Hypothesis. DIC flux (uptake) followed P net and G net and dropped off rapidly following peak P net and peak G net indicating that corals can cope more effectively with the problem of limited DIC supply compared to the problem of eliminating H(+). Over a 24 h period the plot of total alkalinity (AT ) versus DIC as well as the plot of G net versus ?arag revealed a circular hysteresis pattern over the diel cycle in the coral and coral-algae mesocosms, but not the macroalgae mesocosm. Presence of macroalgae did not change G net of the corals, but altered the relationship between ?arag and G net. Predictive models of how future global changes will effect coral growth that are based on oceanic ?arag must include the influence of future localized P net on G net and changes in rate of reef carbonate dissolution. The correlation between ?arag and G net over the diel cycle is simply the response of the CO2-carbonate system to increased pH as photosynthesis shifts the equilibria and increases the [CO3 (2-)] relative to the other DIC components of [HCO3 (-)] and [CO2]. Therefore ?arag closely tracked pH as an effect of changes in P net, which also drove changes in G net. Measurements of DIC flux and H(+) flux are far more useful than concentrations in describing coral metabolism dynamics. Coral reefs are systems that exist in constant disequilibrium with the water column.
Project description:Quantifying the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in seawater is an essential component of ocean acidification research; however, equipment for measuring CO2 directly can be costly and involve complex, bulky apparatus. Consequently, other parameters of the carbonate system, such as pH and total alkalinity (AT), are often measured and used to calculate the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) in seawater, especially in biological CO2-manipulation studies, including large ecological experiments and those conducted at field sites. Here we compare four methods of pCO2 determination that have been used in biological ocean acidification experiments: 1) Versatile INstrument for the Determination of Total inorganic carbon and titration Alkalinity (VINDTA) measurement of dissolved inorganic carbon (CT) and AT, 2) spectrophotometric measurement of pHT and AT, 3) electrode measurement of pHNBS and AT, and 4) the direct measurement of CO2 using a portable CO2 equilibrator with a non-dispersive infrared (NDIR) gas analyser. In this study, we found these four methods can produce very similar pCO2 estimates, and the three methods often suited to field-based application (spectrophotometric pHT, electrode pHNBS and CO2 equilibrator) produced estimated measurement uncertainties of 3.5-4.6% for pCO2. Importantly, we are not advocating the replacement of established methods to measure seawater carbonate chemistry, particularly for high-accuracy quantification of carbonate parameters in seawater such as open ocean chemistry, for real-time measures of ocean change, nor for the measurement of small changes in seawater pCO2. However, for biological CO2-manipulation experiments measuring differences of over 100 ?atm pCO2 among treatments, we find the four methods described here can produce similar results with careful use.
Project description:Despite the wide knowledge about prevalent effects of ocean acidification on single species, the consequences on species interactions that may promote or prevent habitat shifts are still poorly understood. Using natural CO2 vents, we investigated changes in a key tri-trophic chain embedded within all its natural complexity in seagrass systems. We found that seagrass habitats remain stable at vents despite the changes in their tri-trophic components. Under high pCO2, the feeding of a key herbivore (sea urchin) on a less palatable seagrass and its associated epiphytes decreased, whereas the feeding on higher-palatable green algae increased. We also observed a doubled density of a predatory wrasse under acidified conditions. Bottom-up CO2 effects interact with top-down control by predators to maintain the abundance of sea urchin populations under ambient and acidified conditions. The weakened urchin herbivory on a seagrass that was subjected to an intense fish herbivory at vents compensates the overall herbivory pressure on the habitat-forming seagrass. Overall plasticity of the studied system components may contribute to prevent habitat loss and to stabilize the system under acidified conditions. Thus, preserving the network of species interactions in seagrass ecosystems may help to minimize the impacts of ocean acidification in near-future oceans.
Project description:Coral calcification is expected to decline as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration increases. We assessed the potential of Porites astreoides, Siderastrea siderea and Porites porites to survive and calcify under acidified conditions in a 2-year field transplant experiment around low pH, low aragonite saturation (?arag) submarine springs. Slow-growing S. siderea had the highest post-transplantation survival and showed increases in concentrations of Symbiodiniaceae, chlorophyll a and protein at the low ?arag site. Nubbins of P. astreoides had 20% lower survival and higher chlorophyll a concentration at the low ?arag site. Only 33% of P. porites nubbins survived at low ?arag and their linear extension and calcification rates were reduced. The density of skeletons deposited after transplantation at the low ?arag spring was 15-30% lower for all species. These results suggest that corals with slow calcification rates and high Symbiodiniaceae, chlorophyll a and protein concentrations may be less susceptible to ocean acidification, albeit with reduced skeletal density. We postulate that corals in the springs are responding to greater energy demands for overcoming larger differences in carbonate chemistry between the calcifying medium and the external environment. The differential mortality, growth rates and physiological changes may impact future coral species assemblages and the reef framework robustness.
Project description:Seagrass beds contribute to oceanic carbonate lime mud production by providing a habitat for a wide variety of calcifying organisms and acting as efficient sediment traps. Here we provide evidence for the direct implication of Thalassia testudinum in the precipitation of aragonite needles. The crystals are located internally in the cell walls, and as external deposits on the blade, and are similar in size and shape to the aragonite needles reported for modern tropical carbonate factories. Seagrass calcification is a biological, light-enhanced process controlled by the leaf, and estimates of seagrass annual carbonate production in a Caribbean reef lagoon are as significant as values reported for Halimeda incrassata. Thus, we conclude that seagrass calcification is another biological source for the aragonite lime mud deposits found in tropical banks, and that tropical seagrass habitats may play a more important role in the oceanic carbon cycle than previously considered.