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  • image/svg+xml art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos Open Access logo, converted into svg, designed by PLoS. This version with transparent background. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Open_Access_logo_PLoS_white.svg art designer at PLoS, modified by Wikipedia users Nina, Beao, JakobVoss, and AnonMoos http://www.plos.org/
    Authors: Hunter, William Ross; Jamieson, Alan J; Huvenne, Veerle A I; Witte, Ursula;

    The Whittard canyon is a branching submarine canyon on the Celtic continental margin, which may act as a conduit for sediment and organic matter (OM) transport from the European continental slope to the abyssal sea floor. In situ stable-isotope labelling experiments (JC36-042-Spre01; JC36-100-Spre01) were conducted in the eastern and western branches of the Whittard canyon testing short term (3 - 7 day) responses of sediment communities to deposition of nitrogen-rich marine and nitrogen-poor terrigenous phytodetritus. Isotopic labels were traced into faunal biomass and bulk sediments, and the bacterial polar lipid fatty acids (PLFAs). These data files provide the data on macrofaunal and bacterial uptake of the isotopically-labelled organic carbon and nitrogen, and macrofaunal community composition at the two stations within the Whittard canyon

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    Authors: Chivers, A. J.; Narayanaswamy, B. E.; Lamont, P. A.; Dale, A.; +1 Authors

    Interest in seamount research has gathered momentum over the past five years in an effort to understand the physical, geochemical and biological characteristics as well as the interconnectedness of seamount ecosystems. The majority of biological seamount research has concentrated upon the rich and diverse suspension feeding organisms that dominate the megafauna, such as gorgonians and antipatharian corals; by comparison there have been few studies that have investigated the no less enigmatic, but possibly just as important infauna. To help fill this knowledge gap, the macrofaunal community was sampled from a total of five stations along a northerly transect (capturing water depths from ∼130 m to ∼3300 m), on Senghor Seamount (NE Atlantic). The focus of this study is on the polychaete communities. Polychaete abundance peaked at the summit and a mid-slope station (∼1500 m), a pattern mirrored by the biomass values. The polychaete community along the transect appeared to be particularly diverse, with 135 species nominally identified to putative species from a total of 954 individuals. A diversity maximum was identified on the upper slope at ∼800 m depth, with species diversity, richness and evenness also all peaking at this station. Depth is likely to be a significant factor in determining levels of similarity between stations.

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    Authors: Suggett, David J; Hall-Spencer, Jason M; Rodolfo-Metalpa, Riccardo; Boatman, Toby G; +5 Authors

    Increased seawater pCO2, and in turn 'ocean acidification' (OA), is predicted to profoundly impact marine ecosystem diversity and function this century. Much research has already focussed on calcifying reef-forming corals (Class: Anthozoa) that appear particularly susceptible to OA via reduced net calcification. However, here we show that OA-like conditions can simultaneously enhance the ecological success of non-calcifying anthozoans, which not only play key ecological and biogeochemical roles in present day benthic ecosystems but also represent a model organism should calcifying anthozoans exist as less calcified (soft-bodied) forms in future oceans. Increased growth (abundance and size) of the sea anemone (Anemonia viridis) population was observed along a natural CO2 gradient at Vulcano, Italy. Both gross photosynthesis (PG) and respiration (R) increased with pCO2 indicating that the increased growth was, at least in part, fuelled by bottom up (CO2 stimulation) of metabolism. The increase of PG outweighed that of R and the genetic identity of the symbiotic microalgae (Symbiodinium spp.) remained unchanged (type A19) suggesting proximity to the vent site relieved CO2 limitation of the anemones' symbiotic microalgal population. Our observations of enhanced productivity with pCO2, which are consistent with previous reports for some calcifying corals, convey an increase in fitness that may enable non-calcifying anthozoans to thrive in future environments, i.e. higher seawater pCO2. Understanding how CO2-enhanced productivity of non- (and less-) calcifying anthozoans applies more widely to tropical ecosystems is a priority where such organisms can dominate benthic ecosystems, in particular following localized anthropogenic stress.

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    Authors: Vries, Joost; Monteiro, Fanny; Wheeler, Glen; Poulton, Alex; +5 Authors

    Coccolithophores are globally important marine calcifying phytoplankton that utilize a haplo-diplontic life cycle. The haplo-diplontic life cycle allows coccolithophores to divide in both life cycle phases and potentially expands coccolithophore niche volume. Research has, however, to date largely overlooked the life cycle of coccolithophores and has instead focused on the diploid life cycle phase of coccolithophores. Through the synthesis and analysis of global scanning electron microscopy (SEM) coccolithophore abundance data (n=2534), we find that calcified haploid coccolithophores generally constitute a minor component of the total coccolithophore abundance (≈ 2 %–15 % depending on season). However, using case studies in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, we show that, depending on environmental conditions, calcifying haploid coccolithophores can be significant contributors to the coccolithophore standing stock (up to ≈30 %). Furthermore, using hypervolumes to quantify the niche of coccolithophores, we illustrate that the haploid and diploid life cycle phases inhabit contrasting niches and that on average this allows coccolithophores to expand their niche by ≈18.8 %, with a range of 3 %–76 % for individual species. Our results highlight that future coccolithophore research should consider both life cycle stages, as omission of the haploid life cycle phase in current research limits our understanding of coccolithophore ecology. Our results furthermore suggest a different response to nutrient limitation and stratification, which may be of relevance for further climate scenarios. Our compilation highlights the spatial and temporal sparsity of SEM measurements and the need for new molecular techniques to identify uncalcified haploid coccolithophores. Our work also emphasizes the need for further work on the carbonate chemistry niche of the coccolithophore life cycle.

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    Authors: Artioli, Y.; Blackford, J. C.; Nondal, G.; Bellerby, R. G. J.; +4 Authors

    The increase in atmospheric CO2 is a dual threat to the marine environment: from one side it drives climate change, leading to modifications in water temperature, circulation patterns and stratification intensity; on the other side it causes a decrease in marine pH (ocean acidification, or OA) due to the increase in dissolved CO2. Assessing the combined impact of climate change and OA on marine ecosystems is a challenging task. The response of the ecosystem to a single driver can be highly variable and remains still uncertain; additionally the interaction between these can be either synergistic or antagonistic. In this work we use the coupled oceanographic–ecosystem model POLCOMS-ERSEM driven by climate forcing to study the interaction between climate change and OA. We focus in particular on carbonate chemistry, primary and secondary production. The model has been run in three different configurations in order to assess separately the impacts of climate change on net primary production and of OA on the carbonate chemistry, which have been strongly supported by scientific literature, from the impact of biological feedbacks of OA on the ecosystem, whose uncertainty still has to be well constrained. The global mean of the projected decrease of pH at the end of the century is about 0.27 pH units, but the model shows significant interaction among the drivers and high variability in the temporal and spatial response. As a result of this high variability, critical tipping point can be locally and/or temporally reached: e.g. undersaturation with respect to aragonite is projected to occur in the deeper part of the central North Sea during summer. Impacts of climate change and of OA on primary and secondary production may have similar magnitude, compensating in some area and exacerbating in others.

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    Authors: Hunter, William Ross; Jamieson, Alan J; Huvenne, Veerle A I; Witte, Ursula;

    The Whittard canyon is a branching submarine canyon on the Celtic continental margin, which may act as a conduit for sediment and organic matter (OM) transport from the European continental slope to the abyssal sea floor. In situ stable-isotope labelling experiments (JC36-042-Spre01; JC36-100-Spre01) were conducted in the eastern and western branches of the Whittard canyon testing short term (3 - 7 day) responses of sediment communities to deposition of nitrogen-rich marine and nitrogen-poor terrigenous phytodetritus. Isotopic labels were traced into faunal biomass and bulk sediments, and the bacterial polar lipid fatty acids (PLFAs). These data files provide the data on macrofaunal and bacterial uptake of the isotopically-labelled organic carbon and nitrogen, and macrofaunal community composition at the two stations within the Whittard canyon

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    Authors: Chivers, A. J.; Narayanaswamy, B. E.; Lamont, P. A.; Dale, A.; +1 Authors

    Interest in seamount research has gathered momentum over the past five years in an effort to understand the physical, geochemical and biological characteristics as well as the interconnectedness of seamount ecosystems. The majority of biological seamount research has concentrated upon the rich and diverse suspension feeding organisms that dominate the megafauna, such as gorgonians and antipatharian corals; by comparison there have been few studies that have investigated the no less enigmatic, but possibly just as important infauna. To help fill this knowledge gap, the macrofaunal community was sampled from a total of five stations along a northerly transect (capturing water depths from ∼130 m to ∼3300 m), on Senghor Seamount (NE Atlantic). The focus of this study is on the polychaete communities. Polychaete abundance peaked at the summit and a mid-slope station (∼1500 m), a pattern mirrored by the biomass values. The polychaete community along the transect appeared to be particularly diverse, with 135 species nominally identified to putative species from a total of 954 individuals. A diversity maximum was identified on the upper slope at ∼800 m depth, with species diversity, richness and evenness also all peaking at this station. Depth is likely to be a significant factor in determining levels of similarity between stations.

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    Authors: Suggett, David J; Hall-Spencer, Jason M; Rodolfo-Metalpa, Riccardo; Boatman, Toby G; +5 Authors

    Increased seawater pCO2, and in turn 'ocean acidification' (OA), is predicted to profoundly impact marine ecosystem diversity and function this century. Much research has already focussed on calcifying reef-forming corals (Class: Anthozoa) that appear particularly susceptible to OA via reduced net calcification. However, here we show that OA-like conditions can simultaneously enhance the ecological success of non-calcifying anthozoans, which not only play key ecological and biogeochemical roles in present day benthic ecosystems but also represent a model organism should calcifying anthozoans exist as less calcified (soft-bodied) forms in future oceans. Increased growth (abundance and size) of the sea anemone (Anemonia viridis) population was observed along a natural CO2 gradient at Vulcano, Italy. Both gross photosynthesis (PG) and respiration (R) increased with pCO2 indicating that the increased growth was, at least in part, fuelled by bottom up (CO2 stimulation) of metabolism. The increase of PG outweighed that of R and the genetic identity of the symbiotic microalgae (Symbiodinium spp.) remained unchanged (type A19) suggesting proximity to the vent site relieved CO2 limitation of the anemones' symbiotic microalgal population. Our observations of enhanced productivity with pCO2, which are consistent with previous reports for some calcifying corals, convey an increase in fitness that may enable non-calcifying anthozoans to thrive in future environments, i.e. higher seawater pCO2. Understanding how CO2-enhanced productivity of non- (and less-) calcifying anthozoans applies more widely to tropical ecosystems is a priority where such organisms can dominate benthic ecosystems, in particular following localized anthropogenic stress.

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    Authors: Vries, Joost; Monteiro, Fanny; Wheeler, Glen; Poulton, Alex; +5 Authors

    Coccolithophores are globally important marine calcifying phytoplankton that utilize a haplo-diplontic life cycle. The haplo-diplontic life cycle allows coccolithophores to divide in both life cycle phases and potentially expands coccolithophore niche volume. Research has, however, to date largely overlooked the life cycle of coccolithophores and has instead focused on the diploid life cycle phase of coccolithophores. Through the synthesis and analysis of global scanning electron microscopy (SEM) coccolithophore abundance data (n=2534), we find that calcified haploid coccolithophores generally constitute a minor component of the total coccolithophore abundance (≈ 2 %–15 % depending on season). However, using case studies in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, we show that, depending on environmental conditions, calcifying haploid coccolithophores can be significant contributors to the coccolithophore standing stock (up to ≈30 %). Furthermore, using hypervolumes to quantify the niche of coccolithophores, we illustrate that the haploid and diploid life cycle phases inhabit contrasting niches and that on average this allows coccolithophores to expand their niche by ≈18.8 %, with a range of 3 %–76 % for individual species. Our results highlight that future coccolithophore research should consider both life cycle stages, as omission of the haploid life cycle phase in current research limits our understanding of coccolithophore ecology. Our results furthermore suggest a different response to nutrient limitation and stratification, which may be of relevance for further climate scenarios. Our compilation highlights the spatial and temporal sparsity of SEM measurements and the need for new molecular techniques to identify uncalcified haploid coccolithophores. Our work also emphasizes the need for further work on the carbonate chemistry niche of the coccolithophore life cycle.

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    Authors: Artioli, Y.; Blackford, J. C.; Nondal, G.; Bellerby, R. G. J.; +4 Authors

    The increase in atmospheric CO2 is a dual threat to the marine environment: from one side it drives climate change, leading to modifications in water temperature, circulation patterns and stratification intensity; on the other side it causes a decrease in marine pH (ocean acidification, or OA) due to the increase in dissolved CO2. Assessing the combined impact of climate change and OA on marine ecosystems is a challenging task. The response of the ecosystem to a single driver can be highly variable and remains still uncertain; additionally the interaction between these can be either synergistic or antagonistic. In this work we use the coupled oceanographic–ecosystem model POLCOMS-ERSEM driven by climate forcing to study the interaction between climate change and OA. We focus in particular on carbonate chemistry, primary and secondary production. The model has been run in three different configurations in order to assess separately the impacts of climate change on net primary production and of OA on the carbonate chemistry, which have been strongly supported by scientific literature, from the impact of biological feedbacks of OA on the ecosystem, whose uncertainty still has to be well constrained. The global mean of the projected decrease of pH at the end of the century is about 0.27 pH units, but the model shows significant interaction among the drivers and high variability in the temporal and spatial response. As a result of this high variability, critical tipping point can be locally and/or temporally reached: e.g. undersaturation with respect to aragonite is projected to occur in the deeper part of the central North Sea during summer. Impacts of climate change and of OA on primary and secondary production may have similar magnitude, compensating in some area and exacerbating in others.

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