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Recent Submissions

  • Underestimated PAH accumulation potential of blue carbon vegetation: Evidence from sedimentary records of saltmarsh and mangrove in Yueqing Bay, China.

    Huang, Runqiu; Zhang, Chunfang; Xu, Xiangrong; Jin, Runjie; Li, Dan; Christakos, George; Xiao, Xi; He, Junyu; Agusti, Susana; Duarte, Carlos M.; Wu, Jiaping (The Science of the total environment, Elsevier BV, 2022-01-13) [Article]
    Sediments of blue carbon vegetation are becoming a sink of natural and anthropogenic pollutants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). However, the extent to which PAHs are accumulated and varied in blue carbon sediments, and the impact of blue carbon vegetation on the accumulation and retention capacity of PAHs, have been poorly explored. This study examines the sedimentary records of PAHs in profiles from mangrove plantations, saltmarsh, and mudflat in Ximen Island and Maoyan Island of Yueqing Bay, China. The existence of blue carbon vegetation provides a sheltered environment for the accelerated burial of sediment and OC. Decadal PAH sedimentation records show staged changes characterized by the emission of PAHs and colonization of blue carbon vegetation, reflecting the accelerated burial of PAHs in sediments by blue carbon vegetation colonization. In addition, the colonization of blue carbon vegetation contributes to the shift of PAH compositions in sediments. This study provides new insights into the underestimated PAH accumulation potential and retention capacity of blue carbon vegetation and the corresponding underlying sediments, supporting the environmental benefits of blue carbon vegetation.
  • Heterotrophic Bacterioplankton Growth and Physiological Properties in Red Sea Tropical Shallow Ecosystems With Different Dissolved Organic Matter Sources

    Silva, Luis; Calleja Cortes, Maria de Lluch; Huete-Stauffer, Tamara M.; Ivetic, Snjezana; Ansari, Mohd Ikram; Viegas, Miguel; Moran, Xose Anxelu G. (Frontiers in Microbiology, Frontiers Media SA, 2022-01-03) [Article]
    Despite the key role of heterotrophic bacterioplankton in the biogeochemistry of tropical coastal waters, their dynamics have been poorly investigated in relation to the different dissolved organic matter (DOM) pools usually available. In this study we conducted four seasonal incubations of unfiltered and predator-free seawater (Community and Filtered treatment, respectively) at three Red Sea coastal sites characterized by different dominant DOM sources: Seagrass, Mangrove, and Phytoplankton. Bacterial abundance, growth and physiological status were assessed by flow cytometry and community composition by 16S rRNA gene amplicons. The Seagrass site showed the highest initial abundances (6.93 ± 0.30 × 10$^{5}$ cells mL$^{–1}$), coincident with maximum DOC concentrations (>100 μmol C L$^{–1}$), while growth rates peaked at the Mangrove site (1.11 ± 0.09 d$^{–1}$) and were consistently higher in the Filtered treatment. The ratio between the Filtered and Community maximum bacterial abundance (a proxy for top-down control by protistan grazers) showed minimum values at the Seagrass site (1.05 ± 0.05) and maximum at the Phytoplankton site (1.24 ± 0.30), suggesting protistan grazing was higher in open waters, especially in the first half of the year. Since the Mangrove and Seagrass sites shared a similar bacterial diversity, the unexpected lack of bacterial response to predators removal at the latter site should be explained by differences in DOM characteristics. Nitrogen-rich DOM and fluorescent protein-like components were significantly associated with enhanced specific growth rates along the inshore-offshore gradient. Our study confirms the hypotheses that top–down factors control bacterial standing stocks while specific growth rates are bottom-up controlled in representative Red Sea shallow, oligotrophic ecosystems.
  • Dynamics of phytoplankton groups in three contrasting situations of the open NW Mediterranean Sea revealed by pigment, microscopy, and flow cytometry analyses

    Latasa, Mikel; Scharek, Renate; Moran, Xose Anxelu G.; Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, Andrés; Emelianov, Mikhail; Salat, Jordi; Vidal, Montserrat; Estrada, Marta (Progress in Oceanography, Elsevier BV, 2021-12-24) [Article]
    A detailed study of phytoplankton composition and dynamics was carried out during three contrasting situations (cruises F1, F2, and F3) in the northwestern (NW) Mediterranean Sea. Haptophytes, diatoms, and green algae dominated in F1, during the spring bloom, with high nutrients and high phytoplankton biomass. In F2, the post-bloom situation with a still weak stratification and lower nutrient concentrations, we found a high spatial variability. Stations were clearly dominated by either Synechococcus, haptophytes or cryptophytes; with Synechococcus reaching the highest abundance (4 × 105 cells mL−1, 60% of the integrated chlorophyll a) reported to date for the open Mediterranean Sea. Cryptophytes accumulated close to the surface in very shallow mixed layer stations. In late summer, F3 revealed a fully developed stratification with low nutrients and a marked deep chlorophyll maximum (DCM). Prochlorococcus was present only during this cruise, mainly in deep layers together with haptophytes and pelagophytes, while haptophytes and Synechococcus dominated the upper mixed layer. Flow cytometry (FCM) and pigment-based abundance estimates for Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus and cryptophytes were well correlated, as happened also between small picoeukaryotes (FCM) and green algae (pigments), and between large picoeukaryotes (FCM) and haptophytes (pigments). Dinoflagellate abundance by microscopy and by pigments did not agree well, probably due to the presence of heterotrophic forms or because they contained pigments other than peridinin, the standard dinoflagellate marker. The decrease in size of the FCM large picoeukaryotes group with depth was presumably related to the increasing contribution of pelagophytes, with smaller cells than haptophytes, the other main component of this fraction. Cell size increase of Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus with depth suggests vertical segregation of genotypes or photoadaptation. The groups' ecological preferences are presented with respect to depth and nutrient concentrations. Synechococcus and cryptophytes occupied shallow layers; diatoms, green algae and Prochlorococcus showed a tendency for deep layers and pelagophytes for even deeper layers, while haptophyte and dinoflagellate allocations were less clear. As for nutrients, the maximum relative contributions of green algae and especially diatoms occurred when dissolved inorganic phosphorus (DIP) concentrations were highest, of Prochlorococcus, dinoflagellates and pelagophytes when lowest, and of Synechococcus and cryptophytes when DIP concentrations were low but not minimal. The contribution of haptophytes did not show a relationship with DIP concentration. These results from individual groups stand as significant exceptions to the general relationship between phytoplankton cell size and nutrient availability.
  • The Combined Effects of Ocean Acidification and Heavy Metals on Marine Organisms: A Meta-Analysis

    Jin, Peng; Zhang, Jiale; Wan, Jiaofeng; Overmans, Sebastian; Gao, Guang; Ye, Mengcheng; Dai, Xiaoying; Zhao, Jingyuan; Xiao, Mengting; Xia, Jianrong (Frontiers in Marine Science, Frontiers Media SA, 2021-12-23) [Article]
    Ocean acidification (OA) may interact with anthropogenic pollutants, such as heavy metals (HM), to represent a threat to marine organisms and ecosystems. Here, we perform a quantitative meta-analysis to examine the combined effects of OA and heavy metals on marine organisms. The results reveal predominantly additive interactions (67%), with a considerable proportion of synergistic interactions (25%) and a few antagonistic interactions (8%). The overall adverse effects of heavy metals on marine organisms were alleviated by OA, leading to a neutral impact of heavy metals in combination with OA. However, different taxonomic groups showed large variabilities in their responses, with microalgae being the most sensitive when exposed to heavy metals and OA, and having the highest proportion of antagonistic interactions. Furthermore, the variations in interaction type frequencies are related to climate regions and heavy metal properties, with antagonistic interactions accounting for the highest proportion in temperate regions (28%) and when exposed to Zn (52%). Our study provides a comprehensive insight into the interactive effects of OA and HM on marine organisms, and highlights the importance of further investigating the responses of different marine taxonomic groups from various geographic locations to the combined stress of OA and HM.
  • Cement and oil refining industries as the predominant sources of trace metal pollution in the Red Sea: A systematic study of element concentrations in the Red Sea zooplankton.

    Cai, Chunzhi; Devassy, Reny Palliparambil; El-Sherbiny, Mohsen M; Agusti, Susana (Marine pollution bulletin, Elsevier BV, 2021-12-16) [Article]
    The Red Sea is exposed to metals from a large variety of natural and anthropogenic sources. In this study, we analyzed 19 common element concentrations in 14 Red Sea zooplankton samples using inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). The average metal or metalloid concentrations of the Red Sea zooplankton were: Ca > Sr > Fe > Al > Zn > As > Cu > Mn > Cr > Mo > Ni > Pb > Cd. The As, Ca, and Cu concentrations significantly increased with increasing latitude, while Cd concentrations decreased (p 
  • Molecular basis of parental contributions to the behavioural tolerance of elevated pCO$_2$ in a coral reef fish

    Monroe, Alison; Schunter, Celia Marei; Welch, Megan J.; Munday, Philip L.; Ravasi, Timothy (Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, The Royal Society, 2021-12-08) [Article]
    Knowledge of adaptive potential is crucial to predicting the impacts of ocean acidification (OA) on marine organisms. In the spiny damselfish, $\textit{Acanthochromis polyacanthus}$, individual variation in behavioural tolerance to elevated pCO$_2$ has been observed and is associated with offspring gene expression patterns in the brain. However, the maternal and paternal contributions of this variation are unknown. To investigate parental influence of behavioural pCO$_2$ tolerance, we crossed pCO$_2$-tolerant fathers with pCO$_2$-sensitive mothers and vice versa, reared their offspring at control and elevated pCO$_2$ levels, and compared the juveniles' brain transcriptional programme. We identified a large influence of parental phenotype on expression patterns of offspring, irrespective of environmental conditions. Circadian rhythm genes, associated with a tolerant parental phenotype, were uniquely expressed in tolerant mother offspring, while tolerant fathers had a greater role in expression of genes associated with histone binding. Expression changes in genes associated with neural plasticity were identified in both offspring types: the maternal line had a greater effect on genes related to neuron growth while paternal influence impacted the expression of synaptic development genes. Our results confirm cellular mechanisms involved in responses to varying lengths of OA exposure, while highlighting the parental phenotype's influence on offspring molecular phenotype.
  • Heat stress reduces the contribution of diazotrophs to coral holobiont nitrogen cycling

    Rädecker, Nils; Pogoreutz, Claudia; Gegner, Hagen; Cardenas, Anny; Perna, Gabriela; Geißler, Laura; Roth, Florian; Bougoure, Jeremy; Guagliardo, Paul; Struck, Ulrich; Wild, Christian; Pernice, Mathieu; Raina, Jean-Baptiste; Meibom, Anders; Voolstra, Christian R. (The ISME Journal, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-12-02) [Article]
    Efficient nutrient cycling in the coral-algal symbiosis requires constant but limited nitrogen availability. Coral-associated diazotrophs, i.e., prokaryotes capable of fixing dinitrogen, may thus support productivity in a stable coral-algal symbiosis but could contribute to its breakdown when overstimulated. However, the effects of environmental conditions on diazotroph communities and their interaction with other members of the coral holobiont remain poorly understood. Here we assessed the effects of heat stress on diazotroph diversity and their contribution to holobiont nutrient cycling in the reef-building coral $\textit{Stylophora pistillata}$ from the central Red Sea. In a stable symbiotic state, we found that nitrogen fixation by coral-associated diazotrophs constitutes a source of nitrogen to the algal symbionts. Heat stress caused an increase in nitrogen fixation concomitant with a change in diazotroph communities. Yet, this additional fixed nitrogen was not assimilated by the coral tissue or the algal symbionts. We conclude that although diazotrophs may support coral holobiont functioning under low nitrogen availability, altered nutrient cycling during heat stress abates the dependence of the coral host and its algal symbionts on diazotroph-derived nitrogen. Consequently, the role of nitrogen fixation in the coral holobiont is strongly dependent on its nutritional status and varies dynamically with environmental conditions.
  • Clownfish hosting anemones (Anthozoa, Actiniaria) of the Red Sea: new associations and distributions, historical misidentifications, and morphological variability

    Bennett-Smith, Morgan; Majoris, John E.; Titus, Benjamin M.; Berumen, Michael L. (Marine Biodiversity Records, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-11-25) [Article]
    Background: The Red Sea contains thousands of kilometers of fringing reef systems inhabited by clownfish and sea anemones, yet there is no consensus regarding the diversity of host anemone species that inhabit this region. We sought to clarify a historical record and recent literature sources that disagree on the diversity of host anemone species in the Red Sea, which contains one endemic anemonefish, Amphiprion bicinctus Rüppell 1830. Results: We conducted 73 surveys spanning ~ 1600 km of coastline from the northern Saudi Arabian Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and encountered seven species of host anemones, six of which hosted A. bicinctus. We revise the list of symbionts for A. bicinctus to include Stichodactyla haddoni (Saville-Kent, 1893) and Stichodactyla mertensii Brandt, 1835 which were both observed in multiple regions. We describe Red Sea phenotypic variability in Heteractis crispa (Hemprich & Ehrenberg in Ehrenberg, 1834) and Heteractis aurora (Quoy & Gaimard, 1833), which may indicate that these species hybridize in this region. We did not encounter Stichodactyla gigantea (Forsskål, 1775), although the Red Sea is the type locality for this species. Further, a thorough review of peer-reviewed literature, occurrence records, and misidentified basis of record reports dating back to the early twentieth century indicate that it is unlikely that S. gigantea occurs in the Red Sea. Conclusions: In sum, we present a new guide for the host anemones of the Red Sea, revise the host specificity of A. bicinctus, and question whether S. gigantea occurs in the central and western Indian Ocean.
  • Stylophora under stress: A review of research trends and impacts of stressors on a model coral species.

    Meziere, Zoe; Rich, Walter A; Carvalho, Susana; Benzoni, Francesca; Moran, Xose Anxelu G.; Berumen, Michael L. (Science of The Total Environment, Elsevier BV, 2021-11-15) [Article]
    Sometimes called the "lab rat" of coral research, Stylophora pistillata (Esper, 1797) has been extensively used in coral biology in studies ranging from reef ecology to coral metabolic processes, and has been used as a model for investigations into molecular and cellular biology. Previously thought to be a common species spanning a wide distribution through the Indo-Pacific region, "S. pistillata" is in fact four genetically distinct lineages (clades) with different evolutionary histories and geographical distributions. Here, we review the studies of stress responses of S. pistillata sensus lato (clades 1-4) and highlight research trends and knowledge gaps. We identify 126 studies on stress responses including effects of temperature, acidification, eutrophication, pollutants, and other local impacts. We find that most studies have focused on the effect of single stressors, especially increased temperature, and have neglected the combined effects of multiple stressors. Roughly 61% of studies on S. pistillata come from the northern Red Sea (clade 4), at the extreme limit of its current distribution; clades 2 and 3 are virtually unstudied. The overwhelming majority of studies were conducted in laboratory or mesocosm conditions, with field experiments constituting only 2% of studies. We also note that a variety of experimental designs and treatment conditions makes it difficult to draw general conclusions about the effects of particular stressors on S. pistillata. Given those knowledge gaps and limitations in the published research, we suggest a more standardized approach to compare responses across geographically disparate populations and more accurately anticipate responses to predicted future climate conditions.
  • Variable response of Red Sea coral communities to recent disturbance events along a latitudinal gradient

    Hammerman, Nicholas M.; Rodriguez-Ramirez, Alberto; Staples, Timothy L.; De Carlo, Thomas Mario; Saderne, Vincent; Roff, George; Leonard, Nicole; Zhao, Jian-xin; Rossbach, Susann; Havlik, Michelle Nicole; Duarte, Carlos M.; Pandolfi, John M. (Marine Biology, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-11-11) [Article]
    Coral reefs are experiencing a dramatic loss of hard coral abundance and associated habitat structure from a myriad of local and global factors. Here, utilizing U–Th radiometric age-dating of coral death assemblages, we investigated patterns of coral mortality from the eastern margin of the Red Sea along a latitudinal gradient (Yanbu, 24o N; Thuwal, 22o N; Al-Lith, 19o N; Farasan Banks, 18o N) in 2018 and 2019. In all four regions, radiometric ages of in situ dead Acropora and Pocillopora colonies were largely confined to the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. During the early twenty-first century, coral mortality was found to be synchronous with previously documented bleaching events in 2010 and 2015 and, at one site (Farasan Banks), an outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) in 2009. The most northern site, Yanbu, had the highest relative percentage of live coral (42 ± 4%) and of living Acropora, and may serve as a refugium under climate warming scenarios. For the three southern regions (Thuwal, Al-Lith, Farasan Banks) benthic structure was mostly comprised of dead corals. The southernmost survey site, Farasan Banks, underwent a dramatic change in coral benthic structure associated with a COTS outbreak in 2009 and a bleaching event in 2015, and had the lowest relative percentage of live coral (6 ± 2%), comprised mostly of massive Porites, with no live Acropora or Pocillopora. Our results highlight the asynchronous impact of disturbance events on eastern Red Sea coral reefs and emphasize regional differences in recovery and ecosystem state.
  • Picoplankton Diel Variability and Estimated Growth Rates in Epipelagic and Mesopelagic Waters of the Central Red Sea

    Al-otaibi, Najwa Aziz; García, Francisca C.; Moran, Xose Anxelu G. (Frontiers in Marine Science, Frontiers Media SA, 2021-11-08) [Article]
    The diel variability of the abundance and cell size of picoplanktonic groups in the central Red Sea was monitored every 2 h in situ on 4 occasions (once per season) from 2015 to 2016. We distinguished Prochlorococcus, low (LF-Syn) and high (HF-Syn) fluorescence Synechococcus, small (Speuk) and large (Lpeuk) picoeukaryotes and two groups of heterotrophic prokaryotes of low (LNA) and high (HNA) nucleic acid content. The diel variability in abundance was less marked than in cell size and more apparent in autotrophs than heterotrophs. Specific growth rates were estimated by an empirical relationship from measurements obtained in bottle incubations of surface and deep samples collected in the winter compared with in situ variations in cell size over 24 h. Autotrophic picoplankton groups generally grew faster (0.23–0.77 d–1) than heterotrophic prokaryotes (0.12–0.50 d–1). Surface to 100 m depth-weighted specific growth rates displayed a clear seasonal pattern for Prochlorococcus, with maxima in winter (0.77 ± 0.07 d–1) and minima in fall (0.52 ± 0.07 d–1). The two groups of Synechococcus peaked in spring, with slightly higher growth rates of LF-Syn (0.57 ± 0.04 d–1) than HF-Syn (0.43 ± 0.04 d–1). Speuk and Lpeuk showed different seasonal patterns, with lower values of the former (0.27 ± 0.02 and 0.37 ± 0.04 d–1, respectively). HNA consistently outgrew LNA heterotrophic prokaryotes, with a higher growth in the epipelagic (0–200 m, 0.36 ± 0.03 d–1) than in the mesopelagic (200–700 m, 0.26 ± 0.03 d–1), while no differences were found for LNA cells (0.19 ± 0.03 d–1 and 0.17 ± 0.02 d–1, respectively). With all data pooled, the mean diel abundances of autotrophic picoplankton in the upper epipelagic and of HNA cells in the epipelagic and mesopelagic layers were significantly correlated with the specific growth rates estimated from cell size variations. Our high-resolution sampling dataset suggests that changes in growth rates underlie the noticeable seasonality of picoplankton recently described in these tropical waters.
  • Fingerprinting Arctic and North Atlantic Macroalgae with eDNA – Application and perspectives

    Ørberg, Sarah B.; Krause-Jensen, Dorte; Geraldi, Nathan; Ortega, Alejandra; Diaz Rua, Ruben; Duarte, Carlos M. (Environmental DNA, Wiley, 2021-11-05) [Article]
    Macroalgae are key primary producers in North Atlantic and Arctic coastal ecosystems, and tracing their fate and distribution is vital to improve our understanding of their ecological role and provision of ecosystem services. Recent advances from environmental DNA (eDNA) have added a new capacity to fingerprint and trace macroalgae. However, further development of resources for amplifying and identifying macroalgal eDNA are much needed. Here, we examined the performance in terms of resolution and specificity of two 18S primers (18S-V7 and 18S-V9) recently applied in identifying macroalgae from eDNA. We also built a local barcode database for primer 18S-V7 with 31 widespread Arctic and North Atlantic macroalgal species to complement the existing DNA databases. Furthermore, we applied metabarcoding of eDNA to identify macroalgae in Arctic marine sediments (Disko Bay, W. Greenland) and evaluated the contributions from our local barcode database. We identified macroalgal DNA from 19 families across 11 orders in surface (0–1 cm, with both primers) and sub-surface (5–10 cm, with 18S-V7 primer) sediments. The barcode database developed here with the 18S-V7 primer improved the identification of unique families, from 16 to 19 families, thereby strengthening the taxonomic assignment possible relative to pre-existing barcode reference sequences. Overall, this study demonstrates the feasibility of eDNA to resolve contributions of macroalgae in Arctic marine sediments, and enhances the fingerprinting resolution. We thereby document a novel pathway to answer key questions on the ecological role and fate of macroalgae in the Arctic.
  • Naturally occurring fire coral clones demonstrate a genetic and environmental basis of microbiome composition

    Dubé, C. E.; Ziegler, Maren; Mercière, A.; Boissin, E.; Planes, S.; Bourmaud, C. A. -F.; Voolstra, Christian R. (Nature Communications, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-11-04) [Article]
    AbstractCoral microbiomes are critical to holobiont functioning, but much remains to be understood about how prevailing environment and host genotype affect microbial communities in ecosystems. Resembling human identical twin studies, we examined bacterial community differences of naturally occurring fire coral clones within and between contrasting reef habitats to assess the relative contribution of host genotype and environment to microbiome structure. Bacterial community composition of coral clones differed between reef habitats, highlighting the contribution of the environment. Similarly, but to a lesser extent, microbiomes varied across different genotypes in identical habitats, denoting the influence of host genotype. Predictions of genomic function based on taxonomic profiles suggest that environmentally determined taxa supported a functional restructuring of the microbial metabolic network. In contrast, bacteria determined by host genotype seemed to be functionally redundant. Our study suggests microbiome flexibility as a mechanism of environmental adaptation with association of different bacterial taxa partially dependent on host genotype.
  • Integrative systematics illuminates the relationships in two sponge-associated hydrozoan families (Capitata: Sphaerocorynidae and Zancleopsidae)

    Maggioni, Davide; Schuchert, Peter; Arrigoni, Roberto; Hoeksema, Bert W.; Huang, Danwei; Strona, Giovanni; Seveso, Davide; Berumen, Michael L.; Montalbetti, Enrico; Collins, Richard; Galli, Paolo; Montano, Simone (Contributions to Zoology, Brill, 2021-11-02) [Article]
    Abstract An integrated approach using morphological and genetic data is needed to disentangle taxonomic uncertainties affecting the hydrozoan families Sphaerocorynidae and Zancleopsidae. Here we used this approach to accurately characterise species in these families, identify the previously unknown polyp stages of the genera Euphysilla and Zancleopsis, which were originally described exclusively based on the medusa stages, describe a new sphaerocorynid genus and species, and assess the phylogenetic position of the two families within the Capitata. The monotypic genus Astrocoryne was found to be a synonym of Zancleopsis. Astrocoryne cabela was therefore transferred to the genus Zancleopsis as Zancleopsis cabela comb. nov. The new polyp-based genus and species Kudacoryne diaphana gen. nov. sp. nov. was erected within the Sphaerocorynidae. Both taxa are primarily based on genetic data, but the introduction of this new genus was made necessary by the fact that it clustered with the genera Heterocoryne and Euphysilla, despite showing Sphaerocoryne-like polyps. Interestingly, the species analysed in this work showed contrasting biogeographical patterns. Based on our data and literature records, some species appear to have a wide circumtropical range, whereas others are limited to few localities. Overall, these results lay the ground for future investigations aimed at resolving the taxonomy and systematics of these two enigmatic families.
  • Thresholds of Hypoxia for Red Sea Corals

    Alva Garcia, Jacqueline Victoria (2021-11) [Thesis]
    Advisor: Duarte, Carlos M.
    Committee members: Daffonchio, Daniele; Hauser, Charlotte
    Over the last four decades, coral reefs have suffered a ~50% decline of across the tropics. Consequently, most research efforts have focused on the impacts of anthropogenic pressures on corals, including ocean warming, ocean acidification, and overfishing. However, recent discoveries indicate that coral reefs are becoming increasingly vulnerable to acute deoxygenation events, which can drive severe and widespread coral bleaching, and in some cases, mortality of corals and other reef organisms. On unimpacted coral reefs, dissolved oxygen (DO) availability can vary between 50% and 200% air saturation, depending on the location, proximity to the open-ocean, and time of the day. During the daytime, Symbiodiniaceae spp. produce more O$_2$ than the coral host can consume, releasing excess O$_2$ to the surrounding tissues. However, at nighttime Symbiodiniaceae spp. cease O$_2$ production. Hence, corals may suffer to O$_2$ deprivation at nighttime when the photosynthesis ceases, and holobiont respiration consumes oxygen. To assess the O$_2$ thresholds and aftereffects of two Red Sea coral species: ${{P. lobata}}$ and ${{G. fascicularis}}$ corals were exposed to reduced DO concentrations. Coral fragments from both species were exposed to one control treatment (6.8 mg O$_2$ l$^{−1}$) and three reduced DO concentrations treatments (5.25 mg O$_2$ l$^{−1}$, 3.5 mg O$_2$ l$^{−1}$, and 1.25 mg O$_2$ l$^{−1}$). Experiments were held at a stable temperature (32°C ± 0.25) and stable pH levels (pH 8.2 ± 0.08). Corals in these experiments displayed different thresholds to low O$_2$ concentrations. ${{P. lobata}}$ coral fragments didn’t exhibit any bleaching symptoms throughout complete experiment. However, ${{G. fascicularis}}$ fragments showed signs of bleaching after the third night of exposure to the low O$_2$ treatment (1.25 mg O$_2$ l$^{−1}$). Physiological variables such as maximum and effective photochemical efficiency, Chl ${{a}}$, cell density, and dark respiration experienced the lowest values under the low O$_2$ treatment for both species. These results highlight the need for further experimental assessments of deoxygenation thresholds for corals across the globe. These assessments are of great importance to create better conservation strategies for the preservation of coral reefs.
  • Circulation and Water Mass Formation in the Northern Red Sea Response to Wind and Thermohaline Forcing

    Eyouni, Lina (2021-11) [Dissertation]
    Advisor: Jones, Burton
    Committee members: Stenchikov, Georgiy L.; Berumen, Michael L.; Washburn, Libe
    Numerical simulation and remote sensing have indicated that the northern half of the Red Sea has a significant role in the thermohaline circulation within the basin. However, very few studies with in situ observation have been performed in a region where the formation of Red Sea Outflow Water (RSOW) and occasionally of Red Sea Deep Water (RSDW) take place during the winter in the northern Red Sea (NRS). This study provides new insights into the seasonal variability and the mechanisms that drive the thermohaline circulation of the north half Red Sea using high-resolution glider observations combined with reanalysis and satellite datasets. The study describes the water masses characteristics, the mesoscale activity, and the forcing mechanisms. In addition, we examine the biogeochemical responses to the physical drivers in the northern half of the Red Sea and how these processes alter the marine ecosystem. During winter, the mesoscale eddy activity and heat fluxes create the necessary conditions for the formation of RSOW in the NRS. The cyclonic circulation elevates relatively denser water in the surface, which is exposed to the atmosphere exchange. Thus, it leads to subduction of the surface layer forming of RSOW. The subducted water has been characterized by high oxygen as it has recently been ventilated. In addition, chlorophyll fluorescence has subducted along the isopycnals, contributing to exporting material below the sunlit layer. After the formation of RSOW, a period of strong anticyclonic circulation was observed In late February, which stirred and mixed the advected waters from the south in the northern region. It is accompanied by heat flux transition, and at the periphery of the observed Anticyclonic Eddy, an uplifting of the densest water to the surface occurred. The presence of the anticyclonic circulation enables the water advection from the south and extends the time of the surface water for atmospheric exposure. In April, the warmer intrusion of fresher waters from the south dominated the eastern part of the NRS, reestablishing the cyclonic circulation. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first in situ observation in the NRS that captured the seasonal progression of the transition of heat flux in wintertime and water advection that terminates the formation of RSOW. A continuous supply of northward warmer, lower salinity near the coast from the south is observed throughout the summertime period. Strong stratification with surface mixed layers no deeper than 25-30 meters due to the advection of lower salinity surface water and local heating. Another change that occurred during the summer period is that the source of low salinity inflow into the region transitioned from Gulf of Aden Surface Water (GASW) to Gulf of Aden Intermediate Water (GAIW)—assuming that the inflow of GAIW began with the onset of the Southwest Monsoonal winds in the south. The summertime heating and along basin evaporation set up the system for the wintertime cooling and additional evaporation that contributes to the formation of RSOW and RSDW. The mixed layer Price-Weller-Pinkel (PWP) model (Price et al., 1986) is implemented to quantify the influence of local heat fluxes compared with horizontal advection of the Gulf of Aden Water on the upper layer. Simulation of the mixed layer showed that advection was the major contributor to the seasonally integrated heat content and mixed layer simulation in summer. In contrast to winter, the timing of the mesoscale eddy activity, significant cooling, and advection add complexity to the region. The difference in the heat content was significant, and the PWP predicted an increasing mixed layer depth, while the observed mixed layer depth remained relatively constant. The differences between the calculated and simulated heat content were minimum during the absence of the mesoscale eddy and advection from the south. Overall, the quantification suggests a complex relationship between atmospheric forcing and advection on the heat content and the mixed layer depth.
  • Additive impacts of ocean acidification and ambient ultraviolet radiation threaten calcifying marine primary producers

    Jin, Peng; Wan, Jiaofeng; Zhang, Jiale; Overmans, Sebastian; Xiao, Mengting; Ye, Mengcheng; Dai, Xiaoying; Zhao, Jingyuan; Gao, Kunshan; Xia, Jianrong (Science of the Total Environment, Elsevier BV, 2021-11) [Article]
    Ocean acidification (OA) represents a threat to marine organisms and ecosystems. However, OA rarely exists in isolation but occurs concomitantly with other stressors such as ultraviolet radiation (UVR), whose effects have been neglected in oceanographical observations. Here, we perform a quantitative meta-analysis based on 373 published experimental assessments from 26 studies to examine the combined effects of OA and UVR on marine primary producers. The results reveal predominantly additive stressor interactions (69–84% depending on the UV waveband), with synergistic and antagonistic interactions being rare but significantly different between micro- and macro-algae. In microalgae, variations in interaction type frequencies are related to cell volume, with antagonistic interactions accounting for a higher proportion in larger sized species. Despite additive interactions being most frequent, the small proportion of antagonistic interactions appears to have a stronger power, leading to neutral effects of OA in combination with UVR. High levels of UVR at near in situ conditions in combination with OA showed additive inhibition of calcification, but not when UVR was low. The results also reveal that the magnitude of responses is strongly dependent on experimental duration, with the negative effects of OA on calcification and pigmentation being buffered and amplified by increasing durations, respectively. Tropical primary producers were more vulnerable to OA or UVR alone compared to conspecifics from other climatic regions. Our analysis highlights that further multi-stressor long-term adaptation experiments with marine organisms of different cell volumes (especially microalgae) from different climatic regions are needed to fully disclose future impacts of OA and UVR.
  • Environmental DNA in the Atacama Trench reveals changes in Pelagic biodiversity in the world’s most productive marine fishery

    Rivera Rosas, Diego Elihú (2021-11) [Thesis]
    Advisor: Duarte, Carlos M.
    Committee members: Gojobori, Takashi; Peixoto, Raquel
    With the sampling limitations for the study of the hadopelagic environment, an alternative in the use of sediment eDNA is utilized in one of the world’s most productive ecosystems: The Atacama Trench. Having a history of overfishing events and effects of ENSO of differing intensities, five sites were sampled through sediment cores at depths going from 2400 to nearly 8000m. As layers of sediment are formed over time, within each layer are fragments of eDNA deposited by the pelagic fauna that inhabited at that time. For this study, the sediment layers were dated and the community composition for the years in which they inhabited was determined utilizing metabarcoding with the Euka02 and 18SMini primers. The communities identified for both primers are mainly composed of chordates and members of the recently established Chromista kingdom, and through further beta-diversity analyses, are shown to not be too distinct from one another. Alphadiversity was calculated for all sites in intervals of 15 years, and it became clear that there was a drop in biodiversity from 1977 to 2002. This is attributed to human influence, as the extensive fishing efforts in this period of time combined with the escape of salmonids from farms and adverse ENSO events contributed to the reduction of diversity, warning that although diversity is currently back at previous levels, anthropogenic impacts must be limited for conservation purposes. Overall, it is shown that sediment eDNA is a valuable emerging tool not only for research on the current state of communities in pelagic environments, but also as a snap-shot of the past that allows for comparisons within an ecosystem.
  • Impacts of Nighttime Hypoxia on the Physiological Performance of Red Sea Macroalgae

    Alamoudi, Taiba (2021-11) [Thesis]
    Advisor: Duarte, Carlos M.
    Committee members: Daffonchio, Daniele; Lauersen, Kyle J.
    Marine deoxygenated areas are expanding, and more hypoxic zones emerge globally. Climate change induced warming and stratification can extrapolate the biological oxygen demand, more predominantly at coastal areas and reefs with dense vegetation and high metabolic activity. The diurnal oxygen fluctuation can reach a critically low oxygen level at nighttime, exposing aquatic organisms to severe hypoxia that could interfere with viable ecosystem functions. Little is known about the impact of hypoxia on marine primary producers macroalgae, mainly the physiological adaptation of the Red Sea macroalgae under climate change scenarios is understudied. Here we investigate hypoxia thresholds at night time for conspicuous Red Sea macroalgae species calcareous Halimeda opuntia and Padina boryana and noncalcifying brown algae Sargassum latifolium. We utilized a computer-based gas system to expose the samples to different oxygen treatments (normoxia, hypoxia, and severe hypoxia) that mimic in situ water chemistry at 32 °C. We monitored algal physiological response during 12 hours of exposure to different oxygen levels in the dark by measuring photochemical efficiency, respiration rates, and cellular viability. For the duration of our experiments (12h), we did not detect lethal thresholds. In all tested species, severe hypoxia significantly decreased photochemical efficiency, and hypoxia had a limited impact on photochemical efficiency. However, both low oxygen treatments significantly decreased respiration rates and induced changes in cellular activity. We concluded a sublethal O$_2$ thresholds SLC$_{(50)}$ of 1.2 ±0.1, 1.5 ±0.1, and 1.7 ±0.1 mg O$_2$ L$^{−1}$ ±SD for H. opuntia, P. boryana, and S. latifolium responses, respectively. We also found that during 12 hours of treatments, the median time to observe a 50% reduction in photochemical efficiency under severe hypoxia treatment relative to control was 6.3 ±1.4, 3.5 ±1.0, and 0.8 ±1.3 hours ±SD for H. opuntia, P. boryana, and S. latifolium responses, respectively. This study is the first assessment of Red Sea macroalgae response to hypoxia and the first dark nighttime algal adaptation of its kind for our proposed species. Further investigation is needed to assess daytime recovery, recurring dark hypoxia, and synergic or sequential effects of other environmental stressors on hypoxia thresholds.
  • Blue carbon as a natural climate solution

    Macreadie, Peter I; Costa, Micheli D.P.; Atwood, Trisha B.; Friess, Daniel A.; Kelleway, Jeffrey J.; Kennedy, Hilary; Lovelock, Catherine E; Serrano, Oscar; Duarte, Carlos M. (Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2021-11-01) [Article]
    Blue carbon ecosystems (BCEs), including mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and tidal marshes, store carbon and provide co-benefits such as coastal protection and fisheries enhancement. Blue carbon sequestration has therefore been suggested as a natural climate solution. In this Review, we examine the potential for BCEs to act as carbon sinks and the opportunities to protect or restore ecosystems for this function. Globally, BCEs are calculated to store >30,000 Tg C across ~185 million ha, with their conservation potentially avoiding emissions of 304 (141–466) Tg carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year. Potential BCE restoration has been estimated in the range of 0.2–3.2 million ha for tidal marshes, 8.3–25.4 million ha for seagrasses and 9–13 million ha for mangroves, which could draw down an additional 841 (621–1,064) Tg CO2e per year by 2030, collectively amounting to ~3% of global emissions (based on 2019 and 2020 global annual fossil fuel emissions). Mangrove protection and/or restoration could provide the greatest carbon-related benefits, but better understanding of other BCEs is needed. BCE destruction is unlikely to stop fully, and not all losses can be restored. However, engineering and planning for coastal protection offer opportunities for protection and restoration, especially through valuing co-benefits. BCE prioritization is potentially a cost-effective and scalable natural climate solution, but there are still barriers to overcome before blue carbon project adoption will become widespread.

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