Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate variations may impact the base of the food web along the California coast

10.03.2020

Recent study reveals that natural climate cycles influence the base of the food web along the California coast and provides clues as to how phytoplankton and the prevalence of harmful algal blooms might respond to climate change-driven ocean warming

In a recent study published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, researchers at California Polytechnic State University revealed that in addition to seasonal changes in winds and ocean temperatures, natural climate cycles greatly influenced the base of the food web at the Cal Poly Pier in San Luis Obispo Bay, an embayment located in Central California in the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Like seasons that drive recurring changes in ocean and atmospheric patterns every year, natural climate cycles drive rhythmic changes in these patterns over longer cycles.


A fluorescence microscopy image of phytoplankton including chain-forming diatoms and many large dinoflagellates. The different colors indicate different components of the cells including the cell's cytoplasm (green), nuclear material (blue) and chlorophyll pigments (red). The phytoplankton are magnified 1,000 times their actual size.

Credit: Alexis Pasulka

The most commonly known natural climate cycle is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which alters ocean and atmospheric weather patterns over the equatorial Pacific every three to eight years, with cascading effects on global weather patterns. However, along the California coast, other climate cycles such as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO) can influence local ecosystems on cycles of a few years to a few decades. The study found that while local changes in temperature and nutrients influenced the overall community of phytoplankton that was present in San Luis Obispo Bay throughout the year, the state of these long-term climate cycles, i.e., the up or down points in these oscillating climate patterns, influenced the timing of when different phytoplankton groups appeared or if they appeared at all.

Primary producers such as phytoplankton form the base of the marine food web. These phytoplankton are eaten by small consumers like zooplankton and larval fish. As a result, changes at the base of the food web can affect organisms across multiple trophic levels in marine ecosystems. Researchers at Cal Poly have been collecting seawater samples over the last decade to gain insight into short term (seasonal) and long-term (interannual) changes in the base of the food web

"We care about the different types of phytoplankton because they have different impacts on the ecosystem," said Cal Poly biology professor Alexis Pasulka. "Some types provide better quality food for organisms like larval fish, whereas some types can produce toxins and have negative effects on local ecosystems."

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are proliferations of aquatic algae that disrupt ecosystems and impair water quality. The environmental impacts of HABs can be sudden, severe and lethal across all levels of aquatic and terrestrial food webs. The types of phytoplankton that more commonly form HABs, dinoflagellates, are often associated with warmer waters that are less mixed by local winds.

"The phytoplankton are responding to changes in environmental conditions driven by the physics and motions of the ocean," said Cal Poly physics professor Ryan Walter. "These changes are not only happening seasonally but also over much longer time scales due to natural climate cycles like ENSO and PDO, as well as climate change due to human activity."

This study highlights that during the warm state of the PDO, i.e., the up in the PDO climate cycle, dinoflagellate blooms appeared more consistently in the fall and sometimes earlier in the seasonal cycle than during the cold state. This warm state of the PDO was characterized by increased surface temperatures and increased stratification (temperature changes with depth), both of which are expected to increase in the future due to global warming. This study may provide a glimpse into the future and a clue as to how the base of the food web and the prevalence of harmful algal blooms might respond to climate change-driven ocean warming.

###

This work was led by Cal Poly biology undergraduate Alex Barth - who is now pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina - under the guidance of Pasulka and Walter, as well as senior research scientist Ian Robbins. This work was funded by the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System as part of the California Harmful Algal Bloom Monitoring and Alert Program.

Alexis Pasulka | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps13245

Further reports about: ENSO algal blooms aquatic blooms ecosystems weather patterns

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality
22.05.2020 | Technische Universität Dresden

nachricht From artificial meat to fine-tuning photosynthesis: Food System Innovation – and how to get there
20.05.2020 | Potsdam-Institut für Klimafolgenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: I-call - When microimplants communicate with each other / Innovation driver digitization - "Smart Health“

Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.

When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...

Im Focus: When predictions of theoretical chemists become reality

Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.

Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...

Im Focus: Rolling into the deep

Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.

A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...

Im Focus: NASA's Curiosity rover finds clues to chilly ancient Mars buried in rocks

By studying the chemical elements on Mars today -- including carbon and oxygen -- scientists can work backwards to piece together the history of a planet that once had the conditions necessary to support life.

Weaving this story, element by element, from roughly 140 million miles (225 million kilometers) away is a painstaking process. But scientists aren't the type...

Im Focus: Making quantum 'waves' in ultrathin materials

Study co-led by Berkeley Lab reveals how wavelike plasmons could power up a new class of sensing and photochemical technologies at the nanoscale

Wavelike, collective oscillations of electrons known as "plasmons" are very important for determining the optical and electronic properties of metals.

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Dresden Nexus Conference 2020: Same Time, Virtual Format, Registration Opened

19.05.2020 | Event News

Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium AWK'21 will take place on June 10 and 11, 2021

07.04.2020 | Event News

International Coral Reef Symposium in Bremen Postponed by a Year

06.04.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

Inexpensive retinal diagnostics via smartphone

25.05.2020 | Medical Engineering

Smart machine maintenance: New AI system also detects unknown faults

25.05.2020 | Information Technology

Artificial Intelligence for optimized mobile communication

25.05.2020 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>