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Title: Co-occurrence of Aquatic Heatwaves with Atmospheric Heatwaves, Low Dissolved Oxygen, and Low pH Events in Estuarine Ecosystems
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ; ;
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Estuaries and Coasts
Page Range / eLocation ID:
707 to 720
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Recent marine heatwaves in the Gulf of Alaska have had devastating impacts on species from various trophic levels. Due to climate change, total heat exposure in the upper ocean has become longer, more intense, more frequent, and more likely to happen at the same time as other environmental extremes. The combination of multiple environmental extremes can exacerbate the response of sensitive marine organisms. Our hindcast simulation provides the first indication that more than 20% of the bottom water of the Gulf of Alaska continental shelf was exposed to quadruple heat, positive hydrogen ion concentration [H+], negative aragonite saturation state (Ωarag), and negative oxygen concentration [O2] compound extreme events during the 2018–2020 marine heat wave. Natural intrusion of deep and acidified water combined with the marine heat wave triggered the first occurrence of these events in 2019. During the 2013–2016 marine heat wave, surface waters were already exposed to widespread marine heat and positive [H+] compound extreme events due to the temperature effect on the [H+]. We introduce a new Gulf of Alaska Downwelling Index (GOADI) with short‐term predictive skill, which can serve as indicator of past and near‐future positive [H+], negative Ωarag, and negative [O2] compound extreme events near the shelf seafloor. Our results suggest that the marine heat waves may have not been the sole environmental stressor that led to the observed ecosystem impacts and warrant a closer look at existing in situ inorganic carbon and other environmental data in combination with biological observations and model output.

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  3. Pérez-Matus, Alejandro (Ed.)

    Giant kelp and bull kelp forests are increasingly at risk from marine heatwave events, herbivore outbreaks, and the loss or alterations in the behavior of key herbivore predators. The dynamic floating canopy of these kelps is well-suited to study via satellite imagery, which provides high temporal and spatial resolution data of floating kelp canopy across the western United States and Mexico. However, the size and complexity of the satellite image dataset has made ecological analysis difficult for scientists and managers. To increase accessibility of this rich dataset, we created Kelpwatch, a web-based visualization and analysis tool. This tool allows researchers and managers to quantify kelp forest change in response to disturbances, assess historical trends, and allow for effective and actionable kelp forest management. Here, we demonstrate how Kelpwatch can be used to analyze long-term trends in kelp canopy across regions, quantify spatial variability in the response to and recovery from the 2014 to 2016 marine heatwave events, and provide a local analysis of kelp canopy status around the Monterey Peninsula, California. We found that 18.6% of regional sites displayed a significant trend in kelp canopy area over the past 38 years and that there was a latitudinal response to heatwave events for each kelp species. The recovery from heatwave events was more variable across space, with some local areas like Bahía Tortugas in Baja California Sur showing high recovery while kelp canopies around the Monterey Peninsula continued a slow decline and patchy recovery compared to the rest of the Central California region. Kelpwatch provides near real time spatial data and analysis support and makes complex earth observation data actionable for scientists and managers, which can help identify areas for research, monitoring, and management efforts.

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  4. Kelp forests of the California Current System have experienced prolonged marine heatwave (MHW) events that overlap in time with the phenology of life history events (e.g., gametogenesis and spawning) of many benthic marine invertebrates. To study the effect of thermal stress from MHWs during gametogenesis in the purple sea urchin ( Strongylocentrotus purpuratus ) and further, whether MHWs might induce transgenerational plasticity (TGP) in thermal tolerance of progeny, adult urchins were acclimated to two conditions in the laboratory – a MHW temperature of 18°C and a non-MHW temperature of 13°C. Following a four-month long acclimation period (October–January), adults were spawned and offspring from each parental condition were reared at MHW (18°C) and non-MHW temperatures (13°C), creating a total of four embryo treatment groups. To assess transgenerational effects for each of the four groups, we measured thermal tolerance of hatched blastula embryos in acute thermal tolerance trials. Embryos from MHW-acclimated females were more thermally tolerant with higher LT 50 values as compared to progeny from non-MHW-acclimated females. Additionally, there was an effect of female acclimation state on offspring body size at two stages of embryonic development - early gastrulae and prism, an early stage echinopluteus larvae. To assess maternal provisioning as means to also alter embryo performance, we assessed gamete traits from the differentially acclimated females, by measuring size and biochemical composition of eggs. MHW-acclimated females had eggs with higher protein concentrations, while egg size and lipid content showed no differences. Our results indicate that TGP plays a role in altering the performance of progeny as a function of the thermal history of the female, especially when thermal stress coincides with gametogenesis. In addition, the data on egg provisioning show that maternal experience can influence embryo traits via egg protein content. Although this is a laboratory-based study, the results suggest that TGP may play a role in the resistance and tolerance of S. purpuratus early stages in the natural kelp forest setting. 
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