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URI researchers: Small changes in oxygen levels have big implications for ocean life

Oceanographers at the University of Rhode Island have found that even slight levels of ocean oxygen loss, or deoxygenation, have big consequences for tiny marine organisms called zooplankton.

Zooplankton are important components of the food web in the expanse of deep, open ocean called the midwater. Within this slice of ocean below the surface and above the seafloor are oxygen minimum zones (OMZs), large regions of very low oxygen. Unlike coastal “dead zones” where oxygen levels can suddenly plummet and kill marine life not acclimated to the conditions, zooplankton in OMZs are specially adapted to live where other organisms – especially predators – cannot.

Source: Whats up newp

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Home sweet suboxic home: remarkable hypoxia tolerance in two demersal fish species in the Gulf of California

"Extremophiles – organisms that live in extreme environments – invite us to question our assumptions about the requirements for life. Fish, as a group, are thought to be relatively hypoxia intolerant due to their high metabolic requirements (Vaquer‐Sunyer and Duarte 2008); however, the cusk‐eel, Cherublemma emmelas, and the catshark, Cephalurus cephalus, appear to thrive in one of the most extreme low oxygen marine habitats in the world – the Gulf of California. Here, we describe the behavior and habitat of these extraordinary species that live under conditions commonly thought to be uninhabitable by fish. [...]"

Source: Ecology
Authors: Natalya D. Gallo et al.
DOI: 10.1002/ecy.2539

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Interpreting Mosaics of Ocean Biogeochemistry

"Sea level rise, heat transport, ocean acidification, these ocean processes, well known in the public sphere, play out on a regional to global scale. But less well known are more localized processes that bring some ecological niches together, keep others separated, and help sustain ocean life by circulating nutrients.

Physical processes in the ocean that take place over intermediate and small scales of space and time play a key role in vertical seawater exchange. They also have significant effects on chemical, biological, and ecological processes in the upper ocean. [...]"

Source: EOS

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High denitrification and anaerobic ammonium oxidation contributes to net nitrogen loss in a seagrass ecosystem in the central Red Sea

Abstract.

"Nitrogen loads in coastal areas have increased dramatically, with detrimental consequences for coastal ecosystems. Shallow sediments and seagrass meadows are hotspots for denitrification, favoring N loss. However, atmospheric dinitrogen (N2) fixation has been reported to support seagrass growth. Therefore, the role of coastal marine systems dominated by seagrasses in the net N2 flux remains unclear. Here, we measured denitrification, anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox), and N2 fixation in a tropical seagrass (Enhalus acoroides) meadow and the adjacent bare sediment in a coastal lagoon in the central Red Sea. [...]"

Source: Biogeosciences
Authors: Neus Garcias-Bonet et al.
DOI: 10.5194/bg-15-7333-2018

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Global warming today mirrors conditions leading to Earth's largest extinction event, study says

"More than two-thirds of life on Earth died off some 252 million years ago, in the largest mass extinction event in Earth's history.

Researchers have long suspected that volcanic eruptions triggered "the Great Dying," as the end of the Permian geologic period is sometimes called, but exactly how so many creatures died has been something of a mystery.

Now scientists at the University of Washington and Stanford believe their models reveal how so many animals were killed, and they see frightening parallels in the path our planet is on today.

Models of the effects of volcanic greenhouse gas releases showed the Earth warming dramatically and oxygen disappearing from its oceans, leaving many marine animals unable to breathe, according to a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science. By the time temperatures peaked, about 80 percent of the oceans' oxygen, on average, had been depleted. Most marine animals went extinct. [...]"

Source: Phys.org

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Temperature-dependent hypoxia explains biogeography and severity of end-Permian marine mass extinction

Abstract.

"Climate change triggered by volcanic greenhouse gases is hypothesized to have caused the largest mass extinction in Earth’s history at the end of the Permian Period (~252 million years ago). Geochemical evidence provides strong support for rapid global warming and accompanying ocean oxygen (O2) loss, but a quantitative link among climate, species’ traits, and extinction is lacking. To test whether warming and O2 loss can mechanistically account for the marine mass extinction, we combined climate model simulations with an established ecophysiological framework to predict the biogeographic patterns and severity of extinction. Those predictions were confirmed by a spatially explicit analysis of the marine fossil record. [...]"

Source: Science
Authors: Justin L. Penn et al.
DOI: 10.1126/science.aat1327

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A Novel Approach for Measuring the Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone: Toward Better Temporal and Spatial Estimates for Management Applications

Abstract.

"Nearly every summer, a large hypoxic zone forms in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Research on the causes and consequences of hypoxia requires reliable estimates of hypoxic extent, which can vary at submonthly time scales due to hydro-meteorological variability. Here, we use an innovative space-time geostatistical model and data collected by multiple research organizations to estimate bottom-water dissolved oxygen (BWDO) concentrations and hypoxic area across summers from 1985 to 2016. [...]"

Source: Environmental Science and Technology 
Authors: V. Rohith Reddy Matli et al.
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b03474

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Distribution of Meiofauna in Bathyal Sediments Influenced by the Oxygen Minimum Zone Off Costa Rica

Abstract.

"Ocean deoxygenation has become a topic of increasing concern because of its potential impacts on marine ecosystems, including oxygen minimum zone (OMZ) expansion and subsequent benthic effects. We investigated the influence of oxygen concentration and organic matter (OM) availability on metazoan meiofauna within and below an OMZ in bathyal sediments off Costa Rica, testing the hypothesis that oxygen and OM levels are reflected in meiofaunal community structures and distribution. Mean total densities in our sampling cores (400–1800 m water depth) were highest with 3688 ind. 10 cm−2 at the OMZ core at 400 m water depth, decreasing rapidly downslope. [...]"

Source: Frontiers in Marine Science
Authors: Carlos Neira et al.
DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2018.00448

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Finding forced trends in oceanic oxygen

Abstract.

"Anthropogenically forced trends in oceanic dissolved oxygen are evaluated in Earth system models in the context of natural variability. A large ensemble of a single Earth system model is used to clearly identify the forced component of change in interior oxygen distributions and to evaluate the magnitude of this signal relative to noise generated by internal climate variability. The time of emergence of forced trends is quantified on the basis of anomalies in oxygen concentrations and trends. [...]"

Source: Global Biogeochemical Cycles
Authors: Matthew C. Long, Curtis Deutsch and Taka Ito
DOI: 10.1002/2015GB005310 

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Measuring carbon and nitrogen bioassimilation, burial, and denitrification contributions of oyster reefs in Gulf coast estuaries

Abstract.

"The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) and the reefs they create provide significant ecosystem services. This study measured their possible role in nutrient mitigation through bioassimilation, burial, and oyster-mediated sediment denitrification in near-shore shallow water (< 1 m water depth) and deep-water (> 1 m water depth) oyster reefs in Louisiana. Nitrogen (N) and carbon (C) in shell and tissue differed by oyster reproductive status, size, and habitat type. [...]"

Source: Marine Biology
Authors: Phillip Westbrook, Leanna Heffner, Megan K. La Peyre
DOI: 10.1007/s00227-018-3449-1

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