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Plymouth, United Kingdom

Smale D.A.,Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom | Smale D.A.,University of Western Australia | Wernberg T.,University of Western Australia | Yunnie A.L.E.,Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom | Vance T.,PML Applications Ltd
Marine Ecology | Year: 2015

The distribution of species is shifting in response to recent climate change. Changes in the abundance and distributions of habitat-forming species can have knock-on effects on community structure, biodiversity patterns and ecological processes. We empirically examined temporal changes in the abundance of the warm-water kelp Laminaria ochroleuca at its poleward range edge in the Western English Channel. Resurveys of historical sites indicated that the abundance of L. ochroleuca has increased significantly in recent decades. Moreover, examination of historical records suggested that L. ochroleuca has extended its distribution from sheltered coasts on to moderately wave-exposed open coasts, where it now co-exists and competes with the assemblage dominant Laminaria hyperborea. Proliferation of L. ochroleuca at its poleward range edge corresponds with a period of rapid warming in the Western English Channel. Preliminary comparisons between L. ochroleuca and L. hyperborea highlighted some subtle but ecologically significant differences in structure and function. In summer, the average biomass of epiphytic stipe assemblages on L. hyperborea was 86 times greater than on L. ochroleuca whereas, on average, L. ochroleuca had a greater stipe length and its blade supported 18 times as many gastropod grazers (Gibbula cineraria). Differences in summer growth rates were also recorded, with L. ochroleuca being more productive than L. hyperborea throughout July. Comprehensive seasonally replicated comparisons are needed to examine the wider implications of proliferation of L. ochroleuca at its poleward range edge, but our study suggests that local biodiversity patterns and ecological processes (e.g. timing of productivity and trophic pathways) on shallow subtidal reefs may be altered by shifts in the relative abundances of habitat-forming kelp species. © 2015 Blackwell Verlag GmbH.

Smale D.A.,Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom | Yunnie A.L.E.,Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom | Vance T.,PML Applications Ltd | Widdicombe S.,Plymouth Marine Laboratory
PeerJ | Year: 2015

Extreme climatic events, including heat waves (HWs) and severe storms, influence the structure of marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Despite growing consensus that anthropogenic climate change will increase the frequency, duration and magnitude of extreme events, current understanding of their impact on communities and ecosystems is limited. Here, we used sessile invertebrates on settlement panels as model assemblages to examine the influence of HW magnitude, duration and timing on marine biodiversity patterns. Settlement panels were deployed in a marina in southwest UK for ≥5 weeks, to allow sufficient time for colonisation and development of sessile fauna, before being subjected to simulated HWs in a mesocosm facility. Replicate panel assemblages were held at ambient sea temperature (~17 °C), or +3 °C or +5 °C for a period of 1 or 2 weeks, before being returned to the marina for a recovery phase of 2-3 weeks. The 10-week experiment was repeated 3 times, staggered throughout summer, to examine the influence of HW timing on community impacts. Contrary to our expectations, the warming events had no clear, consistent impacts on the abundance of species or the structure of sessile assemblages. With the exception of 1 high-magnitude long-durationHWevent, warming did not alter not assemblage structure, favour non-native species, nor lead to changes in richness, abundance or biomass of sessile faunal assemblages. The observed lack of effect may have been caused by a combination of (1) the use of relatively low magnitude, realistic heat wave treatments compared to previous studies (2), the greater resilience of mature adult sessile fauna compared to recruits and juveniles, and (3) the high thermal tolerance of the model organisms (i.e., temperate fouling species, principally bryozoans and ascidians). Our study demonstrates the importance of using realistic treatments when manipulating climate change variables, and also suggests that biogeographical context may influence community-level responses to short-term warming events, which are predicted to increase in severity in the future. © 2015 Smale et al.

White D.A.,Plymouth Marine Laboratory | Hird L.C.,PML Applications Ltd | Ali S.T.,Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Journal of Applied Microbiology | Year: 2013

Aims: The aim of this study was to evaluate biosurfactant production by a novel marine Rhodococcus sp., strain PML026 and characterize the chemical nature and properties of the biosurfactant. Methods and Results: A novel marine bacterium (Rhodococcus species; strain PML026) was shown to produce biosurfactant in the presence of hydrophobic substrate (sunflower oil). Biosurfactant production (identified as a trehalolipid) was monitored in whole-batch cultures (oil layer and aqueous phase), aqueous phase (no oil layer) and filtered (0·2 μm) aqueous phase (no oil or cells; extracellular) and was shown to be closely associated with growth/biomass production. Extracellular trehalolipid levels increased postonset of stationary growth phase. Purified trehalolipid was able to reduce the surface tension of water to 29 mN m-1 at Critical Micellar Concentration (CMC) of c. 250 mg l-1 and produced emulsions that were stable to a wide range of conditions (pH 2-10, temperatures of 20-100°C and NaCl concentrations of 5-25% w/v). Separate chemical analyses of the intact trehalolipid and its constituents demonstrated the compound was in fact a mixture of homologues (>1180 MW) consisting of a trehalose moiety esterified to a series of straight chain and hydroxylated fatty acids. Conclusions: The trehalolipid biosurfactant produced by the novel marine strain Rhodococcus sp. PML026 was characterized and exhibited high surfactant activity under a wide range of conditions. Significance and Impact of Study: Strain PML026 of Rhodococcus sp. is a potential candidate for bioremediation or biosurfactant production for various applications. © 2013 The Society for Applied Microbiology.

Smale D.A.,Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom | Vance T.,PML Applications Ltd
Marine and Freshwater Research | Year: 2016

Physical disturbance through wave action is a major determinant of kelp forest structure. The North-east Atlantic storm season of 2013-14 was unusually severe; the south coast of the UK was subjected to 6 of the 12 most intense storms recorded in the past 5 years. Inshore significant wave heights and periods exceeded 7m and 13s with two storms classified as '1-in-30 year' events. We examined the impacts of the storm season on kelp canopies at three study sites. Monospecific canopies comprising Laminaria hyperborea were unaffected by storm disturbance. However, at one study site a mixed canopy comprising Laminaria ochroleuca, Saccharina latissima and L. hyperborea was significantly altered by the storms, due to decreased abundances of the former two species. Quantification of freshly severed stipes suggested that the 'warm water' kelp L. ochroleuca was more susceptible to storm damage than L. hyperborea. Overall, kelp canopies were highly resistant to storm disturbance because of the low vulnerability of L. hyperborea to intense wave action. However, if climate-driven shifts in kelp species distributions result in more mixed canopies, as predicted, then resistance to storm disturbance may be eroded. © CSIRO 2016.

Smale D.A.,Marine Biological Association of The United Kingdom | Burrows M.T.,Scottish Association for Marine Science | Evans A.J.,Aberystwyth University | King N.,Aberystwyth University | And 4 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2016

Kelp forests represent some of the most productive and diverse habitats on Earth. Understanding drivers of ecological patterns at large spatial scales is critical for effective management and conservation of marine habitats. We surveyed kelp forests dominated by Laminaria hyperborea (Gunnerus) Foslie 1884 across 9° latitude and >1000 km of coastline and measured a number of physical parameters at multiple scales to link ecological structure and standing stock of carbon with environmental variables. Kelp density, biomass, morphology and age were generally greater in exposed sites within regions, highlighting the importance of wave exposure in structuring L. hyperborea populations. At the regional scale, wave-exposed kelp canopies in the cooler regions (the north and west of Scotland) were greater in biomass, height and age than in warmer regions (southwest Wales and England). The range and maximal values of estimated standing stock of carbon contained within kelp forests was greater than in historical studies, suggesting that this ecosystem property may have been previously undervalued. Kelp canopy density was positively correlated with large-scale wave fetch and fine-scale water motion, whereas kelp canopy biomass and the standing stock of carbon were positively correlated with large-scale wave fetch and light levels and negatively correlated with temperature. As light availability and summer temperature were important drivers of kelp forest biomass, effective management of human activities that may affect coastal water quality is necessary to maintain ecosystem functioning, while increased temperatures related to anthropogenic climate change may impact the structure of kelp forests and the ecosystem services they provide. © 2016 Inter-Research.

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