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    ABSTRACT: The chemical composition and microstructure of the calcite cuticles of eleven species of phacopine trilobites have been investigated by electron beam imaging, diffraction, and microanalysis, and results reveal that the lenses of their schizochroal eyes differed significantly in chemical composition from the rest of the cuticle in vivo. Apart from the eye lenses, most cuticles are inferred to have escaped extensive recrystallisation because their constituent crystals are sub-micrometre in size and have a preferred orientation that is consistent between species. Their current compositions of ~ 1.4 to 2.4 mol% MgCO3 are likely to be close to original values, although as they commonly luminesce and contain detectable manganese and iron, some diagenetic alteration has taken place. The associated lenses have a microstructure that is suitable for focusing light, yet are optically turbid owing to the presence within calcite of micropores and crystals of microdolomite, apatite, celestite and pyrite. The microdolomite indicates that lenses recrystallised from an original high-Mg calcite composition and this is supported by the presence of nanometre-scale modulated microstructures in both the calcite and dolomite. These lenses currently contain ~ 1 to 6 mol% MgCO3, and by comparison with the proportion of magnesium lost from echinoderm stereom in the same thin sections, may have contained ~ 7.5 mol% MgCO3in vivo. In some samples, more extensive diagenetic alteration is evidenced by recrystallisation of the cuticle including lenses to coarse equant calcite or enrichment of the cuticle, but not necessarily the lenses, in magnesium accompanying replacement by a Mg–Fe phyllosilicate. The phacopine trilobites had to modify partition coefficients for magnesium considerably in order to grow lenses with contrasting compositions to the rest of their cuticles, and such a strong vital effect on biomineralisation suggests that incorporation of magnesium was essential for functioning of their calcite optical systems.
    Chemical Geology 09/2014; s 314–317:33–44.
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    ABSTRACT: Global climate change threatens the oceans as anthropogenic carbon dioxide causes ocean acidification and reduced carbonate saturation. Future projections indicate under saturation of aragonite, and potentially calcite, in the oceans by 2100. Calcifying organisms are those most at risk from such ocean acidification, as carbonate is vital in the biomineralisation of their calcium carbonate protective shells. This study highlights the importance of multi-generational studies to investigate how marine organisms can potentially adapt to future projected global climate change. Mytilus edulis is an economically important marine calcifier vulnerable to decreasing carbonate saturation as their shells comprise two calcium carbonate polymorphs: aragonite and calcite. M. edulis specimens were cultured under current and projected pCO2 (380, 550, 750 and 1000 μatm), following 6 months of experimental culture, adults produced second generation juvenile mussels. Juvenile mussel shells were examined for structural and crystallographic orientation of aragonite and calcite. At 1000 μatm pCO2, juvenile mussels spawned and grown under this high pCO2 do not produce aragonite which is more vulnerable to carbonate under-saturation than calcite. Calcite and aragonite were produced at 380, 550 and 750 μatm pCO2. Electron back scatter diffraction analyses reveal less constraint in crystallographic orientation with increased pCO2. Shell formation is maintained, although the nacre crystals appear corroded and crystals are not so closely layered together. The differences in ultrastructure and crystallography in shells formed by juveniles spawned from adults in high pCO2 conditions may prove instrumental in their ability to survive ocean acidification.
    Journal of Structural Biology. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Global energy demand is increasing as greenhouse gas driven climate change progresses, making renewable energy sources critical to future sustainable power provision. Land-based wind and solar electricity generation technologies are rapidly expanding, yet our understanding of their operational effects on biological carbon cycling in hosting ecosystems is limited. Wind turbines and photovoltaic panels can significantly change local ground-level climate by a magnitude that could affect the fundamental plant-soil processes that govern carbon dynamics. We believe that understanding the possible effects of changes in ground-level microclimates on these phenomena is crucial to reducing uncertainty of the true renewable energy carbon cost and to maximise beneficial effects. In this Opinions article, we examine the potential for the microclimatic effects of these land-based renewable energy sources to alter plant-soil carbon cycling, hypothesise likely effects, and identify critical knowledge gaps for future carbon research. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Global Change Biology 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Marine pCO2 enrichment via ocean acidification (OA), upwelling and release from carbon capture and storage (CCS) facilities is projected to have devastating impacts on marine biomineralisers and the services they provide. However, empirical studies using stable endpoint pCO2 concentrations find species exhibit variable biological and geochemical responses rather than the expected negative patterns. In addition, the carbonate chemistry of many marine systems is now being observed to be more variable than previously thought. To underpin more robust projections of future OA impacts on marine biomineralisers and their role in ecosystem service provision, we investigate coralline algal responses to realistically variable scenarios of marine pCO2 enrichment. Coralline algae are important in ecosystem function; providing habitats and nursery areas, hosting high biodiversity, stabilizing reef structures and contributing to the carbon cycle. Red coralline marine algae were exposed for 80-days to one of three pH treatments: (1) current pH (control), (2) low pH (7.7) representing OA change and (3) an abrupt drop to low pH (7.7) representing the higher rates of pH change observed at natural vent systems, in areas of upwelling and during CCS releases. We demonstrate that red coralline algae respond differently to the rate and the magnitude of pH change induced by pCO2 enrichment. At low pH, coralline algae survived by increasing their calcification rates. However, when the change to low pH occurred at a fast rate we detected, using Raman spectroscopy, molecular bonding weaknesses in the calcite skeleton, with evidence of molecular positional disorder. This suggests that, while coralline algae will continue to calcify, they may be structurally weakened, putting at risk the ecosystem services they provide. Notwithstanding evolutionary adaptation, the ability of coralline algae to cope with OA may thus be determined primarily by the rate, rather than magnitude, at which pCO2 enrichment occurs. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Global Change Biology 08/2013;
  • The American Journal of Bioethics 08/2013; 13(8):48-50.
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    ABSTRACT: In this paper we assess the ways in which the topography of glaciated northern Britain has affected the siting and operations of water mills, and compare those factors and mill locations for mills in unglaciated southern Britain. We then explore the impacts of these findings on the potential downstream impacts of mill dam failure. We used a GIS to plot the locations of all 1712 localities in Britain's Ordnance Survey Gazetteer that include “mill”, “milton” (‘milltown’) and “miln” in their name. We then examined the geomorphology of mill locations in two study areas, one in northeast Scotland (glaciated; 421 localities) and one in southern England (unglaciated; 438 localities), assessing (i) mill location within the drainage net, and (ii) the steepness of an adjacent stream within a radius of 500 m of the mill locality. The large majority of mills are located within the first 10 km of the drainage net in both study areas, presumably on relatively stable bedrock channels. The data for most of the mills in both study areas indicate that catchment areas of less than 200 km2 are sufficient to supply the water necessary for operation of a mill, but the higher rainfalls and runoff in Scotland (almost twice the values in the England study area) mean that mill dams in S England must have been higher and of higher capacity than those in NE Scotland. That finding is consistent with the results related to channel steepness, which show that mills in Scotland are associated with steeper channels than is the case in England. The generally greater channel steepness in Scotland (and the greater downstream extent of those steeper channels, as also confirmed by the data) reflect both the many glacially steepened bedrock channel reaches in Scotland and the steepening of Scotland's coastal bedrock channels as a result of glacio-isostatic rebound. The technical requirements of water mill operation favour situations where water can be delivered to the top of, or at least part-way up, the mill wheel. Scotland's steeper rivers and its higher rainfalls mean that Scotland's mills require smaller mill dams, if they are needed at all. It would therefore be expected that catastrophic or managed failure of mill dam walls in northern Britain would release lower volumes of trapped sediment to the downstream fluvial system. These lower volumes would in turn result in lower geomorphological impacts downstream of the dam, both in terms of changing channel patterns and burial of the bed. Such dam failure is a key current issue in geomorphology and one case study of a small failed mill dam in western Scotland confirms the minimal downstream impacts of that failure.
    Applied Geography 08/2013; 42:195–205.
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    ABSTRACT: The shell of the gastropod mollusc, abalone, is comprised of nacre with an outer prismatic layer that is composed of either calcite or aragonite or both, depending on the species. A striking characteristic of the abalone shell is the row of apertures along the dorsal margin. As the organism and shell grow, new apertures are formed and the preceding ones are filled in. Detailed investigations, using electron backscatter diffraction, of the infill in three species of abalone: Haliotis asinina, Haliotis gigantea and Haliotis rufescens reveals that, like the shell, the infill is composed mainly of nacre with an outer prismatic layer. The infill prismatic layer has identical mineralogy as the original shell prismatic layer. In H. asinina and H. gigantea, the prismatic layer of the shell and infill are made of aragonite while in H. rufescens both are composed of calcite. Abalone builds the infill material with the same high level of biological control, replicating the structure, mineralogy and crystallographic orientation as for the shell. The infill of abalone apertures presents us with insight into what is, effectively, shell repair.
    Journal of Structural Biology 05/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to utilize magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to image structural heterogeneity and mass transport inside a biofilm which was too thick for photon based imaging. MRI was used to map water diffusion and image the transport of the paramagnetically tagged macromolecule, Gd-DTPA, inside a 2.5 mm thick cyanobacterial biofilm. The structural heterogeneity of the biofilm was imaged at resolutions down to 22 × 22 μm, enabling the impact of biofilm architecture on the mass transport of both water and Gd-DTPA to be investigated. Higher density areas of the biofilm correlated with areas exhibiting lower relative water diffusion coefficients and slower transport of Gd-DTPA, highlighting the impact of biofilm structure on mass transport phenomena. This approach has potential for shedding light on heterogeneous mass transport of a range of molecular mass molecules in biofilms.
    Current Microbiology 01/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Oceanic pH is projected to decrease by up to 0.5 units by 2100 (a process known as ocean acidification, OA), reducing the calcium carbonate saturation state of the oceans. The coastal ocean is expected to experience periods of even lower carbonate saturation state because of the inherent natural variability of coastal habitats. Thus, in order to accurately project the impact of OA on the coastal ocean, we must first understand its natural variability. The production of dimethylsulphoniopropionate (DMSP) by marine algae and the release of DMSP's breakdown product dimethylsulphide (DMS) are often related to environmental stress. This study investigated the spatiotemporal response of tropical macroalgae (Padina sp., Amphiroa sp. and Turbinaria sp.) and the overlying water column to natural changes in reefal carbonate chemistry. We compared macroalgal intracellular DMSP and water column DMSP+DMS concentrations between the environmentally stable reef crest and environmentally variable reef flat of the fringing Suleman Reef, Egypt, over 45-hour sampling periods. Similar diel patterns were observed throughout: maximum intracellular DMSP and water column DMS/P concentrations were observed at night, coinciding with the time of lowest carbonate saturation state. Spatially, water column DMS/P concentrations were highest over areas dominated by seagrass and macroalgae (dissolved DMS/P) and phytoplankton (particulate DMS/P) rather than corals. This research suggests that macroalgae may use DMSP to maintain metabolic function during periods of low carbonate saturation state. In the reef system, seagrass and macroalgae may be more important benthic producers of dissolved DMS/P than corals. An increase in DMS/P concentrations during periods of low carbonate saturation state may become ecologically important in the future under an OA regime, impacting larval settlement and increasing atmospheric emissions of DMS.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(5):e64651.
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    ABSTRACT: Sampling bias created by a heterogeneous rock record can seriously distort estimates of marine diversity and makes a direct reading of the fossil record unreliable. Here we compare two independent estimates of Phanerozoic marine diversity that explicitly take account of variation in sampling-a subsampling approach that standardizes for differences in fossil collection intensity, and a rock area modelling approach that takes account of differences in rock availability. Using the fossil records of North America and Western Europe, we demonstrate that a modelling approach applied to the combined data produces results that are significantly correlated with those derived from subsampling. This concordance between independent approaches argues strongly for the reality of the large-scale trends in diversity we identify from both approaches.
    Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 09/2012; 279(1746):4489-95.
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