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Journal Article
Kuffner, IB, Andersson AJ, Jokiel PL, Rodgers KS, Mackenzie FT.  2008.  Decreased abundance of crustose coralline algae due to ocean acidification. Nature Geoscience. 1:114-117.   10.1038/ngeo100   AbstractWebsite

Owing to anthropogenic emissions, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide could almost double between 2006 and 2100 according to business- as- usual carbon dioxide emission scenarios(1). Because the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere(2-4), increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations will lead to increasing dissolved inorganic carbon and carbon dioxide in surface ocean waters, and hence acidification and lower carbonate saturation states(2,5). As a consequence, it has been suggested that marine calcifying organisms, for example corals, coralline algae, molluscs and foraminifera, will have difficulties producing their skeletons and shells at current rates(6,7), with potentially severe implications for marine ecosystems, including coral reefs(6,8 - 11). Here we report a seven-week experiment exploring the effects of ocean acidification on crustose coralline algae, a cosmopolitan group of calcifying algae that is ecologically important in most shallow-water habitats(12-14). Six outdoor mesocosms were continuously supplied with sea water from the adjacent reef and manipulated to simulate conditions of either ambient or elevated seawater carbon dioxide concentrations. The recruitment rate and growth of crustose coralline algae were severely inhibited in the elevated carbon dioxide mesocosms. Our findings suggest that ocean acidification due to human activities could cause significant change to benthic community structure in shallow-warm-water carbonate ecosystems.

Jokiel, PL, Rodgers KS, Kuffner IB, Andersson AJ, Cox EF, Mackenzie FT.  2008.  Ocean acidification and calcifying reef organisms: a mesocosm investigation. Coral Reefs. 27:473-483.   10.1007/s00338-008-0380-9   AbstractWebsite

A long-term (10 months) controlled experiment was conducted to test the impact of increased partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO(2)) on common calcifying coral reef organisms. The experiment was conducted in replicate continuous flow coral reef mesocosms flushed with unfiltered sea water from Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Mesocosms were located in full sunlight and experienced diurnal and seasonal fluctuations in temperature and sea water chemistry characteristic of the adjacent reef flat. Treatment mesocosms were manipulated to simulate an increase in pCO(2) to levels expected in this century [midday pCO(2) levels exceeding control mesocosms by 365 +/- 130 mu atm (mean +/- sd)]. Acidification had a profound impact on the development and growth of crustose coralline algae (CCA) populations. During the experiment, CCA developed 25% cover in the control mesocosms and only 4% in the acidified mesocosms, representing an 86% relative reduction. Free-living associations of CCA known as rhodoliths living in the control mesocosms grew at a rate of 0.6 g buoyant weight year(-1) while those in the acidified experimental treatment decreased in weight at a rate of 0.9 g buoyant weight year(-1), representing a 250% difference. CCA play an important role in the growth and stabilization of carbonate reefs, so future changes of this magnitude could greatly impact coral reefs throughout the world. Coral calcification decreased between 15% and 20% under acidified conditions. Linear extension decreased by 14% under acidified conditions in one experiment. Larvae of the coral Pocillopora damicornis were able to recruit under the acidified conditions. In addition, there was no significant difference in production of gametes by the coral Montipora capitata after 6 months of exposure to the treatments.