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Journal Article
Eyre, BD, Andersson AJ, Cyronak T.  2014.  Benthic coral reef calcium carbonate dissolution in an acidifying ocean. Nature Climate Change. 4:969-976.   10.1038/nclimate2380   AbstractWebsite

Changes in CaCO3 dissolution due to ocean acidification are potentially more important than changes in calcification to the future accretion and survival of coral reef ecosystems. As most CaCO3 in coral reefs is stored in old permeable sediments, increasing sediment dissolution due to ocean acidification will result in reef loss even if calcification remains unchanged. Previous studies indicate that CaCO3 dissolution could be more sensitive to ocean acidification than calcification by reef organisms. Observed changes in net ecosystem calcification owing to ocean acidification could therefore be due mainly to increased dissolution rather than decreased calcification. In addition, biologically mediated calcification could potentially adapt, at least partially, to future ocean acidification, while dissolution, which is mostly a geochemical response to changes in seawater chemistry, will not adapt. Here, we review the current knowledge of shallow-water CaCO3 dissolution and demonstrate that dissolution in the context of ocean acidification has been largely overlooked compared with calcification.

Bates, NR, Amat A, Andersson AJ.  2010.  Feedbacks and responses of coral calcification on the Bermuda reef system to seasonal changes in biological processes and ocean acidification. Biogeosciences. 7:2509-2530.   10.5194/bg-7-2509-2010   AbstractWebsite

Despite the potential impact of ocean acidification on ecosystems such as coral reefs, surprisingly, there is very limited field data on the relationships between calcification and seawater carbonate chemistry. In this study, contemporaneous in situ datasets of seawater carbonate chemistry and calcification rates from the high-latitude coral reef of Bermuda over annual timescales provide a framework for investigating the present and future potential impact of rising carbon dioxide (CO(2)) levels and ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems in their natural environment. A strong correlation was found between the in situ rates of calcification for the major framework building coral species Diploria labyrinthiformis and the seasonal variability of [CO(3)(2-)] and aragonite saturation state Omega(aragonite), rather than other environmental factors such as light and temperature. These field observations provide sufficient data to hypothesize that there is a seasonal 'Carbonate Chemistry Coral Reef Ecosystem Feedback' (CREF hypothesis) between the primary components of the reef ecosystem (i.e., scleractinian hard corals and macroalgae) and seawater carbonate chemistry. In early summer, strong net autotrophy from benthic components of the reef system enhance [CO(3)(2-)] and Omega(aragonite) conditions, and rates of coral calcification due to the photosynthetic uptake of CO(2). In late summer, rates of coral calcification are suppressed by release of CO(2) from reef metabolism during a period of strong net heterotrophy. It is likely that this seasonal CREF mechanism is present in other tropical reefs although attenuated compared to high-latitude reefs such as Bermuda. Due to lower annual mean surface seawater [CO(3)(2-)] and Omega(aragonite) in Bermuda compared to tropical regions, we anticipate that Bermuda corals will experience seasonal periods of zero net calcification within the next decade at [CO(3)(2-)] and Omega(aragonite) thresholds of similar to 184 mu moles kg(-1) and 2.65. However, net autotrophy of the reef during winter and spring (as part of the CREF hypothesis) may delay the onset of zero NEC or decalcification going forward by enhancing [CO(3)(2-)] and Omega(aragonite). The Bermuda coral reef is one of the first responders to the negative impacts of ocean acidification, and we estimate that calcification rates for D. labyrinthiformis have declined by > 50% compared to pre-industrial times.

Edmunds, PJ, Comeau S, Lantz C, Andersson A, Briggs C, Cohen A, Gattuso JP, Grady JM, Gross K, Johnson M, Muller EB, Ries JB, Tambutte S, Tambutte E, Venn A, Carpenter RC.  2016.  Integrating the effects of ocean acidification across functional scales on tropical coral reefs. Bioscience. 66:350-362.   10.1093/biosci/biw023   AbstractWebsite

There are concerns about the future of coral reefs in the face of ocean acidification and warming, and although studies of these phenomena have advanced quickly, efforts have focused on pieces of the puzzle rather than integrating them to evaluate ecosystem-level effects. The field is now poised to begin this task, but there are information gaps that first must be overcome before progress can be made. Many of these gaps focus on calcification at the levels of cells, organisms, populations, communities, and ecosystem, and their closure will be made difficult by the complexity of the interdependent processes by which coral reefs respond to ocean acidification, with effects scaling from cells to ecosystems and from microns to kilometers. Existing ecological theories provide an important and largely untapped resource for overcoming these difficulties, and they offer great potential for integrating the effects of ocean acidification across scales on coral reefs.

Venti, A, Andersson A, Langdon C.  2014.  Multiple driving factors explain spatial and temporal variability in coral calcification rates on the Bermuda platform. Coral Reefs. 33:979-997.   10.1007/s00338-014-1191-9   AbstractWebsite

Experimental studies have shown that coral calcification rates are dependent on light, nutrients, food availability, temperature, and seawater aragonite saturation (Omega (arag)), but the relative importance of each parameter in natural settings remains uncertain. In this study, we applied Calcein fluorescent dyes as time indicators within the skeleton of coral colonies (n = 3) of Porites astreoides and Diploria strigosa at three study sites distributed across the northern Bermuda coral reef platform. We evaluated the correlation between seasonal average growth rates based on coral density and extension rates with average temperature, light, and seawater Omega (arag) in an effort to decipher the relative importance of each parameter. The results show significant seasonal differences among coral calcification rates ranging from summer maximums of 243 +/- A 58 and 274 +/- A 57 mmol CaCO3 m(-2) d(-1) to winter minimums of 135 +/- A 39 and 101 +/- A 34 mmol CaCO3 m(-2) d(-1) for P. astreoides and D. strigosa, respectively. We also placed small coral colonies (n = 10) in transparent chambers and measured the instantaneous rate of calcification under light and dark treatments at the same study sites. The results showed that the skeletal growth of D. strigosa and P. astreoides, whether hourly or seasonal, was highly sensitive to Omega (arag). We believe this high sensitivity, however, is misleading, due to covariance between light and Omega (arag), with the former being the strongest driver of calcification variability. For the seasonal data, we assessed the impact that the observed seasonal differences in temperature (4.0 A degrees C), light (5.1 mol photons m(-2) d(-1)), and Omega (arag) (0.16 units) would have on coral growth rates based on established relationships derived from laboratory studies and found that they could account for approximately 44, 52, and 5 %, respectively, of the observed seasonal change of 81 +/- A 14 mmol CaCO3 m(-2) d(-1). Using short-term light and dark incubations, we show how the covariance of light and Omega (arag) can lead to the false conclusion that calcification is more sensitive to Omega (arag) than it really is.

Andersson, AJ, Mackenzie FT.  2012.  Revisiting four scientific debates in ocean acidification research. Biogeosciences. 9:893-905.   10.5194/bg-9-893-2012   AbstractWebsite

In recent years, ocean acidification has gained continuously increasing attention from scientists and a number of stakeholders and has raised serious concerns about its effects on marine organisms and ecosystems. With the increase in interest, funding resources, and the number of scientific investigations focusing on this environmental problem, increasing amounts of data and results have been produced, and a progressively growing and more rigorous understanding of this problem has begun to develop. Nevertheless, there are still a number of scientific debates, and in some cases misconceptions, that keep reoccurring at a number of forums in various contexts. In this article, we revisit four of these topics that we think require further thoughtful consideration including: (1) surface seawater CO2 chemistry in shallow water coastal areas, (2) experimental manipulation of marine systems using CO2 gas or by acid addition, (3) net versus gross calcification and dissolution, and (4) CaCO3 mineral dissolution and seawater buffering. As a summation of these topics, we emphasize that: (1) many coastal environments experience seawater pCO(2) that is significantly higher than expected from equilibrium with the atmosphere and is strongly linked to biological processes; (2) addition of acid, base or CO2 gas to seawater can all be useful techniques to manipulate seawater chemistry in ocean acidification experiments; (3) estimates of calcification or CaCO3 dissolution based on present techniques are measuring the net of gross calcification and dissolution; and (4) dissolution of metastable carbonate mineral phases will not produce sufficient alkalinity to buffer the pH and carbonate saturation state of shallow water environments on timescales of decades to hundreds of years to the extent that any potential negative effects on marine calcifiers will be avoided.

Cyronak, T, Andersson AJ, Langdon C, Albright R, Bates NR, Caldeira K, Carlton R, Corredor JE, Dunbar RB, Enochs I, Erez J, Eyre BD, Gattuso JP, Gledhill D, Kayanne H, Kline DI, Koweek DA, Lantz C, Lazar B, Manzello D, McMahon A, Melendez M, Page HN, Santos IR, Schulz KG, Shaw E, Silverman J, Suzuki A, Teneva L, Watanabe A, Yamamoto S.  2018.  Taking the metabolic pulse of the world's coral reefs. Plos One. 13   10.1371/journal.pone.0190872   AbstractWebsite

Worldwide, coral reef ecosystems are experiencing increasing pressure from a variety of anthropogenic perturbations including ocean warming and acidification, increased sedimentation, eutrophication, and overfishing, which could shift reefs to a condition of net calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolution and erosion. Herein, we determine the net calcification potential and the relative balance of net organic carbon metabolism (net community production; NCP) and net inorganic carbon metabolism (net community calcification; NCC) within 23 coral reef locations across the globe. In light of these results, we consider the suitability of using these two metrics developed from total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) measurements collected on different spatiotemporal scales to monitor coral reef biogeochemistry under anthropogenic change. All reefs in this study were net calcifying for the majority of observations as inferred from alkalinity depletion relative to offshore, although occasional observations of net dissolution occurred at most locations. However, reefs with lower net calcification potential (i.e., lower TA depletion) could shift towards net dissolution sooner than reefs with a higher potential. The percent influence of organic carbon fluxes on total changes in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) (i.e., NCP compared to the sum of NCP and NCC) ranged from 32% to 88% and reflected inherent biogeochemical differences between reefs. Reefs with the largest relative percentage of NCP experienced the largest variability in seawater pH for a given change in DIC, which is directly related to the reefs ability to elevate or suppress local pH relative to the open ocean. This work highlights the value of measuring coral reef carbonate chemistry when evaluating their susceptibility to ongoing global environmental change and offers a baseline from which to guide future conservation efforts aimed at preserving these valuable ecosystems.