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Takeshita, Y, Cyronak T, Martz TR, Kindeberg T, Andersson AJ.  2018.  Coral reef carbonate chemistry variability at different functional scales. Frontiers in Marine Science. 5   10.3389/fmars.2018.00175   AbstractWebsite

There is a growing recognition for the need to understand how seawater carbonate chemistry over coral reef environments will change in a high-CO2 world to better assess the impacts of ocean acidification on these valuable ecosystems. Coral reefs modify overlying water column chemistry through biogeochemical processes such as net community organic carbon production (NCR) and calcification (NCC). However, the relative importance and influence of these processes on seawater carbonate chemistry vary across multiple functional scales (defined here as space, time, and benthic community composition), and have not been fully constrained. Here, we use Bermuda as a case study to assess (1) spatiotemporal variability in physical and chemical parameters along a depth gradient at a rim reef location, (2) the spatial variability of total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) over distinct benthic habitats to infer NCC:NCP ratios [< several km(2); rim reef vs. seagrass and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) sediments] on diel timescales, and (3) compare how TA-DIC relationships and NCC:NCP vary as we expand functional scales from local habitats to the entire reef platform (10's of km(2)) on seasonal to interannual timescales. Our results demonstrate that TA-DIC relationships were strongly driven by local benthic metabolism and community composition over diel cycles. However, as the spatial scale expanded to the reef platform, the TA-DIC relationship reflected processes that were integrated over larger spatiotemporal scales, with effects of NCC becoming increasingly more important over NCR. This study demonstrates the importance of considering drivers across multiple functional scales to constrain carbonate chemistry variability over coral reefs.

Courtney, TA, Lebrato M, Bates NR, Collins A, de Putron SJ, Garley R, Johnson R, Molinero JC, Noyes TJ, Sabine CL, Andersson AJ.  2017.  Environmental controls on modern scleractinian coral and reef-scale calcification. Science Advances. 3   10.1126/sciadv.1701356   AbstractWebsite

Modern reef-building corals sustain a wide range of ecosystem services because of their ability to build calcium carbonate reef systems. The influence of environmental variables on coral calcification rates has been extensively studied, but our understanding of their relative importance is limited by the absence of in situ observations and the ability to decouple the interactions between different properties. We show that temperature is the primary driver of coral colony (Porites astreoides and Diploria labyrinthiformis) and reef-scale calcification rates over a 2-year monitoring period from the Bermuda coral reef. On the basis of multimodel climate simulations (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) and assuming sufficient coral nutrition, our results suggest that P. astreoides and D. labyrinthiformis coral calcification rates in Bermuda could increase throughout the 21st century as a result of gradual warming predicted under a minimum CO2 emissions pathway [ representative concentration pathway (RCP) 2.6] with positive 21st-century calcification rates potentially maintained under a reduced CO2 emissions pathway (RCP 4.5). These results highlight the potential benefits of rapid reductions in global anthropogenic CO2 emissions for 21st-century Bermuda coral reefs and the ecosystem services they provide.

Yeakel, KL, Andersson AJ, Bates NR, Noyes TJ, Collins A, Garley R.  2015.  Shifts in coral reef biogeochemistry and resulting acidification linked to offshore productivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 112:14512-14517.   10.1073/pnas.1507021112   AbstractWebsite

Oceanic uptake of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) has acidified open-ocean surface waters by 0.1 pH units since preindustrial times. Despite unequivocal evidence of ocean acidification (OA) via open-ocean measurements for the past several decades, it has yet to be documented in near-shore and coral reef environments. A lack of long-term measurements from these environments restricts our understanding of the natural variability and controls of seawater CO2-carbonate chemistry and biogeochemistry, which is essential to make accurate predictions on the effects of future OA on coral reefs. Here, in a 5-y study of the Bermuda coral reef, we show evidence that variations in reef biogeochemical processes drive interannual changes in seawater pH and Omega(aragonite) that are partly controlled by offshore processes. Rapid acidification events driven by shifts toward increasing net calcification and net heterotrophy were observed during the summers of 2010 and 2011, with the frequency and extent of such events corresponding to increased offshore productivity. These events also coincided with a negative winter North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) index, which historically has been associated with extensive offshore mixing and greater primary productivity at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-series Study (BATS) site. Our results reveal that coral reefs undergo natural interannual events of rapid acidification due to shifts in reef biogeochemical processes that may be linked to offshore productivity and ultimately controlled by larger-scale climatic and oceanographic processes.

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.