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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.

Guest, JR, Edmunds PJ, Gates RD, Kuffner IB, Andersson AJ, Barnes BB, Chollett I, Courtney TA, Elahi R, Gross K, Lenz EA, Mitarai S, Mumby PJ, Nelson HR, Parker BA, Putnam HM, Rogers CS, Toth LT.  2018.  A framework for identifying and characterising coral reef "oases" against a backdrop of degradation. Journal of Applied Ecology. 55:2865-2875.   10.1111/1365-2664.13179   AbstractWebsite

1. Human activities have led to widespread ecological decline; however, the severity of degradation is spatially heterogeneous due to some locations resisting, escaping, or rebounding from disturbances. 2. We developed a framework for identifying oases within coral reef regions using long-term monitoring data. We calculated standardised estimates of coral cover (z-scores) to distinguish sites that deviated positively from regional means. We also used the coefficient of variation (CV) of coral cover to quantify how oases varied temporally, and to distinguish among types of oases. We estimated "coral calcification capacity" (CCC), a measure of the coral community's ability to produce calcium carbonate structures and tested for an association between this metric and z-scores of coral cover. 3. We illustrated our z-score approach within a modelling framework by extracting z-scores and CVs from simulated data based on four generalized trajectories of coral cover. We then applied the approach to time-series data from long-term reef monitoring programmes in four focal regions in the Pacific (the main Hawaiian Islands and Mo'orea, French Polynesia) and western Atlantic (the Florida Keys and St. John, US Virgin Islands). Among the 123 sites analysed, 38 had positive z-scores for median coral cover and were categorised as oases. 4. Synthesis and applications. Our framework provides ecosystem managers with a valuable tool for conservation by identifying "oases" within degraded areas. By evaluating trajectories of change in state (e.g., coral cover) among oases, our approach may help in identifying the mechanisms responsible for spatial variability in ecosystem condition. Increased mechanistic understanding can guide whether management of a particular location should emphasise protection, mitigation or restoration. Analysis of the empirical data suggest that the majority of our coral reef oases originated by either escaping or resisting disturbances, although some sites showed a high capacity for recovery, while others were candidates for restoration. Finally, our measure of reef condition (i.e., median z-scores of coral cover) correlated positively with coral calcification capacity suggesting that our approach identified oases that are also exceptional for one critical component of ecological function.

Andersson, A.  2015.  A fundamental paradigm for coral reef carbonate sediment dissolution. Frontiers in Marine Science. 2   10.3389/fmars.2015.00052   Abstract

The long-term success of coral reefs depends on a positive balance of calcium carbonate production exceeding dissolution, erosion, and material export. As a result of ocean acidification, coral reefs could transition from net accretion to net erosion owing to decreasing rates of calcification and increasing rates of chemical dissolution and bioerosion. Here, I present a fundamental paradigm that aims to explain the main driver of carbonate sediment dissolution on coral reefs based on theory and a new empirical dataset of pore water carbonate chemistry from the Bermuda coral reef platform. The paradigm shows that carbonate sediment dissolution is most strongly controlled by the extent of organic matter decomposition in the sediments, but that the magnitude of dissolution is influenced by how much decomposition is required to reach pore water undersaturation with respect to the most soluble bulk carbonate mineral phase present in the sediments, a condition defined as the Carbonate Critical Threshold (CCT). Decomposition of organic matter beyond the CCT under aerobic conditions results in stoichiometric proportional dissolution of carbonate sediments. As ocean acidification proceeds over the next several decades, the extent of organic matter decomposition required to reach the CCT will decrease, carbonate dissolution will increase, and subsequently the accumulation of carbonate sediments will decrease. Since drastic reductions in anthropogenic CO2 emission are unlikely in the foreseeable future, the paradigm shows that active controls and reduction of organic matter input to coral reefs at the local scale might be an effective mitigation strategy to prevent or delay coral reefs transitioning to a state of net dissolution.