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Reyes-Nivia, C, Diaz-Pullido G, Kline D, Hoegh-Guldberg O, Dove S.  2013.  Ocean acidification and warming scenarios increase bioerosion of coral skeletons. Global Change Biology. 19:1919-1929.   10.1111/gcb.12158   Abstract

Biological mediation of carbonate dissolution represents a fundamental component of the destructive forces acting on coral reef ecosystems. Whereas ocean acidification can increase dissolution of carbonate substrates, the combined impact of ocean acidification and warming on the microbioerosion of coral skeletons remains unknown. Here, we exposed skeletons of the reef-building corals, Porites cylindrica and Isopora cuneata, to present-day (Control: 400 μatm – 24 °C) and future pCO2–temperature scenarios projected for the end of the century (Medium: +230 μatm – +2 °C; High: +610 μatm – +4 °C). Skeletons were also subjected to permanent darkness with initial sodium hypochlorite incubation, and natural light without sodium hypochlorite incubation to isolate the environmental effect of acidic seawater (i.e., Ωaragonite <1) from the biological effect of photosynthetic microborers. Our results indicated that skeletal dissolution is predominantly driven by photosynthetic microborers, as samples held in the dark did not decalcify. In contrast, dissolution of skeletons exposed to light increased under elevated pCO2–temperature scenarios, with P. cylindrica experiencing higher dissolution rates per month (89%) than I. cuneata (46%) in the high treatment relative to control. The effects of future pCO2–temperature scenarios on the structure of endolithic communities were only identified in P. cylindrica and were mostly associated with a higher abundance of the green algae Ostreobium spp. Enhanced skeletal dissolution was also associated with increased endolithic biomass and respiration under elevated pCO2–temperature scenarios. Our results suggest that future projections of ocean acidification and warming will lead to increased rates of microbioerosion. However, the magnitude of bioerosion responses may depend on the structural properties of coral skeletons, with a range of implications for reef carbonate losses under warmer and more acidic oceans.

Anthony, KRN, Kline DI, Diaz-Pulido G, Dove S, Hoegh-Guldberg O.  2008.  Ocean acidification causes bleaching and productivity loss in coral reef builders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 105:17442-17446.   10.1073/pnas.0804478105   AbstractWebsite

Ocean acidification represents a key threat to coral reefs by reducing the calcification rate of framework builders. In addition, acidification is likely to affect the relationship between corals and their symbiotic dinoflagellates and the productivity of this association. However, little is known about how acidification impacts on the physiology of reef builders and how acidification interacts with warming. Here, we report on an 8-week study that compared bleaching, productivity, and calcification responses of crustose coralline algae (CCA) and branching (Acropora) and massive (Porites) coral species in response to acidification and warming. Using a 30-tank experimental system, we manipulated CO2 levels to simulate doubling and three- to fourfold increases [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projection categories IV and VI] relative to present-day levels under cool and warm scenarios. Results indicated that high CO2 is a bleaching agent for corals and CCA under high irradiance, acting synergistically with warming to lower thermal bleaching thresholds. We propose that CO2 induces bleaching via its impact on photoprotective mechanisms of the photosystems. Overall, acidification impacted more strongly on bleaching and productivity than on calcification. Interestingly, the intermediate, warm CO2 scenario led to a 30% increase in productivity in Acropora, whereas high CO2 lead to zero productivity in both corals. CCA were most sensitive to acidification, with high CO2 leading to negative productivity and high rates of net dissolution. Our findings suggest that sensitive reef-building species such as CCA may be pushed beyond their thresholds for growth and survival within the next few decades whereas corals will show delayed and mixed responses.

Connell, SD, Kroeker KJ, Fabricius KE, Kline DI, Russell BD.  2013.  The other ocean acidification problem: CO2 as a resource among competitors for ecosystem dominance. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B-Biological Sciences. 368   10.1098/rstb.2012.0442   AbstractWebsite

Predictions concerning the consequences of the oceanic uptake of increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) have been primarily occupied with the effects of ocean acidification on calcifying organisms, particularly those critical to the formation of habitats (e. g. coral reefs) or their maintenance (e. g. grazing echinoderms). This focus overlooks direct and indirect effects of CO2 on non-calcareous taxa that play critical roles in ecosystem shifts (e. g. competitors). We present the model that future atmospheric [CO2] may act as a resource for mat-forming algae, a diverse and widespread group known to reduce the resilience of kelp forests and coral reefs. We test this hypothesis by combining laboratory and field CO2 experiments and data from 'natural' volcanic CO2 vents. We show that mats have enhanced productivity in experiments and more expansive covers in situ under projected near-future CO2 conditions both in temperate and tropical conditions. The benefits of CO2 are likely to vary among species of producers, potentially leading to shifts in species dominance in a high CO2 world. We explore how ocean acidification combines with other environmental changes across a number of scales, and raise awareness of CO2 as a resource whose change in availability could have wide-ranging community consequences beyond its direct effects.