Coral reefs and coral communities in a changing environment

Conny Maier, Bernhard Riegl, Justin Ries and Christian Wild will organize a session on “Coral reefs and coral communities in a changing environment” at the next ASLO meeting in Nice (25-29 January 2009). This session partly addresses ocean acidification. The meeting web site will soon be available here. Note that the abstract deadline is 3rd October 2008. The objectives of the session are mentioned below. For further information, please contact one of the conveners.

Anthropogenic changes in the chemistry and temperature of seawater constitute a major threat to the survival of tropical, temperate and cold-water coral reefs and coral communities. CO2-induced ocean acidification and warming along with terrestrial runoff and pollution negatively affect health, growth and calcification of corals. However, the extent to which these indirect and direct anthropogenic stresses will interact and impact corals and coral-based ecosystems is not well understood. The differential responses of distinct coral ecotypes and other carbonate accreting or eroding reef organisms need better study. Also, little is known how function and diversity of coral-associated fauna, flora and microbes will be affected by environmental change. Scleractinian corals follow common principles and mechanisms with regards to ecological functioning and framework building. Nevertheless, individual species have adapted to a wide range of latitudes and depths via distinct morphologies, calcification rates, physiologies, and symbioses. Such differences may bring about and explain variable responses to environmental change. We therefore wish to approach the topic on a broad basis, across both the ecosystem and the individual, to better understand what controls changes and phase shifts in coral communities. We encourage contributions from multiple disciplines, particularly those incorporating ecological, physiological, microbiological, geochemical, sedimentological, palaeontological, and palaeo-proxy perspectives.

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