Alterations in seawater pH and CO2 affect calcification and photosynthesis in the tropical coralline alga, Hydrolithon sp. (Rhodophyta)

Calcification in the marine environment is the basis for the accretion of carbonate in structures such as coral reefs, algal ridges and carbonate sands. Among the organisms responsible for such calcification are the Corallinaceae (Rhodophyta), recognised as major contributors to the process world-wide. Hydrolithon sp. is a coralline alga that often forms rhodoliths in the Western Indian Ocean. In Zanzibar, it is commonly found in shallow lagoons, where it often grows within seagrass beds and/or surrounded by green algae such as Ulva sp. Since seagrasses in Zanzibar have recently been shown to raise the pH of the surrounding seawater during the day, and since calcification rates are sensitive to pH, which changes the saturation state of calcium carbonate, we measured the effects of pH on photosynthetic and calcification rates of this alga. It was found that pH had significant effects on both calcification and photosynthesis. While increased pH enhanced calcification rates both in the light and in the dark at pH >8.6, photosynthetic rates decreased. On the other hand, an increase in dissolved CO2 concentration to ~26 μmol Kg−1 (by bubbling with air containing 0.9 mbar CO2) caused a decrease in seawater pH which and resulted in 34% less calcification after 5 days of exposure, while enhancing photosynthetic rates by 13%. The ecological implications of these findings is that photosynthetically driven changes in water chemistry by surrounding plants can affect calcification rates of coralline algae, as may future ocean acidification resulting from elevated atmospheric CO2.



Semesi S., Kangwe J. & Björk M., in press. Alterations in seawater pH and CO2 affect calcification and photosynthesis in the tropical coralline alga, Hydrolithon sp. (Rhodophyta). Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Article (subscription required).


  • Reset

Subscribe

OA-ICC Highlights


%d bloggers like this: