Calcification and organic production on a Hawaiian coral reef

Net ecosystem calcification rates (NEC) and net photosynthesis (NP) were determined from CO2 seawater parameters on the barrier coral reef of Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Autosamplers were deployed to collect samples on the barrier reef every 2 hours for six 48-hour deployments, two each in June 2008, August 2009, and January/February 2010. NEC on the Kaneohe Bay barrier reef increased throughout the day and decreased at night. Net calcification continued at low rates at night except for six time periods when net dissolution was measured. The barrier reef was generally net photosynthetic (positive NP) during the day and net respiring (negative NP) at night. NP controlled the diel cycles of the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) resulting in high daytime Ωarag levels when calcification rates were at their peak. However, the NEC and NP diel cycles can become decoupled for short periods of time (several hours) without affecting calcification rates. On a net daily basis, net ecosystem production (NEP) of the barrier reef was found to be sometimes net photosynthetic and sometimes net respiring and ranged from − 378 to 80 mmol m-2 d-1 when calculated using simple box models. Daily NEC of the barrier reef was positive (net calcification) for all deployments and ranged from 174 to 331 mmol CaCO3 m-2 d-1. Daily NEC was strongly negatively correlated with average daily pCO2 (R2 = 0.76) which ranged from 431 to 622 μatm. Daily NEC of the Kaneohe Bay barrier reef is similar to or higher than daily NEC measured on other coral reefs even though Ωarag levels (mean Ωarag = 2.85) are some of the lowest measured in coral reef ecosystems. It appears that while calcification rate and Ωarag are correlated within a single coral reef ecosystem, this relationship does not necessarily hold between different coral reef systems. It can be expected that ocean acidification will not affect coral reefs uniformly and that some may be more sensitive to increasing pCO2 levels than others.

Shamberger K. E. F., Feely R. A., Sabine C. L., Atkinson M. J., DeCarlo E. H., Mackenzie F. T., Drupp P. S., & Butterfield D. A., in press. Calcification and organic production on a Hawaiian coral reef. Marine Chemistry doi:10.1016/j.marchem.2011.08.003. Article (subscription required).


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