Near-future reductions in pH will have no consistent ecological effects on the early life-history stages of reef corals

Until recently, research into the consequences of oceanic uptake of CO2 for corals focused on its effect on physiological processes, in particular, calcification. However, events early in the life history of corals are also likely to be vulnerable to changes in ocean chemistry caused by increases in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 (ocean acidification). We tested the effect of reduced pH on embryonic development, larval survivorship and metamorphosis of 3 common scleractinian corals from the Great Barrier Reef. We used 4 treatment levels of pH, corresponding to the current level of ocean pH and 3 values projected to occur later this century. None of the early life-history stages we studied were consistently affected by reduced pH. Our results suggest that there will be no direct ecological effects of ocean acidification on the early life-history stages of reef corals, at least in the near future.

Chua C. M., Leggat W., Moya A. & Baird A. H., 2013. Near-future reductions in pH will have no consistent ecological effects on the early life-history stages of reef corals. Marine Ecology Progress Series 486: 143-151. Article (subscription required).

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