The influence of seawater pH on U / Ca ratios in the scleractinian cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa

The increasing pCO2 in seawater is a serious threat for marine calcifiers and alters the biogeochemistry of the ocean. Therefore, the reconstruction of past-seawater properties and their impact on marine ecosystems is an important way to investigate the underlying mechanisms and to better constrain the effects of possible changes in the future ocean. Cold-water coral (CWC) ecosystems are biodiversity hotspots. Living close to aragonite-undersaturation, these corals serve as living laboratories as well as archives to reconstruct the boundary conditions of their calcification under the carbonate system of the ocean.

We investigated the reef-building CWC Lophelia pertusa as a recorder of intermediate ocean seawater pH. This species-specific field calibration is based on a unique sample set of live in-situ collected L. pertusa and corresponding seawater samples. These data demonstrate that uranium speciation and skeletal incorporation for azooxanthellate scleractinian CWCs is pH dependent. However, this also indicates that internal pH up-regulation of the coral does not play a role in uranium incorporation into the majority of the skeleton of L. pertusa. This study suggests L. pertusa provides a new archive for the reconstruction of intermediate water mass pH and hence may help to constrain tipping points for ecosystem dynamics and evolutionary characteristics in a changing ocean.

Raddatz J., Rüggeberg A., Flögel S., Hathorne E. C., Liebetrau V., Eisenhauer A. &  Dullo W.-Chr., 2013. The influence of seawater pH on U / Ca ratios in the scleractinian cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. Biogeosciences Discussions 10:15711-15733. Article.

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