Technical Note: Artificial coral reef mesocosms for ocean acidification investigations

The design and evaluation of replicated artificial mesocosms are presented in the context of a thirteen month experiment on the effects of ocean acidification on tropical coral reefs. They are defined here as (semi)-closed (i.e. with or without water change from the reef) mesocosms in the laboratory with a more realistic physico-chemical environment than microcosms. Important physico-chemical parameters (i.e. pH, pO2, pCO2, total alkalinity, temperature, salinity, total alkaline earth metals and nutrients availability) were successfully monitored and controlled. Daily variations of irradiance and pH were applied to approach field conditions. Results highlighted that it was possible to maintain realistic physico-chemical parameters, including daily changes, into artificial mesocosms. On the other hand, the two identical artificial mesocosms evolved differently in terms of global community oxygen budgets although the initial biological communities and physico-chemical parameters were comparable. Artificial reef mesocosms seem to leave enough degrees of freedom to the enclosed community of living organisms to organize and change along possibly diverging pathways.

Leblud J., Moulin L., Batigny A., Dubois P. & Grosjean P., 2014. Technical Note: Artificial coral reef mesocosms for ocean acidification investigations. Biogeosciences Discussions 11:15463-15505. Article.

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