Recruitment and succession in a tropical benthic community in response to in-situ ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is a pervasive threat to coral reef ecosystems, and our understanding of the ecological processes driving patterns in tropical benthic community development in conditions of acidification is limited. We deployed limestone recruitment tiles in low aragonite saturation (Ωarag) waters during an in-situ field experiment at Puerto Morelos, Mexico, and compared them to tiles placed in control zones over a 14-month investigation. The early stages of succession showed relatively little difference in coverage of calcifying organisms between the low Ωarag and control zones. However, after 14 months of development, tiles from the low Ωarag zones had up to 70% less cover of calcifying organisms coincident with 42% more fleshy algae than the controls. The percent cover of biofilm and turf algae was also significantly greater in the low Ωarag zones, while the number of key grazing taxa remained constant. We hypothesize that fleshy algae have a competitive edge over the primary calcified space holders, coralline algae, and that acidification leads to altered competitive dynamics between various taxa. We suggest that as acidification impacts reefs in the future, there will be a shift in community assemblages away from upright and crustose coralline algae toward more fleshy algae and turf, established in the early stages of succession.

Crook E. D., Kroeker K. J., Potts D. C., Rebolledo-Vieyra M., Hernandez-Terrones L. M. & Paytan A., 2016. Recruitment and succession in a tropical benthic community in response to in-situ ocean acidification. PLoS ONE 11(1): e0146707. Article.


  • Reset

Subscribe

OA-ICC Highlights


%d bloggers like this: