Combined ocean acidification and low temperature stressors cause coral mortality

Oceans are predicted to become more acidic and experience more temperature variability—both hot and cold—as climate changes. Ocean acidification negatively impacts reef-building corals, especially when interacting with other stressors such as elevated temperature. However, the effects of combined acidification and low temperature stress have yet to be assessed. Here, we exposed nubbins of the scleractinian coral Montipora digitata to ecologically relevant acidic, cold, or combined stress for 2 weeks. Coral nubbins exhibited 100% survival in isolated acidic and cold treatments, but ~30% mortality under combined conditions. These results provide further evidence that coupled stressors have an interactive effect on coral physiology, and reveal that corals in colder environments are also susceptible to the deleterious impacts of coupled ocean acidification and thermal stress.

Kavousi J., Parkinson J. E. & Nakamura T., 2016. Combined ocean acidification and low temperature stressors cause coral mortality. Coral Reefs 1-5. Article (subscription required).


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