Variation in calcification rate of Acropora downingi relative to seasonal changes in environmental conditions in the northeastern Persian Gulf

There is a strong interest in understanding how coral calcification varies with changing environmental conditions, especially given the projected changes in temperature and aragonite saturation due to climate change. This study explores in situ variation in calcification rates of Acropora downingi in the northeastern Persian Gulf relative to seasonal changes in temperature, irradiance and aragonite saturation state (Ωarag). Calcification rates of A. downingi were highest in the spring and lowest in the winter, and intra-annual variation in calcification rate was significantly related to temperature (r2 = 0.30) and irradiance (r2 = 0.36), but not Ωarag (r2 = 0.02). Seasonal differences in temperature are obviously confounded by differences in other environmental conditions and vice versa. Therefore, we used published relationships from experimental studies to establish which environmental parameter(s) (temperature, irradiance, and/or Ωarag) placed greatest constraints on calcification rate (relative to the maximum spring rate) in each season. Variation in calcification rates was largely attributable to seasonal changes in irradiance and temperature (possibly ~57.4 and 39.7% respectively). Therefore, we predict that ocean warming may lead to increased rates of calcification during winter, but decelerate calcification during spring, fall and especially summer, resulting in net deceleration of calcification for A. downingi in the Persian Gulf.

Vajed Samiei J., Saleh A., Shirvani A.? Sheijooni Fumani N., Hashtroudi M. & Pratchett M. S., 2016. Variation in calcification rate of Acroporadowningi relative to seasonal changes in environmental conditions in the northeastern Persian Gulf. Coral Reefs 35:1371. Article (subscription required).

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