Environmental and biological controls on Na / Ca ratios in scleractinian cold-water corals

Here we present a comprehensive attempt to correlate aragonitic Na / Ca ratios from Lophelia pertusa, Madrepora oculata and a caryophylliid cold-water coral (CWC) species with different seawater parameters such as temperature, salinity and pH. Living CWC specimens were collected from 16 different locations and analyzed for their Na / Ca content using solution-based inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES) measurements. The results reveal no apparent correlation with salinity (30.1–40.57 g/kg) but a significant inverse correlation with temperature (−0.31 mmol/mol/°C). Other marine aragonitic organisms such as Mytilus edulis (inner aragonitic shell portion) and Porites sp. exhibit similar results highlighting the consistency of the calculated CWC regressions. Corresponding Na / Mg ratios show a similar temperature sensitivity to Na / Ca ratios, but the combination of two ratios appear to reduce the impact of vital effects and domain-dependent geochemical variation. The high degree of scatter and elemental heterogeneities between the different skeletal features in both Na / Ca and Na / Mg however limit the use of these ratios as a proxy and/or make a high number of samples necessary. Additionally, we explore two models to explain the observed temperature sensitivity of Na / Ca ratios for an open and semi-enclosed calcifying space based on temperature sensitive Na and Ca pumping enzymes and transport proteins that change the composition of the calcifying fluid and consequently the skeletal Na / Ca ratio.

Schleinkofer N., Raddatz J., Freiwald A., Evans D., Beuck L., Rüggeberg A. & Liebetrau V., 2019. Environmental and biological controls on Na / Ca ratios in scleractinian cold-water corals. Biogeosciences Discussions. Article.

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