Common Caribbean corals exhibit highly variable responses to future acidification and warming

We conducted a 93-day experiment investigating the independent and combined effects of acidification (280−3300 µatm pCO2) and warming (28°C and 31°C) on calcification and linear extension rates of four key Caribbean coral species (Siderastrea sidereaPseudodiploria strigosaPorites astreoidesUndaria tenuifolia) from inshore and offshore reefs on the Belize Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. All species exhibited nonlinear declines in calcification rate with increasing pCO2. Warming only reduced calcification in Ps. strigosa. Of the species tested, only S. siderea maintained positive calcification in the aragonite-undersaturated treatment. Temperature and pCO2 had no effect on the linear extension of S. siderea and Po. astreoides, and natal reef environment did not impact any parameter examined. Results suggest that S. siderea is the most resilient of these corals to warming and acidification owing to its ability to maintain positive calcification in all treatments, Ps. strigosa and U. tenuifolia are the least resilient, and Po. astreoides falls in the middle. These results highlight the diversity of calcification responses of Caribbean corals to projected global change.

Bove C. B., Ries J. B., Davies S. W., Westfield I. T., Umbanhowar J. & Castillo K. D., 2019. Common Caribbean corals exhibit highly variable responses to future acidification and warming. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 286 (1900): 20182840. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2018.2840. Article (subscription required).

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