Climate change doubles sedimentation-induced coral recruit mortality

Highlights

  • Recruits grown under future climate are twice as sensitive to sediment deposition
  • Older recruits survived higher sediment depositions events
  • Only recruits grown in current climate survived the highest realistic sedimentation

Abstract


Coral reef replenishment is threatened by global climate change and local water-quality degradation, including smothering of coral recruits by sediments generated by anthropogenic activities. Here we show that the ability of Acropora millepora recruits to remove sediments diminishes under future climate conditions, leading to increased mortality. Recruits raised under future climate scenarios for fourteen weeks (highest treatment: +1.2 °C, pCO2: 950 ppm) showed twofold higher mortality following repeated sediment deposition (50% lethal sediment concentration LC50: 14 – 24 mg cm-2) compared to recruits raised under current climate conditions (LC50: 37 – 51 mg cm-2), depending on recruit age at the time of sedimentation. Older and larger recruits were more resistant to sedimentation and only ten-week-old recruits grown under current climate conditions survived sediment loads typical of dredging operations. This demonstrates that water-quality guidelines for managing sediment concentrations will need to be climate-adjusted to protect future coral recruitment.

Brunner C. A., Uthicke S., Ricardo G. F., Hoogenboom M. O. & Negri A. P., in press.
Climate change doubles sedimentation-induced coral recruit mortality. Science of The Total Environment. Article.

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