Seasonal net calcification by secondary calcifiers in coral reefs of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean

This study assesses whether secondary calcification is driven by a contrasting seasonal pattern (rainy vs dry) that occurs in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP). Secondary calcifiers net calcification rates and coverage were measured in two reefs: the semi-enclosed Bahía Tiburón reef (BT [21°52′30 “N, 105°54/54 “W]) and the open Las Monas fringing reef (LM [21°51ʹ00ʹʹN, 105°52ʹ45ʹʹW]). Measurements were made from 2013 to 2016 using Calcification Accretion Units (CAUs). Seawater temperature, illuminance, pCO2, pH, ΩCa, and ΩAr were also measured. Low means of pCO2, and high means of ΩCa and ΩAr, were measured during the rainy season. At Las Monas, the composition of the calcifier community differed between seasons. A seasonal effect on net calcification was recorded in the semi-enclosed reef and in the exposed microhabitat of both reefs. Overall, net calcification (mean ± SD) was 1.17 ± 1.13 g·CaCO3·m−2·day−1. Calcification in the open fringing reef (1.51 ± 1.32 g·CaCO3·m−2·day−1) was almost double that in the semi-enclosed reef (0.83 ± 0.78 g·CaCO3·m−2·day−1). Calcification also decreased dramatically between 2014 (1.57 g·CaCO3·m−2·day−1) and 2016 (0.99 g·CaCO3·m−2·day−1). The ENSO event of 2015 raised the water temperature almost 1 °C above the decadal average, which led to a mass coral bleaching in both reefs. That thermal stress might explain the calcification decline in 2015–2016, but probably also obscured a clearer seasonal pattern in net calcification. This study is the first to show that anomalous and persistent high seawater temperatures can affect carbonate production by secondary calcifiers.

Orrante-Alcaraz J. M., Carballo J. L. & Yáñez B., 2023. Seasonal net calcification by secondary calcifiers in coral reefs of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. Marine Biology 170: 16. doi: 10.1007/s00227-022-04158-0. Article.

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