Ocean warming and acidification detrimentally affect coral tissue regeneration at a Mediterranean CO2 vent


  • This is the first transplant experiment investigating coral tissue regeneration with decreasing pH and increasing temperature
  • Increasing temperature and decreasing pH could detrimentally impact coral tissue regeneration following injury
  • Zooxanthellate corals might be particularly impacted by ocean warming and acidification in terms of lesion recovery


Among the main phenomena that are causing significant changes in ocean waters are warming and acidification, largely due to anthropogenic activities. Growing evidence suggests that climate change is having more substantial and rapid effects on marine communities than on terrestrial ones, triggering several physiological responses in these organisms, including in corals. Here we investigated, for first time in the field, the combined effect of increasing seawater acidification and warming on tissue regeneration rate of three Mediterranean scleractinian coral species characterized by different trophic strategies and growth modes. Balanophyllia europaea (solitary, zooxanthellate), Leptopsammia pruvoti (solitary, non-zooxanthellate) and Astroides calycularis (colonial, non-zooxanthellate) specimens were transplanted, during a cold, intermediate, and warm period, along a natural pH gradient generated by an underwater volcanic crater at Panarea Island (Mediterranean Sea, Italy), characterized by continuous and localized CO2 emissions at ambient temperature. Our results show a decrease in regenerative capacity, especially in the zooxanthellate species, with increasing seawater temperature and acidification, with demonstrated species-specific differences. This finding suggests that increasing seawater temperature and acidification could have a compounding effect on coral regeneration following injury, potentially hindering the capacity of corals to recover following physical disturbance under predicted climate change.

Sani T., Prada F., Radi G., Caroselli E., Falini G., Dubinsky Z. & Goffredo S., 2024. Ocean warming and acidification detrimentally affect coral tissue regeneration at a Mediterranean CO2 vent. Science of the Total Environment 906: 167789. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2023.167789. Article.

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