Navigation Links
Submarine springs reveal how coral reefs respond to ocean acidification
Date:6/22/2013

Ocean acidification due to rising carbon dioxide levels will reduce the density of coral skeletons, making coral reefs more vulnerable to disruption and erosion, according to a new study of corals growing where submarine springs naturally lower the pH of seawater.

The study, led by researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), is the first to show that corals are not able to fully acclimate to low pH conditions in nature.

"People have seen similar effects in laboratory experiments," said coauthor Adina Paytan, a research scientist in the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. "We looked in places where the corals are exposed to low pH for their entire life span. The good news is that they don't just die. They are able to grow and calcify, but they are not producing robust structures."

With atmospheric carbon dioxide rising steadily, the oceans are absorbing more carbon dioxide, which lowers the pH of the surface waters. Ocean acidification refers to changes in seawater chemistry that move it closer to the acidic range of the pH scale, although seawater is not expected to become literally acidic. Paytan's team studied coral reefs along the Caribbean coastline of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula where submarine springs lower the pH of the surrounding seawater in a localized, natural setting. The effect is similar to the widespread ocean acidification that is occurring as the oceans absorb increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Led by first author Elizabeth Crook, a graduate student in Paytan's lab, the researchers deployed instruments to monitor seawater chemistry around the springs and removed skeletal cores from colonies of Porites astreoides, an important Caribbean reef-building coral. They performed CT scans of the core samples to measure their densities and determine annual calcification rates in the laboratory of coauthor Anne Cohen at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The results showed that coral calcification rates decrease significantly along a natural gradient in seawater pH. Ocean acidification lowers the concentration of carbonate ions in seawater, making it more difficult for corals to build their calcium carbonate skeletons.

"Carbonate ions are the building blocks they need to grow their skeletons. When the pH is lower the corals have to use more energy to accumulate these carbonate building blocks internally. As a result, the calcification rate is lower and they lay down less dense skeletons," Paytan said.

The reduced density of the coral skeletons makes them more vulnerable to mechanical erosion during storms, organisms that bore into corals, and parrotfish, which sometimes feed on corals. This could lead to a weakening of the reef framework and subsequent degradation of the complex coral reef ecosystem.

"There are likely to be major shifts in reef species and some loss of coral cover, but if ocean acidification is the only impact there won't be total destruction," Paytan said. "We need to protect corals from other stressors, such as pollution and overfishing. If we can control those, the impact of ocean acidification might not be as bad."


'/>"/>

Contact: Tim Stephens
stephens@ucsc.edu
831-459-2495
University of California - Santa Cruz
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Deep sea animals stowaway on submarines and reach new territory
2. Warm springs may be best winter refuge for Florida manatees
3. Satellite animation shows smoke from Californias Springs fire
4. Research reveals first evidence of hunting by prehistoric Ohioans
5. Studies reveal structure of EV71, a virus causing childhood illnesses
6. Researchers reveal how a single gene mutation leads to uncontrolled obesity
7. Study reveals how monarch butterflies recolonize northern breeding range
8. Circadian rhythms have profound influence on metabolic output, UCI study reveals
9. Unexpected discovery reveals a new mechanism for how the cerebellum extracts signal from noise
10. Ancient civilizations reveal ways to manage fisheries for sustainability
11. Study by Haverford College professor reveals unprecedented impact of Deepwater Horizon on deep ocean
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:10/10/2019)... ... October 10, 2019 , ... Mindray, a ... attendees of the American Society of Anesthesiologists 2019 Annual Meeting to visit exhibit ... 19-21 in Orlando, Florida, and will provide more than 14,000 healthcare professionals from ...
(Date:10/4/2019)... ... October 04, 2019 , ... Representatives with ... 10 at the Grand Elysée Hamburg Rothenbaumchaussee in Hamburg. , “To better connect ... said Miao Guo, Vice President of Operations and spokesperson for MyBioGate. , Guo ...
(Date:9/30/2019)... ... September 30, 2019 , ... ... molecular manufacturing and other transformative technologies, announced the winners for the 2019 Foresight ... the other for Theory in nanotechnology/molecular manufacturing. , Established in 1993 and named ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:10/8/2019)... ... October 07, 2019 , ... Erchonia Corporation, ... technology (“3LT®”), today announces that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has ... for the temporary relief of chronic neck and shoulder pain of musculoskeletal origin. ...
(Date:10/3/2019)... ... October 02, 2019 , ... Today marked ... that is enabling clinical program outsourcing success by cultivating radical improvements in leadership, ... biotech veteran executive Brenda Reese, phaseUP™ brings clients deep, broad and unique expertise ...
(Date:10/3/2019)... ... October 03, 2019 , ... Yesterday, at the 2019 ... founder and director, James L. Sherley, M.D., Ph.D., discussed important design factors that ... attendee audience including both developers and suppliers of clinical trials, in his talk ...
(Date:9/24/2019)... ... September 24, 2019 , ... ... development, and manufacturing solutions for drugs, biologics, gene therapies, and consumer health ... on the development of therapies to treat central nervous system (CNS) disorders, ...
Breaking Biology Technology: