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Natural in situ relationships suggest coral reef calcium carbonate production will decline with ocean acidification


Shaw, EC and Phinn, SR and Tilbrook, B and Steven, A, Natural in situ relationships suggest coral reef calcium carbonate production will decline with ocean acidification, Limnology and Oceanography, 60, (3) pp. 777-788. ISSN 0024-3590 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography

DOI: doi:10.1002/lno.10048


There are few in situ studies showing how net community calcification (Gnet) of coral reefs is related to carbonate chemistry, and the studies to date have demonstrated different predicted rates of change. In this study, we measured net community production (Pnet), Gnet, and carbonate chemistry of a reef flat at One Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef. Diurnal pCO2 variability of 289724 μatm was driven primarily by photosynthesis and respiration. The reef flat was found to be net autotrophic, with daily production of ∼ 35 mmol C m−2 d−1 and net calcification of ∼ 33 mmol C m−2 d−1. Gnet was strongly related to Pnet, which drove a hysteresis pattern in the relationship between Gnet and aragonite saturation state (Ωar). Although Pnet was the main driver of Gnet, Ωar was still an important factor, where 95% of the variance in Gnet could be described by Pnet and Ωar. Based on the observed in situ relationship, Gnet would be expected to reach zero when Ωar is ∼ 2.5. It is unknown what proportion of a decline in Gnet would be through reduced calcification and what would occur through increased dissolution, but the results here support predictions that overall calcium carbonate production will decline in coral reefs as a result of ocean acidification.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:coral reef, calcium carbonate, ocean acidification, community calcification, carbonate chemistry
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Oceanography
Research Field:Chemical oceanography
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems
UTAS Author:Tilbrook, B (Dr Bronte Tilbrook)
ID Code:118590
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:49
Deposited By:CRC-Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems
Deposited On:2017-07-14
Last Modified:2017-11-01

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