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High CO2 enhances the competitive strength of seaweeds over corals


Diaz-Pulido, G and Gouezo, M and Tilbrook, BD and Dove, S and Anthony, KRN, High CO2 enhances the competitive strength of seaweeds over corals, Ecology Letters, 14, (2) pp. 156-162. ISSN 1461-023X (2011) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/CNRS

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01565.x


Space competition between corals and seaweeds is an important ecological process underlying coral-reef dynamics. Processes promoting seaweed growth and survival, such as herbivore overfishing and eutrophication, can lead to local reef degradation. Here, we present the case that increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 may be an additional process driving a shift from corals to seaweeds on reefs. Coral (Acropora intermedia) mortality in contact with a common coral-reef seaweed (Lobophora papenfussii) increased two- to threefold between background CO2 (400ppm) and highest level projected for late 21st century (1140ppm). The strong interaction between CO2 and seaweeds on coral mortality was most likely attributable to a chemical competitive mechanism, as control corals with algal mimics showed no mortality. Our results suggest that coral (Acropora) reefs may become increasingly susceptible to seaweed proliferation under ocean acidification, and processes regulating algal abundance (e.g. herbivory) will play an increasingly important role in maintaining coral abundance.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:carbon dioxide, coral reefs, coral-algal competition, macroalgae, ocean acidification
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology)
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Tilbrook, BD (Dr Bronte Tilbrook)
ID Code:119031
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:162
Deposited By:Ecology and Biodiversity
Deposited On:2017-07-25
Last Modified:2017-10-16

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