The coralline algae in the orders Corallinales and Sporolithales (subclass Corallinophycidae), with their high degree of mineralogical variability, pose a challenge to projections regarding mineralogy and response to ocean acidification. Here we relate skeletal carbonate mineralogy to a well-established phylogenetic framework and draw inferences about the effects of future changes in sea-water chemistry on these calcified red algae. A collection of 191 coralline algal specimens from New Zealand, representing 13 genera and 28 species, included members of three families: Corallinaceae, Hapalidiaceae, and Sporolithaceae. While most skeletal specimens were entirely calcitic (range: 73–100 wt.% calcite, mean 97 wt.% calcite, std dev = 5, n = 172), a considerable number contained at least some aragonite. Mg in calcite ranged from 10.5 to 16.4 wt.% MgCO3, with a mean of 13.1 wt.% MgCO3 (std dev = 1.1, n = 172). The genera Mesophyllum and Lithophyllum were especially variable. Growth habit, too, was related to mineralogy: geniculate coralline algae do not generally contain any aragonite. Mg content varied among coralline families: the Corallinaceae had the highest Mg content, followed by the Sporolithaceae and the Hapalidiaceae. Despite the significant differences among families, variation and overlap prevent the use of carbonate mineralogy as a taxonomic character in the coralline algae. Latitude (as a proxy for water temperature) had only a slight relationship to Mg content in coralline algae, contrary to trends observed in other biomineralising taxa. Temperate magnesium calcites, like those produced by coralline algae, are particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification. Changes in biomineralisation or species distribution may occur over the next few decades, particularly to species producing high-Mg calcite, as pH and CO2 dynamics change in coastal temperate oceans.
Archive for July 13th, 2012
Phylomineralogy of the Coralline red algae: correlation of skeletal mineralogy with molecular phylogenyPublished 13 July 2012 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: corals, morphology
Constraining carbonate chemistry at a potential ocean acidification event (the Triassic-Jurassic boundary) using the presence of corals and coral reefs in the fossil recordPublished 13 July 2012 Science Leave a Comment
Ocean acidification associated with emplacement of the Central Atlantic Magmatic Province (CAMP) has been hypothesized as a kill mechanism for the end-Triassic mass extinction, but few direct proxies for ancient ocean acidity are available. This paper describes a new proxy that uses the presence of fossil corals and coral reefs to determine aragonite saturation state (ΩArag). Modern scleractinian corals struggle to biomineralize a skeleton below ΩArag of 2 and modern shallow water coral reefs are typically only found in areas with source water of ΩArag > 3; so when corals or coral reefs are preserved in the fossil record, these ocean saturation states can be inferred. Atmospheric pCO2 reconstructions are combined with the coral ΩArag limitations to calculate the total dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) in the Late Triassic ocean, which is a measure of the buffering capacity or ocean sensitivity to acidification. Once DIC is known, the severity of an acidification due to a carbon dioxide injection can be determined, for example the Triassic–Jurassic (T–J) event. Our results suggest that if Late Triassic DIC values were low to moderate (2000-3000 μmol/kg), the T–J pCO2 increases would have depressed saturation state to the point where coral biomineralization would have been extremely challenging (ΩArag < 2), resulting in the observed coral and coral reef gap in the fossil record. While the average pCO2 elevations recorded in stomatal and pedogenic proxies are not sufficient to cause complete carbonate undersaturation, modeled scenarios for CAMP-related T–J pCO2 increases (within error of pedogenic pCO2 proxies) suggest that aragonite undersaturation is plausible and in extreme cases calcite undersaturation is achievable. Thus, a short but extreme acidification event could occur and would satisfactorily explain the significant extinction of calcareous organisms, the Early Hettangian coral gap, and the T–J carbonate crisis.
Tags: biological response, crustaceans, laboratory, multiple factors, reproduction, salinity, zooplankton
To understand the effects of lower pH levels due to elevated CO2 and salinity, we designed and constructed a pH-control system that included automatic CO2 infusion and measured the hatching rate of a crustacean model species, Artemia franciscana. The pH-control system was cost-effective and capable of performing animal tests in which pH fluctuated around 8.0 ± 0.1, with the temperature around 27 ± 0.5°C. Hatching rate was observed under four different pH levels (7.0, 7.3, 7.6, and untreated control) combined with three salinity ranges (15, 25, and 35 ppt). The results demonstrated that lower pH levels led to decreased hatching rates regardless of salinity, and the minimum hatching rate was detected at pH 7.0 compared to the control (pH 8.0 ± 0.1), supporting the idea that OA has adverse effects on hatching rates and increases the risk of juveniles being introduced in the ecosystem. In contrast, salinity changes exhibited no synergistic effects with pH and had independent effects.