Increasing anthropogenic pCO2 alters seawater chemistry, with potentially severe consequences for coral reef growth and health. Octocorals are the second most important faunistic component in many reefs, often occupying 50% or more of the available substrate. Three species of octocorals from two families were studied in Eilat (Gulf of Aqaba), comprising the zooxanthellate Ovabunda macrospiculata and Heteroxenia fuscescens (family Xeniidae), and Sarcophyton sp. (family Alcyoniidae). They were maintained under normal (8.2) and reduced (7.6 and 7.3) pH conditions for up to 5 months. Their biolological features, including protein concentration, polyp weight, density of zooxanthellae, and their chlorophyll concentration per cell, as well as polyp pulsation rate, were examined under conditions more acidic than normal, in order to test the hypothesis that rising pCO2 would affect octocorals. The results indicate no statistically significant difference between the octocorals exposed to reduced pH values compared to the control. It is therefore suggested that the octocorals’ tissue may act as a protective barrier against adverse pH conditions, thus maintaining them unharmed at high levels of pCO2.
Posts Tagged 'Red Sea'
Tags: biological response, corals, laboratory, morphology, photosynthesis, physiology, Red Sea, symbiosis
Measuring gross and net calcification of a reef coral under ocean acidification conditions: methodological considerationsPublished 11 July 2012 Science Leave a Comment
Tags: biological response, calcification, corals, dissolution, laboratory, methods, Red Sea
Ongoing ocean acidification (OA) is rapidly altering carbonate chemistry in the oceans. The projected changes will likely have deleterious consequences for coral reefs by negatively affecting their growth. Nonetheless, diverse responses of reef-building corals calcification to OA hinder our ability to decipher reef susceptibility to elevated pCO2. Some of the inconsistencies between studies originate in measuring net calcification (NC), which does not always consider the proportions of the “real” (gross) calcification (GC) and gross dissolution in the observed response. Here we show that microcolonies of Stylophora pistillata (entirely covered by tissue), incubated under normal (8.2) and reduced (7.6) pH conditions for 16 months, survived and added new skeletal CaCO3, despite low (1.25) Ωarg conditions. Moreover, corals maintained their NC and GC rates under reduced (7.6) pH conditions and displayed positive NC rates at the low-end (7.3) pH treatment while bare coral skeleton underwent marked dissolution. Our findings suggest that S. pistillata may fall into the “low sensitivity” group with respect to OA and that their overlying tissue may be a key determinant in setting their tolerance to reduced pH by limiting dissolution and allowing them to calcify. This study is the first to measure GC and NC rates for a tropical scleractinian corals under OA conditions. We provide a detailed, realistic assessment of the problematic nature of previously accepted methods for measuring calcification (total alkalinity and 45Ca).