[Coral-List] Coral mortality in a warmer and acidified ocean

Eugene Shinn eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu
Wed Jan 25 12:43:18 EST 2017

*In addition to the paper reviewed in the previous Coral-list here is A 
review published in the blog Co2 Science   Gene

*Paper Reviewed*
Stolarski, J., Bosellini, F.R., Wallace, C.C., Gothmann, A.M., Mazur, 
M., Domart-Coulon, I., Gutner-Hoch, E., Neuser, R.D., Levy, O., Shemesh, 
A. and Meibom, A. 2016. A unique coral biomineralization pattern has 
resisted 40 million years of major ocean chemistry change. /Scientific 
Reports/ *6*: 27579, DOI: 10.1038/srep27579.

Publishing their work in the journal /Scientific Reports/, the team of 
eleven international researchers compared the skeletal structures of 
living /Acropora/ corals with those of well-preserved fossil /Acropora/ 
skeletons from the Eocene, Oligocene, and Miocene, noting that these 
latter organisms "have experienced major fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 
levels (from greenhouse conditions of high pCO2 in the Eocene to low 
pCO2 ice-house conditions in the Oligocene-Miocene) and a dramatically 
changing ocean Mg/Ca ratio." By doing so, it could therefore be 
empirically determined whether or not higher levels of CO2 (i.e., ocean 
acidification) truly are a detriment to corals, interfering with the 
process of calcification and disrupting or weakening skeletal structure.

So is that what they found? Were these major reef building corals harmed 
by ocean acidification and temperature changes of conditions past?

In a word, /no/. In stark contrast, in fact, Stolarski /et al/. report 
that "the most diverse, widespread, and abundant reef-building coral 
genus /Acropora/ (20 morphological groups and 150 living species) has 
not only survived these environmental changes, but has maintained its 
distinct skeletal biomineralization pattern for at least 40 My." Such 
"remarkable evolutionary stability," they continue, "exists despite 
major global geochemical fluctuations, from greenhouse (high pCO2) 
conditions and low seawater Mg/Ca (calcitic seas) in the Eocene to 
icehouse (low pCO2) conditions and rapidly increasing Mg/Ca (aragonite 
seas) during the Oligocene-Miocene."

The take home message of the Stolarski /et al/. paper is that the 
skeletal formation process of /Acropora/ is, as they state, "strongly 
biologically controlled," uninhibited by changes in temperature or 
seawater chemistry, including seawater pH/ocean acidification conditions 
that are predicted to occur over the course of the next century and beyond.


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158
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