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

Sean Beckwith stbeckwith at mail.usf.edu
Fri Jan 27 11:28:15 EST 2017

I meant to reply to all and include the Coral List, so I'm sending this
again.  Sorry, Michael, for the duplicate emails.


(Please see the following message below)

---------- Forwarded message ----------

Thank you Gene for posting and Michael for commenting.

The crux of this discussion is the rate at which the oceans are
acidifying.  Is everyone taking this point into consideration in this
discussion?  The geological record shows that CO2 levels have been much,
much higher in the past and, on a broad scale, of course corals have
survived because they are still here.  Isn't the rate of global pH change
the only point worth talking about?  Or is there another facet of the trend
in pCO2 increase that is equally as important?  The mostly highly resolved
geological/paleoceanographic studies show that the rapidest acidification
events in the past happened on scales of thousands to tens of thousands of

In terms of local versus global, it certainly depends on the remoteness of
a habitat.  In the Florida Keys and parts of the Caribbean, corals have
been decimated by the synergistic effects of a host of stressors -
certainly not just ocean acidification.  However, OA is not done yet, and
every indication is that it is just getting started.  And at a rate higher
than every recorded in the geological record. To me, this remains the
clearest threat to the existence of calcifying species on this planet.


On Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 10:45 AM, Risk, Michael <riskmj at mcmaster.ca> wrote:

> Fascinating, Gene.
> I await feedback from the rest of the 8,000-odd on the -list, those who
> are still able to respond after the recent political changes in your county.
> The implication, or the inevitable conclusion, is that the recent decline
> in Acropora has been caused by local stresses, not global change. This is
> something many in the reef community find hard to accept.
> Mike
> ________________________________________
> From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> [coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml..noaa.gov] on behalf of Eugene Shinn [
> eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu]
> Sent: January 25, 2017 12:43 PM
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: [Coral-List] Coral mortality in a warmer and acidified ocean
> *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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*Sean Beckwith*
Geological Oceanography
University of South Florida - College of Marine Science
727-744-2176 <(727)%20744-2176>
stbeckwith at mail.usf.edu

*Sean Beckwith*
Geological Oceanography
University of South Florida - College of Marine Science
stbeckwith at mail.usf.edu

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