Ocean Science

Corals Under Threat

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Science  12 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6142, pp. 110
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6142.110-c
CREDIT: ELIZABETH D. CROOK

Rising concentrations of atmospheric CO2 are causing the pH of surface seawater to decrease, posing a threat to coral reefs. Crook et al. examined how calcification of Porites astreoides, an important reef-building coral found in the Caribbean, is affected by the acidity of the seawater in which it grows by measuring samples along a transect spanning a natural gradient of pH and aragonite saturation. Coral calcification rates decreased significantly as pH and aragonite saturation decreased, in a manner consistent with that exhibited by the same species in laboratory carbonate manipulation experiments. This indicates that the corals were not able to respond quickly enough to prevent the impacts of local ocean acidification on their skeletal growth and development, a discouraging message considering the hopes that some have put on the ability of corals to adapt to future ocean conditions.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 110, 10.1073/pnas.1301589110 (2013).

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