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Reef Calcifiers Resisting Ocean Acidification

Paper Reviewed
Comeau, S., Carpenter, R.C., Njiri, Y., Putnam, H.M., Sakai, K. and Edmunds, P.J. 2014a. Pacific-wide contrast highlights resistance of reef calcifiers to ocean acidification. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 10.1098/rspb.2014.1339.

In a paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Comeau et al. (2014a) write that in spite of "pessimistic projections forecasting the disappearance of most coral reefs before the end of the current century," a compilation of laboratory studies produced by Chan and Connolly (2013) suggests it is more likely that "coral calcification will decline approximately 10-20% (rather than ceasing) for a doubling of present-day partial pressure of CO2." In addition, they note that "more subtle responses to ocean acidification [OA] have also been shown in recent studies reporting signs of resistance to OA for some reef calcifiers," citing the work of Takahashi and Kurihara (2013), Comeau et al. (2013) and Comeau et al. (2014b). And they add that "field observations at underwater CO2 vents in Papua New Guinea and sites with high seawater pCO2 in Palau have also shown that some reef calcifiers can persist in naturally acidified conditions," referencing the studies of Fabricius et al. (2011) and Shamberger et al. (2014).

In their own study of two coral taxa and two calcifying algae - which they conducted in Moorea (French Polynesia), Hawaii (USA) and Okinawa (Japan) - Comeau et al. found that for three of the four calcifiers "there was no effect of pCO2 on net calcification" at any of the three locations, which led them to suggest that this finding "may represent a constitutive and geographically conserved capacity to resist some of the effects of OA." And, therefore, evidence continues to accumulate in support of the view that the vast bulk of the pessimistic projections of the world's climate alarmists relative to future ocean acidification effects on calcifying organisms will likely never come to pass.

Chan, N.C.S. and Connolly, S.R. 2013. Sensitivity of coral calcification to ocean acidification: a meta-analysis. Global Change Biology 19: 282-290.

Comeau, S., Edmunds, P.J., Spindel, N.B. and Carpenter, R.C. 2013. The responses of eight coral reef calcifiers to increasing partial pressure of CO2 do not exhibit a tipping point. Limnology and Oceanography 58: 388-398.

Comeau, S., Edmunds, P.J., Spindel, N.B. and Carpenter, R.C. 2014b. Fast coral reef calcifiers are more sensitive to ocean acidification in short-term laboratory incubations. Limnology and Oceanography 59: 1081-1091.

Fabricius, K.E., Langdon, C., Uthicke, S., Humphrey, C., Noonan, S., De'ath, G., Okazaki, R., Muehllehner, N., Glas, M.S. and Lough, J.M. 2011. Losers and winners in coral reefs acclimatized to elevated carbon dioxide concentrations. Nature Climate Change 1: 165-169.

Shamberger, K.E.F., Cohen, A.L., Golbuu, Y., McCorkle, D.C., Lentz, S.J. and Barkley, H.C. 2014. Diverse coral communities in naturally acidified waters of a Western Pacific reef. Geophysical Research Letters 41: 499-504.

Takahashi, A. and Kurihara, H. 2013. Ocean acidification does not affect the physiology of the tropical coral Acropora digitifera during a 5-week experiment. Coral Reefs 32: 305-314.

Posted 5 January 2015