How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Aquarium Corals
Carlson, B.A.  1999.  Organism responses to rapid change: What aquaria tell us about nature.  American Zoologist 39: 44-55.

What was done
The author reviewed the available literature on corals growing in aquariums in an attempt to give a different perspective on the "ability of corals to acclimate to a unique set of rapidly changing environmental conditions."

What was learned
The primary factors that cause coral stress in aquariums are inadequate lighting, water chemistry, wave motion and temperature.  In regard to the concern about possible decreased coral calcification rates at high CO2 concentrations, the author noted how in one aquarium study, corals grew at very high levels of dissolved CO2 gas, contradicting dire warnings of their demise under such circumstances.

What it means
What remains "most surprising," according to the author, is the fact that "corals appear capable of surviving the rigors of collecting, shipping, and transfer to totally artificial conditions."  Hence, he draws the logical conclusion that "corals are not as delicate as is widely believed," and that although reef aquariums are not complete simulations of nature, they nonetheless "offer predictive power and insight into the nature of biological systems."

Reviewed 1 August 1999