How does rising atmospheric CO2 affect marine organisms?

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Reefs Happen
Kinzie, R.A., III and Buddemeier, R.W.  1996.  Reefs happen.  Global Change Biology 2: 479-494.

What was done
This article presents an overview of the findings reported in a number of manuscripts addressing coral reefs and global change in a special issue of the journal Global Change Biology.

What was learned
The authors note that coral reefs have persisted through geologic periods of "massive environmental changes."  They are survivors, the authors state, "because they do not simply tolerate environmental changes."  Rather, "they exhibit an impressive array of acclimations in the short term, adaptations at the population level in the longer term, and responses in the form of changes in community composition ... over even longer time periods."

What it means
The authors conclude that corals and other reef organisms are "well adapted to surviving natural environmental change," such as global warming.  However, "the growing human population and its direct effects" are considered by them to provide by far the "most dominant impact" on coral reef health and stability.

Reviewed 1 March 1999