Complex environmental forcing across the biogeographical range of coral populations.
ABSTRACT: Although there is a substantial body of work on how temperature shapes coastal marine ecosystems, the spatiotemporal variability of seawater pH and corresponding in situ biological responses remain largely unknown across biogeographic ranges of tropical coral species. Environmental variability is important to characterize because it can amplify or dampen the biological consequences of global change, depending on the functional relationship between mean temperature or pH and organismal traits. Here, we characterize the spatiotemporal variability of pH, temperature, and salinity at fringing reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia and Nanwan Bay, Taiwan using advanced time series analysis, including wavelet analysis, and infer their potential impact on the persistence and stability of coral populations. Our results demonstrate that both the mean and variance of pH and temperature differed significantly between sites in Moorea and Taiwan. Seawater temperature at the Moorea site passed the local bleaching threshold several times within the ~45 day deployment while aragonite saturation state at the Taiwan site was often below commonly observed levels for coral reefs. Our results showcase how a better understanding of the differences in environmental conditions between sites can (1) provide an important frame of reference for designing laboratory experiments to study the effects of environmental variability, (2) identify the proximity of current environmental conditions to predicted biological thresholds for the coral reef, and (3) help predict when the temporal variability and mean of environmental conditions will interact synergistically or antagonistically to alter the abundance and stability of marine populations experiencing climate change.
Project description:Although there is a substantial body of work on how temperature shapes coastal marine ecosystems, the spatiotemporal variability of seawater pH and corresponding in situ biological responses remain largely unknown across biogeographic ranges of tropical coral species.Environmental variability is important to characterize because it can amplify or dampen the biological consequences of global change, depending on the functional relationship between mean temperature or pH and organismal traits. Here, we characterize the spatiotemporal variability of pH, temperature, and salinity at fringing reefs in Moorea, French Polynesia and Nanwan Bay, Taiwan using advanced time series analysis, including wavelet analysis, and infer their potential impact on the persistence and stability of coral populations.Our results demonstrate that both the mean and variance of pH and temperature differed significantly between sites in Moorea and Taiwan. Seawater temperature at the Moore a site passed the local bleaching threshold several times within the ~45 day deployment while aragonite saturation state at the Taiwan site was often below commonly observed levels for coral reefs. Our results showcase how a better understanding of the differences in environmental conditions between sites can (1) provide an important frame of reference for designing laboratory experiments to study the effects of environmental variability,(2) identify the proximity of current environmental conditions to predicted biological thresholds for the coral reef, and (3) help predict when the temporal variability and mean of environmental conditions will interact synergistically or antagonistically to alter the abundance and stability of marine populations experiencing climate change.
Project description:Temporal variation in seawater temperature plays a crucial role in coral reef ecology. Nanwan Bay, Southern Taiwan is home to well-developed coral reefs, which frequently experience cold-water intrusions caused by internal wave-induced upwelling, that manifest in distinct daily temperature minima. These temperature minima and their associated sources were studied by recording in situ bottom temperatures and sea levels observed at depths of 5 and 30?m from May 2007 to September 2008. These data were then compared to the East Asian Seas Nowcast/Forecast System, and it was found that daily temperature minima presented large variations with magnitudes of 2-3?°C over periods from days to months. It was further demonstrated that the cold-water intrusions may have originated from depths of ~100?m and were strongly affected by westward propagating mesoscale eddies from the Pacific basin. An impinging warm anticyclonic eddy in July 2007 may have combined with the El Niño, resulting in temperatures surpassing 29?°C and degree heating days >4.0?°C-days at both depths, which were coincidental with a mass coral bleaching event. This eddy's impact was additionally evident in high correlations between daily temperature minima and residual sea levels, suggesting that mesoscale eddies alter stratification, substantially influence temperature variation, and play important roles in understanding ecological processes on coral reefs.
Project description:Ocean acidification and warming are expected to threaten the persistence of tropical coral reef ecosystems. As coral reefs face multiple stressors, the distribution and abundance of corals will depend on the successful dispersal and settlement of coral larvae under changing environmental conditions. To explore this scenario, we used metabolic rate, at holobiont and molecular levels, as an index for assessing the physiological plasticity of Pocillopora damicornis larvae from this site to conditions of ocean acidity and warming. Larvae were incubated for 6 hours in seawater containing combinations of CO2 concentration (450 and 950 µatm) and temperature (28 and 30°C). Rates of larval oxygen consumption were higher at elevated temperatures. In contrast, high CO2 levels elicited depressed metabolic rates, especially for larvae released later in the spawning period. Rates of citrate synthase, a rate-limiting enzyme in aerobic metabolism, suggested a biochemical limit for increasing oxidative capacity in coral larvae in a warming, acidifying ocean. Biological responses were also compared between larvae released from adult colonies on the same day (cohorts). The metabolic physiology of Pocillopora damicornis larvae varied significantly by day of release. Additionally, we used environmental data collected on a reef in Moorea, French Polynesia to provide information about what adult corals and larvae may currently experience in the field. An autonomous pH sensor provided a continuous time series of pH on the natal fringing reef. In February/March, 2011, pH values averaged 8.075 ± 0.023. Our results suggest that without adaptation or acclimatization, only a portion of naïve Pocillopora damicornis larvae may have suitable metabolic phenotypes for maintaining function and fitness in an end-of-the century ocean.
Project description:Coral reefs persist in an accretion-erosion balance, which is critical for understanding the natural variability of sediment production, reef accretion, and their effects on the carbonate budget. Bioerosion (i.e. biodegradation of substrate) and encrustation (i.e. calcified overgrowth on substrate) influence the carbonate budget and the ecological functions of coral reefs, by substrate formation/consolidation/erosion, food availability and nutrient cycling. This study investigates settlement succession and carbonate budget change by bioeroding and encrusting calcifying organisms on experimentally deployed coral substrates (skeletal fragments of Stylophora pistillata branches). The substrates were deployed in a marginal coral reef located in the Gulf of Papagayo (Costa Rica, Eastern Tropical Pacific) for four months during the northern winter upwelling period (December 2013 to March 2014), and consecutively sampled after each month. Due to the upwelling environmental conditions within the Eastern Tropical Pacific, this region serves as a natural laboratory to study ecological processes such as bioerosion, which may reflect climate change scenarios. Time-series analyses showed a rapid settlement of bioeroders, particularly of lithophagine bivalves of the genus Lithophaga/Leiosolenus (Dillwyn, 1817), within the first two months of exposure. The observed enhanced calcium carbonate loss of coral substrate (>30%) may influence seawater carbon chemistry. This is evident by measurements of an elevated seawater pH (>8.2) and aragonite saturation state (?arag >3) at Matapalo Reef during the upwelling period, when compared to a previous upwelling event observed at a nearby site in distance to a coral reef (Marina Papagayo). Due to the resulting local carbonate buffer effect of the seawater, an influx of atmospheric CO2 into reef waters was observed. Substrates showed no secondary cements in thin-section analyses, despite constant seawater carbonate oversaturation (?arag >2.8) during the field experiment. Micro Computerized Tomography (?CT) scans and microcast-embeddings of the substrates revealed that the carbonate loss was primarily due to internal macrobioerosion and an increase in microbioerosion. This study emphasizes the interconnected effects of upwelling and carbonate bioerosion on the reef carbonate budget and the ecological turnovers of carbonate producers in tropical coral reefs under environmental change.
Project description:Reef coral calcification depends on regulation of pH in the internal calcifying fluid (CF) in which the coral skeleton forms. However, little is known about calcifying fluid pH (pHCF) regulation, despite its importance in determining the response of corals to ocean acidification. Here, we investigate pHCF in the coral Stylophora pistillata in seawater maintained at constant pH with manipulated carbonate chemistry to alter dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentration, and therefore total alkalinity (AT). We also investigate the intracellular pH of calcifying cells, photosynthesis, respiration and calcification rates under the same conditions. Our results show that despite constant pH in the surrounding seawater, pHCF is sensitive to shifts in carbonate chemistry associated with changes in [DIC] and [AT], revealing that seawater pH is not the sole driver of pHCF Notably, when we synthesize our results with published data, we identify linear relationships of pHCF with the seawater [DIC]/[H+] ratio, [AT]/ [H+] ratio and [[Formula: see text]]. Our findings contribute new insights into the mechanisms determining the sensitivity of coral calcification to changes in seawater carbonate chemistry, which are needed for predicting effects of environmental change on coral reefs and for robust interpretations of isotopic palaeoenvironmental records in coral skeletons.
Project description:Ocean acidification poses multiple challenges for coral reefs on molecular to ecological scales, yet previous experimental studies of the impact of projected CO? concentrations have mostly been done in aquarium systems with corals removed from their natural ecosystem and placed under artificial light and seawater conditions. The Coral-Proto Free Ocean Carbon Enrichment System (CP-FOCE) uses a network of sensors to monitor conditions within each flume and maintain experimental pH as an offset from environmental pH using feedback control on the injection of low pH seawater. Carbonate chemistry conditions maintained in the -0.06 and -0.22 pH offset treatments were significantly different than environmental conditions. The results from this short-term experiment suggest that the CP-FOCE is an important new experimental system to study in situ impacts of ocean acidification on coral reef ecosystems.
Project description:Community structure and assembly are determined in part by environmental heterogeneity. While reef-building corals respond negatively to warming (i.e. bleaching events) and ocean acidification (OA), the extent of present-day natural variability in pH on shallow reefs and ecological consequences for benthic assemblages is unknown. We documented high resolution temporal patterns in temperature and pH from three reefs in the central Pacific and examined how these data relate to community development and net accretion rates of early successional benthic organisms. These reefs experienced substantial diel fluctuations in temperature (0.78°C) and pH (>0.2) similar to the magnitude of 'warming' and 'acidification' expected over the next century. Where daily pH within the benthic boundary layer failed to exceed pelagic climatological seasonal lows, net accretion was slower and fleshy, non-calcifying benthic organisms dominated space. Thus, key aspects of coral reef ecosystem structure and function are presently related to natural diurnal variability in pH.
Project description:Worldwide, coral reef ecosystems are experiencing increasing pressure from a variety of anthropogenic perturbations including ocean warming and acidification, increased sedimentation, eutrophication, and overfishing, which could shift reefs to a condition of net calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolution and erosion. Herein, we determine the net calcification potential and the relative balance of net organic carbon metabolism (net community production; NCP) and net inorganic carbon metabolism (net community calcification; NCC) within 23 coral reef locations across the globe. In light of these results, we consider the suitability of using these two metrics developed from total alkalinity (TA) and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) measurements collected on different spatiotemporal scales to monitor coral reef biogeochemistry under anthropogenic change. All reefs in this study were net calcifying for the majority of observations as inferred from alkalinity depletion relative to offshore, although occasional observations of net dissolution occurred at most locations. However, reefs with lower net calcification potential (i.e., lower TA depletion) could shift towards net dissolution sooner than reefs with a higher potential. The percent influence of organic carbon fluxes on total changes in dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) (i.e., NCP compared to the sum of NCP and NCC) ranged from 32% to 88% and reflected inherent biogeochemical differences between reefs. Reefs with the largest relative percentage of NCP experienced the largest variability in seawater pH for a given change in DIC, which is directly related to the reefs ability to elevate or suppress local pH relative to the open ocean. This work highlights the value of measuring coral reef carbonate chemistry when evaluating their susceptibility to ongoing global environmental change and offers a baseline from which to guide future conservation efforts aimed at preserving these valuable ecosystems.
Project description:Coral reefs have great biological and socioeconomic value, but are threatened by ocean acidification, climate change and local human impacts. The capacity for corals to adapt or acclimatize to novel environmental conditions is unknown but fundamental to projected reef futures. The coral reefs of K?ne'ohe Bay, Hawai'i were devastated by anthropogenic insults from the 1930s to 1970s. These reefs experience naturally reduced pH and elevated temperature relative to many other Hawaiian reefs which are not expected to face similar conditions for decades. Despite catastrophic loss in coral cover owing to human disturbance, these reefs recovered under low pH and high temperature within 20 years after sewage input was diverted. We compare the pH and temperature tolerances of three dominant Hawaiian coral species from within K?ne'ohe Bay to conspecifics from a nearby control site and show that corals from K?ne'ohe are far more resistant to acidification and warming. These results show that corals can have different pH and temperature tolerances among habitats and understanding the mechanisms by which coral cover rebounded within two decades under projected future ocean conditions will be critical to management. Together these results indicate that reducing human stressors offers hope for reef resilience and effective conservation over coming decades.
Project description:The threat posed to coral reefs by changes in seawater pH and carbonate chemistry (ocean acidification) raises the need for a better mechanistic understanding of physiological processes linked to coral calcification. Current models of coral calcification argue that corals elevate extracellular pH under their calcifying tissue relative to seawater to promote skeleton formation, but pH measurements taken from the calcifying tissue of living, intact corals have not been achieved to date. We performed live tissue imaging of the reef coral Stylophora pistillata to determine extracellular pH under the calcifying tissue and intracellular pH in calicoblastic cells. We worked with actively calcifying corals under flowing seawater and show that extracellular pH (pHe) under the calicoblastic epithelium is elevated by ?0.5 and ?0.2 pH units relative to the surrounding seawater in light and dark conditions respectively. By contrast, the intracellular pH (pHi) of the calicoblastic epithelium remains stable in the light and dark. Estimates of aragonite saturation states derived from our data indicate the elevation in subcalicoblastic pHe favour calcification and may thus be a critical step in the calcification process. However, the observed close association of the calicoblastic epithelium with the underlying crystals suggests that the calicoblastic cells influence the growth of the coral skeleton by other processes in addition to pHe modification. The procedure used in the current study provides a novel, tangible approach for future investigations into these processes and the impact of environmental change on the cellular mechanisms underpinning coral calcification.