Coral calcification mechanisms in a warming ocean and the interactive effects of temperature and light

Claire L. Ross, Andrew Warnes, Steeve Comeau, Christopher E. Cornwall, Michael V.W. Cuttler, Melissa Naugle, Malcolm T. McCulloch, Verena Schoepf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Ocean warming is transforming the world’s coral reefs, which are governed by the growth of marine calcifiers, most notably branching corals. Critical to skeletal growth is the corals’ regulation of their internal chemistry to promote calcification. Here we investigate the effects of temperature and light on the calcifying fluid chemistry (using boron isotope systematics), calcification rates, metabolic rates and photo-physiology of Acropora nasuta during two mesocosm experiments simulating seasonal and static temperature and light regimes. Under the seasonal regime, coral calcification rates, calcifying fluid carbonate chemistry, photo-physiology and metabolic productivity responded to both changes in temperature and light. However, under static conditions the artificially prolonged exposure to summer temperatures resulted in heat stress and a heightened sensitivity to light. Our results indicate that temperature and light effects on coral physiology and calcification mechanisms are interactive and context-specific, making it essential to conduct realistic multi-variate dynamic experiments in order to predict how coral calcification will respond to ocean warming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number72
JournalCommunications Earth and Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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