Coral resistance to ocean acidification linked to increased calcium at the site of calcification

T. M. DeCarlo, S. Comeau, C. E. Cornwall, M. T. McCulloch

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Ocean acidification threatens the persistence of biogenic calcium carbonate (CaCO3) production on coral reefs. However, some coral genera Show resistance to declines in seawater pH, potentially achieved by modulating the Chemistry of the fluid where calcification occurs. We use two novel geochemical techniques based on boron systematics and Raman spectroscopy, which together provide the first constraints on the sensitivity of coral calcifying fluid calcium concentrations ([Ca2+](cf)) to changing seawater pH. In response to simulated end-of-century pH conditions, Pocillopora damicornis increased [Ca2+](cf) to as much as 25% above that of seawater and maintained constant calcification rates. Conversely, Acropora youngei displayed less control over [Ca2+](cf), and its calcification rates strongly declined at lower seawater pH. Although the role of [Ca2+](cf) in driving calcification has often been neglected, increasing [Ca2+](cf) may be a key mechanism enabling more resistant corals to cope with ocean acidification and continue to build CaCO3 skeletons in a high-CO2 world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20180564
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1878
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2018


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