Environmental and physiochemical controls on coral calcification along a latitudinal temperature gradient in Western Australia

Claire L. Ross, Thomas M. DeCarlo, Malcolm T. McCulloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


The processes that occur at the micro-scale site of calcification are fundamental to understanding the response of coral growth in a changing world. However, our mechanistic understanding of chemical processes driving calcification is still evolving. Here, we report the results of a long-term in situ study of coral calcification rates, photo-physiology, and calcifying fluid (cf) carbonate chemistry (using boron isotopes, elemental systematics, and Raman spectroscopy) for seven species (four genera) of symbiotic corals growing in their natural environments at tropical, subtropical, and temperate locations in Western Australia (latitudinal range of similar to 11 degrees). We find that changes in net coral calcification rates are primarily driven by pH(cf) and carbonate ion concentration [CO32-](cf) in conjunction with temperature and DICcf. Coral pH(cf) varies with latitudinal and seasonal changes in temperature and works together with the seasonally varying DICcf to optimize [CO32-](cf) at species-dependent levels. Our results indicate that corals shift their pH(cf) to adapt and/or acclimatize to their localized thermal regimes. This biological response is likely to have critical implications for predicting the future of coral reefs under CO2-driven warming and acidification.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-447
Number of pages17
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


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