Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans

Effect of elevated pCO2 on photosynthesis and calcification of corals and interactions with seasonal change in temperature/irradiance and nutrient enrichment

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Abstract

[1] An investigation was conducted to determine the effects of elevated pCO2 on the net production and calcification of an assemblage of corals maintained under near-natural conditions of temperature, light, nutrient, and flow. Experiments were performed in summer and winter to explore possible interactions between seasonal change in temperature and irradiance and the effect of elevated pCO2. Particular attention was paid to interactions between net production and calcification because these two processes are thought to compete for the same internal supply of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC). A nutrient enrichment experiment was performed because it has been shown to induce a competitive interaction between photosynthesis and calcification that may serve as an analog to the effect of elevated pCO2. Net carbon production, NPC, increased with increased pCO2 at the rate of 3 ± 2% (μmol CO2aq kg−1)−1. Seasonal change of the slope NPC-[CO2aq] relationship was not significant. Calcification (G) was strongly related to the aragonite saturation state Ωa. Seasonal change of the G-Ωa relationship was not significant. The first-order saturation state model gave a good fit to the pooled summer and winter data: G = (8 ± 1 mmol CaCO3 m−2 h−1)(Ωa − 1), r2 = 0.87, P = 0.0001. Both nutrient and CO2 enrichment resulted in an increase in NPC and a decrease in G, giving support to the hypothesis that the cellular mechanism underlying the decrease in calcification in response to increased pCO2 could be competition between photosynthesis and calcification for a limited supply of DIC.

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