MEPS 513:71-84 (2014)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10929

Skeletal mineralogy of geniculate corallines: providing context for climate change and ocean acidification research

C. J. Williamson1,2,*, J. Najorka1, R. Perkins2, M. L. Yallop3, J. Brodie1

1Department of Life Sciences, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK
2School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Cardiff University, Park Place, Cardiff CF10 3YE, UK
3School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Marine species depositing high-magnesium (Mg) calcite (>8% MgCO3) are projected to be among the first to show response to the impacts of climate change, i.e. increased sea surface temperature (SST) and ocean acidification (OA), given the increasing solubility of calcite in seawater with increasing Mg content. Temperature is a major driver of Mg incorporation into the skeletons of calcifying macroalgae, and thus climate change may induce deposition of more soluble calcite, exacerbating responses to OA. Assessment of the skeletal Mg content of 3 geniculate, calcifying species of the genera Corallina and Ellisolandia (Rhodophyta, Corallinales), C. officinalis, C. caespitosa and E. elongata, sampled during 2012-2013 in the UK intertidal, demonstrated the existence of seasonal cycles in skeletal Mg. Seasonal cycles in skeletal Mg were also observed for herbarium collections of the Natural History Museum (British Museum), London, sampled during the recent past (1850-2010). Comparative sampling across a northeastern Atlantic latitudinal transect (Iceland to northern Spain) indicated a decreasing Mg content with increasing latitude for present-day C. officinalis, and relationships between SST and Corallina Mg content (r2 = 0.45-0.76) demonstrated the dominant influence of temperature on Corallina species skeletal mineralogy. Corallina and  Ellisolandia species show lower absolute values of Mg content (0.11-0.16 mol% Mg/Ca), and smaller variation with change in SST (0.0028-0.0047 mol% Mg/Ca °C-1), than other temperate calcifying macroalgae studied to date. Over the period 1850-2010, no change in the magnitude of Mg incorporation by C. officinalis was detected in herbarium samples. However, the strong relationship between SST and Mg content indicates that projected increases in SST by 2100, which are far greater than temperature increases that occurred between 1850-2010, could have substantial impact on geniculate coralline algae skeletal mineralogy, and must be considered synergistically with the effects of OA.


KEY WORDS: Corallina officinalis · Ellisolandia elongata · Corallina caespitosa · Climate change · Ocean acidification · Mg/Ca ratio · Skeletal mineralogy


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Cite this article as: Williamson CJ, Najorka J, Perkins R, Yallop ML, Brodie J (2014) Skeletal mineralogy of geniculate corallines: providing context for climate change and ocean acidification research. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 513:71-84. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10929

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