MEPS 519:153-164 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11072

Organic carbon fluxes mediated by corals at elevated pCO2 and temperature

Stephen Levas1,6,*, Andréa G. Grottoli1, Mark E. Warner2, Wei-Jun Cai2,7, James Bauer3, Verena Schoepf1,8, Justin H. Baumann1, Yohei Matsui1, Colin Gearing1, Todd F. Melman4, Kenneth D. Hoadley2, Daniel T. Pettay2, Xinping Hu5,9, Qian Li5,10, Hui Xu5,11, Yongchen Wang

1School of Earth Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
2School of Marine Science and Policy, University of Delaware, Lewes, DE 19958, USA
3Aquatic Biogeochemistry Laboratory, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA
4Reef Systems Coral Farm, New Albany, OH 43054, USA
5Department of Marine Sciences, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30601, USA
6Present address: Department of Geography and the Environment, Villanova University, Villanova, PA 19085, USA
7Present address: School of Marine Science and Policy, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19958, USA
8Present address: ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Earth and Environment, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA 6009, Australia
9Present address: Department of Physical and Environmental Sciences, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, TX 78412, USA
10Present address: State Key Laboratory of Marine Environmental Science, Xiamen University, Xiamen 3610005, China
11Present address: Department of Ocean Science and Engineering, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Increasing ocean acidification (OA) and seawater temperatures pose significant threats to coral reefs globally. While the combined impacts of OA and seawater temperature on coral biology and calcification in corals have received significant study, research to date has largely neglected the individual and combined effects of OA and seawater temperature on coral-mediated organic carbon (OC) fluxes. This is of particular concern as dissolved and particulate OC (DOC and POC, respectively) represent large pools of fixed OC on coral reefs. In the present study, coral-mediated POC and DOC, and the sum of these coral-mediated flux rates (total OC, TOC = DOC + POC) as well as the relative contributions of each to coral metabolic demand were determined for 2 species of coral, Acropora millepora and Turbinaria reniformis, at 2 levels of pCO2 (382 and 741 µatm) and seawater temperatures (26.5 and 31.0°C). Independent of temperature, DOC fluxes decreased significantly with increases in pCO2 in both species, resulting in more DOC being retained by the corals and only representing between 19 and 6% of TOC fluxes for A. millepora and T. reniformis. At the same time, POC and TOC fluxes were unaffected by elevated temperature and/or pCO2. These findings add to a growing body of evidence that certain species of coral may be less at risk to the impacts of OA and temperature than previously thought.


KEY WORDS: Ocean acidification · Carbon dioxide · Ocean warming · Acropora · Turbinaria · Calcification · Climate change


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Cite this article as: Levas S, Grottoli AG, Warner ME, Cai WJ and others (2015) Organic carbon fluxes mediated by corals at elevated pCO2 and temperature. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 519:153-164. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11072

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