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ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

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Corals use creative chemical balancing to combat destructive impacts of acidifying oceans

06
Dec 2017

Posted By

ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies

Using cutting-edge geochemical tracers, Dr Verena Schoepf and colleagues from The University of Western Australia and the Hawaii Institute Of Marine Biology have discovered how corals are able to more rapidly build their hard calcium skeletons (or ‘calcify’) and acquire increased tolerance to ocean acidification.

The study corals were stained with a red dye before the start of the experiment. Only the new growth of the skeleton, shown here as white, was used in the experiment. 

The researchers found that corals achieve this enhanced production rate by maintaining a high internal pH, with a moderately elevated dissolved inorganic carbon concentration (the basic ingredient for coral skeletons) inside the calcifying fluid. This suggests that some corals may be better adapted to respond to ocean acidification than was thought previously.

The paper “Coral calcification mechanisms facilitate adaptive responses to ocean acidification” is published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

A study species, Montipora capitata, was collected from two different sites (spanning natural gradients in seawater chemistry and temperature) on O’ahu Island, Hawai’i. Credit: ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies/Dr Verena Schoepf
A study species, Montipora capitata, was collected from two different sites (spanning natural gradients in seawater chemistry and temperature) on O’ahu Island, Hawai’i. Credit: ARC CoE Coral Reef Studies/Dr Verena Schoepf

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Coral Reef Studies

ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville
Queensland 4811 Australia

Phone: 61 7 4781 4000
Email: info@coralcoe.org.au