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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

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How will coral growth respond to man-made climate change under real-world conditions?

24
Oct 2017

Posted By

ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies

The branching corals of Western Australia’s Rottnest Island are known to be rugged – living at the extreme geographical limits of their distribution range and enduring varied oceanic conditions, including sea surface temperatures that range almost 5 degrees Celsius annually. But how do they cope with the climate change stimulated influences such as ocean acidification?

In a study published today, researchers led by PhD candidate Claire Ross, examined how changing environmental conditions impact on the complex skeletal chemistry of coral growth. What they found was that despite the seasonally changing oceanic conditions and chemistry, the corals were able to cleverly employ a physiological response that allows them to manipulate their internal carbonate chemistry to promote calcification, enabling largely uninterrupted rates of coral growth.

The findings provide an improved understanding of the complex chemical processes that underlie calcification and subsequent coral growth. While the results provide promise for corals exposed to increased ocean acidification, it is clear that coral survival will depend on its ability to endure the increasingly frequent and intense ocean heat wave events.

The paper: “Active modulation of the calcifying fluid carbonate chemistry and seasonally invariant coral calcification at sub-tropical limits” is published in Scientific Reports.

X-ray, CT scan imaging of coral skeleton growth. Image: Claire Ross
X-ray, CT scan imaging of coral skeleton growth. Image: Claire Ross

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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