People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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The effects of ocean acidification and warming on the early life history stages of spawning corals Acropora sp.


10am - 11am Friday 28 October 2011

Townsville - Sir George Fisher Building Conference Room #114 (DB32 upstairs)
Miin Chua


The ‘double trouble’ scenario of elevated ocean temperature and acidity is becoming of increasing interest in the field of climate change research. Interestingly, events early in the life history of corals, prior to the initiation of calcification, such as fertilization, embryogenesis, larval survival and settlement are not overly affected by high acidity. However the possible synergistic effects of temperature and acidity have not been widely explored. Here, we tested the effects ocean acidification in combination with elevated temperature on early life history stages of several spawning acroporids from the Great Barrier Reef. I have structured my thesis into 3 hypotheses: 1) the effects of ocean acidification on the early life history stages of spawning Acropora sp. 2) The effects of ocean acidification and warming on the early life history stages of spawning acroporids and 3) The early skeletogenesis of acroporid recruits under near future acidification and warming regimes. We found no consistent effects of acid on fertilization, development, survivorship, metamorphosis and post-settlement growth rates, either alone, or acting synergistically with corals. And elevated acidity and temperature has no significant effect on the growth of new spat. In addition, a careful appraisal of the literature indicates that effects of acid are only apparent on unhealthy individuals or at unrealistically high levels. We conclude that near future ocean acidification levels is not an immediate threat to the early life history stages of Great Barrier Reef corals in the foreseeable future.


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