Original Article Biology

Fisheries Science

, Volume 76, Issue 1, pp 93-99

Effects of acidified seawater on early life stages of scleractinian corals (Genus Acropora)

  • Ryota SuwaAffiliated withSesoko Station, Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the RyukyusSeto Marine Biological Laboratory, Field Science Education and Research Center, Kyoto University
  • , Masako NakamuraAffiliated withSesoko Station, Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus Email author 
  • , Masaya MoritaAffiliated withSesoko Station, Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus
  • , Kazuaki ShimadaAffiliated withOcean Research Institute, University of Tokyo
  • , Akira IguchiAffiliated withSesoko Station, Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus
  • , Kazuhiko SakaiAffiliated withSesoko Station, Tropical Biosphere Research Center, University of the Ryukyus
  • , Atsushi SuzukiAffiliated withGeological Survey of Japan, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)

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Abstract

Ocean acidification, caused by increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, is currently an important environmental problem. It is therefore necessary to investigate the effects of ocean acidification on all life stages of a wide range of marine organisms. However, few studies have examined the effects of increased CO2 on early life stages of organisms, including corals. Using a range of pH values (pH 7.3, 7.6, and 8.0) in manipulative duplicate aquarium experiments, we have evaluated the effects of increased CO2 on early life stages (larval and polyp stages) of Acropora spp. with the aim of estimating CO2 tolerance thresholds at these stages. Larval survival rates did not differ significantly between the reduced pH and control conditions. In contrast, polyp growth and algal infection rates were significantly decreased at reduced pH levels compared to control conditions. These results suggest that future ocean acidification may lead to reduced primary polyp growth and delayed establishment of symbiosis. Stress exposure experiments using longer experimental time scales and lower levels of CO2 concentrations than those used in this study are needed to establish the threshold of CO2 emissions required to sustain coral reef ecosystems.

Keywords

Carbon dioxide Coral Early life stages Ocean acidification