Coral Reefs

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 551–558 | Cite as

Future coral reef habitat marginality: temporal and spatial effects of climate change in the Pacific basin

  • J. M. GuinotteEmail author
  • R. W. Buddemeier
  • J. A. Kleypas


Marginal reef habitats are regarded as regions where coral reefs and coral communities reflect the effects of steady-state or long-term average environmental limitations. We used classifications based on this concept with predicted time-variant conditions of future climate to develop a scenario for the evolution of future marginality. Model results based on a conservative scenario of atmospheric CO2 increase were used to examine changes in sea surface temperature and aragonite saturation state over the Pacific Ocean basin until 2069. Results of the projections indicated that essentially all reef locations are likely to become marginal with respect to aragonite saturation state. Significant areas, including some with the highest biodiversity, are expected to experience high-temperature regimes that may be marginal, and additional areas will enter the borderline high temperature range that have experienced significant ENSO-related bleaching in the recent past. The positive effects of warming in areas that are presently marginal in terms of low temperature were limited. Conditions of the late 21st century do not lie outside the ranges in which present-day marginal reef systems occur. Adaptive and acclimative capabilities of organisms and communities will be critical in determining the future of coral reef ecosystems.


Saturation state Sea surface temperature Future habitats Reef stress 



Aspects of the work contributing to this paper have been supported by US National Science Foundation Project OCE 00-03970 “Biogeoinformatics of the Hexacorallia” and by the Land–Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) core project of the International Geosphere–Biosphere Programme (IGBP). The National Coral Reef Institute (NCRI) supported initial developments of this approach. The Australian government, James Cook University’s Tropical Environment Science and Geography (TESAG) Department, and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) have supported John Guinotte’s PhD research in the form of scholarships, stipends, and logistical support (International Postgraduate Research Scholarship and JCU TESAG stipend); this paper is a component of his doctoral dissertation research. We are grateful to Susan White and James Maragos of the US Fish and Wildlife Service for information on the Pacific Island National Wildlife Refuges, and to Mark Schoneweis for assistance with preparing the figures.

Supplementary material

Supplementary figures depict full decadal time series (2000-2069) for projected sea surface temperature (Figure ESM1), aragonite saturation state (Figure ESM2), and marginality risk (Figure ESM3)

supp.pdf (1.4 mb)
(PDF 1.5 MB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. M. Guinotte
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. W. Buddemeier
    • 1
  • J. A. Kleypas
    • 2
  1. 1.Kansas Geological SurveyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA
  2. 2.Climate and Global DynamicsNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA

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