Coral Reefs

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 477–485 | Cite as

Effects of light and elevated pCO2 on the growth and photochemical efficiency of Acropora cervicornis

  • I. C. EnochsEmail author
  • D. P. Manzello
  • R. Carlton
  • S. Schopmeyer
  • R. van Hooidonk
  • D. Lirman


The effects of light and elevated pCO2 on the growth and photochemical efficiency of the critically endangered staghorn coral, Acropora cervicornis, were examined experimentally. Corals were subjected to high and low treatments of CO2 and light in a fully crossed design and monitored using 3D scanning and buoyant weight methodologies. Calcification rates, linear extension, as well as colony surface area and volume of A. cervicornis were highly dependent on light intensity. At pCO2 levels projected to occur by the end of the century from ocean acidification (OA), A. cervicornis exhibited depressed calcification, but no change in linear extension. Photochemical efficiency (F v /F m ) was higher at low light, but unaffected by CO2. Amelioration of OA-depressed calcification under high-light treatments was not observed, and we suggest that the high-light intensity necessary to reach saturation of photosynthesis and calcification in A. cervicornis may limit the effectiveness of this potentially protective mechanism in this species. High CO2 causes depressed skeletal density, but not linear extension, illustrating that the measurement of extension by itself is inadequate to detect CO2 impacts. The skeletal integrity of A. cervicornis will be impaired by OA, which may further reduce the resilience of the already diminished populations of this endangered species.


Acropora cervicornis Ocean acidification Light Calcification 



This research was funded by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and Ocean Acidification Program. We acknowledge the assistance of T. Burton, D. Graham, and L. Olinger with the maintenance of experimental aquaria and analysis of coral growth. C. Drury helped collect and transport coral samples from the field. G. Kolodziej assisted in the validation of the 3D scanner methodology.

Supplementary material (1.1 mb)
Supplementary material ESM 1 Linear regression of 3D-scanned versus (a) calculated volume and (b) surface area of smooth cylinders. Calculated values determined from cylinder height and width measured with vernier calipers. Intercept of regression set to zero. (AI 1098 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • I. C. Enochs
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • D. P. Manzello
    • 2
  • R. Carlton
    • 1
    • 2
  • S. Schopmeyer
    • 3
  • R. van Hooidonk
    • 1
    • 2
  • D. Lirman
    • 3
  1. 1.Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories (AOML)NOAAMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA

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