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Variation in calcification rate of Acropora downingi relative to seasonal changes in environmental conditions in the northeastern Persian Gulf

Abstract

There is a strong interest in understanding how coral calcification varies with changing environmental conditions, especially given the projected changes in temperature and aragonite saturation due to climate change. This study explores in situ variation in calcification rates of Acropora downingi in the northeastern Persian Gulf relative to seasonal changes in temperature, irradiance and aragonite saturation state (Ω arag). Calcification rates of A. downingi were highest in the spring and lowest in the winter, and intra-annual variation in calcification rate was significantly related to temperature (r 2 = 0.30) and irradiance (r 2 = 0.36), but not Ω arag (r 2 = 0.02). Seasonal differences in temperature are obviously confounded by differences in other environmental conditions and vice versa. Therefore, we used published relationships from experimental studies to establish which environmental parameter(s) (temperature, irradiance, and/or Ω arag) placed greatest constraints on calcification rate (relative to the maximum spring rate) in each season. Variation in calcification rates was largely attributable to seasonal changes in irradiance and temperature (possibly ~57.4 and 39.7% respectively). Therefore, we predict that ocean warming may lead to increased rates of calcification during winter, but decelerate calcification during spring, fall and especially summer, resulting in net deceleration of calcification for A. downingi in the Persian Gulf.

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Acknowledgments

We thank the diving club Dive Persia for providing lodging during the study. This work was done as a part of Project No. 391-011-08 funded by the Iranian National Institute for Oceanography and Atmospheric Science.

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Correspondence to Jahangir Vajed Samiei.

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Communicated by Biology Editor Dr. Anastazia Banaszak

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Vajed Samiei, J., Saleh, A., Shirvani, A. et al. Variation in calcification rate of Acropora downingi relative to seasonal changes in environmental conditions in the northeastern Persian Gulf. Coral Reefs 35, 1371–1382 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00338-016-1464-6

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Keywords

  • Branching corals
  • PAR
  • pH
  • Salinity
  • Scleractinian
  • Total alkalinity