Marine Biology

, 163:148 | Cite as

Interactive effects of ocean acidification and neighboring corals on the growth of Pocillopora verrucosa

  • Nicolas R. EvensenEmail author
  • Peter J. Edmunds
Original paper


The physical and chemical environment around corals, as well as their physiology, can be affected by interactions with neighboring corals. This study employed small colonies (4 cm diameter) of Pocillopora verrucosa and Acropora hyacinthus configured in spatial arrays at 7 cm s−1 flow speed to test the hypothesis that ocean acidification (OA) alters interactions among them. Interaction effects were quantified for P. verrucosa using three measures of growth: calcification (i.e., weight), horizontal growth, and vertical growth. The study was carried out in May–June 2014 using corals from 10 m depth on the outer reef of Moorea, French Polynesia. Colonies of P. verrucosa were placed next to conspecifics or heterospecifics (A. hyacinthus) in arrangements of two or four colonies (pairs and aggregates) that were incubated at ambient and high pCO2 (~1000 µatm) for 28 days. There was an effect of pCO2, and arrangement type on multivariate growth (utilizing the three measures of growth), but no interaction between the main effects. Conversely, arrangement and pCO2 had an interactive effect on calcification, with an overall 23 % depression at high pCO2 versus ambient pCO2 (i.e., pooled among arrangements). Within arrangements, there was a 34–45 % decrease in calcification for solitary and paired conspecifics, but no effect in conspecific aggregates, heterospecific pairs, or heterospecific aggregates. Horizontal growth was negatively affected by pCO2 and arrangement type, while vertical growth was positively affected by arrangement type. Together, our results show that conspecific aggregations can mitigate the negative effects of OA on calcification of colonies within an aggregation.


Ocean Acidification High pCO2 Outer Reef Horizontal Growth Neighboring Coloni 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This research was supported by funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the Moorea Coral Reef, Long-Term Ecological Research site (OCE 12-36905), NSF funding for OA research (OCE 10-41270 and OCE 14-15268), and gifts from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. We are grateful to the staff at the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station for hosting our visit to Moorea, to C. Lantz, V. Moriarty, M. Ho for field assistance in Moorea, and S. Comeau and C. Doropoulos for discussions that improved the quality of this work. We are also grateful to the reviewers for their help to improve the quality of the manuscript. This is contribution number 242 of the California State University, Northridge, Marine Biology Program.

Supplementary material

227_2016_2921_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (691 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 690 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyCalifornia State UniversityNorthridgeUSA
  2. 2.Marine Spatial Ecology Lab, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia

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