Does elevated pCO2 affect reef octocorals?

Yasmin Gabay, Yehuda Benayahu, Maoz Fine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations

Abstract

Increasing anthropogenic pCO2 alters seawater chemistry, with potentially severe consequences for coral reef growth and health. Octocorals are the second most important faunistic component in many reefs, often occupying 50% or more of the available substrate. Three species of octocorals from two families were studied in Eilat (Gulf of Aqaba), comprising the zooxanthellate Ovabunda macrospiculata and Heteroxenia fuscescens (family Xeniidae), and Sarcophyton sp. (family Alcyoniidae). They were maintained under normal (8.2) and reduced (7.6 and 7.3) pH conditions for up to 5 months. Their biolological features, including protein concentration, polyp weight, density of zooxanthellae, and their chlorophyll concentration per cell, as well as polyp pulsation rate, were examined under conditions more acidic than normal, in order to test the hypothesis that rising pCO2 would affect octocorals. The results indicate no statistically significant difference between the octocorals exposed to reduced pH values compared to the control. It is therefore suggested that the octocorals' tissue may act as a protective barrier against adverse pH conditions, thus maintaining them unharmed at high levels of pCO2. Several biological features of selected octocorals were examined under high pCO2 conditions. The results indicate no difference between the octocorals exposed to reduced pH values compared to the control. It is therefore suggested that the octocorals' tissue may act as a protective barrier against adverse pH conditions, thus maintaining them unharmed at high levels of pCO2.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)465-473
Number of pages9
JournalEcology and Evolution
Volume3
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2013

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • Ocean acidification
  • Octocorals
  • Red Sea

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