Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Baby corals pass the acid test

Date:
August 13, 2013
Source:
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies
Summary:
Corals can survive the early stages of their development even under the tough conditions that rising carbon emissions will impose on them says a new study. Globally, ocean acidification remains a major concern and scientists say it could have severe consequences for the health of adult corals, however, the evidence for negative effects on the early life stages of corals is less clear cut.

Corals can survive the early stages of their development even under the tough conditions that rising carbon emissions will impose on them says a new study.
Credit: © borisoff / Fotolia

Corals can survive the early stages of their development even under the tough conditions that rising carbon emissions will impose on them says a new study from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

Globally, ocean acidification due to the burning of fossil fuels remains a major concern and scientists say it could have severe consequences for the health of adult corals, however, the evidence for negative effects on the early life stages of corals is less clear cut.

Dr Andrew Baird, Principal Research Fellow at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University, was part of the research team and explains their findings.

"The prevailing view is that ocean acidification will act like a toxin to corals, but we were unconvinced by results from previous work on young corals and ocean acidification so we tested critical early stages of development in several coral species at several different acid (or 'pH') concentrations of seawater.

"Our results showed no clear response to increasing ocean acidification in any of the stages, or for any of the coral species," says Dr Baird. "In fact, in only one of nine experiments did we get the response expected if CO2 was acting like a toxin. More often than not we found no effect."

By bubbling CO2 through seawater the research team was able to simulate future levels of ocean acidification expected to result from rising human carbon emissions. They tested the success of embryo development, the survival of coral larvae and finally their success in settling on coral reefs.

Although their results suggest that ocean acidification may not affect the early stages of coral development, the team warn that this does not mean acidification is not a threat to corals.

"Undoubtedly, as the oceans become more acidic adult corals are going to struggle to build their skeletons, which might hinder their ability to grow, reproduce and compete for space on reefs. We also have to remember that the oceans are getting warmer, so corals will be dealing with higher temperatures, as well as higher acidity.

"Fortunately, before corals settle on to reefs they don't need to grow a skeleton, which might explain why they are apparently unaffected in by higher levels of ocean acidification," says Dr Chia-Miin Chua, the lead author of the study.

"This message is reinforced when we look at the early life stages of creatures that do need a larval skeleton, such as sea urchins and oysters. In these cases we see early life stage development slowing down as acidity increases."

However the study does not discount the possibility that coral larvae may suffer other ill-effects from increasing ocean acidification, for example, their swimming speeds may slow down, but because coral larvae typically settle on the reef two or three weeks after birth it is unlikely that these effects will have a major impact on the survival or settlement of coral larvae.

Dr Baird says that while the long-term outlook for corals may be gloomy, this research highlights the fact that not all life stages of corals will be equally affected.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. CM Chua, W Leggat, A Moya, AH Baird. Near-future reductions in pH will have no consistent ecological effects on the early life-history stages of reef corals. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 2013; 486: 143 DOI: 10.3354/meps10318

Cite This Page:

ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Baby corals pass the acid test." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813101937.htm>.
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. (2013, August 13). Baby corals pass the acid test. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813101937.htm
ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies. "Baby corals pass the acid test." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130813101937.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) — The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) — Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins