Coral growth and carbonate accumulation form the foundation of the coral reef ecosystem. Changes in environmental conditions due to coastal development, climate change, and ocean acidification may pose a threat to net carbonate production in the near future. Controlled laboratory studies demonstrate that calcification by corals and coralline algae is sensitive to changes in aragonite saturation state (Ωa), as well as temperature, light, and nutrition. Studies also show that the dissolution rate of carbonate substrates is impacted by changes in carbonate chemistry. The sensitivity of coral reefs to these parameters must be confirmed and quantified in the natural environment in order to predict how coral reefs will respond to local and global changes, particularly ocean acidification. We estimated the daytime hourly net community metabolic rates, both net community calcification (NCC) and net community productivity (NCP), at Sheltered Reef, an offshore platform reef in the central Red Sea. Average NCC was 8 ± 3 mmol m−2 h−1 in December 2010 and 11 ± 1 mmol m−2 h−1 in May 2011, and NCP was 21 ± 7 mmol m−2 h−1 in December 2010 and 44 ± 4 mmol m−2 h−1 in May 2011. We also monitored a suite of physical and chemical properties to help relate the rates at Sheltered Reef to published rates from other sites. While previous research shows that short-term field studies investigating the NCC–Ωa relationship have differing results due to confounding factors, it is important to continue estimating NCC in different places, seasons, and years, in order to monitor changes in NCC versus Ω in space and time, and to ultimately resolve a broader understanding of this relationship.
Bernstein WN, Hughen KA, Langdon C, McCorkle DC, Lentz SJ (2016) Environmental controls on daytime net community calcification on a Red Sea reef flat. Coral Reefs 35: 697–711. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00338-015-1396-6.
We would like to thank Craig Marquette, James Churchill, Pedro De La Torre, William Decarvalho, Jessica Masterman, Luke Mays, Elizabeth Bonk and Rebecca Belastock for assisting in sampling and analysis of samples. We would also like to thank Tom Farrar for providing files of surface irradiance and wind speed. This research was supported by Award No. USA 00002 and KSA 00011 to K. Hughen, D. McCorkle, and S. Lentz made by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. This material is based upon work supported under a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.