Hidden impacts of ocean acidification to live and dead coral framework

S. J. Hennige*, L. C. Wicks, N. A. Kamenos, G. Perna, H. S. Findlay, J. M. Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    101 Citations (Scopus)
    128 Downloads (Pure)


    Cold-water corals, such as Lophelia pertusa, are key habitat-forming organisms found throughout the world’s oceans to 3000 m deep. The complex threedimensional framework made by these vulnerable marine ecosystems support high biodiversity and commercially important species. Given their importance, a key question is how both the living and the dead framework will fare under projected climate change. Here, we demonstrate that over 12 months L. pertusa can physiologically acclimate to increased CO<inf>2</inf>, showing sustained net calcification. However, their new skeletal structure changes and exhibits decreased crystallographic and molecular-scale bonding organization. Although physiological acclimatization was evident, we also demonstrate that there is a negative correlation between increasing CO<inf>2</inf> levels and breaking strength of exposed framework (approx. 20–30% weaker after 12 months), meaning the exposed bases of reefs will be less effective ‘load-bearers’, and will become more susceptible to bioerosion and mechanical damage by 2100.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number20150990
    JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
    Issue number1813
    Early online date19 Aug 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015


    • Biomineralization
    • Calcification
    • Climate change
    • Cold-water corals
    • Lophelia pertusa
    • Ocean acidification

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
    • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
    • General Environmental Science
    • General Immunology and Microbiology
    • General Medicine


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