Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Some Coral Thrive In Acidified Seawater

29.01.2014
Some coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean can not only survive but thrive in waters that have high levels of acidification, according to a Texas A&M University researcher.

Oceanographer Katie Shamberger and colleagues from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Palau International Coral Reef Center (PICRC) examined coral reefs around the islands of Palau in the western Pacific Ocean. Her findings have been published in Geophysical Research Letters, a publication of the American Geophysical Union.


Texas A&M University

Texas A&M oceanographer Katie Shamberger (at left) and other researchers prepare to dive to coral beds near Palau

Shamberger measured the pH levels of seawater on several coral reefs in Palau and found that coral reefs in the Rock Islands of Palau have high levels of acidification that aren’t expected to occur in the open ocean in that region until the end of the century. Contrary to what might have been expected, these reefs appeared to be healthier than nearby reefs in less acidic waters.

“The processes that cause these high levels of acidification in the Rock Islands are completely natural,” Shamberger explains. “The growth of the reef and the breathing of carbon dioxide into the water by organisms on the reef acidifies the water.

“The Rock Islands are a maze of small islands, and the water there tends to ‘linger’ and stay around for a long time before being flushed out,” she notes.

“That allows these natural processes to change the water chemistry on the reef dramatically over time.”

Shamberger said studies show worldwide that the oceans are becoming more acidic. While ocean chemistry varies naturally at different locations, it is changing around the world due to increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, which reacts with seawater, lowering its overall pH, and making it more acidic.

“This process also removes carbonate ions needed by corals and other organisms to build their skeletons and shells,” she adds. “Corals growing in low pH conditions, both in laboratory experiments that simulate future conditions and in other naturally low pH ocean environments, show a range of negative impacts. Impacts can include juveniles having difficulty constructing their skeletons, fewer varieties of corals, less coral cover, more algae growth, and more porous corals with greater signs of erosion from other organisms.

“We don’t yet know how the coral communities in Palau’s Rock Islands are able to survive in such high levels of acidification. Is it biological, the perfect combination of environmental factors, or both? We don’t know, and finding out is one of the next steps we take.”

Shamberger found that corals living in the acidified waters were surprisingly diverse and healthy.

Previous work on naturally acidified coral reefs has shown these reefs to have lower coral diversity and sometimes lower coral cover than nearby less acidic reefs, she notes.

“In fact, the opposite seems to be true in Palau. The corals seem to be thriving and growing. This area in Palau seems to be the exception of healthy coral communities in acidified waters.

Shamberger points out that this does not mean that other coral reefs will be okay under ocean acidification. “Somehow, conditions were just right for the coral communities in the Rock Islands to survive high levels of acidification, but that does not mean that conditions will be just right for other coral reefs dealing with ocean acidification,” she explains. “Palau’s coral communities probably had thousands of years to develop while current ocean acidification is happening much more quickly. Even if there is the potential for coral reefs to adapt to ocean acidification, they might not have enough time to do so.”

Some coral reefs can be thousands of years old and live in waters 1,500 feet or more below the surface. Coral reefs play a key role in ocean processes and they are one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, supporting numerous forms of marine life.

The project was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Nature Conservancy.

Media contact: Keith Randall, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4644 or keith-randall@tamu.edu or Katie Shamberger at (979) 845-5752 or Katie.shamberger@tamu.edu

For more news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamutimes.tamu.edu/

Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TAMU

Keith Randall | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

nachricht Species Richness – a false friend? Scientists want to improve biodiversity assessments
01.08.2017 | Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gold shines through properties of nano biosensors

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Greenland ice flow likely to speed up: New data assert glaciers move over sediment, which gets more slippery as it gets wetter

17.08.2017 | Earth Sciences

Mars 2020 mission to use smart methods to seek signs of past life

17.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>