The effect of decreasing aragonite saturation state (Omega Arag) of seawater (elevated pCO2) on calcification rates of Acropora muricata was studied using nubbins prepared from parent colonies located at two sites of La Saline reef (La Réunion Island, western Indian Ocean): a back-reef site (BR) affected by nutrient-enriched groundwater discharge (mainly nitrate), and a reef flat site (RF) with low terrigenous inputs. Protein and chlorophyll a content of the nubbins, as well as zooxanthellae abundance, were lower at RF than BR. Nubbins were incubated at ~27°C over 2 h under sunlight, in filtered seawater manipulated to get differing initial pCO2 (1,440-340 µatm), Omega Arag (1.4-4.0), and dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) concentrations (2,100-1,850 µmol kg-1). Increasing DIC concentrations at constant total alkalinity (AT) resulted in a decrease in Omega Arag and an increase in pCO2. AT at the beginning of the incubations was kept at a natural level of 2,193 +- 6 µmol kg-1 (mean +- SD). Net photosynthesis (NP) and calcification were calculated from changes in pH and AT during the incubations. Calcification decrease in response to doubling pCO2 relative to preindustrial level was 22% for RF nubbins. When normalized to surface area of the nubbins, (1) NP and calcification were higher at BR than RF, (2) NP increased in high pCO2 treatments at BR compared to low pCO2 treatments, and (3) calcification was not related to Omega Arag at BR. When normalized to NP, calcification was linearly related to Omega Arag at both sites, and the slopes of the relationships were not significantly different. The increase in NP at BR in the high pCO2 treatments may have increased calcification and thus masked the negative effect of low Omega Arag on calcification. Removing the effect of NP variations at BR showed that calcification declined in a similar manner with decreased Omega Arag (increased pCO2) whatever the nutrient loading.
In order to allow full comparability with other ocean acidification data sets, the R package seacarb (Lavigne and Gattuso, 2011) was used to compute a complete and consistent set of carbonate system variables, as described by Nisumaa et al. (2010). In this dataset the original values were archived in addition with the recalculated parameters (see related PI).