Changes in coral reef communities across a natural gradient in seawater pH

DOI

Ocean acidification threatens the survival of coral reef ecosystems worldwide. The negative effects of ocean acidification observed in many laboratory experiments have been seen in studies of naturally low-pH reefs, with little evidence to date for adaptation. Recently, we reported initial data suggesting that low-pH coral communities of the Palau Rock Islands appear healthy despite the extreme conditions in which they live. Here, we build on that observation with a comprehensive statistical analysis of benthic communities across Palau's natural acidification gradient. Our analysis revealed a shift in coral community composition but no impact of acidification on coral richness, coralline algae abundance, macroalgae cover, coral calcification, or skeletal density. However, coral bioerosion increased 11-fold as pH decreased from the barrier reefs to the Rock Island bays. Indeed, a comparison of the naturally low-pH coral reef systems studied so far revealed increased bioerosion to be the only consistent feature among them, as responses varied across other indices of ecosystem health. Our results imply that whereas community responses may vary, escalation of coral reef bioerosion and acceleration of a shift from net accreting to net eroding reef structures will likely be a global signature of ocean acidification.

In order to allow full comparability with other ocean acidification data sets, the R package seacarb (Gattuso et al, 2015) 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). The date of carbonate chemistry calculation is 2015-09-09.

Supplement to: Barkley, Hannah C; Cohen, Anne L; Golbuu, Yimnang; Starczak, V R; DeCarlo, Thomas M; Shamberger, K E F (2015): Changes in coral reef communities across a natural gradient in seawater pH. Science Advances, 1(5), e1500328-e1500328

Identifier
DOI https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.849300
Related Identifier https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1500328
Related Identifier https://www.bco-dmo.org/dataset/561046
Related Identifier https://www.bco-dmo.org/dataset/520476
Related Identifier https://www.bco-dmo.org/dataset/489014
Related Identifier https://cran.r-project.org/package=seacarb
Metadata Access https://ws.pangaea.de/oai/provider?verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=datacite4&identifier=oai:pangaea.de:doi:10.1594/PANGAEA.849300
Provenance
Creator Barkley, Hannah C ORCID logo; Cohen, Anne L; Golbuu, Yimnang; Starczak, V R; DeCarlo, Thomas M; Shamberger, K E F ORCID logo
Publisher PANGAEA
Contributor Yang, Yan
Publication Year 2015
Rights Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported; https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
OpenAccess true
Representation
Language English
Resource Type Supplementary Dataset; Dataset
Format text/tab-separated-values
Size 728 data points
Discipline Earth System Research
Spatial Coverage (134.352W, 7.160S, 134.557E, 7.544N)
Temporal Coverage Begin 2011-09-19T00:00:00Z
Temporal Coverage End 2013-11-15T00:00:00Z