Coral Reefs

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 149–163 | Cite as

The effect of warming and benthic community acclimation on coral reef carbonate sediment metabolism and dissolution

  • Coulson A. LantzEmail author
  • Kai G. Schulz
  • Bradley D. Eyre


Global warming (and the consequent increase in sea surface temperature) is expected to modify rates of gross primary production (GPP), respiration (R), and net calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dissolution in permeable coral reef carbonate sediments. Previous simulations of seawater warming on coral reef sediments found a decline in the GPP/R ratio and an associated increase in CaCO3 dissolution but were only conducted over a short timescale (< 24 h). To date, no studies have examined the prolonged (> 24 h) effect of seawater warming on coral reef CaCO3 sediment metabolism and dissolution, which may allow the benthic community to acclimatise. This study used 600-L flume aquaria to examine the effect of seawater warming on GPP, R, and CaCO3 dissolution in the permeable coral reef CaCO3 sediments of Mo’orea, French Polynesia, over a period of 15 d. On average, when exposed to warmed seawater (+ 2.8 °C), R in the CaCO3 sediments was enhanced (+ 58%) to a greater extent than GPP (+19%), resulting in a decline in GPP/R (− 23%) and an associated increase in net CaCO3 dissolution (+ 126%). The magnitude of these warming-mediated metabolic changes increased each day until reaching a plateau after about 8 d, indicating that 24-h experiments may be underestimating the effect of warming over longer timescales. Interestingly, the increase in dissolution relative to control treatments was more striking during the day (+ 163%) than at night (+ 89%), suggesting that warming acted to both enhance geochemical dissolution and reduce biogenic calcification or inorganic precipitation. Together, these data indicate that, over the timescale observed here, photosynthesis and associated inorganic and biogenic CaCO3 precipitation do not exhibit the ability to counterbalance the warming-mediated increase in sediment heterotrophy and CaCO3 dissolution.


Dissolution Sediment Coral reef Global warming 



This research was conducted at the Richard B. Gump South Pacific Research Station (UC Berkeley) in collaboration with the Mo’orea Coral Reef Long-Term Ecological Research (MCR LTER) programme. We would like to thank Jesse Bergman-Lantz, Steve Doo, and Griffin Srednick for their assistance in the field. This research was funded by ARC Discovery Grant DP150102092 and the US National Science Foundation (OCE 14-15268 and 12-36905).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry, School of Environment, Science, and EngineeringMilitary Road Southern Cross UniversityLismoreAustralia

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