Marine Biology

, Volume 160, Issue 10, pp 2597–2607 | Cite as

Occurrence of a cold-water coral along natural pH gradients (Patagonia, Chile)

  • C. JantzenEmail author
  • V. Häussermann
  • G. Försterra
  • J. Laudien
  • M. Ardelan
  • S. Maier
  • C. Richter
Original Paper


Increasing dissolution of anthropogenic-released carbon dioxide into the world’s oceans is causing ocean acidification (OA). OA is thought to negatively affect most marine-calcifying organisms, notably cold-water corals (CWC), which may be especially sensitive due to the deep and cold waters they normally thrive in. However, the impact of OA on CWC is difficult to predict. Recorded distributions of CWC are rarely linked to in situ water chemistry, and the boundaries of their distributions are not clearly defined. The fjord Comau in Chilean Patagonia features pronounced pH gradients, and up to 0.5 pH units have been recorded both vertically (at some sites within 50 m depth) and less distinct horizontally (from head to mouth). The cosmopolite coral Desmophyllum dianthus grows along the course of the fjord and of the entire pH range. It occurs in shallow depths (below 12 m, pH 8.1) as part of a deep-water emergence community, but also in 225 m depth at a pH of 7.4. Based on pH and total alkalinity, data calculations of the associated carbonate chemistry revealed that this CWC thrives commonly close the aragonite (the orthogonal crystal form of calcium carbonate, the mineral structure of coral skeletons) saturation horizon and even below. This suggests a high adaptation potential of D. dianthus to adjust its calcification performance to conditions thermodynamically unfavourable for the precipitation of aragonite.


Ocean Acidification Boron Isotope Tropical Coral Aragonite Saturation Saturation Horizon 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This is paper No. 61 of the Huinay Scientific Field Station. We thank the team of the Fundacion Huinay especially Reinhard Fitzek, Emma Plotnek, Dan Genter and Soledad Gonzales. We acknowledge the help of all scientific divers involved in the field work. We are indebted to assistants during CTD profiling, namely Richard Steinmetz, Sebastian Baumgarten, Michael Sswat, Stefanie Sokol, Franziska Kupprat, Santiago Pineda Metz, Maria Ernsthaler and Aaron Mascarenhas. Thanks to Riccardo Rodolfo-Metalpa and an anonymous reviewer, who help us to considerably improve the ms. Last not least special thanks to Emma Plotnek and Ruth Alheit for English editing.

Supplementary material

227_2013_2254_MOESM1_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Desmophyllum dianthus occurrence. Sites of D. dianthus sightings by SCUBA or ROV investigations. Where a depth range is given. D. dianthus was not recorded continuously, but repeatedly and commonly found (DOC 31 kb)
227_2013_2254_MOESM2_ESM.eps (74.4 mb)
Fjord profiles conducted at 5 May 2010 till 60 m with a CTD-probe in vertical (with depth) and horizontal (fjord’s course) resolution. Negatively increasing values indicate the direction towards the fjord head; 0 corresponds to the fjord mouth and positive values reach into the Gulf of Ancud. a pH (in NBS scale); b oxygen saturation (EPS 76233 kb)
227_2013_2254_MOESM3_ESM.eps (9.2 mb)
Vertical profile at mid-fjord showing oxygen saturation. The CTD depth profile till 336 m was conducted on 24 May 2010 (EPS 9387 kb)
227_2013_2254_MOESM4_ESM.eps (35.2 mb)
pH conditions in the Southern Pacific. Data were obtained from the CARINA project (The CARINA Group 2008, CARINA Data Synthesis Project. ORNL/CDIAC-157, NDP-091. Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge, Tennessee. doi: 10.3334/CDIAC/otg.ndp091) and pH of sea water was calculated with ‘Ocean Data View’ (Schlitzer 2011, using depth, temperature, TA and DIC); the transect was conducted along the 30°–32.5°S (EPS 36082 kb)
227_2013_2254_MOESM5_ESM.eps (35.2 mb)
Fjord profiles 2011. Profiles with a CTD-probe in vertical (with depth) and horizontal (fjord’s course) resolution; negatively increasing values indicate the direction towards the fjord head; 0 corresponds to the fjord mouth and positive values reach into the Gulf of Ancud. PH is given on the total scale. a (24, 25 February 2011; b 3 March 2011; white areas where data were not available (EPS 36040 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Jantzen
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. Häussermann
    • 2
  • G. Försterra
    • 2
  • J. Laudien
    • 1
  • M. Ardelan
    • 3
  • S. Maier
    • 1
  • C. Richter
    • 1
  1. 1.Alfred Wegener InstituteHelmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  2. 2.Facultad de Recursos Naturales, Escuela de Ciencias del MarPontificia Universidad Catolica de ValparaısoValparaisoChile
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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