Parameterization of the response of calcification to temperature and pCO2 in the coral Acropora pulchra and the alga Lithophyllum kotschyanum.
The response of tropical corals and calcifying algae to ocean acidification (OA) and warming has received a lot of attention in the past decade. However, most studies have evaluated the response of organisms to two or three temperature treatments, which does not allow the functional relationship between calcification and temperature under ambient and future pCO2 to be determined. The present study tested the hypothesis that the relationship between calcification and temperature is affected by OA in the coral Acropora pulchra and the calcified alga Lithophyllum kotschyanum. Pieces of each organism were incubated under five (24 to 30 °C) or six (24 to 31.5 °C) temperatures crossed with two pCO2 levels (400 and 1000 μatm) and calcification was assessed during trials conducted in the spring and summer. The response of coral calcification to temperature was a positive asymmetric parabola with a maximum at ~ 28 °C under both pCO2 levels and during both times; the effects of pCO2 on calcification were largest at ~28°C and lowest in both cool and warm temperatures. In contrast, calcification of the alga at both pCO2 was unaffected by temperature in spring, but declined linearly with temperature in summer. This study demonstrates that the calcification response of coral reef organisms to the crossed effect of warming and OA is complex and cannot be fully assessed without using multiple temperature treatments that are ecologically relevant.