The authors examined the metabolism of coral larvae under different pH conditions to explain the observed, uniform, survival rate of coral larvae under different pH conditions: pH 8.0 (control), pH 7.6, and pH 7.3. Larvae of Acropora digitifera was used in the study because it is a common species around Okinawan coral reefs and also the most commonly used species in studies on the effects of acidified seawater on several early life stages in coral. They also observed larval metamorphosis after both short (2 h) and long (7 d) term exposure to reduced pH conditions. The authors found that the oxygen consumption of Acropora digitifera larvae tended to be suppressed with reduced pH.  Results also showed that the metamorphosis rate significantly decreased under acidified seawater conditions after both short (2 h) and long (7 d) term exposure. These results imply that acidified seawater impacts larval physiology, suggesting that suppressed metabolism and metamorphosis may alter the dispersal potential of larvae and subsequently reduce the resilience of coral communities in the near future as the ocean pH decreases.

Author: Nakamura M., S. Ohki, A. Suzuki, and K. Sakai
Year: 2011
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PLoS ONE 6(1): e14521. doi:10.1371/journal.pone

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