Intercomparison of four methods to estimate coral calcification under various environmental conditions

Gómez Batista, Miguel; Metian, Marc; Oberhänsli, François; Pouil, Simon; Swarzenski, Peter W.; Tambutté, Eric; Gattuso, Jean-Pierre; Alonso Hernández, Carlos M.; Gazeau, Frédéric

Coral reefs are constructed by calcifiers that precipitate calcium carbonate to build their shells or skeletons through the process of calcification. Accurately assessing coral calcification rates is crucial to determine the health of these ecosystems and their response to major environmental changes such as ocean warming and acidification. Several approaches have been used to assess rates of coral calcification, but there is a real need to compare these approaches in order to ascertain that high-quality and intercomparable results can be produced. Here, we assessed four methods (total alkalinity anomaly, calcium anomaly, inline-formula45Ca incorporation, and inline-formula13C incorporation) to determine coral calcification of the reef-building coral Stylophora pistillata. Given the importance of environmental conditions for this process, the study was performed under two starting pH levels (ambient: 8.05 and low: 7.2) and two light (light and dark) conditions. Under all conditions, calcification rates estimated using the alkalinity and calcium anomaly techniques as well as inline-formula45Ca incorporation were highly correlated. Such a strong correlation between the alkalinity anomaly and inline-formula45Ca incorporation techniques has not been observed in previous studies and most probably results from improvements described in the present paper. The only method which provided calcification rates significantly different from the other three techniques was inline-formula13C incorporation. Calcification rates based on this method were consistently higher than those measured using the other techniques. Although reasons for these discrepancies remain unclear, the use of this technique for assessing calcification rates in corals is not recommended without further investigations.

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Gómez Batista, Miguel / Metian, Marc / Oberhänsli, François / et al: Intercomparison of four methods to estimate coral calcification under various environmental conditions. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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