• Ocean Acidification and the Cold-Water Coral Lophelia pertusa in the Gulf of Mexico

      Cordes, Erik E.; Kulathinal, Rob J.; Sanders, Robert W.; Tanaka, Jacqueline; Fisher, Charles R. (Charles Raymond) (Temple University. Libraries, 2013)
      Ocean acidification is the reduction in seawater pH due to the absorption of anthropogenic carbon dioxide by the oceans. Reductions in seawater pH can inhibit the precipitation of aragonite, a calcium carbonate mineral used by marine calcifiers such as corals. Lophelia pertusa is a cold-water coral that forms large reef structures which enhance local biodiversity on the seafloor, and is found commonly from 300-600 meters on hard substrata in the Gulf of Mexico. The present study sought to investigate the potential impacts of ocean acidification on L. pertusa in the Gulf of Mexico through combined field and laboratory analyses. A field component characterized the carbonate chemistry of L. pertusa habitats in the Gulf of Mexico, an important step in establishing a baseline from which future changes in seawater pH can be measured, in addition to collecting in situ data for the design and execution of perturbation experiments in the laboratory. A series of recirculating aquaria were designed and constructed for the present study, and support the maintenance and experimentation of live L. pertusa in the laboratory. Finally, experiments testing L. pertusa's mortality and growth responses to ocean acidification were conducted in the laboratory, which identified thresholds for calcification and a range of sensitivities to ocean acidification by individual genotype. The results of this study permit the monitoring of ongoing ocean acidification in the deep Gulf of Mexico, and show that ocean acidfication's impacts may not be consistent across individuals within populations of L. pertusa.