Ocean warming and acidification detrimentally affect coral tissue regeneration at a Mediterranean CO2 vent

Teresa Sani, Fiorella Prada, Giulia Radi, Erik Caroselli, Giuseppe Falini, Zvy Dubinsky, Stefano Goffredo

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Among the main phenomena that are causing significant changes in ocean waters are warming and acidification, largely due to anthropogenic activities. Growing evidence suggests that climate change is having more substantial and rapid effects on marine communities than on terrestrial ones, triggering several physiological responses in these organisms, including in corals. Here we investigated, for first time in the field, the combined effect of increasing seawater acidification and warming on tissue regeneration rate of three Mediterranean scleractinian coral species characterized by different trophic strategies and growth modes. Balanophyllia europaea (solitary, zooxanthellate), Leptopsammia pruvoti (solitary, non-zooxanthellate) and Astroides calycularis (colonial, non-zooxanthellate) specimens were transplanted, during a cold, intermediate, and warm period, along a natural pH gradient generated by an underwater volcanic crater at Panarea Island (Mediterranean Sea, Italy), characterized by continuous and localized CO2 emissions at ambient temperature. Our results show a decrease in regenerative capacity, especially in the zooxanthellate species, with increasing seawater temperature and acidification, with demonstrated species-specific differences. This finding suggests that increasing seawater temperature and acidification could have a compounding effect on coral regeneration following injury, potentially hindering the capacity of corals to recover following physical disturbance under predicted climate change.

Original languageEnglish
Article number167789
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024

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  • Climate change
  • Corals
  • Field study
  • Lesion recovery rate
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Natural pH gradient


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