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Turf algae drives coral bioerosion under high CO2

Turf algal prevalence will increase in coral ecosystems under ocean acidification yet their contribution towards the ongoing and projected degradation of reefs is often overlooked. Turf algal settlement was induced on exposed coral skeleton adjacent to live coral tissue to investigate coral-turf algal interactions through a combination of laboratory and field transplantation (shallow volcanic CO2 seep) experiments across two temperature regimes. Here, we show that turf algae are competitively favored over corals under high pCO2 conditions. Turf algae-associated biological activity locally acidified the microenvironment overlying the exposed coral skeleton, leading to its bioerosion. Increases in coral-turf algal interactions could shift coral ecosystems towards net dissolution and should be integrated into global accretion models when considering future carbonate budgets under climate change.

Heitzman J., Iijima L., Mitushasi G., Spatafora D., Wada S., Harvey B. P., Kurihara H. & Agostini S., 2024. Turf algae drives coral bioerosion under high CO2. Research Square. Article.

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