Calcification, skeletal structure and composition of the cold-water coral Desmophyllum dianthus

Kristina.Beck [ at ]


In the naturally acidified Comau Fjord (Chile), high densities of the cosmopolitan cold-water coral (CWC) Desmophyllum dianthus are found at or below aragonite saturation (Ωar ≤ 1). However, it is not known so far if seasonal changes in Ωar lead to seasonal differences in calcification rates and the corals’ ability to up-regulate the pH in the calcifying fluid (pHcf). In the present study, corals were sampled along both horizontal and vertical pH gradients (pHT = 7.6-7.9, Ωar = 0.76-1.45) in Comau Fjord. We compared D. dianthus’ calcification rates (buoyant weight technique) with the physico-chemical conditions in the water column (T, Ωar) in austral summer 2016/2017 and winter 2017. In order to determine the biological pHcf up-regulation of D. dianthus, the skeletal boron isotopic composition (δ11B) was measured in the upper part of the calyx between the septa, using a UV femtosecond laser ablation system connected to a multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (LA-MC-ICP-MS). Higher growth rates of D. dianthus were found in summer than in winter. Surprisingly, growth of D. dianthus was highest in undersaturated waters in both seasons (Ωar = 0.76 and 0.84) and cross-transplanted specimens were able to acclimatise to Ωar < 1. Therefore, the present study shows that Ωar alone is a poor predictor of D. dianthus growth. Skeletal analyses show a complex relationship between δ11B and the structure of the coral skeletons. δ11B measurements were highly variable, which may be attributed to the high calcification rates in the upper part of the coral calyx. Therefore, high resolution analyses of the skeletal composition and micro-structure will be conducted along the entire longitudinal section of D. dianthus skeletons using Raman microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). In addition, δ11B will be measured in different skeletal parts and compared to skeletal structure analyses for a reliable reconstruction of seawater pH at high temporal resolution using skeletons of D. dianthus grown under laboratory and field conditions (Comau Fjord, Chile).

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Conference (Poster)
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Not peer-reviewed
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GeoMünster 2019, 22 Sep 2019 - 25 Sep 2019, Münster.
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Beck, K. K. , Steinhöfel, G. , Laudien, J. , Nehrke, G. , Wall, M. , Fietzke, J. , Richter, C. and Schmidt-Grieb, G. (2019): Calcification, skeletal structure and composition of the cold-water coral Desmophyllum dianthus , GeoMünster 2019, Münster, 22 September 2019 - 25 September 2019 .

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