Carbonate Mineralogy of Alaskan Corals

Anne Cohen, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Abtract

Researchers from NOAA (Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Auke Bay Laboratories), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Marine Conservation Institute, and Smithsonian Institution have been characterizing the carbonate mineralogy of Alaskan corals since 2010.

The goal of the research is to determine the skeletal composition for corals from each major taxonomic group and for species of particular ecological importance to identify those taxa that could be most at risk from ocean acidification. We also looked for evidence of intraspecific variation in skeletal mineralogy across broad geographic scales and depth ranges. The mineralogy data will be used with species distribution data (geographic and bathymetric) and the projected aragonite and calcite saturation horizons to predict which corals may be most at risk from the effects of ocean acidification and identify the best candidates for physiological response to low pH scenarios in the laboratory. These data will prove useful to other regions, including the North Atlantic, where deep-sea corals occur but these experiments are not planned.