SoMAS – Waves of Change: How Ocean Acidification is Reshaping Coral Reefs

so I am very pleased to introduce our speaker just for a sec though if you’ve worked at Southampton college is a staff or faculty member would you just raise your hand Salim Hamdan college wow thank you so much much for coming tonight amber started her career as an undergraduate Southampton college and then transferred over Stony Brook to finish her degree she then worked as a lab tech in my lab for almost a year she very much when to go to the florida state university but i would her away from that with the promise that she could do her graduate work in tropical systems amber then spent a very varied career in her graduate program she served on the governor’s task force for the seagrass she was part of developing the first legislation to protect seen grass in the state of New York she did a series of experiments looking at multiple stressors on sea grasses all of us had nothing to do with what she on the game for her dissertation she began working in Jamaica looking at recruitment on kind of anthropogenic effects on recruitment of coral reef organisms and it was during that time that should keep very interested in the role of ocean acidification and the impact that it has really launched species interactions and so I’m really happy and very proud to invite amber to come up and share with us the stuff that she has okay well thank you Brad for that introduction and also thank all thank all of you guys for actually coming out on this beautiful friday evening special thanks to my students from my oceanography class who managed to come out and hear me speak for the third time this week um okay so today I’ll be talking about a topic that’s obviously very near and dear to my heart and that’s how ocean acidification is impacting coral reefs now hopefully you guys have at some point had the opportunity to see your coral reef experience it firsthand but if you haven’t these sorts of images here probably come to your mind whenever you think of reef we generally think of them is very beautiful often pristine full of fish and other life and images like these are sort of what we picture when we conjure images in our mind although reefs are very beautiful and very diverse and just a general wonderful habitat they also provide some very valuable services to the world many of you may think of reefs is beautiful so obviously there’s a beautiful aspect of reefs however reefs also provide an economic value to many countries around the world this chart which is a little bit cut off I apologize is showing the value of coral reefs as pertains to different aspects of the reef that it’s providing a service so the fisheries the coastal protection or coastline protection the general tourism and recreational appeal of coral reefs the biodiversity value and the different aspects of the organisms that we can utilize from reefs and then the total dollar value of reefs in these different regions from anywhere from Southeast Asia to Australia now these dollar values look kind of small but they are in millions of dollars right so if we highlight the u.s. here we are over 1 billion dollars annually that we receive to our economy from coral reefs in some way shape or form now obviously there are many trees around the world that have very few other economic input except for things like tourism and Fisheries so if we boil this down not to numbers but into proportion dependency on reefs we have this map of the globe here and these different colors are representing the social and economic importance of reefs or the dependency of these countries on reefs around the world these lighter colors are low dependency and then the darker purple are very high what you should first notice here that most of the Pacific nations particularly the iron island nations are extremely de pourtant importantly dependent on coral reefs as a whole as well as many of the Caribbean nations so this should really sort of impart the value of coral reefs not in a monetary value but rather as a social and economic value for these whole nations now even countries that don’t have as much dependency on coral

reefs like the US and Australia they have other aspects of their economy they can rely on coral reefs are still extremely valuable to the land itself so Australia this little inset of Australia here this is a great barrier reef which spans thousands of miles one of the main services of this reef to the people living on Australia obviously as tourism and other aspects but it’s mere storm protection because what happens is when we start to approach the land most of the energy gets dissipated by these reefs so that once the waves pass this reef area the waves actually impacting the coastline where people living have greatly reduced the energy and also wave height in fact as an average we see a ninety-seven percent reduction in wave energy and an eighty-four percent reduction in wave height as these storm surges start to move on to land now these are very similar in sort of coastline protection as our Barrier Reef’s on Long Island and I think we can all imagine what would have happened if sandy had hit in there have been barrier islands here so whether or not the country’s depends solely on these reefs for their economic value or not they’re still gaining some value from them so as humans we always like to kind of think about how things benefit us so that’s not always the most important aspect of a habitat though one of the main reasons coral reefs are important is this year amount of biodiversity and organisms and it supports these are just a handful really the most charismatic and colourful that I could find in my library these are some of the organisms that rely on coral reefs and while these are not the only organisms certainly there’s a very very large amount that do in fact coral reefs are often called the rainforests of the sea because they have so many endemic species living in them now one of the main reasons corals can support all these organisms and provide this shoreline protection and support thousands and thousands of millions of dollars worth of fisheries is because of the structure that the corals themselves have so here’s a picture of five different species and growth forms of coral you can see that there’s a lot of different forms there’s the branching forms also the little stubby nubby ones here more solid forms all of these are made from calcium carbonate or limestone so they’re solid rock and the corals as they grow are laying down more and more of this calcium carbonate so a very very small coral over its time and throughout its lifetime is going to grow larger and larger and it’s going to create these forms that is what we think of the foundation of coral reefs and this is unproblematic al cium carbonate just because it’s my jargon and I always do it but this is the same material that limestone is made out of so if you think of calcium carbonate it’s the same as limestone this is also the same material that scallops and clams oysters and mussels make their shells out of okay so how many of you have been walking on the beach and seeing some sort of clamor oyster shell that looks like this raise your hand right so most of you guys at some point have seen it how many of you can tell me what does that maurice much Oh somebody’s somebody’s been to one of my lectures or knows me so all these little holes are caused by a boring sponge this is something called bio erosion it’s a process where excuse me some sort of animal oftentimes a sponge removes the limestone material itself from these organisms so in the case of these clams we have oftentimes sponges around the local area coral reefs which are also made of limestone have a very large amount of bio rotors that are removing the limestone from their structure so there are fish there are parrotfish that as they eat the coral they’re breaking down parts of the structure beneath the animal itself we have worms that will grow into the coral and as they grow inside of it remove some of the skeleton there’s also boring sponges which you’ll probably be very tired of hearing of by the end of the night and then we have urgent which will remove the limestone as they sort of make their little holes and also we have things called microbrews which is sort of a suite of organisms things like algae bacteria fungi that are slowly eroding the the skeleton of corals when we look at bio erosion this is a picture of a coral had very few there’s a little urchin hiding under here bio version by urgent tends to result in something that looks like this as they start to really dig in and

make their little homes they will remove a very large proportion of the skeleton and end up something that looks kind of like this mushroom cloud here but believe it or not these urchins are not the main bio rotor of coral reefs sponges are actually much more devastating by our rotor as a whole so this coral head here all these little like tiny orange pock marks here are a sponge and well it looks like oh the by erosion in this squirrel isn’t nearly as bad as the one that you just showed me right here if we were to cut open this coral head we would probably find something like this where it’s internally its Hollow from the sponge living inside because these sponges their job in life is to hide from being eaten by fish and other things so what they do so that they don’t get eaten burrow into these coral heads live internally and only a very small portion of them is exposed so this way they’re not eaten by fish and other things here’s another photo this is a branching coral that I collected in Panama this orange bit here is a boring sponge and if you were to put this coral in Bleach which I don’t recommend them just saying you would see that what’s left behind is the skeleton here held it together partially by this sponge but as you can imagine this coral that’s eaten by sponge internally is not going to be very structurally sound it’s going to be very weak where there was once a hard solid foundation it’s sort of riddled with this sponge that makes it much less sturdy so I don’t want to give you guys the wrong impression biogen is not bad by erosion is a natural part of coral reef in fact it’s very important it helps to recycle minerals on the reef it also frees up space so if you have a coral that’s starting to die often times you’ll have bio rotors come in it breaks it down and now there’s more space for other animals to come in and use so that by no means am I saying that bio erosion is unhealthy by erosion will always be healthy for Reese as long as coral growth is greater than bio erosion you’ll have a healthy reef so in a perfect scenario pearls will grow faster then sponges or other bio rotors will be removing simple up at economics if you have more growth than you have removal you’re in good shape you’re a healthy reef because of course growing carrot corals are healthy coral now hopefully you guys are all aware in some way shape or form that our reefs are threatened by various human activities for the most part things like physical damage from boats or divers careless snorkelers on vacation destructive fishing past practices like dynamite fishing or careless fishing discarding of the lid discarding of the various fishing materials nutrient loading where we’re increasing the amount of nutrients on the reef and so we have high album algal growth for wallet water quality kind of goes hand in hand with that sedimentation as we start to build on our coastlines the more sediment and other dirt gets deposited on the reefs the harder it is for these guys to grow and of course there’s the ever-present temperature eyes and ocean acidification and these are the two threats that I’m going to be focusing on today because all these other threats can be very localized what I mean by that is one reefs can have physical damage as a problem maybe there’s a hotel being built and destroying part of the reef whereas another reef can be perfectly uninfected however with temperature rise in ocean acidification it’s a global threat that’s impacting all reefs granted there are varying degrees that it can impact those reefs but no reef is safe from these two things and unfortunately ocean acidification is going to start tipping the balance because it decreases coral growth so as we decrease the coral growth perhaps we’re going to see an increase in bio erosion so before I kind of launch into the meat of my talk I’m going to take it to sip of water and then I’m going to ask you do you know what ocean acidification is the answer is probably no but more importantly than knowing what it is you’re really need to know why it is so carbon dioxide its natural part of the Earth’s air right it’s a component of all the atmospheric air that we’re breathing right now it itself is not dangerous it’s simply a carbon and two oxygens no harm no foul there in fact it’s necessary so that plants are able to photosynthesize plants take on a carbon dioxide turn it into sugars for themselves seat and release oxygen as a by-product thankfully we ourselves

breathe oxygen so we can thanks plants and co2 for that and we sort of do the opposite process as we brief we take in oxygen and release co2 co2 in general is increasing in the atmosphere and largely this is because humans have come onto the earth and sort of upset the balance between the natural carbon system so we are now taking carbon that was meant to be stored deep within the earth things like dinosaurs sorry about taking time source things like coal and other fossil fuels and we’re bringing those from deep within the earth and burning them as our fuel and as we burn those fossil fuels that carbon gets releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere other issues that are sort of human-induced that’s upsetting this balance and increasing co2 is deforestation I just told you that plants photosynthesize they reduce the amount of co2 in the atmosphere but when we tear down trees and forests to create industry and other aspects of really human living we’re removing that service because this is not really going to provide any sort of synthetic benefit to us so i’m going to show you this this very complicated graph or diagram rather of the carbon cycle so this is summing up and one very complicated lots of words sort of way the carbon that’s coming in carbon dioxide coming in to earth and going out so for the most part I want you to notice these arrows you see that plants are drawing down carbon dioxide they’re reducing the co2 in the air whereas we also have respiration in microbial decomposition that’s releasing co2 back into the atmosphere so you see that this one’s going now and this one’s going up for the most part they’re in balance here in the oceans we see the ocean is absorbing co2 but also releasing co2 in the air sea gas exchange and just like on land with the photosynthesis we have phytoplankton photosynthesizing in the ocean also dying and be releasing it back up so if this were just sort what was going on these little white arrows here carbon dioxide would not be increasing significantly in the atmosphere however what you may have noticed I skipped over is this little red section here that’s labeled the fossil fuels cement and land-use change and that’s because this is a result of us taking this fossil pool down here where we have stored carbon reserves and rather than letting it sit here for millions of years like it was intended to do we’re bringing it back up burning it and adding co2 to the atmosphere so this is why co2 is increasing this is a graph since the 1960s so this is last 50 years I took the liberty of looking up what our current co2 is and adding on to the graph so we’re current to date what you should notice is there the very large increase in the amount of co2 in our atmosphere increasing from about 315 parts per million to just 400 as of Tuesday when I that up there now what you should also hopefully notice in this graph because there’s this nice red line which is the average but you also see these tiny little oscillations and if you’re wondering what those oscillations are that’s why I’m here we have these annual cycles from seasonal differences in co2 so in October the end of the summer the end of the spring for the past five months or so we’ve had all the trees in the northern hemisphere doing their thing right there all green they’re all photosynthesizing they’re sucking up as much co2 as possible so in October we get the lowest co2 values that we will see on earth every October for that year and then in April or sometime around the end the very tail end of winter just before everything starts blooming we see the highest value because of course for the past couple months during the wintertime no photosynthesis has been happening in the northern hemisphere now you’ll probably notice I keep saying the northern hemisphere that’s not just because we live in the northern hemisphere and we like to only think about ourselves the fact is that if we look at the northern hemisphere is the map of the northern hemisphere here this is the equator you’ll notice that the majority of land falls above this sort of imaginary line and drawing here so when all of those terrestrial plants start to bloom during the northern hemisphere spring and summer this is when we start to see that large drawdown in co2 so this is why the patterns follow the seasonal changes in the northern hemisphere hopefully this will work this is a NASA image that they’ve compiled read seasonal changes so this is summer in the southern hemisphere summer in the Northern Hemisphere summer in the southern hemisphere southern in the northern hemisphere and what you should

notice is not only are we getting a lot of growth on land the land masses during the northern hemisphere spring but we’re also seeing changes in the ocean and that’s because we see the phytoplankton blooming during that time period okay so those who are maybe skeptical of what I’m telling you right now probably saying okay but let’s be honest this is a natural cycle that happens on earth and that’s completely true I’m not going to tell you it’s not the natural cycle of our earth is that we experience highs in co2 and lows in co2 and that fluctuates this is the graph going back the co2 data from present day 28 thousand eight hundred thousand years ago and this is from ice bubble data where they’ve actually sampled ice from very very deep within the Antarctic Ice Sheet they can look at the concentration of co2 in those bubbles that were formed thousands and hundreds of thousands of years ago so you’ll see this very nice oscillation we have hi see how close we have highs we have close what you should notice that this is our present day value so not only have we exceeded the previous highs by about a hundred parts per million but this change has happened in 150 years rather than 20,000 or 30,000 that it previously has happened so these changes in the past which are perfectly natural and part of our cycle have happened over a much larger time period and that’s why the co2 change that we’re seeing is so alarming in fact he would have to go back over 22 million years to find the time when the earth experienced co2 at the present level it’s currently experiencing okay and again that change was over long long time so what happens to all this extra co2 that we are adding into the atmosphere well about one third of it anywhere from 25 to 40 percent are the current estimates is being absorbed by the ocean the rest of it stays in the atmosphere so obviously we could go on a huge tangent of what the extra atmospheric co2 does to the earth then I’m here to talk about ocean acidification so we’re going to jump right into that now I’m also going to try very hard not to go into too much chemistry because generally when people talk about chemistry that’s the point when I stopped listening so I’m going to try and make this as simple as possible because that’s the way I would like to hear if I were in your shoes so we know I just told you so we know that the ocean is absorbing about one-third of all the human released co2 in our atmosphere as that few to enters into the sea water it reacts with the sea water and it forms carbonic acid and carbonic acid should be a hint because it’s got the word acid in it that this is now making the sea water and for so slightly more acidic very very slightly but as we start to change the acidity of the food water we’re now depleting the carbonate ions now I can’t I don’t know if you remember me telling you but calcium carbonate carbonate is what shells and I mean shells and skeletons of corals Armida so if we deplete the carbonate ions that are available in the water it makes organisms that need to make their shelves it makes them have a harder time they have a more difficult time forming their shelves because now there’s less carbonate available to them now the pH scale is both from 0 to 14 7 is neutral on the pH scale anything less than 7 is acidic anything greater than 7 is considered basic seawater is basic so it’s right here in Bobby 8.2 for the global average so as we add more acid to the seawater as we increase the acidity we’re pushing the seawater close to neutral but it’s becoming more acidic hence the term acidification but it’s important to remember that the pH scale is logarithmic so these changes are multiplicative they are exponentially increasing the acidity every small increment of change so the sea water starts out at 8.2 pH and goes down to 7.9 this is a hundred percent change in the acidity of the water and we know that this is co2 induced not some other sort of process that’s happening in the ocean because if we go back to our handy little map that goes back to a hundred thousand years are sorry 800,000 years ago we see the pink line here is tracking the amount of co2 in the atmosphere and these little blue dots that you hopefully can see from the back or the pH so pH and co2 track very nicely together and if we look at the global ph values all around the world with these bluish colors being more acidic red being more basic you see that there’s a lot of variation you see over

here where there’s a lot of upwelling off the coast of South America it’s already more acidic areas where there’s a heavy final place in bloom it’s more basic but the point is that the co-dependents are the ph is naturally variable all around the globe at the global average the oceanic pH is eight points you the projected decrease in the pH by the year 2100 assuming that we change absolutely nothing about the way that we’re using our fossil fuels and emitting carbon we’re projected to hit around 7.8 and while that doesn’t seem like much it’s a hundred and fifty percent increase in the acidity of the ocean so does this change actually matter right this is what everybody wants to know and as humans I’m not entirely sure that we would ever notice it it’s not going to be like that scene in dante’s peak that hopefully will play where the grandmother gets into the acid Lake and tries to save everybody this is not going to be the ocean right but if you’re an organism that lives in the ocean and needs to make a shell this will matter to you because this is going to make your day to day activities very difficult because if you don’t have a skeleton your life is going to be very tricky so ocean acidification is tipping about because it’s making it harder for corals to form their skeletons and we know this there’s been of massive quantity of studies looking at coral growth under different ocean acidification scenarios this is just one that I like because it’s got pretty pictures and the arrows fall very nicely easily together but you can see these two different coral species and also a coral and algae which is also very important for the reef if you expose them to decreasing pH you see that their growth rate their percent growth decreases in a very linear fashion so it’s safe to say that ocean acidification is reducing coral growth but what is also doing is weakening the existing structures so yes corals may not be able to grow that fast but what’s still out there right now and already formed is going to start weakening it’s going to start dissolving and this makes it more susceptible to bio erosion Jane Lubchenco who is formerly the Undersecretary of science Noah has likened it to an osteoporosis of the seat just like your bone density will start to weaken it becomes more susceptible to breakage and other issues this is the same thing that’s happening to the skeletons in the ocean so my question is how will the bioerosion aspect be affected by it asia many many other studies have looked at the coral growth aspect very few people have started to really look into the bioerosion aspect because it’s just now starting to click with everybody that this is something we need to start investigating so for part of my dissertation research here at Stony Brook I went down to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Bocas del Toro Panama and yes that is a sloth I took this picture this should probably be their magazine cover and for those of you who aren’t really familiar with Panama Panama Canal is right about here ish where I was working is up here near costa rica in the VOCA cell 40 region so I was on the Caribbean side of Panama this is the Pacific over here and i was looking at we’re going to bring it back to the boring sponges now I was looking at this ski see the boring sponge Kyoto variants for those of you who are interested and this species of coral varieties for kyla and these two are commonly interacting on the reef so this boring sponge will overgrow this coral oftentimes directly and as it overgrowth the coral it will also start to erode the coral skeleton below it so it’s eating away at the coral skeleton as you see here this is the sponge and these are the fragments of coral sticking up and this sponge is eroding all the coral that’s beneath a bit so I wanted to know what happens to the sponge and also the coral when you change the acidity of the water this is a very quick little study that I I say quickly this is a graph of girl group so if you’re above this line here it means you’re a Korell and you’re growing if you’re below it you’re not growing you’re starting to dissolve and this is ambience so today’s co2 levels and then this is the level his last on here is a level projected by the year 2100 so we just look at the coral we see that yes it’s starting to decrease the growth but they’re still for the most part able to grow a little bit just maybe not as quickly as before but when we look at what happens when we also add

the sponge and introduce the sponge with the quarrel so now we’ve got the issue of it’s the coral going to grow slower and we’ll the sponge erode faster we see that this is very obvious we go from a situation today where when we have a bio a rotor it’s slightly less growth but it’s still growing that’s healthy right we have more carbonating forms of being removed to a situation in the future where we’re seeing only dissolution so this coral doesn’t even have a fighting chance because it’s being eroded faster than it can grow and we did this really cool thing I apologize these are a little bit small where we looked at those corals after the experiment was over we pulled him out and we took them we leech them and we looked at them under a special scanning electron microscope so we could see the structure of the coral this is the coral where the little arrow is pointing to where the sponge was this is where the sponge was over on the skeleton using a scanning electron microscope now this is today’s value there’s nothing really going on here so this this is what the coral natural looks like it’s got these little pores in it naturally when a sponge starts to erode what it does is it secretes a very weak acid and then like takes an ice cream scoop chips out of the coral so you’ll see in this middle one this is the moderate acidification projected for Midway or mid-century you can start to see that there’s these tiny little chip marks taken out where that sponge is starting to be better at eroding but now i’m going to show you the high acidification level and i want you to notice that not only is their massive chunks missing from the coral but you see this little ice cream scoop cynare of environment here where the sponge was really going to town and eroding that section of the coral okay so what about temperature I did not in that study I just showed you even consider the possibility that the temperature is going to change however we know that that’s not true as we increase the amount of co2 in the atmosphere we’re causing a very small change in the global temperatures so while this doesn’t seem like much for coral this is a big deal because corals will only grow between certain temperatures and if you get past that upper level of temperature the coral will not grow or it will grow much slower and less efficiently so we know that elevated temperatures will slow coral growth and if you elevate those temperatures to such an extreme we can actually see coral bleaching where the corals lose an association with these small little algae that live inside their cells that is vital to their existence once corals bleach they have about a ninety percent chance of dying so if you elevate temperatures too high you’re actually going to kill them you’re not just going to slow their growth so I wanted to include temperature in a very similar study to the one I just showed you I obviously had to magnify it site a bit so I’ve become somewhat of a plumber myself with all these some experiments that I’ve run but I was able to use three different levels of acidification these are the ph values i use two different temperatures the normal temperature for that area of Panama which is the yearly average for the earth a seasonal average at the time I was working and then I increased it by just one degree Celsius which is not much of a change I didn’t want to kill it so I changed it ever so slightly the projected increase for the tropics however is supposed to two or three degrees so this is actually very modest change in temperature and then I expose the corals to either a sponge bio rotor or no sponge at all and just let them be quarrels so i have a total of 140 for tanks in this experiment i need to the tanks had seven living coral and three dead corals now all of these tanks in my experiment underwent four weeks of very very slow acclamation where I’ve slowly brought them up to the full treatment conditions and then 16 weeks of experimental conditions now the reason I took four weeks to acclimate them because you can imagine if you’re a Korell and a sponge and all of a sudden you’re placed and drastically and different and it altered environmental conditions what I’m going to measure from you is really just going to be shocked rather than your actual response so by using an acclimation period over four weeks I can slowly get them used to the conditions that I’m going to be testing them in so that I’m not just merely seeing their instant reaction and shock to the new environment but really see how they’re reacting as we change their environmental conditions okay so excuse me so first I’m going to talk about what happened with the dead coral dead coral was never alive it was placed into the experiment bed I just wanted to see if you have a bare substrate bear coral with nothing going on what would happen and not surprisingly this little

dotted line here zero right because they should not be growing they’re dead so we should only see them dissolved not surprisingly you start to see all these corals whether they’re in today’s temperature or higher temperature as we increase the acidity they start to dissolve more when we add a sponge bio rotor you might think well the sponge is definitely going to decrease them even further but in fact that’s not what happened because as it turns out even whenever the sponge was actively eroding these corals the major driver in this dissolution was the acidification so if you have bare coral substrate or bare limestone it doesn’t matter what’s going on if there’s a bio rotor or not because the sheer acidity of the environment is going to cause it to dissolve and weaken it so now let’s think about the living coral this is the living coral here with this cute little sponge attached to it so if we just look at the living coral and again this is the same setup so this box up here is today’s temperature this is elevated temperature we have today’s pH values and increasing acidity as we move this way this is measuring coral growth and this zero line here what you should notice is that all of these despite the high acidity and the high temperature are still above zero so that’s great these corals are still able to grow despite these terrible acidic acidification and temperature environments so that’s a plus side right now whenever we add the sponges however i should say there is the difference between the different temperatures so as you increase the temperatures these are lower when you add the sponge you see that the variation vegans to get a little bit bigger and they do start to decrease slightly so we are seeing an effective sponge so take home from this is that the higher temperatures are going too slow coral growth and the sponge by erosion will start to remove more of the coral skeleton but in this case for this coral species acidification did not slow the coral growth okay so i should also say i looked at a bunch of different things i’m not presenting all that right now but the difference in the attachment rates was non-existent so the sponges whether they were in a higher temperature or higher acidification environment attached to the coral that the same rate so this suggests that in the future there will be no change in the way that these two species interact okay so I’m going to remind you hear about all the different aspects of bio version on coral reefs I was just looking at this boring sponge but as I told you boring sponges are the number one bio rotor on reefs however they’re not the only but only by our rotor so what I wanted to do was look at a community of by our rotors and see whether or not that change because simply looking at one organism or one type of animal is not going to give you the whole picture so I went out and I selected coral rubble these are a bunch of different pieces of coral rubble these of my little tags so I knew which one was which they did not have you all of these coral rubble had one thing in common they were already dead coral pieces so as the coral pieces broke off of the reef naturally these guys just fell to the floor they were then infested naturally by all these different buyer rotors you’ll see these little black dots these are all sponges so these are all different boring sponges but there’s also different worms in here there’s boring algae believe it or not there’s algae before and there’s a couple other different organisms living inside of these what I wanted to know was how does this whole community of bio roading organisms react to acidification will it react the same way that just the sponge does or is it a little bit different when you look at the community what I found was that in fact it is not different so this is today’s value of acidification this is the year 2100 acidification and this is the dissolution rate so this is a very this is almost double the dissolution rate so when we look at the bio roading community as a whole I found that it’s going to dissolve the limestone rock this is nonliving coral twice as fast as it currently does okay so what does this all mean I’m up here blabbering on about how much I love sponges and how much by our ocean is going to increase in the future and how doom and gloom everything is right but what does this mean for our reefs well as I’ve said it’s simple economics so today we’re in a position where most reefs are experiencing net growth this means that the growth is greater than the removal processes of bio erosion however when you add acidification warming we see that rather than having net growth we now shift to net loss so we’re going to slowly start to decrease the actual aerial coverage of coral

reefs as they start to erode even if some species are growing the out the bio erosion is going to outpace that growth so this means that coral reefs are going to be less structurally resilient when they’re faced with storms right now corals are very strong as the storm passes over them they can absorb much that wave energy they do not merely collapse in the face of a storm but as you start to weaken their skeletal structure and increase the non abaayo erosion just like our bones under osteoporosis these are going to collapse similarly we can compare it to d force or natural forests changes this is a picture of mountain in 1980 and this is Mount Saint Helens in 2015 so once these corals are destroyed like this forest here it’s going to take them a very long time to come back to something that we may recognize as functional this is the 35-year change in the forest we still haven’t seen recovery corals grow even slower than trees do so it should not really surprise you that this presents a problem because as you can imagine a reef that looks like this with this beautiful structure and great integrity is going to be far more economically but also ecologically valuable than something that looks like this so what does this all mean it means that coral reefs as we know them are going to change what we think of as coral reefs today are not going to be the coral reefs of your grandchildren think of this is sort of a recreation using different reefs around the world currently where we have reefs that are beautiful for scene with lots of fish and as we increase the amount of co2 in the water in the acidity level of the water we see them shift from something very nice and pristine like this is something that has a lot of algae and starts to have less coral and then finally we get to something that’s unrecognizable as a coral reef what we normally think of so it’s always kind of hard for me to give this talk because I feel like it’s very depressing and everybody’s kind of sitting here like oh so we’ve ruined everything right but like well I think it’s very important that we should be actively concerned about the coral reefs and what we’re doing to them I do think it’s important to leave with a positive note so that you have something to look forward to maybe and I wanted to leave you with some positive size of things remember this graph that I showed you where I told none of the korells were impacted and they were still growing even though they were subjected to high temperatures in high co2 this is not unusual there are many species that are not going to be as negatively impacted so some species are going to be very sensitive whereas other species are going to be more resilient I purposely chose this coral species because it is a more resilient species I figured if this species was going to show any sort of damage that we were really you know what so this is a positive thing that some of the species may not be as impacted as others in fact even though species that are very sensitive this is a species from Hawaii this is what it normally looks like this is what it looks like whenever you’ve grown it in PH of 7.4 which is extremely acidic for 12 months and you see that what’s the difference here is that this no longer has that hard skeletal structure but the polyps are still there still growing and once you take this guy here and put it back into normal seawater it starts to regrow so while even the most sensitive species are going to be affected by acidification there is hope that if we start to reverse this cycle and reverse the impact of acidification some of these species may come back there’s also the thought that if we have habitats near each other they can actually help each other out this is sea grass here sea grass is a plant and as a plan took photo synthesizes so it is going to be drawing down co2 from the sea water as it pulls up co2 out of the sea water it’s actually making the water around it less acidic so if you have coral next to a habitat like this this may be a small refuge for it now obviously this isn’t going to save all the coral reefs in the world but we may see some resiliency in areas where there’s close coupling of different habitats which really means that rather than considering just a coral reef problem we should consider this a global habitat problem and work to consult conserve all the different habitats so there is still hope but this is everybody’s responsibility so it’s not just a country’s responsibility it’s not just your government’s responsibility this is sort of everyone in the room can do

something whether it’s reduced your own fossil footprint or carbon footprint reuse recycle more often everybody can take steps to reduce the carbon emitted in Seattle here which is the only way that we’re going to be able to change any of this and with that I would like to thank my advisor Brad Peterson also very heavily a big help in my research is brad furman who’s not here he’s starting to Florida for postdoc these two were immensely helpful during my research I also need to thank the Smithsonian the Smithsonian Institute through two different fellowships funded all of this research and of course you can imagine that with 144 tanks and 10 corals in each of them there were lots of corals to process so I had many many many undergraduates from Stony Brook as well as some of the graduates students in my lab help me with the processing of you can see this is Brad here after a very long day in the office Moffitt help me with the various aspects of this and this is sort of a summary of all students and staff that have helped me in funding agencies throughout the time in my entire we won’t say how many years of my PhD and with that I’ll take any questions yes go back to show the economic impact sure how it will affect their economies if nothing is done I know we had this Thompson Harrison speak about climate change and you think that this was a topic that was discussed yes yeah so it’ll it’ll pop up in a minute oh I have to is it this one that you wanted it or this one oh um shows you the dollar bet yes so um yeah so this is you’ll notice that the highest value here is in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia a lot of little countries we have the Philippines Indonesia Micronesia unfortunately a lot of those little countries don’t tend to have as large of a power whenever they’re in these these large multi country talks however I know I follow like a forum where they discuss these things with Korra listserv with noah and i know that this issue the coral reef protection is one of the main issues with many of the climate change talks that are going on because as i showed you ocean acidification is a problem but you’ll remember that temperature was also a really big issue as well so it’s kind of a two-part hit to coral reefs and they I mean of course who knows what’s going to happen with the talks but um so I think this there and I think they’re encompassed in the Southeast Asia area yeah because I don’t see them being distinct at their own separate area they will play a big role because they are carbon emissions Tolliver yeah I mean points right well the problem is that large countries like China I mean I don’t need to get all clinical right now but bigger countries like that have other resources they can fall back onto so there are countries in the Pacific that may only get income or income from outside of their country from people coming in for tourism reasons and Fisheries where I was trying to obviously have other industries that they are getting their wealth from so the first ending in the US but that you’re investing in a vise-like property but so I mean a lot of the nations that really are being should be concerned or sort of these smaller nations that unfortunately get the majority of their income from coral reefs or some aspects of coral reefs and they’re probably not represented as politics could be yeah you huh it varies in every so it’s completely varied all over the globe but do you have more of that question okay so so the actual co2 in the ocean is generally going to be less than what’s in the atmosphere because the exchange in the open ocean is going to be less because of the exchange between the atmosphere and the ocean may not be as efficient as quick however in areas like estuaries shallow water areas where there’s other processes besides the atmosphere that increased co2 so like in our estuaries

here we have breakdown of biological materials so sea grass leaves break down they’re releasing co2 different processes that are going on in the sediments are releasing co2 so you can actually have much much higher levels of co2 in areas that are sort of shallow and near the coastline most of the ocean acidification values are an average and so because the open ocean is so much larger they tend to represent the open ocean yes oh man I feel like I’m back in my comprehensive exams right now so so that it’s so it’s a difference between ice ages and not ice ages so there for the most part the glacial periods and not play shil periods because whenever you can imagine if you have a glacial period and half the earth is covered in ice you’re also going to block out you’re going to be reflecting a lot of the sunlight back this gets complicated I’m sorry but the fact is that the different ice ages are going to flip back and forth so the earth naturally goes from one ice age to a non ice age two ice age two not entice it looks back and forth and it’s a cycle that happens naturally usually on the scale of 100 or so thousands of years anywhere from 10,000 to 100 something thousand years and then it resets itself through different feedback mechanisms I can I can explain it more but it’s gonna make me sweat a lot yeah this data which data do you mean measuring the shores in reach yeah so a lot of the deer that are showing you a sort of a summary of coral reefs is is a conglomeration of data that’s sort of been analyzed as a huge data set and brought together so some of that may be different methods that they take and they sort of even it out so that they’re on an even playing field when they’re comparing different studies and they get an idea of what’s happening a lot of the stuff is Ariel but not always can you tell truly the extent of bleaching from an aerial because of course these if you look at this reef if you were to look just at the top down you would miss any bleaching that’s happening sort of in this sorta infrastructure area that’s a little bit more complex so a lot of these are very quick surveys but then they’re generally ground troops by having somebody come in and say okay this is definitely you know ninety percent of it has bleached yes atmospheric student tuition at sea level well so the graph that I showed you where it’s this nice little the high increase is measured at the top amount Aloha in Hawaii and at the top of Mount oh now I’m never going to find it the top of Mount Aloha okay so this is at the Mount Aloha station run in the middle of the Pacific and they chose this station because that a very high elevation and there’s not a lot of human impact around it so if you were to measure this in the middle of the United States you would have a lot of local pollution impacting it so they chose the middle of the Pacific with not a lot going on as they’re measuring point there’s other areas around the globe that they do this as well this one is just the longest-running data set so this is sort of a graph did or that everybody likes to show yes Steve studies done with 50 house have shown that we have elevated levels it actually helps negate the certification is there any evidence it is there is so it there’s been a couple studies more recently that have shown if a coral has a heavy amount of lipid so it’s got a lot of fat got a lot of fat reserves it’s able to deal with stresses a lot easier because it no longer is spending as much energy if you’re an animal you spend energy on a couple different things right your basic metabolic growth reproduction and the other one now I’m nervous right now growth reproduction basil metal activity Oh a growth yeah that’s what I miss so maintaining yourself growing and also reproducing so if you don’t have to maintain yourself because you’ve already got a heavy amount of lipid reserves you can spend more time sort of ameliorating this stressful environment you have a little bit more to get you through it right so there is some evidence that this is true with corals but the question is I mean

how long will that last for will it get you through a year I don’t know so the time scale is important on studies like that because of course if you’re very fat as a coral you will use those reserves very quickly and then where are you at yeah based on that question has there been any work looking at reproductive output there has the output so most of the work looking at reproduction has focused more on what happens when the baby is exposed to the different temperatures so if you’re a tiny coral larvae are you going to be more affected than an adult but they are starting to look at reproduction itself and they’re finding that reproductive output output is also reduced because the coral is now trying very desperately to just maintain itself and grow so it has very little energy to allocate toward reproducing however that being said there are some species that rather than try and maintain themselves just say hell with it I’m going to now reproduce because this is my only shot so it goes both ways but once you reproduce then the water is terrible I mean where do you go from there yeah well okay so this is the part of my study that I did not present so how he’s asking the corals have Zozi and Ellie within them they’re an algae that lives inside of them and provides a benefit both to the coral and also they dodging the film’s benefit from living inside the coral tissue in the study that I did I looked at the algae so I tried to see whether or not the algae was increasing but also whether or not it was photosynthesizing more and it turns out that the algae within the coral actually likes the acidification because you increase the co2 available to them so even though the coral may not have so it may not respond positively to acidification the algae is a plant and so it doesn’t mind it so much and there’s some thought that this may also help with different coral species because if the endo sins Oh dans le within the corals do better it’s going to help the coral out by giving the coral more food so it’s very complicated these studies are just sort of you know we just started realizing acidification is a problem so we’re in the infant years of this so we’re starting to move on to the toddler years but we haven’t really started to look at these very complex that are actually good yeah surface area and branching I’m not sure that anybody’s done a study looking specifically at surface area but there have been studies looking at the density so a brain coral is the large mounding coral they tend to be much denser than a branching coral they’re in general sort of a little bit more they’re less dense and the density does matter because the more dense it is the less the slower they start to dissolve but that’s an interesting question and a lot of a lot of the studies have started looking at the internal mechanisms for coral calcification so they’ve started looking at not the pH just in the environment but the pH on the inside of the coral because many corals purposely change the pH inside so that it’s benefiting them to calcify so if i have an internal calcification region somewhere near what currently is the environmental pH i’m going to do better than something that has to really raise it higher than what’s already out there so there’s some there’s some different ways of looking at this but I don’t think anybody’s done surface area itself is there one last question but their key yeah so um so that that’s where you’re cold so yeah the answer is yes they’ve done studies where they looked at the zooxanthellae and corals and they found that there’s a couple different species or clades of zoe’s and belly and some of

those those species or clades are more resistant to higher temperatures so those corals that don’t end up bleaching generally how it work or are reinvested by those and le tend to have those o’s and le that are better at dealing with higher temperatures but that doesn’t so that that’s only speaking for temperature not so much acidification there’s some interest in looking at whether certain so dans le are better at dealing with more co2 so they may be complete advantage of it even more but there’s been very well work done without again kind of like everybody’s just now getting into this well I’m sure than ever would welcome answering any of your questions you want to cough ask them to her but let’s think doctors do and if you’re in my class make sure I see you so i can give you extra credit dyneema populations have they come back now