Caribbean-wide decline in carbonate production threatens coral reef growth

Perry, Chris T., Murphy, Gary N., Kench, Paul S., Smithers, Scott G., Edinger, Evan N., Steneck, Robert S., and Mumby, Peter J. (2013) Caribbean-wide decline in carbonate production threatens coral reef growth. Nature Communications, 4 (1). 1402. pp. 1-7.

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Global-scale deteriorations in coral reef health have caused major shifts in species composition. One projected consequence is a lowering of reef carbonate production rates, potentially impairing reef growth, compromising ecosystem functionality and ultimately leading to net reef erosion. Here, using measures of gross and net carbonate production and erosion from 19 Caribbean reefs, we show that contemporary carbonate production rates are now substantially below historical (mid-to late-Holocene) values. On average, current production rates are reduced by at least 50%, and 37% of surveyed sites were net erosional. Calculated accretion rates (mm year⁻¹) for shallow fore-reef habitats are also close to an order of magnitude lower than Holocene averages. A live coral cover threshold of similar to 10% appears critical to maintaining positive production states. Below this ecological threshold carbonate budgets typically become net negative and threaten reef accretion. Collectively, these data suggest that recent ecological declines are now suppressing Caribbean reef growth potential.

Item ID: 28295
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2041-1723
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit

Funders: Leverhulme Trust
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2013 05:31
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040699 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience not elsewhere classified @ 40%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040305 Marine Geoscience @ 30%
04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience > 040606 Quaternary Environments @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 50%
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