Coral reef

Nutrient pollution exacerbates acidification damage to coral reefs

Assistant Professor of Biology Nyssa Silbiger and colleagues at the University of Hawaii Manoa published a study this June demonstrating that nutrient pollution — nitrate and phosphate fertilizers that run off from agricultural lands — exacerbates the effects of ocean acidification on coral reef communities.

The paper, which appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reports an experiment in which the collaborators added nitrate and phosphate to model coral communities grown in large outdoor tanks. The added nutrients decreased the growth of coral in these experimental mesocosms, and the team concluded,

… nutrient pollution could make reefs more vulnerable to global changes associated with ocean acidification and accelerate the predicted shift from net accretion to net erosion.


The full paper can be found at Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Featured image: A coral reef in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, where the experiment was conducted. (Nyssa Silbiger)

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