Ocean acidification has no effect on thermal bleaching in the coral Seriatopora caliendrum
The objective of this study was to test whether elevated pCO2 predicted for the year 2100 (85.1 Pa) affects bleaching in the coral Seriatopora caliendrum (Ehrenberg 1834) either independently or interactively with high temperature (30.5 °C). Response variables detected the sequence of events associated with the onset of bleaching: reduction in the photosynthetic performance of symbionts as measured by maximum photochemical efficiency (F v/F m) and effective photochemical efficiency (ΔF/F m′) of PSII, declines in net photosynthesis (P net) and photosynthetic efficiency (alpha, α), and finally, reduced chlorophyll a and symbiont concentrations. S. caliendrum was collected from Nanwan Bay, Taiwan, and subjected to combinations of temperature (27.7 vs. 30.5 °C) and pCO2 (45.1 vs. 85.1 Pa) for 14 days. High temperature reduced values of all dependent variables (i.e., bleaching occurred), but high pCO2 did not affect Symbiodinium photophysiology or productivity, and did not cause bleaching. These results suggest that short-term exposure to 81.5 Pa pCO2, alone and in combination with elevated temperature, does not cause or affect coral bleaching.