A Spatial Analysis of Calcium Carbonate Accretion Rates on South Pacific Reefs

Thea Bartlett1, Paula Misa2 and Bernardo Vargas-Angel2, (1)Eckerd College, Natural Sciences, Saint Petersburg, FL, United States, (2)National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Honolulu, HI, United States
The potential effects of ocean acidification (OA) are of particular concern in the ocean sciences community, predominantly as it pertains to the health and survival of marine calcifying organisms, such as reef corals. As part of NOAA’s Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, Coral Reef Ecosystem Division’s long-term coral reef ecosystem monitoring, Calcification Accretion Units (CAU) are deployed every 2-3 years in different regions in the US Pacific. The purpose of this project is to examine temporal and spatial variability of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) accretion rates and their potential association with physical and biological drivers. The research presented in this study is based on laboratory work and processing of samples obtained from the last two expeditions to American Samoa and the Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIA), specifically from CAU retrievals in Tutuila Island and Rose Atoll, from 2 deployments in 2010 and 2012. This study uses in situ net CaCO3 accretion rates (g CaCO3 cm-2 yr-1) of early successional recruitment communities to Calcification Accretion Unit (CAU) plates deployed at 24 discrete sites on Tutuila Island and Rose Atoll to quantify the efficiency of the recruited calcifying organisms. Accretion rates were determined via indirect measurements of CaCO3 on each plate and normalized for surface area and length of deployment time in days. Through statistical analysis it was then determined whether or not there is variability between sites, islands, or over time. The findings of this study will determine whether CAU plates can be used as a viable OA monitoring tool.