Neal Cantin experiment

OATS Experiment.

Australia's complex and highly diverse tropical coral reef ecosystems are now under threat from human impacts. Impacts of climate change have already been observed on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), which include mass-coral bleaching and mortality events (Berkelmans and Oliver 1999; Berkelmans et al. 2004; De'ath et al. 2009, De'ath et al. 2012).

The occurrence of major thermal stress events and the risk of ocean acidification (increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations changing carbonate chemistry of our global oceans) are moving reefs beyond their historical envelopes of health and resilience (Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 2007; Anthony et al. 2008).

Through controlled experiments that test the effects of and the interactions between thermal stress and increased CO2 concentrations in seawater on coral calcification, we can address key deficiencies in our understanding of how the physiology of dominant reef-building corals of the Great Barrier Reef will respond and change in a future of continued regional warming and changing ocean chemistry.

This joint experiment between the AIMS climate change and the SeaSim teams has developed the capacity to conduct long-term manipulations (9 months) of a suite of coral species (Porites and Pocillopora) to different environmental conditions.

This experiment is continuously controlling CO2 partial pressure in seawater (four levels between 280-800ppm) and temperature (four levels between 24-31°C) to investigate the consequences of future climate change scenarios on coral growth (tissue and skeletal growth), physiology and investigating molecular markers of tolerance.