Department of Biology
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330-8303
B.A. Biology, University of Rhode Island, 2008
Community Ecology, Ocean Acidification
Effects of Ocean Acidification on Bioerosion of Burrowing Bivalves in Moorea, French Polynesia
Anthropogenic pCO2 causing ocean acidification (OA) is projected to decrease ocean surface pH by 0.14–0.35 units by 2100. Bioerosion of coral reef ecosystems is predicted to accelerate due to this unprecedented rate of decline in ocean pH. I tested the effects of ocean acidification on the boring capacity of Lithophaga laevigata living within living massive Porites. L. laevigata, a boring bivalve, is abundant within massive Porites on the back reef of Moorea. Data collected for Lithophaga abundance in massive Porites across the backreef ranged in abundance from 3 to 95 ind/m2. Size analysis of Lithophaga showed a strong correlation of the borehole opening and valve size, which allows external quantification of Lithophaga growth. I conducted a month-long mesocosm experiment where coral cores with and without Lithophaga, were incubated in ambient and elevated pCO2 treatments held at a constant temperature. I compared the bioerosion rate of Lithophaga in coral cores (based on changes in buoyant weight), and tested the hypothesis that the efficiency of Lithophaga bioerosion will increase in elevated pCO2 conditions. A better understanding of this abundant and active bioeroder under simulated future environmental conditions can provide insight to the poorly understood effects of OA on bioerosion.