Crustose coralline algae can contribute more than corals to coral reef carbonate production

C. E. Cornwall, Jérémy Carlot, Oscar Branson, Travis A. Courtney, Ben P. Harvey, Chris T. Perry, Andreas J. Andersson, Guillermo Diaz-Pulido, Maggie D. Johnson, Emma Kennedy, Jennie Mallela, Sophie J. McCoy, Maggy M. Nugues, Evan Quinter, Claire L. Ross, Erik Krieger, Emma Ryan, Vincent Saderne, Steeve Comeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Understanding the drivers of net coral reef calcium carbonate production is increasingly important as ocean warming, acidification, and other anthropogenic stressors threaten the maintenance of coral reef structures and the services these ecosystems provide. Despite intense research effort on coral reef calcium carbonate production, the inclusion of a key reef forming/accreting calcifying group, the crustose coralline algae, remains challenging both from a theoretical and practical standpoint. While corals are typically the primary reef builders of contemporary reefs, crustose coralline algae can contribute equally. Here, we combine several sets of data with numerical and theoretical modelling to demonstrate that crustose coralline algae carbonate production can match or even exceed the contribution of corals to reef carbonate production. Despite their importance, crustose coralline algae are often inaccurately recorded in benthic surveys or even entirely missing from coral reef carbonate budgets. We outline several recommendations to improve the inclusion of crustose coralline algae into such carbonate budgets under the ongoing climate crisis.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 6 2023


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