HCNSO Student Theses and Dissertations

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences

Second Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Joana Figueiredo

Second Advisor

Bernhard Riegl

Third Advisor

Christian Wild


Attempts to quantify the effects of ocean acidification and warming (OAW) on scleractinian corals provide a growing body of response measurements. However, placing empirical results into an ecological context is challenging, owing to variations that reflect both natural heterogeneity and scientific bias. This study addresses the heterogeneity of climate change induced changes in coral recruitment and calcification. To discern scientific bias and identify drivers of the remaining heterogeneity, 100 publications were analyzed using a combination of weighted mixed effects meta-regression and factorial effect size meta‑analysis. A linear model was applied to quantify the variation caused by differing stress levels across studies. The least squares predictions were then used to standardize individual study outcomes and effect size meta-analysis was performed on original and standardized outcomes separately. On average, increased temperature significantly reduces larval survival, while ocean acidification impedes settlement and calcification. Coral resistance to OAW is likely governed by biological traits (genera and life cycle stage), environmental factors (abiotic variability) and experimental design (feeding regime, stressor magnitude, and exposure duration). Linear models suggest that calcification rates are driven by carbonate and bicarbonate concentrations, which act additively with warming. Standardizing outcomes to linear model predictions proved useful in discerning strong sources of scientific bias. The approach used in this study can improve modelling projections and inform policy and management on changes in coral community structure associated with the expected future intensification of OAW.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

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