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The addition of 2 mM bicarbonate to aquaria containing tropical ocean water and branches of Porites porites caused a doubling of the skeletal growth rate of the coral. Nitrate or ammonium addition (20 μM) to oligotrophic sea-water caused a significant reduction in coral growth, but when seawater containing the extra bicarbonate was supplemented with combined nitrogen, no depression of the higher growth rate was evident. We infer that (1) the present dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) content of the ocean limits coral growth, (2) this limitation is exacerbated by nitrate and ammonium, and (3) adding DIC increases coral calcification rates and confers protection against nutrient enrichment.
Limnology and Oceanography