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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 473615, 14 pages
Review Article

Reviewing the Effects of Ocean Acidification on Sexual Reproduction and Early Life History Stages of Reef-Building Corals

Division of Climate Change and Ocean Acidification, Australian Institute of Marine Science, PMB 3, Townsville MC, Townsville, QLD 4810, Australia

Received 15 May 2011; Revised 20 August 2011; Accepted 24 August 2011

Academic Editor: Horst Felbeck

Copyright © 2011 Rebecca Albright. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Ocean acidification (OA) is a relatively young yet rapidly developing scientific field. Assessing the potential response(s) of marine organisms to projected near-future OA scenarios has been at the forefront of scientific research, with a focus on ecosystems (e.g., coral reefs) and processes (e.g., calcification) that are deemed particularly vulnerable. Recently, a heightened emphasis has been placed on evaluating early life history stages as these stages are generally perceived to be more sensitive to environmental change. The number of acidification-related studies focused on early life stages has risen dramatically over the last several years. While early life history stages of corals have been understudied compared to other marine invertebrate taxa (e.g., echinoderms, mollusks), numerous studies exist to contribute to our status of knowledge regarding the potential impacts of OA on coral recruitment dynamics. To synthesize this information, the present paper reviews the primary literature on the effects of acidification on sexual reproduction and early stages of corals, incorporating lessons learned from more thoroughly studied taxa to both assess our current understanding of the potential impacts of OA on coral recruitment and to inform and guide future research in this area.