Zooxanthellate corals have long been known to calcify faster in the light than in the dark, however the mechanism underlying this process has been uncertain. Here we tested the effects of oxygen under controlled pCO2 conditions and fixed carbon sources on calcification in zooxanthellate and bleached microcolonies of the branching coral Stylophora pistillata. In zooxanthellate microcolonies, oxygen increased dark calcification rates to levels comparable to those measured in the light. However in bleached microcolonies oxygen alone did not enhance calcification, but when combined with a fixed carbon source (glucose or glycerol), calcification increased. Respiration rates increased in response to oxygen with greater increases when oxygen is combined with fixed carbon. ATP content was largely unaffected by treatments, with the exception of glycerol which decreased ATP levels.
Keywords: Calcification; Coral; Fixed carbon; Oxygen; Respiration.