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.
KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-04-12
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by the French Embassy—French Related Research Projects (F2RP). This research was supported by the French Government through the National Research Agency—Investments for the Future (4Oceans-Make Our Planet Great Again grant, ANR-17-MOPGA-0001), and by a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship from the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi (VUW-1701).