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J Phycol. 2015 Feb;51(1):6-24. doi: 10.1111/jpy.12262. Epub 2015 Jan 23.

Coralline algae (Rhodophyta) in a changing world: integrating ecological, physiological, and geochemical responses to global change.

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Department of Ecology and Evolution, The University of Chicago, 1101 E. 57th Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60637, USA.
School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, UK.


Coralline algae are globally distributed benthic primary producers that secrete calcium carbonate skeletons. In the context of ocean acidification, they have received much recent attention due to the potential vulnerability of their high-Mg calcite skeletons and their many important ecological roles. Herein, we summarize what is known about coralline algal ecology and physiology, providing context to understand their responses to global climate change. We review the impacts of these changes, including ocean acidification, rising temperatures, and pollution, on coralline algal growth and calcification. We also assess the ongoing use of coralline algae as marine climate proxies via calibration of skeletal morphology and geochemistry to environmental conditions. Finally, we indicate critical gaps in our understanding of coralline algal calcification and physiology and highlight key areas for future research. These include analytical areas that recently have become more accessible, such as resolving phylogenetic relationships at all taxonomic ranks, elucidating the genes regulating algal photosynthesis and calcification, and calibrating skeletal geochemical metrics, as well as research directions that are broadly applicable to global change ecology, such as the importance of community-scale and long-term experiments in stress response.


calcification; climate change; coralline algae; crustose coralline algae; ecology; ecosystem services; ocean acidification; paleoclimate; paleoclimate proxies; photosynthesis; physiology

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