Coral Reef Ecosystem - Background Information
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Coral Reef Ecosystem - Background Information



View this presentation for background information on coral reef ecosystems.

View this presentation for background information on coral reef ecosystems.



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  • Maybe add a slide about how they feed
  • New technology for artificial reefs

Coral Reef Ecosystem - Background Information Presentation Transcript

  • 1. An Introduction to Coral Reefs
  • 2. What is coral?
    • It’s a living organism!
    • It is an invertebrate
    • 2 different types:
      • Reef Building: Hermatypic
      • Solitary: Ahermatypic
    • Coral is cousins to jellyfish and anemones (Cnidarians)
    • Today we will talk mainly about reef building coral
    Sun Coral Polyps
  • 3. Where Can You Find Coral Reefs?
    • Coral is found all over the world:
      • Tropical
      • Temperate
      • Polar
    • Only tropical corals build reefs
    Coral reefs around the world
  • 4. Coral Builds Reefs?
    • The animal portion of the reef is called a polyp
    • The polyp absorbs calcium carbonate out of the water
    • The calcium carbonate is used to build the reef
  • 5. Reefs Corals Build
    • Corals can build three types of reefs:
      • Fringing: grows close to shore
      • Barrier: also grows close to shore but has a lagoon separating it from the shore
      • Atoll: a ring of coral that surrounds a lagoon, often grows on a submerged mountain or volcano corals/media/coral04a_240.jpg
  • 6. Coral are Cnidarians
    • Soft bodied
    • Carnivorous
    • Stinging tentacles arranged in a circle around their mouth
    • Body symmetry
    • Specialized tissues
  • 7. Cnidarians
    • Usually two life stages:
      • Polyp
      • Medusa
    • Gastrovascular cavity
      • Food is broken down here but digested intracellularly
  • 8. Cnidarians
    • Respiration and waste removal takes place through body walls
    • Nerve net
    • Some have a hydrostatic skeleton
    • Some move through jet propulsion
  • 9. Anatomy of Coral
    • The coral polyps build a calcium carbonate cup called a corallite to live in
    • Coral has stinging cells called nematocysts
  • 10. Stinging Cells
    • Nematocysts help coral catch food
    • They also help protect the coral
    • When the cell is stimulated, it releases a sharp barb
    • The barb will fire and catch the food and bring it back towards the mouth
  • 11. Coral and Zooxanthella
    • Symbiotic relationship
    • Zooxanthella is an algae that lives in the skin of coral
    • Coral provides protection
    • Zooxanthella provides food and color!
  • 12. Coral is Picky
    • Very specific habitats:
      • Temperature: 73-75  F
      • Depth: Less than 80 ft to 230 feet
      • Salinity: Normal salt levels (35ppt)
      • Light: Zooxanthellae need light to survive
      • Sedimentation: Being covered with silt interferes with photosynthesis
      • Desiccation: being exposed to air. The corals will die if exposed too long
    • Coral likes areas with lots of waves:
      • They are strong enough to withstand the pressure
      • Freshwater means more food
      • Waves remove silt
      • New water brings more oxygen
  • 13. Asexual Reproduction
    • To reproduce coral can reproduce asexually or sexually
    • Asexual reproduction in corals is called budding
    • A baby polyp will begin growing off the adult
    • When it is ready it will detach and live on its own
    • This can not start new colonies, only help the old colony grow bigger
    This is a hydra (cousin to coral) with two buds. One bud (on the right) is older than the other.
  • 14. Coral Reproduction
    • Sexual reproduction is called spawning
    • External fertilization
    • It can start new colonies
    • Sperm and eggs are released into the water column
    • The fertilized egg is then called a planula
    • The planula swims until it finds a good place to live
  • 15. A New Home
    • Corals now have a choice of where to live
    • Corals are very sensitive and are rapidly dying
    • People are trying to help by creating artificial reefs
  • 16. Arguments for Artificial Reefs
    • It can help build or rebuild a reef
    • It will increase fish populations by making new habitats
  • 17. Arguments Against Artificial Reefs
    • Moveable
    • Chemical leaking and leaching into the ocean
    • It does not increase fish populations but rather moves them to one location away from their natural habitat which makes them easier to catch