The Coral Reef! By: Carlyn, Arianna, Jonthan and Everett
What is a Coral Reef? Coral Reef - Coral reefs are warm, clear, shallow ocean habitats that are rich in life. Formed by coral polyps. When polyps die, they form a hard layer of limestone. 3 types: Fringing reefs – reefs that form along a coastline. Barrier reefs – reefs that grow parallel to a coastline, but farther out. These are usually separated by a lagoon. Coral Atolls – rings of coral that form from sunken volcanoes in the ocean.
Climate Around 70 – 80 degrees Rarely ever changes. The perfect climate is crucial to the coral reef’s growth. If it changes too drastically, it can be severely damaged.
Common/Key organisms Coral - Coral is crucial for the functions of Coral Reefs. They provide shelter for fish and other organisms. Coral is also one of the most common organisms in coral reefs. Sharks – Sharks are a key species in the Coral Reef. Sharks scare organisms from living on the coral, which protects it and keeps it undamaged. Sea anemone - One of the most populous and most popular, the sea anemone is the perfect organism for the reef. It is most famous for hosting the clownfish which is another common organism. Damsel Fish - These are one of the most abundant fish in coral reefs. They have many different colors to warn possible predators.
Biodiversity Arguably the highest biodiversity in the world. So many plants and animals that have yet to be discovered are in Coral Reefs. Over 400 species of Flora (predominantly seaweed and coral) Over 2,000 species of Fauna (predominantly fish)
Productivity About 90% of the sponge species contain bacteria that uses photosynthesis. –zooxanthellae They produce 3 times as much oxygen than is used in respiration. NPP in the average coral reef ecosystem is about 1,500 to 5,000 g/c/m per year. This compared to other systems is the highest (due to all of the photosynthetic organisms).
Environmental Issues Climate change – As temperatures rise, the risk of coral bleaching and disease increases. Coral bleaching – when a coral gets stressed, it releases is zooxanthellae (which provides its pigment) and becomes white and unable to produce. Coral mining – Coral pieces are excavated for road fill or cement. Coral is also mined and sold through jewelry and souvenirs. Pollution – Any harmful substance (oil, gas, pesticides, trash) that creates nitrogen which causes algae to grow. This blocks the suns rays to get down to the ocean floor.
Global Distribution and Locations Australia – Ex. Great Barrier Reef Yucatan Peninsula - Ex. Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System The Caribbean – Ex. Andros – Bahamas Belize Red Sea Florida Keys
Key Interactions between Organisms Mutualism: All corals and the algae zooxanthellae. (Corals provide Zooxanthellae a home, and Zooxanthealle provides food and products of Photosynthesis to Coral) Parasitism: Gnathiid Isopods and the common fish. (Gnathiid sucks the fish’s blood and can create diseases in the fish) Commensalism: Shrimp and sea urchins. (Ward off Predators by nestling in the venomous spines of sea urchins to avoid being attacked)