Coral Reef Ecosystem - Background Information


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View this presentation for background information on coral reef ecosystems.

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  • Coral Reef Ecosystem - Background Information

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