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Coral Reef Biome

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on 23 October 2013

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Transcript of Coral Reef Biome

Coral Reef Biome

by Emma Scally
Coral reefs are located throughout the oceans of the world, although they vary in their environments. Some corals are situated in deep, cold waters and others are located in shallow, tropical waters. Today, scientists estimate that the extensive coral reefs occupy about 284,300 square kilometers of the ocean sea floor. If they were set adjacent to one another, the coral reefs of the world would be bigger than size of Texas!
Where coral reefs are located!
Land forms/Abiotic factors:
Similar to other environments, abiotic factors contribute much to coral reefs. First and foremost, sunlight plays an essential role in the survival of these reefs. Coral reefs are often found in non-nutritious water and can only survive with the help of sunlight. Zooxanthellae, a type of algae, provide food support for the coral reefs. However, in order for them to produce food for the reefs, Zooxanthellae need light.

Another imperative abiotic factor is wave motion. The mobility of the waves helps remove waste and bring food to the reefs.

There are many landforms in coral reefs. The most important being the lagoon. Lagoons are the quiet water between a long hill of coral and the beach. They house many of the coral reefs' organisms. However, the coral reef has many other land forms that are imperative to it's survival. The reefs make large mountains and valleys on the sea floor which house caves that protect its organisms.
Zooxanthellae on coral
Coral reefs have a diverse assortment of photosynthetic plants that live in it's ecosystem. The major plants are angiosperms, sea grasses, mangroves, algae, seaweed, and benthic diatoms. These plants have adaptations that allow them to survive in the salty reefs. For example, angiosperms have the ability to trap suspended sediments, which help the coral reefs decrease the sediment load in the body. The stimuli in their body has evolved

Another example of environmental adaptation would be mangroves. Their evolution has allowed them to tolerate direct immersion in seawater, meaning they can adapt to saline-based conditions. Since coral reefs are situated primarily in salty waters, the specialized salt-filtering roots and salt-excreting leaves that mangroves have help them to survive in this specific ecosystem.

Last but not least, certain algae have adaptations that allow them to live in and benefit coral reefs. Halimeda algae have an unusual and unique ability to include calcium carbonate into their tissues. This allows them to add sediment formation into the reef ecosystem.
Mangroves in a coral reef
Animal Life
Animals play a central role in coral reef life and survival. There are three different categories of animals; herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores. Herbivores make up the largest percent of the coral reef ecosystem. The most fruitful herbivore used to be the manatee, which is also referred to as the dugong. Although their population is declining significantly, manatees still reside in the coral reefs. The primary food source for manatees is sea grass and algae. Another herbivore in the coral reef ecosystem is the sea turtle. These sea creatures feed on sea grass found in the lagoon or back reef zone of the coral reefs.

Carnivores also make up a large population of animals in coral reefs. One of the most eminent meat-eating reef creatures is the barracuda. It has special adaptions, such as razor sharp conical teeth, that help them rip apart their prey. Barracudas also have streamlined, torpedo-shaped bodies that allow them to swim fast and fluently. Goatfish are also common coral reef carnivores. They, too, have adaptations that facilitate their life in the coral reefs. For example, the yellow goatfish often swims in a school of blue-striped snappers. It hides in this protective school by changing its coloration. Since yellow goatfish are more preyed on and less vulnerable than the blue-striped snapper, this adaptation proves very beneficial.

Although less common than herbivores and carnivores, there are still omnivorous species in the coral reef. One of the most ubiquitous is the angelfish. These fish feed on worms, insects, and algae. Angelfish have special qualities that allow for their survival, including but not limited to, agile bodies, specialized teeth with overlapping rows, and the ability to change sexes. Another common reef omnivore is the crab. Since crabs are omnivores, they feed primarily on algae and worms.

One of the coolest adaptations is habituated by the sea snake. These creatures have evolved from terrestrial snakes, a non-aqueous specie. However, they have several adaptations that allow for their survival in coral reefs. They have paddle-like tails, which help them swim. Sea snakes also have enhanced swimming capabilities because of their laterally compressed bodies. These are a few of the many adaptations that help sea snakes survive in aquatic environments
The Manatee
There is no actual precipitation in coral reefs since they are already submerged in water. However, above the coral reefs, there is approximately 80 inches of precipitation annually.
Coral reefs typically grow in water temperatures between 73 and 84 degrees Fahrenheit. It is impossible for reefs to grow in temperatures below 64 degrees. Sometimes, however, coral reefs can survive an extreme temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit but only for a short time period.
Since coral reefs are situated in strictly tropical weathers, they live and function all year long. The seasonal changes above them have little to no affect on their habitat since the weather is still warm. If coral reefs lived in places where temperature changed drastically between seasons, they would not survive because their environment cannot get below 64 degrees.
Producers: phytoplankton.
Primary consumers: coral, sea turtles, and fish.
Secondary consumers: sharks, anemone, starfish, barracudas, jellyfish, and sea snakes.
Scavengers: fish
Decomposers: microorganisms.

Food Chain
Symbiotic Relationships
One example of positive symbiotic relationship is the interactions between zooxanthellae and the reef itself. They are interdependent on each other, meaning that one cannot survive without the other and vice versa. Zooxanthellae, which are photosynthetic algae, produce the corals' primary food supply. In return, the coral's waste serves as nutrients to the zooxanthellae. This is a mutual relationship.

Although there are many beneficial symbiotic relationships between organisms in coral reefs, there are also negative ones. Parasitism, however, is a natural in any type of environment. In coral reefs, there is an existing parasitic relationship between sea spiders and table coral. When the sea spider senses danger, it seeks protection in the body of a coral. In order to do so, it must pierce the body and live inside of it, which negatively impacts the coral.
Sea Spider
Human Impact
Humans have both positively and negatively affected coral reefs. Today, the destruction of these beautiful and vibrant habitats has been devastating. Scientists are scrambling to reverse this misfortune by raising awareness and promoting new restrictive legislature.

The negative affects on coral reefs are widespread and detrimental. Perhaps one of the most eminent issues is overfishing coral reefs. Fisherman carry out dangerous practices like cyanide and blast fishing, which ultimately lead to the destruction of reefs. Many times, these practices completely obliterate the structure of the reef. Another major and negative impact is pollution. When humans contaminate the ocean water, especially in coral zones, the animals of the reef die out and eventually become extinct. In addition to destroying species and their natural habitats, pollution hinders the growth of coral reefs. If their annihilation is not immediate, it will most likely come over a slow period of time, but nonetheless, wipe out the entire coral reef ecosystem in certain areas.

Human impact on coral reefs is not always negative. Regulated fishing can help to control the fish population. Sometimes, especially in coral reefs, the amount of fish can be detrimental to other species. If there is an over-population in a certain type of fish, it will wipe out its food source, which might be a plant or animal in the reef. However, it is important to make sure that the fishing is regulated and that fisherman are not over-hunting the populations.

The conservation of coral reefs is not as hopeless as it seems. Although they are severely damaged, these ecosystems can still be revived. Many groups, like the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are dedicated to preserving coral reefs and the species that reside in them. Marine biologists all over the world are teaming up to utilize ecosystem-based management to support healthy and resilient coral reefs.

cyanide fishing in coral reefs
Blast fishing in coral
reef environments.
Works Cited
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