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The Coral Reef Ecosystem Essay

980 words - 4 pages

The coral reef system is a collection of different species of sea life that interact witheach other, and the environment (SeaWorld.org, 2009). These reefs are also very fragile,and are highly complex communities. They have adjacent and interrelated sea grass beds,mangrove forests, and their physical and chemical environments support well over amillion species (NOAA's Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS), 2009). The scientificclassification of coral reefs are called Cnidarians. This group includes jellyfish, seaanemones, and sea fans. The coral reef system is made up of aragonite structures that areproduced by living organisms. Most of these reefs are found in marine water, and theyget very few nutrients. Most reefs, are organisms that are made of stony corals, orcolonial cnidarians, these have an exoskeleton that is made up of calcium carbonate.Corals are sessile animals, meaning they are not mobile but stay fixed in one place. Theyfeed by reaching out with tentacles to catch prey such as small fish and planktonicanimals (EPA.gov, 2009). Corals live in colonies, and need clear, warm water with plentyof light.Although they look like plants, coral reefs are actually animals. Many Coral Reefs areable to reproduce both asexually and sexually. About three-quarters of all stony coralsform hermaphroditic colonies. These colonies have the ability to produce both male andfemale gametes. The remainder form gonochoristic colonies which can produce eithermale or female gametes, but not both (NOAA's Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS),2009). The Stony (hermatypic) corals are best recognized because of their colorfulformations. One trait of stony corals is their capacity to build reef structures that rangefrom tens, to thousands of meters across. As they grow, reefs provide structural habitatsfor hundreds to thousands of different vertebrate and invertebrate species (NOAA's CoralReef Information System (CoRIS), 2009).Another life form is the Zooxanthellae, and it is biotic. This is a one celled algaewhere coral polyp lives. The algae give off oxygen and other nutrients that the coralpolyp needs to live and in return the polyp gives the algae carbon dioxide and othersubstances the algae needs (Oceanworld.tamu.edu, 2004). Fish grow and live in andaround coral reefs. There are many different species of fish that live in coral reefs. Manyare commonly seen in commercial fishery, the food industry, and recreational fishing.The abiotic needs are the amount of oxygen the coral reefs get, the water quality, androcks.The coral reef ecosystem can be found along the coastal strip of at least 109 countriesin the world, yet it has been calculated that the coral reef in at least 93 of these hasalready been gravely damaged or even destroyed. The coral reefs distributed over 60percent of the Indian Ocean and Red Sea, 25 percent of the Pacific Ocean, and 15 percentof the Caribbean now risk disappearance. There are four environmental factors that effectcoral reef growth:...

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