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3-7 Coral Reefs

3-7 Coral Reefs - Coral and C Re fs oral e hapte 9 page...

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Coral and Coral Reefs Chapter 9, pages 407-453 Topic 23
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CORALS AND CORAL REEF COMMUNITIES Dominant subtidal tropical habitat High topographic complexity and biodiversity Complex communities with strong competitive, symbiotic and mutualistic relationships, complex predator-prey interactions and chemical defenses
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What is a reef? Massive deposit of CaCO 3 (limestone) produced by a thin veneer of algae, coral and other inverts Largest “bio-construction” project on Earth Marine equivalent to tropical rainforests Similar in color, beauty and biodiversity
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Importance to humans Reefs create harbors and protect mangroves and seagrass beds Significant fisheries Aesthetic appeal and tourism Biodiversity high and chemical ecology complex potentially important pharmaceutical and consumer products await discovery
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Hermatypic or Scleractinian 1. Reef-building (stony) corals have symbiotic dinoflagellates called zooxanthellae Algaeimpart a light brown color Abundances of 10 6 algal cells/cm 2 of coral Linegastrodermis layer 1. Living polyp secretes a massive limestone skeleton
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Figure 9.5
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Hermatypic or Scleractinian Tropical in distribution Limited to about 25 o N and S Exception along thewest coasts of South America and Africa Calcification limited to warm seas
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Figure 9.1
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Wheredo corals thrive? Reef-building corals grow best in warm, shallow, clear blue and nutrient-poor waters of the Indo- Pacific and Caribbean
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Figure 9.4
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Important factors for hermatypic coral Corals limited to seas > 20 o C isotherm optimal 23-25 o C High light intensity necessary for photosynthesis Compensation depth at 15-20% of surface light
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Coral ecology: Water depth limited to 50-70 m with the majority < 25 m Coral species diversity decreases with increasing water depth Grow fastest at 35‰ but tolerate higher salinity better than lower Persian Gulf often exceeds 40‰ but corals don’t thrivenear largeriver mouths
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Coral ecology: Wave energy Too much can topple coral heads But coral reefs resist turbulence and thrive under moderate to high energy regimes
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Coral ecology: Sedimentation - corals smothered/clogged by sedimentation or harmed by reduced light mucus production plentiful and may remove sedimented material Air exposure - limited ability to withstand air exposure most corals are subtidal and even spring low tides causemortality
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Coral and zooxanthellae biology: Phylum Cnidaria, class Anthozoa Polyp stage only (no medusa) Non-reef building corals (ahermatypic or soft corals) are found worldwide, but are mostly solitary Deep water soft corals aremore prominent than thought
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Most hermatypic/scleractinian corals are colonial polyps occupy small cups (corallites) set in a massive skeleton of limestone coral heads grow by adding new polyps A series of sclerosepta rise from the base and are important taxonomic features in coral
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Coral growth
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