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11 MPA2 - BIOLOGY 101L Lab 11 Marine Conservation and MPAs...

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BIOLOGY 101L Lab 11 Marine Conservation and MPAs Background and Assignments Objectives (1) Gain knowledge about coral reef ecosystems (2) Explore marine resources conflicts and current approaches to solutions (3) Investigate the effectiveness of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in conservation (4) Visit a local marine habitat I. Introduction Corals are animals, and each individual is known as a polyp. Coral polyps resemble miniature sea anemones, and are closely related to them (both are cniderians). However, stony or hermatypic corals secrete a calcium carbonate skeleton or cup, known as a calyx, around themselves. Most corals contain single-celled plants (dinoflagellates) known as zooxanthellae within their tissues. Through the process of photosynthesis , the zooxanthellae can provide up to 90% of the energy required by the corals to live and grow, the rest is trapped by the polyps’ tentacles. Many coral polyps together form a coral colony – their skeletons/cups fuse forming what most people think of as a ‘coral’. The colonies can have many different shapes - branched, lobed, plated, or boulder-like. The skeletons of many different species together form a three dimensional matrix or structure, known as a coral reef. Coral reefs provide habitat for many different creatures, e.g. fish, sharks, shrimp, crabs, octopi, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, turtles etc. Together with adjacent and interrelated seagrass beds, mangrove forests, sandy and coral rubble areas, and their physical and chemical environments, they comprise the coral reef ecosystems which support well over a million species (coris.noaa.gov). Coral reefs are very high in biodiversity (contain a large number of species) – they cover less than 0.25% of the oceans, but contain about 25% of marine life forms (McAllister 1995). Coral reefs provide very important ecosystem services to humans: 7 Habitat for fish and other sea creatures that people eat - fisheries ˘ x Recreation and tourism - surfing, snorkeling, diving 1
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Coastal protection against tsunamis, storm surges, and wave erosion x May have creatures containing compounds with medicinal properties and cures for diseases Coral reefs are estimated to contribute $360 million to Hawaii’s economy each year (Cesar and Van Beukering 2004), and $375 billion to the global economy annually (Pandolfi et al. 2008). However, coral reef habitats are not the only marine (saltwater or ocean) habitats that need to be protected. Other ecosystems also contain important resources that need to be conserved, these include: 1 Kelp forests – also provide habitat for complex and diverse ecosystems in temperate regions 1 Seamounts (the tops of underwater mountains) – also provide habitat for complex and diverse ecosystems II Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), are areas of ocean habitat where fishing or other activities are restricted or not permitted, and they protect living, non-living, cultural, and/or historic resources. MPAs are becoming increasingly important with the continued degradation of our marine environments.
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