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sp02u1p3 - Unit One CINMS Intertidal Ecology Lesson...

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Unit One CINMS ©Project Oceanography Spring 2002 12 Intertidal Ecology Lesson Objectives: Students will be able to do the following: Describe the rocky intertidal zone Differentiate between the four intertidal zones Explain one way that physical processes affect organism distribution Key concepts: intertidal zones, nutrient upwelling, desiccation, holdfasts, water vascular systems, larval recruitment Physical Description of the Rocky Intertidal Zone Intertidal zones are transitional coastal regions. The cycling of the tides influences these regions. These littoral areas are located between the high and low tide marks. They can be found along rocky shores or sandy beaches. We will be taking a closer look at the rocky intertidal region. It is characterized by sturdy boulders, rocks, crevices, and ledges that are home to a variety of organisms. The rocky intertidal region can be divided into four vertical zones. These zones are based on height and tidal influence. These four zones include from the highest to the lowest: the splash zone, the high intertidal zone, the mid-intertidal zone, and the low intertidal zone. The splash or spray zone is the highest and driest area. This supralittoral zone is above the highest high tide mark. It is moistened by saltwater spray from waves and freshwater runoff from rain and streams. This relatively dry area is sparsely populated. Few organisms can withstand the extreme fluctuations in moisture, temperature, and salinity found in this zone. The high intertidal zone is completely covered with water only during high tide. Parts of this region are exposed to the air for long periods as the tides recede. The inhabitants of this area are sturdy individuals. They can remain wet even if they are exposed to the sun and wind. The organisms in this area have also developed attachment devices to help them resist the force of the waves. These devices include muscular feet, suction cups, byssal threads , or holdfasts . The mid-intertidal zone is the area between the average high tide and low tide mark. This region is covered by water during most high tides, but it is exposed to the air during most low tides. This environment contains a more diverse group of organisms, than either the splash zone or high intertidal zone. This area is also
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Unit One CINMS ©Project Oceanography Spring 2002 13 highly populated. Organisms that live here must overcome space and competition problems. To overcome some of these problems, organisms have developed specialized niches within the community . Some organisms grow more quickly than others, so they can find the required space. Others grow in layers on top of each other to take up less room. The low intertidal zone is the area
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sp02u1p3 - Unit One CINMS Intertidal Ecology Lesson...

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