Biophysical Interactions on the Reef

Topics: Coral, Coral reef, Algae Pages: 2 (766 words) Published: November 24, 2012
Ecosystems At Risk
Reefs are important ecosystems as the are home to an immense amount of biodiversity and are essential in the cycle of life The Role of the Atmosphere
Many reefs are located in the cyclone zone due to the necessary conditions they require to grow. For as long as reefs have existed they have been shaped by cyclones and intense storms. The severity of the storms and cyclones is determined by the length and intensity of the storms, which determines how much damage will be inflicted onto the reefs. The cyclones and storms generate large waves and strong winds, which do most of the damage to the reefs. The waves have the power to rip apart soft coral and chip and damage the harder coral. Sometimes cyclones may result in large amounts of the reefs systems being buried by sediment. Reefs are very delicate and need very precise conditions to live and grow, the amount of rain that is associated with intense low systems can flood the reef with fresh water and reduce the salinity levels. During the storms the turbidly of the water also increases so the sunlight cannot reach the coral reducing its ability to produce food. Tropical cyclone Larry (2006) showed that reefs could benefit from storms. The waves that were produced by Larry removed sediment that had accumulated and reduce the water temperature to the ideal level. The Role of the Lithosphere

The role of the lithosphere in forming and transforming the reef ecosystem is very important. The reefs build themselves, this works because when the coral dies it produces limestone which the new coral grows on. The limestone is also weathered down and redistributed to other parts of the ecosystem to create a range of other landforms. Through the production of limestone coral reefs are able to withstand the erosive power of waves. Overtime individual corals will of course die but this will allow the growth of new coral on the stable limestone structures the leave behind. Sediment is also an important...
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