Coral Reef Biome

Topics: Coral reef, Coral, Algae Pages: 2 (532 words) Published: October 18, 2010
Coral Reef Biome

Though not considered a major biome, coral reefs qualify by definition. Coral reefs are marine ecosystems located within clear, shallow water. These reefs require water between 25 and 31 degrees Celsius, and do well in water with a salinity of 34 and 37 parts per 1000. These conditions are most often found within 30 degrees latitude of the equator, or in other words, the tropics. As the name suggests, corral reefs are formed by colonies of coral polyps. Coral polyps secrete calcium carbonate (limestone) which forms the reefs. The polyps receive oxygen and nutrition through photosynthesis preformed by zooxanthellae algae. The necessity of large amounts of sunlights further restricts the environments in which these reefs can flourish. Reefs develop into three different formations. Fringing reefs occur along shorelines, and are frequently found on Hawaii and the Caribbean. Barrier reefs are formed offshore, and occur often in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. Atolls are reefs surrounding a lagoon, and are commonly found in the Indo-Pacific. Though different in appearance and location, each reef is part of the larger coral reef biome.

Coral reefs take up less than one percent of the ocean floor, yet are home to over 25 percent of its known species. Due to these many populations, species who inhabit the reefs have adapted in different niches. The Parrotfish bites off branches of coral and uses its powerful mandibles to gnaw out the polyps. Other organisms, such as the Damselfish, rely upon the coral as a place of refuge. If frightened the Damselfish will retreat to the coral passageways and remain there until reassured of its security. On the other end of the spectrum, reef species such as the Bird Wrasse have evolved long, trunk-like snouts useful for extracting prey from hard to reach nooks. The sheer quantify of...
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