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Coral Reef Ecosystems

Coral Polyps


Coral reefs are complex marine systems. Some experts have equated them with old-growth forest ecosystems on land. The organisms and populations living in and around coral reefs are dependent on their habitat for energy and matter to support life. The survival and reproductive success of coral reef ecosystems are influenced by several factors, including the kinds and numbers of organisms in the food web, natural and human influences, and, most importantly, sunlight.


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What makes up a coral reef population? All the individuals of a species that occur together at a given place. Learn about the different kinds of coral and other organisms that make up a coral reef population.


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An organism’s habitat is the environment in which it lives. Corals live in distinct environments that have specific characteristics that support their growth, reproduction, and survival. Learn about fringing reefs, barrier reefs, atolls, and deep-ocean coral habitats.

Ecosystem Dynamics

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What does a coral reef food web look like? Identify the relationships among the producers, consumers, and decomposers in coral reefs and learn about some of the biological adaptations that have helped the survival of corals.



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