Flashcards in Lecture 7 Deck (26)
What is a coral reef built from?
Built from the accumulated skeletons of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) secreting animals and plants
Where are tropical coral reefs found?
Along Australian and Indonesian coastline
Near the warmer currents of oceanic gyres
Problems of tropical surface waters
Stratified and nutrient-poor
Low biomass except in upwelling regions and coral reefs
What is ahermatypic coral?
Do not produce a rigid calcareous skeleton
Can produce sclerites (calcium carbonate needles)
What is hermatypic coral? What is the dominant group?
Dominant group are Scleractinian coral
Produce massive skeletons of calcium carbonate
Features of Scleractinian coral
CaCO3 skeleton produced by coral polyps
Solitary or colonial
Colonies formed by asexual division - all polyps genetically the same
Polyps connect into a single living surface (tissue layer) above the exoskeleton
How do corals obtain the nutrients they need?
They have a symbiotic relationship with photosynthesising algae (zooxanthellae - dinoflagellates)
Holobiont = ecological unit of coral and it’s symbionts
Algae supplies up to 90% of energy required by tropical coral
Coral therefore requires well-lit marine environment
Nutrients cycled between coral polyp and symbiotic algae
What genus are zooxanthellae in?
Density of algae within corals
more than a million per cm squared of coral surface
How else does coral obtain nutrients besides its symbiotic relationship with algae?
-Prey capture of zooplankton using stinging cells called cnidocytes
-Mesenterial filaments: tubes attached to the wall of the gut that are extruded through the mouth to digest food outside the body
-Mucus threads secreted over colony surface to capture passing plankton, then gathered into mouth (mucus is food source for benthic bacteria)
How do symbionts affect calcification?
The skeletal growth of tropical coral with symbiotic algae is much faster than cold water due to symbionts
Calcification is 3x higher during the day when algae can photosynthesis
Cold water coral features
Long-lived, slow growing and extremely fragile coral
Below 40m water depth they are most common, as there is no symbiotic relationship with photosynthetic algae
Host to specific bacteria
What is ahermatypic cold water coral growth limited by?
Oxygen and food rather than water temperature and light
What is coral bleaching?
Breakdown of symbiosis between algae and coral host
Coral will bleach if temperatures reach 1 degrees above average seasonal maxima
When was the most extensive coral bleaching seen on the Great Barrier Reef?
87% of inshore reefs saw bleaching occur
What are important alternative energy sources for coral during bleaching?
-Capture of plankton
-Night-time mesenterial feeding on neighbouring algal turfs
How might coral adapt to shifts in thermal tolerance
Adaptive bleaching hypothesis
Shuffling the population of symbiotic algae to increase the threshold temperature of bleaching
What is another coral reef builder besides hermatypic coral?
Crustose coralline algae
Order Corallinales, in Rhodophyta/red algae
Dominant reef-building genus is Porolithion
Acts like a mortar for the reef by forming an encrusting cement of Mg-rich CaCO3
Surface aids the settlement of coral recruits and other reef invertebrates
What is another coral reef builder besides hermatypic coral and crustose coralline algae?
Calcareous green alga
95% of weight is CaCO3
Individual segments accumulate to form carbonate sediment on reefs
What are the two types of coral reef erodes?
2. Chemical eroders
What are three examples of bioeroders?
Polychaetes (e.g. Christmas tree worms)
Crown of thorn starfish
Features of parrotfish
Fused dental plants to form a beak
Have a pharyngeal jaw (second set of jaws within the throat)
Very long intestine, no stomach
Graze reef in large schools
Adult invests more than 5 tonnes a year of structural reef carbonate
What is an example of a chemical eroder of coral?
Upwelling high CO2 (low pH) waters
How does upwelling of high CO2 water erode coral?
Low pH water has low carbonate concentration
The rate of calcification for both coral and coralline algae is proportional to the carbonate concentration in seawater
The stability of calcium carbonate is dependent on the carbonate concentration in seawater, so a lower concentration of carbonate causes the dissolution of the CaCO3 skeleton of coral
Where is it that reefs can occur?
Where calcification exceeds erosion