Coral Reef Biome

By Mr Corso

Where is it Found and Why?

The coral reef biome is located within the ocean but is separate from the ocean biome. It is located in a shallow, clear portion of the ocean in mostly tropical areas. These areas include the coasts of East Africa, South India, Australia, Florida, the Caribbean, and Brazil. Corals need saltwater and therefore do not exist in areas where rivers drain freshwater into the oceans.
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Climate Conditions Needed for Coral Biomes

Coral reef biomes occur in tropical locations where there is lots of sunlight and water temperatures range between 20 and 32 degrees Celsius.

Plant Life

Besides zooxanthellae, algae and seagrasses are the main types of plants in the coral reef ecosystem. These plants give food and oxygen to the animals that live on the reef. Seagrasses are especially important because they provide shelter for juvenile reef animals like conch and lobster.

In order to collect the sunlight needed for photosynthesis, plants in coral reefs have larger cells. Plants have also created many symbiotic relationships with other animals in order to survive.
Examples include:
-Zooxanthellae lives inside the polyps in coral. In exchange the protection the coral provides, the Zooxanthellae provides the coral with needed nutrients.
- Sea grasses live in between the coral reefs, and they transfer nutrients to the coral. Their roots are adapted to keep the plant in place during strong ocean currents. When the sea grass dies it helps to create future plant growth.
-Mangroves grow behind the coral reefs. They grow above the sea water, and their roots protect from the sediment overpowering the coral.

Animal Life

The coral provides shelter for many animals in this complex habitat, including sponges, nudibranchs, fish (like Blacktip Reef Sharks, groupers, clown fish, eels, parrotfish, snapper, and scorpion fish), jellyfish, anemones, sea stars (including the destructive Crown of Thorns), crustaceans (like crabs, shrimp, and lobsters), turtles, sea snakes, snails, and mollusks (like octopuses, nautilus, and clams). Birds also feast on coral reef animals.

Due to the complex structures of coral reefs, with their many nooks, crannies, and hiding spaces, fish have adapted a body structure to easily maneuver through the coral. In open water fish have adapted bodies to swim faster, but within the coral reefs fish have adapted bodies that are flat (like a pancake) and maneuverable. Also the pectoral and pelvic fins have switched places. This corresponds, and works with the flatter body. Fish found in coral reefs also have bright coloring to help with mating or camouflage. Due to the wide variety of prey found in coral reefs, the fish have developed a generalized feeding structure to take advantage of the biodiversity. Lastly sessile animals, such as coral, have adapted toxins to keep away predators.

Example Coral Reef Biome

The Great Barrier Reef is an example of a coral reef biome. It is the largest coral biome which covers more than 1,930 kilometres and contains 400 species of coral. The latitude of The Great Barrier Reef is -18.156290 S, and the longitude is 147.485962 E.
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