Coral Ecology

Coral ecology is the study of relationships between living organisms found on coral reefs and their interactions with the natural and human environment.  All kinds of sea creatures, corals and other invertebrates, fish, algae and seagrasses, are all integrally linked together and dependent on the hard structure built by corals and coralline algae.

Understanding Coral Ecology

To understand coral reef ecology, we collect a variety of physical, environmental and biological information such as:

  • The reef structure, types of reefs, different environments or zones within the reef, and factors controlling the development of these aquatic ecosystems;
  • Where on coral reefs will you find certain species of sea animals, and why;
  • How different species of sea creatures on the reef coexist, compete, and work together to maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems;
  • The marine biology and life history of coral reef species;
  • Patterns of movement of coral reef species within and between reefs and connectivity of these species with other ecosystems and habitats;
  • The importance of coral reefs to ocean health, the earth and to man, and interactions between humans and reefs; and
  • The threats affecting coral reefs – including natural and anthropogenic factors, climate change and global warming – the impacts of these threats, what make them better able to cope with these threats,  and how and if they can recover following catastrophic impacts.

An understanding of coral ecology requires a multidisciplinary team of experts using sophisticated tools, underwater assessments, field ocean research and laboratory studies.

Related Publications:

  • 2021

    Global Reef Expedition Final Report

    The Global Reef Expedition Final Report summarizes the findings from our 10-year research mission to survey and map coral reefs across the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans as well as the Red Sea. The Expedition involved hundreds of research scientists …

  • 2016

    Earth Matters January Puzzler: Palau's Coral Reefs

    Each month, NASA Earth Observatory’s Earth Matters blog offers a puzzling satellite image for its readers to ‘solve’… or weigh in on as to what part of the earth the satellite image depicts and why it is of interest.  The January …

  • 2016

    El Niño’s warmth devastates reefs worldwide

    This article on how El Niño’s warmth devastates reefs worldwide, published in Science magazine, references Living Oceans Foundation Coral Reef Ecologist Alex Dempsey and focuses on the impact to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) which the Foundation surveyed as part of …

  • 2016

    Putting Preservation on the Map: Living Oceans Foundation Restoring the World’s Oceans thru Science

    This article, published in What’s Up Magazine of Annapolis (Maryland), features an interview with Living Oceans Foundation Executive Director Captain Philip G. Renaud and discusses the Foundation’s headquarters relocation to Annapolis along with their charter and mission of preserving and …

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