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.

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