Coral Reef: Biology and History

Authored by: Graham E. Forrester

Encyclopedia of Natural Resources

Print publication date:  July  2014
Online publication date:  June  2014

Print ISBN: 9781439852583
eBook ISBN: 9781351043847
Adobe ISBN:


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Coral reefs are built from the secretion of calcium carbonate skeletons by corals and calcareous algae. Reef growth depends on the symbiosis between coral animals, and single-celled algae in the genus Symbiodinium. These limestone reefs are colonized by a tremendous variety of organisms to create an ecosystem that is the most biological diverse, and one of the most productive, in the marine environment. Coral reefs have a dynamic history spanning roughly 250 million years, which reflects the influences of biological evolution, continental drift, and sea level change.

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