symbiosis: coral reefs

Coral Reefs are dominated by structure of coral, formed by diverse group of cnidarians that secrete calcium carbonate to make hard exoskeleton. Within this structure, coexist zooxanthellae, a photosynthetic single celled organism that provides energy in exchange for a home, protection, and proximity to sun. Corals get up to 90% of their nutrients from this relationship.
This relationship is often distrupted by sedimentation due to pollution released into these waters. The sedimentation covers the corals, blocking the sunlight, and breaking down the relationship between the photosynthetic zoocanthellae and the corals.
Global warming also has large implications for this productive relationship because as waters warm corals bleach. Corals will expel their zooxanthallae when stressed. Stresses can include increased or decreased water temperature, changes in water chemistry, or changes in sunlight available. This explusion, changes their color, and causes them to die. This has large implications for climate change, ecosystem productivity, biodiversity, and tourism. Many of the color reefs are very important to regional tourism, and as they begin to die off due to warmer water temperatures, economies may be greatly effected.

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