Coral can be formed in two different ways, sexually and asexually. There are four different types of asexual reproduction. They are pretty similar. Budding is when a new smaller polyp grows from the adult polyp. Longitudinal division is when the coral polyps expand. The different sections divide to form the different parts of the coral. The big difference between budding and longitudinal division is the size ofthe new polyp; in longitudinal division the new polyps are identical to the adult polyps. Transversal division is when the exoskeleton and polyps divide into two partsand begin to grow into a new polyp. Fragmentation is where a piece of colony breaks off and grows as a clone. Just as there are different ways for coral and coral reefs to grow, there are different types of coral reefs.
There are three types of coral reefs. The fringing reefs, the barrier reefs, and the atolls. Fringing reefs are located near the land. They usually extend far out to sea. Barriers reefs are coral zones that are separated from the shore by lagoons. They are also pretty well defined reefs. Atolls are ring-shaped, they contain lagoons in the center of the rings. Although there are different types of coral reefs, they all have pretty much the same habitat and diet.
Coral reefs live in stable water temperatures. The temperature usually rangesfrom sixty-four to around eighty-six degrees Fahrenheit. Coral reefs survive in shallow waters, no deeper than one hundred twenty feet. Their habitats are in areas with lots of exposure to sunlight, and contain numerous plant and animal communities. The non-tropical areas where coral reefs form still have similar habitats. The water temperature is kept up by sunlight in the Red Sea reef zone, andby the Pacific Ocean current in the Great Barrier Reef. Even though there are a lot ofdifferent plants and animals that live in the reefs, the coral feeds mostly on algae and plankton.
All animals have niches, or positions, in coral reefs. The all contribute to the reef and inhabit different parts. They also help keep the populations balanced by preying on other organisms in the reef. The Atlantic Bottle Nosed Dolphin eats shrimp, eels, and squid. It also hunts in teams with other dolphins. The squirrelfish eats crabs and crustaceans. They are nocturnal, they sleep during the day. Spotted Moray Eels also inhabit coral reefs. They work with other predators to catch their prey, which usually consists of crustaceans and fish, and they live in the shallow grassy or rocky area of the reef. Caribbean Spotted Lobsters hide in the reefs and eat gastropods, sea urchins, and carrion. They are the prey of moray eels and nurse sharks. Spanish Hogfish eat parasites off of other fish, they also eat mollusks and sea urchins. Long Spined Sea Urchins eat sea grasses, algae, and seaweed. Ghost crabs eat other crabs, clams, and some insects. They are found to hibernate in the winter.
Of all of the animals and organisms that live in the coral reefs, they are not any of the main threats coral. Disease and humans are among the two biggest threats, along with pollution and erosion. Erosion does not directly affect the reefs, but the effects of the erosion above water damages them. Humans cause oil spills, which can quickly destroy large areas of coral reefs, and pollution. Tourism also greatly damages the reefs.