Coral Reefs are one of the most interesting and colorful ecosystems to be found in the marine environment on the planet. Environmentalists are saying that coral reefs are disappearing due to the atmosphere changing and human behavior. This paper will discuss how the Abiotic and biotic components work together to make and keep coral reefs.
Where might this type of ecosystem be located? Give one specific example.
Coral ecosystems can be broadly divided into four categories based upon their proximity to land: fringing reefs, shelf reefs, barrier reefs and atoll reefs. Coral reefs form in shallow water that is clear and is between seventeen and thirty degrees Celsius (Coral Algal Reef, 2000). The largest coral reef is situated on the northeastern coast of Australia and is call the Great Barrier Reef (Coral Reef, 2005).
Describe the structure of the ecosystem: List both the abiotic components and biotic components.
Coral Reefs are ecological systems that are made up of hard and soft corals. Corals are layers of calcium carbonate put together over time by many soft-bodied animals called coral polyps. There are two different kinds of corals; hard (rigid exoskeleton fish) and soft (no exoskeleton fish) (Reef Relief, 2010). The structure of the coral reef ecosystem consists of abiotic and biotic components. The abiotic components feature non-living things such as water temperature, sunlight, oxygen, nutrients and salinity (salt). The biotic components are crabs, lobsters, sea horses, sponges, worms (which get protection from other predators or live in the coral reef); manatees, birds, and other fish (which feed off of the coral reef.
Describe the function of the ecosystem: How do the abiotic and biotic components interact in biogeochemical cycles? Describe both the carbon and nitrogen cycles
Carbon is the seat of energy storage and tissue building in living organisms. The carbon cycle in coral reef starts with respiration, which takes carbohydrates and oxygen and combines them to produce carbon dioxide, energy and water as a result. Afterwards, the process of photosynthesis produces carbohydrates and oxygen out of carbon dioxide and water. “Photosynthesis by diverse plant forms (from unicellular dinoflagellates to fleshy macro-algae and coralline crusts) fixes carbon into compounds which are directed into pathways that are primarily bioconstructional or trophic in output” (Done, 2013). It can be said that the outputs of respiration are the inputs photosynthesis and vice versa. These two reactions are complimentary in the way they deal with energy.
Nitrogen is a vital element to all life processes on the planet. There are many important forms of nitrogen, which makes the nitrogen cycle one of the most difficult to learn. Nitrogen gas in the atmosphere is composed of two nitrogen atoms bound to each other. It is a non-reactive gas meaning it takes a lot of energy to get nitrogen gas to break.
Simplified Illustration of the Nitrogen Cycle
Nitrogen first goes through the process of nitrogen fixation. This process is done because most of the living things cannot use nitrogen in the N2 state. It has to be stabilized; otherwise, nitrogen will not react with the molecules of a living organism. One way in which nature fixes nitrogen is by lightning. Another way is with the help of bacteria (Abboud). After the nitrogen is fixed plants can use it, and then primary consumer eats the plants. This causes the consumer to gain the nitrogen that it needs to survive. After the primary consumer, the secondary consumer eats the primary consumer. The second consumer then receives the nitrogen that it needs to survive. In the end of the process the secondary consumer eventually dies, and decomposers break up its remains. The decomposers take the organic compounds and the nitrogen cycle continues. Next, the denitrifying bacteria sends nitrogen back up to the