Re-evaluating Coral Reef Communities Debriefed

Updated: Oct 21, 2019

The overall health of coral reef ecosystems are steadily declining due to problems associated with pollution, overfishing, deforestation, sedimentation, and other anthropogenic factors. These already sensitive ecosystems are becoming more susceptible to disease outbreak and bleaching. The reef-building organisms (hard corals) that are responsible for creating carbonate structures that reef ecosystems rely on, are being detrimentally impacted. Algal species are outcompeting hard corals and thus altering the community and ecological structure of reef systems. When algae are the dominant species over reef-building corals, the calcium carbonate reef structure becomes depleted, leaving a harder to inhabitant environment. Anthropogenic effects are directly causing a large amount of coral death; however they are also leading to indirect effects by promoting conditions more favorable for coral competitors such as algae.