Are Coral Reefs Really the Rainforests of the Sea?
Stories about coral reefs usually include the observation that coral reefs are the "rainforests of the sea". It's such a common statement that no one questions it. But how are rainforests and coral reefs similar? Your job is to collect, organize and present information to either prove or disprove this statement.
Before you begin this project, it's important that you understand some basic facts about coral reefs. Visit Animal Bytes at Sea World and answer the following questions in complete sentences:
- 1. Where are coral reefs located? Be sure to include the latitudes where reefs are found. (Habitat and Distribution)
- 2. What habitat requirements favor coral reef formation? (Habitat and Distribution)
- 3. What are some of the physical characteristics of corals? You may include shape, size and color. (Physical Characteristics)
- 4. One adaptation that corals have developed for survival is a mutualistic relationship with zooxanthellae. In this type of symbiotic relationship, each organism gains something. What do the corals gain? What do the zooxanthellae gain? (Adaptations for an Aquatic Environment)
- 5. Describe the skeleton of a reef building coral. (Anatomy and Physiology)
- 6. Describe the three types of coral reefs. (Coral Reefs)
- 7. What is the source of energy for a coral reef ecosystem? (Reef Ecosystem)
- 8. Name six other animals that live in or near coral reefs. (Reef Ecosystem)
- 9. How does fertilizer and sewage harm coral reefs? (Longevity and Causes of Death)
- 10. How does deforestation harm coral reefs? (Longevity and Causes of Death)
- 11. What is coral bleaching? Why is it so bad? (Longevity and Causes of Death)
- 12. Give three reasons why coral reefs are important. (Conservation of the Coral Reef)
Now you're ready to begin your research! Since you are working in groups, your first task should be to divide the research responsibilities among the member of your group. The following areas need to be covered:
Each member of the group should keep a record of their individual work for grading purposes.
Use the links below to find your information. Once you've finished, organize and present your information in a poster. If you include maps, they should be hand drawn. Be prepared to present your information in class.
- geographic locations of coral reefs and rainforests
- amount and description of the biodiversity in each ecosystem
- usefulness of both ecosystems (What types of products can be made without harming these ecosystems?)
- environmental threats
Coral Reef Links:
This RiverDeep article compares coral reefs to rainforests and discusses the dangers facing reefs
Check out this site created by the Office of Naval Research which highlights coral reefs.
Select "Tropical Oceans" to find information on coral reefs.
Enchanted Learning provides basic information on biodiversity and geographic range of coral reefs
Educational Web Adventures provides a fun way to compare the amount of rain in a rainforest to areas in the US
Enchanted Learning provides basic information on biodiversity and geographic range of rainforests