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The Biology of Coral Reefs$
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Charles Sheppard, Simon Davy, Graham Pilling, and Nicholas Graham

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198787341

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198787341.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 11 December 2019

The abiotic environment

The abiotic environment

Chapter:
(p.68) 3 The abiotic environment
Source:
The Biology of Coral Reefs
Author(s):

Charles R. C. Sheppard

Simon K. Davy

Graham M. Pilling

Nicholas A. J. Graham

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198787341.003.0003

Coral reefs are largely restricted to shallow tropical seas, where water is warm, nutrient poor and well illuminated for photosynthesis and where sufficient calcium carbonate (aragonite) exists in seawater for the precipitation of coral skeletons (i.e. calcification). Extreme temperatures and salinities cause thermal and osmotic stress, while large amounts of sediment smother corals and block light. High concentrations of nutrients encourage algal growth at the expense of corals, while low seawater aragonite concentrations prevent net accretion of the reef framework. At local scales, the hydrodynamic regime influences reef growth, as corals are damaged by storms and wave surge. The typical abiotic environment in which reefs are found, and which determines reef distribution, is defined. The chapter also discusses marginal reefs, where corals live at the margins of their survival, for example in the warm, salty seas of the Persian Gulf and the relatively cold waters of Australia’s Lord Howe Island.

Keywords:   reef distribution, temperature, salinity, light, nutrients, calcification, sediment, hydrodynamics, reef growth, marginal reefs

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