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Environmental Science (MindTap Cou...

15th Edition
G. Tyler Miller + 1 other
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781305090446
BuyFind

Environmental Science (MindTap Cou...

15th Edition
G. Tyler Miller + 1 other
Publisher: Cengage Learning
ISBN: 9781305090446

Solutions

Chapter
Section
Chapter 7, Problem 1CR
Textbook Problem
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What are coral reefs and why should we care about them? What is coral bleaching? What are the major threats to coral reefs?

Expert Solution
To determine

The meaning of “coral reefs” and “coral bleaching.” The reason behind taking care of coral reefs. The major harm that is caused to coral reefs.

Answer to Problem 1CR

The coral reefs are giant colonies of tiny animals polyps. The coral reefs should be taken care of because they prevent floods and erosion. They provide habitats, food, and fish catch. Coral bleaching is the turning of coral polyps into the white skeleton of calcium carbonate after death. The coral reefs have a major threat from runoff of soil, increased temperature, and pH of water.

Explanation of Solution

The coral reefs are the massive colonies formed by tiny animals called polyps. They slowly build reefs by secreting a protective crust of limestone (calcium carbonate) around their soft bodies. When the polyps die, their empty crusts remain behind as a part of a platform for more reef growth.

The coral reefs provide ecosystem and economic services. They act as natural barriers that help to protect 15% of the world’s coastlines from flooding and erosion caused by battering waves and storms. They also provide habitats, food, and spawning grounds for one-quarter to one-third of the organisms that live in the ocean. They also produce one-tenth of the global fish catch. They provide goods and services worth $40 billion a year through tourism and fishing.

The coral bleaching is the situation in which the colorful algae die due to an increase in pollution and water temperature. The corals depend on algae for food. Without food, the coral polyps die and leave behind a white skeleton of calcium carbonate.

The major threat to coral reefs is the runoff of soil and other materials from the land and blocks the sunlight that is required by the algae in shallow reefs for photosynthesis. The other threat is the increased temperature and acidity of water in which the reefs reside.

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