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The Biology of Coral Reefs$
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Charles R. C. Sheppard, Simon K. Davy, and Graham M. Pilling

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780198566359

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198566359.001.0001

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The Main Reef Builders and Space Occupiers

The Main Reef Builders and Space Occupiers

(p.33) 2 The Main Reef Builders and Space Occupiers
The Biology of Coral Reefs

Charles R. C. Sheppard

Simon K. Davy

Graham M. Pilling

Oxford University Press

Corals are the main reef builders on tropical reefs. They make their own substrate, much of which remains as consolidated rock, the remainder becoming broken down to form extensive sediment beds. Soft corals, sea fans and sponges are other major occupiers of substrate but deposit only minimal quantities of rock. All are important ecological components of coral reefs, though the greatest biodiversity of macrofauna are found amongst the fishes, cryptic invertebrates and micro organisms. Amongst the algae, the microalgae symbiotic with corals are of key importance in the nutrition of the reef, but macroalgae are generally scarce on healthy reefs, partly due to grazing. Some algae generate large quantities of limestone and assist in reef construction. Growth and reduction by bioeroding organisms generally balance closely in a healthy reef.

Keywords:   corals, soft corals, sea fans, sponges, bioerosion, limestone balance, algal calcification, seagrasses and mangroves

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