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In this lesson, students apply their understanding of ecosystems to the study of coral reef ecosystems in particular. Students will examine the effects of human actions on coral reefs. Students will:

  • explain why biodiversity in coral reefs is important to the health of the ecosystems.
  • trace the flow of energy through coral reef ecosystems.
  • identify relationships among organisms in coral reef ecosystems.
  • explain how human activities may affect coral reefs and describe the response of coral reef organisms to environmental changes.

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  • Symbiosis: A relationship in which two species live closely together.
  • Coral Polyp: An individual coral organism in a coral reef.
  • Coral Reef: An ecosystem found in shallow tropical marine waters around the world; home to over 100,000 species of marine organisms.
  • Biodiversity: The sum total of different species of organisms in an ecosystem.
  • Bleaching: A stress response of coral reefs to changes in the environment, such as warming ocean temperatures; coral loses its algae and turns white.


45–90 minutes/1–2 class periods

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