Lesson Plan

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Objectives

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.


Essential Questions

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Vocabulary

  • 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.


Duration

45–90 minutes/1–2 class periods


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Related Materials & Resources

The possible inclusion of commercial websites below is not an implied endorsement of their products, which are not free, and are not required for this lesson plan.

  • Energy Flow in the Coral Reef Ecosystem (video clip)

www.teachersdomain.org/asset/hew06_vid_foodweb/

  • Coral Reef Connections: Great Barrier Reef (an interactive coral reef)

www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/survival/coral/index.html

  • What Are Coral Reefs?

http://coris.noaa.gov/about/what_are/

  • About Coral & Coral Reefs

www.coralfilm.com/about.html

  • NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program

http://coralreef.noaa.gov/

  • Corals (tutorial for students)

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_corals/welcome.html

  • Coral Reef Alliance

www.coral.org/

  • Save a Reef

http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/08bonaire/background/edu/media/savereef.pdf

  • Florida (Data for Coral Reefs in the Florida Keys)

http://coris.noaa.gov/portals/florida.html

  • Coral Kid (a video clip for students on Florida Keys coral reefs)

www.teachersdomain.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.coralkid/

  • Coral Reefs: Assessing the Threat (This site provides useful data tables)

http://earthtrends.wri.org/text/coastal-marine/feature-12.html

  • Predators Among Us (a lesson plan on affects of humans on coral reefs)

www.nationalgeographic.com/expeditions/lessons/14/g68/noaapredators.html

  • The State of the Oceans, Part 2: Delving Deeper into the Sea's Bounty (article on human impact on coral reefs)

http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/2004/112-8/focus.html

  • Coral Reef Bleaching and Ocean Hot Spots, 1997–98 (a world map)

http://earthtrends.wri.org/text/coastal-marine/feature-12.html



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