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Coral Reef Ecosystems

Pre Course Assignment
To be submitted by 16:00 h on the 13th July, 2009 to Maria Byrne

Write two essays, each of 1500 words, on two of the following 9 questions. Specifically read and use the primary literature resources that are listed below each question. Some are available as Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files. Others will need to be obtained from your University's library. If you have time, read at least one primary literature resources of the other 7 questions. Essays should be officially submitted by email to Maria Byrne by16:00 h on the 13th July, 2009 (email receipts will be supplied). Back-up hard copies should be brought to Heron Island Research Station to be handed in upon arrival. Any questions, email the lecturer who has assigned the question.

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Reference lists are password protected. You will be emailed the username and password.

Maria Byrne email
1.  Coral Reef Invertebrates
Acanthaster planci (crown-of-thorns starfish) outbreaks: Are they a natural phenomenon?
Acanthaster planci is one of the most ecologically influential and most studied invertebrates on the Great Barrier Reef. It has been the subject of hundreds of recent scientific papers.  View Reference List
2. Benthos: Sediments, Microbes and Bioturbation
The role of tropical sea cucumbers in bioturbation and nutrient recycling on the Great Barrier Reef.
Shallow (less than 5 m) sandy habitats occupy approximately 40% of the GBR and deposit feeding organisms like sea cucumbers play an important role in mobilising these sediment and the nutrients contained within them. Some of the papers listed below are from research undertaken in the Capricorn-Bunker group of the GBR.  View Reference List
3. Invertebrate Herbivory on Coral Reefs
The mass mortality of the sea urchin Diadema antillarum on Caribbean coral reefs was the most extensive and severe mortality event recorded for a marine animal. It is estimated that 97% of the urchins were killed by a still unknown pathogen. Prior to this event Diadema was recognised as a keystone herbivore on Caribbean reefs and not, surprisingly, this event led to major changes to the ecosystem.

Question: The Diadema die-off in the Caribbean 20 years on – what lessons have we learned for reef ecology?  View Reference List

Sophie Dove email
1. Who are the key primary producers on a coral reef? Is primary production threatened by climate change? Explain.   View Reference List
2. The microenvironment within a coral colony is complex and depends on a number of factors inclusive of the position within a coral colony - discuss.   View Reference List
3. How is climate change threatening calcification in Coral Reef ecosystems? Is this likely to affect the potential for Reefs to survive predicted increases in sea surface temperature through migration? View Reference List

Lynne Van Herwerden  email
1. Connectivity of reef fish populations
What do we know about connectivity of coral reefs during the presettlement phase of fishes?  View Reference List
2. Diversity of corals matters to reef fish
How does the diversity and health of coral affect diversity of reef fishes?  View Reference List
3. Presettlement reef fish
Are presettlement reef fishes passive particles?  View Reference List