Coral Reefs - A Handbook for their future.

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286 mm
Book Width:
220 mm
1.3 kg
Published Date:
August 2019
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This publication examines coral reef biology and ecology. It explains why coral reefs are important, how they work and the creatures that depend on them. It describes the threats to coral reefs around the world and the steps that should be taken to ease the problems and increase reef resilience. The book is illustrated throughout with colour photographs.

This book explains the science of coral reefs, including how they have evolved, what determines where they grow, their composition, the different zones on a reef, the different types of coral reef and how they feed, grow and reproduce.

It looks in detail at coral reef organisms, including vertebrates, invertebrates and fish. It also describes coral reef plants and algae.

The book analyses the threats to coral reefs (including natural threats, human threats and climate change) and considers their future.

Finally, the author presents her observations from the Biosphere Foundation’s expedition to map and monitor the world’s coral reefs.

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Coral reefs are definitely the oldest and could be the most complex ecosystem on our planet. They are by far the most diverse and productive ecosystem within the oceans. It is thought that there are about a million species living in and around the coral reefs.

Like any of our biomes, coral reefs serve many essential functions for the biosphere as a whole. It is hard to predict exactly what will happen if coral reefs disappear, although the planet has existed without them before, several times in fact.

But right now, in this time and space, coral reefs are essential in the following ways:

1 Biodiversity source

They occupy 0.1% of the ocean’s surface but they provide habitat to 25% of life in the ocean. We still do not know just how many types of animal and plant live on the reef, with estimates ranging from 600,000 to 9 million. 93,000 species have been described to date. At least 3 million and possibly 30 million species of living organisms now exist. It’s very possible that we have only discovered 10% of coral reef species so far.

2 Primary producers

The microscopic algae that live inside many coral reef organisms are extremely effective primary producers, meaning that they facilitate the first essential step in the food chain in which inorganic chemicals are converted into organic ones that other organisms can use. In other words, coral reefs are fundamental to the food web that holds our biosphere together.

3 Livelihood provider

Around half a billion people depend on coral reefs for food, coastal protection, building materials and tourism business.


Chapter 1: The Past and Present of Coral Reefs

1.1 What is a coral reef?

1.2 How did we discover them?

1.3 How have coral reefs evolved?

1.4 What determines where coral reefs grow?

1.5 Where are coral reefs found today?

1.6 What is the coral triangle?

Chapter 2: How Coral Reefs are Built

2.1 What is a coral reef made of?

2.2 What are the different types of calcium carbonate on the reef?

2.3 Who are the reef builders?

2.4 What are the different zones on a reef?

2.5 What are the different types of coral reef?

2.6 How do coral reefs recycle their waste?

Chapter 3: Building Blocks of a Coral Reef – The Life of a Hard Coral

3.1 What is a coral polyp?

3.2 What is the relationship between a coral polyp and its zooxanthellae?

3.3 How does a coral feed?

3.4 How does a coral grow?

3.5 How does a coral reproduce?

3.6 How do corals compete with each other?


Chapter 4: Coral Reef Invertebrates

4.1 Coelenterates

4.2 Sponges

4.3 Echinoderms

4.4 Crustaceans

4.5 Molluscs

4.6 Bryozoans

4.7 Worms

4.8 Tunicates

Chapter 5: Coral Reef Fish

5.1 What kinds of fish are found on coral reefs?

5.2 How do fish use colour and markings?

5.3 How do fish organise themselves in different social structures?

5.4 How do fish feed and what do they eat?

5.5 How do fish reproduce?

5.6 How do fish move?

5.7 How do fish sense?

5.8 How do fish maintain territory?

5.9 How do fish defend themselves?

5.10 How are sharks and rays different?

Chapter 6: Coral Reef Vertebrates

6.1 Seasnakes

6.2 Turtles

6.3 Dugongs and manatees

6.4 Whales and dolphins

Chapter 7: Coral Reef Plants and Algae

7.1 Kingdom plantae

7.2 Kingdom protoctista

7.3 Kingdom prokaryotae


Chapter 8: What are the Natural Threats to Coral Reefs?

8.1 Bioeroding invertebrates

8.2 Bioeroding fish

8.3 Crown-of-thorns starfish

8.4 Disease

8.5 Weather events

Chapter 9: What are the Local Human Threats to Coral Reefs?

9.1 Overharvesting of fish

9.2 Destructive fishing methods

9.3 Land based pollution

9.4 Marine based pollution

9.5 Coastal development

9.6 Overharvesting of corals

9.7 Unsustainable tourism

9.8 Siltation

9.9 Military activity

9.10 Overharvesting of other organisms

9.11 Destruction of related habitat

Chapter 10 : How does Climate Change threaten Coral Reefs?

10.1 An overview of the problems

10.2 Coral bleaching

10.3 Ocean acidification

10.4 Further effects of climate change on coral reefs


Chapter 11: What is the Future for Coral Reefs?

11.1 Increasing reef resilience

11.2 What you can do to make a difference


Orla Doherty, Director of Biosphere Foundation

Orla spent ten years at sea studying the remote coral reefs of the Pacific Ocean for the Planetary Coral Reef Foundation before joining the BBC’s Natural History Unit. She is an expert in underwater filming and was the producer on the BBC’s Deep Sea episode of the Blue Planet II series.


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Number of Pages:
Binding Format:
Book Height:
286 mm
Book Width:
220 mm
1.3 kg

Orla Doherty

Published Date:
August 2019
Publication Date:
August 2019