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Coral Reef Ecology

Course Numbers: OCMB - 6470 and MEVS - 5165

The decline of coral reefs worldwide is a pressing concern for scientists and managers.  It is important to understand the complex ecological relationships of coral reefs in order to determine how this diverse ecosystem will respond to current and future threats.  This course will introduce students to the ecology of coral reefs and associated ecosystems (i.e., seagrass and mangrove communities), the general biology of scleractinian corals, and the taxonomy of important coral reef organisms.  Material will be presented from a global perspective, with a focus on South Florida and Caribbean coral reefs.  Active classroom discussion will be encouraged during and following the presentation of material by the professor.  A formal discussion period on selected papers will be conducted during each class.  Attendance on a mandatory field trip is required.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • identify the main contributors to coral research
  • analyze and critique literature from professional publications
  • understand fundamental ecological concepts as they apply to coral reefs
  • describe the biogeographical patterns of coral distribution, diversity, and abundance
  • describe patterns of coral zonation on reefs
  • understand the biology (symbiosis, reproduction, recruitment, etc.) of scleractinian corals
  • identify important coral species and common invertebrate, vertebrate, and algal taxa inhabiting coral reefs in South Florida
  • understand how coral reef, seagrass, and mangroves ecosystems are interconnected
  • explain the effects of natural and anthropogenic impacts to coral reef and coral communities
  • describe the scientific research and social science necessary for informed coral reef management decisions


RecommendedPaul Humann’s reef set- Coral (3rd edition recommended), Fish, and Reef creatures.

Coral Reef Ecology Sample Syllabus

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