Ross School - Senior Projects 2010
Mentor: Patty Lein
Title: Climate Change and Its Effects on Coral Reefs
Description: Scientific Poster
Surfing being my passion, I have always been fascinated with the ocean and all its offerings. One of the oceans most prized possessions is in great danger. Coral reefs have been dying worldwide due to climate change. For my Senior Project I educated the public about this issue by creating a scientific poster.
For my Senior Project I made a scientific poster to educate the public about
the dangers climate change holds for coral reefs. I chose my topic
because I wanted to give back to the ocean that given so much joy to me as a
surfer. As well, I wanted to become more familiar with coral reef
ecosystems in terms of understanding both the biology and ecology of these
systems. As a hands-on component I was fortunate enough to snorkel on the
Tres Palmas Reserve in Rincon,
A few key topics on the poster include symbiosis within the coral reef community, ocean temperature change, acidification and a section on the history of climate change. Symbiosis is when different species mutually benefit form each other. An important symbiotic relationship is between the coral reefs and the fish. Corals provide safe shelters for fish to live, spawn and raise their young, while fish help clean the reef so that the Zooxanthellae can continue to produce nutrients for the coral using the sun’s energy.
Climate change has been happening for a long time, the problem that we are faced with is that recently, in comparison to the earth’s age, there has been an excess use of greenhouse gases, which have trapped heat inside our atmosphere. Climate change is greatly affecting these symbiotic relationships. Climate change can result in changing ocean temperatures, raising it by as much as 4 degrees Celsius, in addition to making the water column more acidic. These changes greatly impact the health of corals both in terms of nutrient availability and growth of their protective skeletons. Since both species depend on each other for survival, when one is eliminated the other species cannot survive. Water temperature increase is one of the main causes of death of corals. When water temperatures are higher than they should be the Zooxanthellae burn off, shutting down photosynthesis, thus starving the coral polyps. Once the coral dies, the fish no longer have homes and are now vulnerable and easily attacked from predators.
I learned quite a bit from this project, not only about the topic but also how to create a scientific poster. My views on oceanic life have changed, as I do not only look to the ocean for the waves but also the life that lies underneath the surface.
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