Coral Reef Ecosystems: Interdependence

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Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object, co-developed between NOAA and NSTA, is the third of four Science Objects in the Coral Reef Ecosystems SciPack. It explores the interdependent relationships between species in the coral reef ecosystem. All populations in the reef ecosystem are a part of and depend on a global food web (a connected set of food chains) through which energy flows in one direction, from the sun into organism and eventually dissipating into the environment as heat. This food web includes ocean plants, the animals that feed on them, and the animals that feed on those animals. Energy is transferred between organisms and their environment along the way. Energy concentration diminishes at each step. The cycles of life continue indefinitely because organisms decompose after death and return food materials to the environment.

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Reviews (12)
  • on Tue Oct 30, 2018 5:18 PM

This was a great resource to find. I have always been interested in marine habitats and would love to incorporate fish tanks in my future classroom. This collection features great activities and information about food webs, ecosystems, and the overall importance of ecology. This is a great resource as well since it is important to discuss how and why coral reefs are dying based on global warming, obviously an extremely important topic in the science community.

Jennifer S  (Richfield, OH)
Jennifer S (Richfield, OH)

  • on Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:07 PM

This was a great resource to help teach ecosystems! It provided a lot of information about food webs, energy, and interdependence.

Rachel McCain  (Alexandria, VA)
Rachel McCain (Alexandria, VA)

  • on Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:59 PM

This is a another wonderful resource about the coral reef ecosystem that provides information about ecosystems and ecology, food chains, and interdependence of life.

Laura  (San Diego, CA)
Laura (San Diego, CA)

  • on Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:21 AM

This science object applies the content outlined in other science objects, such as the interdependence of life, water cycle, and food webs.

Robin Willig  (Rye Brook, NY)
Robin Willig (Rye Brook, NY)

  • on Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:23 AM

I really enjoy Science Objects. In 1-3 hours, the Coral Reef Ecosystems: Interdependence Science Object will help me re-learn, refresh, or learn for the first time some critical science concepts I will have to know to obtain my Science Educator credentials. I appreciate that I can complete them at my own pace, and that, if used as park of a SciPack, I have access to a content expert to go to for help. The NSTA Learning Center Science Objects are really beneficial!

Naomi Beverly  (Marietta, GA)
Naomi Beverly (Marietta, GA)

  • on Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:31 PM

Another great resource on Coral Reef ecosystem. This is most comprehensive presentation of an ecosystem that really needs our attention . The biotic and abiotic factors involved are components of a small but diverse microcosm.

Ronaldo Relador  (Bowie, MD)
Ronaldo Relador (Bowie, MD)

  • on Sat Jan 15, 2011 9:12 PM

This science object covers many of the basic ecology concepts including food chains/webs/pyramids, transfer of energy/trophic levels, cycles, succession, and symbiosis. The examples as they relate to coral reefs are very clear. There are interactives that assist in the understanding and I found the one where you can manipulate populations at various points of a food pyramid to see the effect on other predator and prey populations potentially beneficial for the classroom. Great use of the coral reef subject to covers these ecology topics.

David K
David K

  • on Tue Oct 19, 2010 10:59 AM

This Science Object provides an excellent overview of the interdependence of life on a coral reef. This Science Object begins with a pretest to assess understanding before beginning. Along with excellent photos there are several interactive activities as well as animated images to explain the text. Food webs, food pyramids, several types of symbiosis and ecological succession are topics covered in this particular Science Object. Common student misconceptions are addressed as well. There is an opportunity to have the information read to you as well as a glossary to reinforce vocabulary. This is a great source of general introductory information about a coral reef that would provide a strong background foundation for either an educators or a student to learn on their own.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

  • on Fri Dec 09, 2016 10:58 AM

This was a great resource to help teach ecosystems! It provided a lot of information about food webs, energy, and interdependence.


  • on Thu Jan 19, 2012 11:08 AM

This resource would be very helpful for those teachers who have to teach relationships in a coral reef ecosystems. It describes many of the interdepent relationships found in various coral reef ecosystems. It goes on to explain how the relationships benefit each species and helps this ecosystem to thrive. It also helps you understand the importance of this ecosystem and the interdepence of each organism to the survival of the coral reef. It is very interesting as well as informative.

Barbara Ryan
Barbara Ryan

  • on Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:37 AM

This is an excellent resource for anyone that is trying to understand the basics of ecology and food chains.

Eve K
Eve K

  • on Mon May 05, 2014 5:17 PM

I added this to the collection to demonstrate yet another ecosystem. It really made me consider wanting a fish tank in class where students can work as a team to take care of their own ecosystem.

Hazel Robateau
Hazel Robateau

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