How do species interact on a coral reef? Dive beneath the ocean waves and explore the unique and diverse relationships found on a coral reef.

A Video with a Problem-Solving Scenario

Anemones and clownfish science notebook

In addition to showcasing live footage from a unique ecosystem, each of the three videos in the Exploring Ecosystems series features an opportunity for students to actively participate in a problem-solving scenario based on an ongoing research project of an Academy scientist.

As you watch the video, be prepared to pause at key points to participate fully!

The Coral Reef Symbiosis video investigates the following questions:

  • How do species interact on a coral reef?
  • What are the effects of abiotic and biotic interactions?
  • How do these interactions influence patterns of distribution and abundance within this ecosystem as a whole?

Check for Understanding

Describe two concrete examples of mutualistic relationships found on a coral reef, being sure to describe what each organism gets out of the deal.

Key Scientific Terms

  • abiotic: non-living
  • commensalism: a type of symbiosis where one organism benefits and the other is not affected in a positive or a negative way
  • ecosystem: the community of different species in a particular geographic area and all of their interactions with each other and the physical environment
  • mutualism: a type of symbiosis where both organisms benefit
  • parasitism: a type of symbiosis where one organism (the parasite) benefits and the other (the host) is harmed
  • symbiosis: a long-term relationship or interaction between individuals from two different types of species; the symbiotic relationship has a positive, negative or neutral impact on the participants

Connections to High School Standards

AP Biology

  • EK 4.A.5: Communities are composed of populations of organisms that interact in complex ways.
  • EK 2.D.1: All biological systems are affected by complex biotic and abiotic interactions.

Next Generation Science Standards

  • DCI: LS2.C: Ecosystem Dynamics, Functioning, and Resilience
  • Crosscutting Concepts: Cause and Effect; Stability and Change
  • Science and Engineering Practices:Using Mathematics and Computational Thinking

Related Reading

Cleaner Wrasses
In this brief article by Luiz Rocha, the scientist featured in the video, you'll learn why these fish are known as the "nurses" of the sea!

Ecosystems and Ecological Networks
In this extensive article from our Biodiversity course, you'll dive deeper into a variety of common ecological interactions, such as predation, competition, and symbiosis.





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