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Following research was performed to examine the effects of the disappearance of a predator, the Green Sea Turtle (and other Andros Barrier Reef species), on coral reef survival and growth. Because Green Sea Turtles control the amount of algae and seagrass in the ecosystem, it is possible to see a cascading down effect on the coral-reef ecosystem. The Green Sea Turtle can help to reduce excess nutrition and increase coral reef health.
Depletion causes overabundance and growth because of the Green sea Turtle’s role in the regulation of and consumption by the sea-grasses. It is vital to recognize how the Green Sea Turtle’s survival depends upon the coral reef’s ability to produce nutrients. Additionally, algae and seagrass are in a competition with corals for nutrients, sun and space. Overgrowth of algae/sea-grass on coral reefs can result in large numbers of corals being killed. This is one reason why it is so important to understand its impact on biological structures. Introduction The Andros Barrier Reef in the Bahamas is the third-largest barrier Reef in the world. It stretches approximately 220 kilometers from the Joulter Cays. Five main zones are divided by the reef’s architectural distribution and development. These include the lagoon and outer-fore and inner-fore coral reefs, as well as reef crest and reef crest. Due to its shallow lagoon depth, and proximity to shoreline, the Andros barrier reef is not considered “true”. The Andros Barrier Reef is a sloped cliff which descends to an ocean trench at a depth of about 2000 feet. This trench is commonly called the “Tongue of the Ocean”. The Andros Reef contains small-sized colonies soft-bodied coral polps. The reef exoskeleton is made up of their hard skeletons. The Andros Reef is home to the main coral species, the smooth brain coral and staghorn coral. The most diverse ecosystems in the world are important because barrier reefs can support twenty-five per cent of all marine species. (Cranton, Sanders, 1993). The Andros Barrier Reef is home to over 164 species, including coral and fish. Coral reefs depend on herbivorous fish for their ability to balance algae growth and formation. They compete with corals for sunlight, nutrients, and space. Their growth can cause coral death in large areas if they are not controlled. These studies examine the effects of depletion on reef sharks of the Andros Coral Reef. They also investigate the effect of sea-grass growth on juvenile fish. The following suggests that the decline of the Andros Barrier Reef’s reef sharks will have a cascading effect on coral reef systems. Topic AnalysisThe trophic levels of the ecosystem are key factors in how it functions. The Greek word for food/or food, Trophic, describes the position of an organism in the food chain. This is determined based on the organism’s desire to eat/be eaten. Primary producers, who are self-sustaining, make use of the sun’s radiation to generate food and turn it into biomass. Secondary, tertiary, and primary consumers will then consume the biomass. These interactions will determine the ecosystem’s trophic levels. As shown in the above figure, an ecosystem’s trophic dynamics will produce a pyramidal form with the bulk of primary producers at ground level and a smaller number of top predators on top. This is essential to ensure that the trophic distribution of organisms within their respective trophic level remains stable. Otherwise, ecosystems could suffer from imbalances. A food chain organizes the trophic levels of each organism to show the relationship. There are four major trophic levels in a food chain. They are primary producers and primary consumers, secondary buyers, and tertiary shoppers. Autotrophs that produce organic compounds by photosynthesis are the primary producers and form the basis of any food chain. Common autotrophs found in coral reefs include phytoplankton (i.e. You will find diatoms and algae as well as zooxanthellae. Primarily consumed organisms feed from this first group. These first consumers are herbivores.
They regulate the growth of algae, which is an essential part of coral reef systems. Too many algae can cause coral death. The Andros Barrier Reef has several primary consumers. These include soft coral, coralskeletons and plants. Secondary consumers make up the next trophic levels of organisms in our food web. These include corallivores as well piscivores which are fish feeders. Plankton feeders and other benthic organisms like plankton. CoralScience.org. Blue Tang, Flying Gurnards, Rock Lobsters, and Queen Trigger are all secondary consumers of the Andros Barrier Reef. They eat plankton and small crustaceans, invertebrates and worms. Tertiary shoppers are larger fish who eat smaller fish lower down in the foodchain. Tertiary shoppers may be predators or non-predators. The Andros’ tertiary predators include the Great Barracuda which feeds on tuna and herring, as well as the Green Moray who eats fish and squid. The ecosystem’s survival depends on how each trophic level is balanced. Ecologists have a firm belief that the apex prey is the one responsible for regulating an ecosystem’s trophic levels. Predation is a key factor in ensuring an ecosystem’s trophic stability. Predation by an predator helps to keep other levels of trophic stability in check. By controlling the populations of multiple species, prey species can be controlled to a reasonable level. This would reduce competition, and also allow for growth (Dodson 1973). Apex predators can cause ecosystem collapse by being removed. Predation actually benefits the ecosystem. The interactions between the top predator and the Andros barrier fish reef ensure that the ecosystem is stable and diverse. The Andros barrier’s greatest predator is the Reef shark. Its presence in the ecosystem is so important that it can be removed (Robbins 2006). Apex predators are reef sharks that feed on old, weak and sick fish. This will keep the reef’s population competitively healthy and allow for speciation and diversity to take place over time. Ecologists believe sharks are keystone species. Without them, ecosystems could be in danger or even wiped out. Many studies have examined the role of an apex species within an ecosystem. As the basis of this research, we will be looking at the AAAS study. This group performed a study to determine the effect of apex predators, such as sharks, being removed from their ecosystem. The group studied the effects on sharks when they were scarce and how the data was processed over a number of time periods. There would have been an increase in prey species on several occasions when shark presence was reduced. The prey species would increase in numbers if the sharks were not present. The shark’s niche cannot be preserved if there are declining numbers of primary consumers. As the AAAS model shows, primary consumers grow. Based on the above data, we concluded that losing an apex would result in the growth of primary and second-tier consumers. These are often called mesopredators. The number of green sea Turtles would rise if the population of reef sharks is reduced. Green sea turtles, which eat algae and are vital for coral reef health, can be detrimental to coral reef diversity. The only thing keeping green sea turtles from thriving in our Andros site food web was the reef sharks. The green turtles grow and reproduce normally without any predator. An increase in green sea turtles could put enormous pressure on primary seagrass production, which is their staple diet.
After hatching, the adult green sea turtles become carnivorous and then shift to being herbivores. They could become too numerous and cause sea grass beds to disappear. The nursery fish will then manage the situation. Many coral reefs are supported by sea-grasses. Because predators tend to choose larger fish over sea-grass, this is one of their most secure places to grow juvenile fish. Without seagrass beds, nursery fish wouldn’t have a place for growth, leading to under-population in future generations. The species’ diversity and speciation would be reduced, and each one would go extinct. This is an example showing the upward cascading effect on ecosystems that removing an apex predator can have. Sharks are in decline due to humans’ involvement. If the important predator is not protected, we could see another situation. Robbins (2006) concludes by saying that the elimination or reduction of an environment’s most important predator would likely lead to the destruction of the trophic Web. Their opportunistic feeding patterns mean that this will be the case. Contrary to the biased data, reefs sharks don’t feed exclusively on elderly, sick, or weak fish. Instead, their diet is all-inclusive and helps maintain equilibrium, as well as preventing overpopulation. The apex prey’s influence is so crucial that the trophic net becomes more mesopredator-friendly. The Andros would see a dramatic increase in green sea turtle numbers if the reef shark were to disappear. This would put a tremendous amount of selective pressure on smaller fish and primary producers. The cascading effect from top to bottom leads to loss of biodiversity and speciation, which in turn causes the collapse of local ecosystems. The Andros Reef’s tertiary customers include the Great Barracuda, Green Moray, Trumpet fish and the Reef Shark as the apex prey. This area is home to over 164 fish and coral species. Crandon (1993) also noted that the reef contains more than 25% of all marine species. However, these data might not be enough as the existence of non-apex consumers could provide a buffer against the loss of the predator. Data is required to determine whether there are inter- or intra-species exhibits of predation and food web interaction. It also includes longitudinal observations of an ecosystem that has lost its apex shark predator. What happens if an important mesopredator is lost, like the green sea Turtle? What would other non-apex dominant predators do if they were to be left without an apex prey? Are there any viable methods to prevent apex-loss If there is a total loss of tertiary consumers, could a relocation of an apex predator from a comparable environment be used to replace the loss?