column spacer Nutrition
Primary productivity hot buttons for nutrition part of BCCR hot button for primary productivity part of BCCR hot button for carnivory part of BCCR hot button for Corals: a case study part of BCCR hot button for herbivory part of BCCR hot button for detrivory/bacterivory part of BCCR
There are 4 major trophic levels on a reef, with primary productivity being considered here. Information on the others, including "Corals: a case study" (corals use all trophic modes), can be accessed via the icons.
seahorse dive leader for Biology of Caribbean Coral Reef website photograph of seaweeds in coral-reef area taken from a video "Wonderfully rich seaweed growth in this area...lots of reds and greens, and ever so lush. Must be heaven for the herbivorous fishes." - Turks & Caicos 2003, Bonaire 2003
  schematic showing process of photosynthesis
As on land, primary production on a coral reef begins with photosyntheis, a process that converts water and carbon dioxide into sugar, water, and oxygen using the sun's energy. The sugar is then converted into amino acids, glycerol, and other carbohydrates in the plant. The schematic shows the balance sheet for major items involved in primary production in a plant.
seahorse dive leader for Biology of Caribbean Coral Reefs website photograph of primary producers on a coral reef taken from a video "We tend to think of seaweeds and phytoplankton as the primary producers on the reef. But corals have their own photosynthesising symbionts, and they aren't the only reef invertebrates that use energy from the sun in this way. These sponges and gorgonians also have symbiotic cells within their tissues." - Turneffe Island, Belize 2000 . Video courtesy Andy Stockbridge, Belize

Primary productivity: cyanobacteria (blue-green algae)

hot buttons for primary producers part of BCCR hot button for cyanobacteria productivity part of BCCR hot button for phytoplankton productivity part of BCCR hot button for invertebrates primary productivity part of BCCR hot button for seaweeds/seagrasses productivity part of BCCR

There are several routes of entry for the sun's energy into the coral-reef ecosystem. These include cyanobacteria, considered here, and phytoplankton, seaweeds, and seagrasses. A number of sessile/sedentary invertebrates, such as corals, gorgonians, sea anemones, and sponges, and even some motile forms, such as certain nudibranchs and clams, host photosynthesising symbionts. CLICK ON an icon to learn about each.

NOTE information on photosynthesis in corals can be found elsewhere CORALS: A CASE STUDY

seahorse dive leader for BCCR photograph of bluegreen algae taken from a video "Whenever you see soft growth on the sand like this, it may be cyanobacteria, a type of photosynthesising bacterium. Cyanobacteria are quite toxic and this may explain why the many herbivorous fishes around here have left them alone." - Bonaire 2003
  Cyanobacteria have several different types of photosynthetic chemicals, known as pigments, and these are what makes their colours so variable. For example, the pigment phycocyanin imparts a bluish colour, chlorophyll a imparts a greenish colour, and phycoerythrin imparts different reddish hues. Middle photograph courtesy Steve Pennings, Univ of collage of different types of cyanobacteria

photograph of cyanobacteria attacking a fan gorgonianCyanobacteria are fast-growing and aggressive, and can be involved in lethal overgrowth of otherwise healthy organisms on the reef.








Cyanobacteria (the dark, blue-coloured
soft strands) and other algae growing on
a fan gorgonian Gorgonia flabellum 0.5X