By Pam Walker;Elaine Wood
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Additional info for The Coral Reef (Life in the Sea)
As a sponge metabolizes all of this food, it produces and excretes waste products that serve as nutrient-rich fertilizers for many of the other reef organisms. Sponges have two distinctly different phases of life. In the adult form, they are sessile, or attached to one place. When it is time to reproduce, some of the cells in each adult sponge transform into eggs and motile sperm. The sperm are released into water so that they can travel to another sponge where they are captured by collar cells and transported to the waiting eggs.
When these animals are eaten by large predators or by humans, the toxin can cause a condition called paralytic shellfish poisoning, whose symptoms include weakness, numbness, dizziness, and slow respiration. Death can occur from respiratory failure. Another reef-dwelling species, Gambierdiscus toxicus, normally lives quietly on the surfaces of seaweeds in areas of the reef that are protected from waves. However, if predation is high, G. toxicus releases a chemical, ciguatoxin, that can poison fish, shellfish, or humans.
Detritivores break down dead or decaying matter, returning the nutrients to the environment. Nutrients in ecosystems are constantly recycled through interlocking food chains called food webs. Energy, on the other hand, cannot be recycled. It is eventually lost to the system in the form of heat. Autotrophs can capture the Sun’s energy because they contain the green pigment chlorophyll. 1, autotrophs use the Sun’s energy to rearrange the carbon atoms from carbon dioxide gas to form glucose molecules.
The Coral Reef (Life in the Sea) by Pam Walker;Elaine Wood