Crowds of Corals

Reef building corals have a superior advantage in their growth rates and regeneration abilities due to the symbiotic relationship between the coral individual (polyp) cemented into a community or coral ‘city’, and microscopic algae (zooxanthellae) living in the soft tissue. The algae requires light to photosynthesise and so branching corals extend their branches upwards to obtain maximum exposure to sunlight. At the same time plate corals are trying to spread out as much as possible for the same reason. In this situation it is often the species that grow the quickest that outcompete others, and a healthy coral reef often has little space for new comers.

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