A climax community is an ecosystem in equilibrium. The Jamaican reef is not considered a climax community because it has not been given enough time to stabilize over the last 5,000 years. Obvious signs that the reef has not stabilized come from the almost random growth in areas of the reef. Some areas are greatly developed and other areas only have patches of coral. There have not been major environmental influences or catastrophes, such as earthquakes or tidal waves, that could explain this growth. The growth has simply been a result of random free-swimming coral. These chance free-swimming coral have produced this haphazard growth. There simply has not been enough time for them to grow in all possible favorable habitats. Random chance also occurs in coral settlement in variability of major species. For example, Montastrea annularis is the dominant branching coral in some Jamaican reefs, but Agaricia tenuifolia has the same role in habitats with identical shapes, sizes and orientations. An intuitive understanding of the major interactions can only be achieved after years of field experience.
In the reef ecosystem, all the animals interact and impact one another. The fishes, sea urchins, and other animals that graze on algal and coral tissues are especially important regarding reef ecology.
One of the most important organisms in a coral ecosystem is the algae zooxanthellae. Zooxanthellae are essential for the very existence of coral reefs.
Coral’s are the reason for the very existence of the reef ecosystem. See what roles corals fulfill as they create a foundation for life under the sea.
Unfortunately, Corals are prone to damage. The beauty of corals is matched by its sensitivity.