1.(MeSH)A class in the phylum CNIDARIA, comprised mostly of corals and anemones. All members occur only as polyps; the medusa stage is completely absent.;Species of ANTHOZOA which secrete a skeleton and are responsible for the formation of coral reefs.
1.of a strong pink to yellowish-pink color
1.marine colonial polyp characterized by a calcareous skeleton; masses in a variety of shapes often forming reefs
2.a variable color averaging a deep pink
3.unfertilized lobster roe; reddens in cooking; used as garnish or to color sauces
4.the hard stony skeleton of a Mediterranean coral that has a delicate red or pink color and is used for jewelry
CoralCor"al (?), n. [Of. coral, F, corail, L. corallum, coralium, fr. Gr. kora`llion.]
1. (Zoöl.) The hard parts or skeleton of various Anthozoa, and of a few Hydrozoa. Similar structures are also formed by some Bryozoa.
☞ The large stony corals forming coral reefs belong to various genera of Madreporaria, and to the hydroid genus, Millepora. The red coral, used in jewelry, is the stony axis of the stem of a gorgonian (Corallium rubrum) found chiefly in the Mediterranean. The fan corals, plume corals, and sea feathers are species of Gorgoniacea, in which the axis is horny. Organ-pipe coral is formed by the genus Tubipora, an Alcyonarian, and black coral is in part the axis of species of the genus Antipathes. See Anthozoa, Madrepora.
2. The ovaries of a cooked lobster; -- so called from their color.
3. A piece of coral, usually fitted with small bells and other appurtenances, used by children as a plaything.
Brain coral, or Brain stone coral. See under Brain. -- Chain coral. See under Chain. -- Coral animal (Zoöl.), one of the polyps by which corals are formed. They are often very erroneously called coral insects. -- Coral fish. See in the Vocabulary. -- Coral reefs (Phys. Geog.), reefs, often of great extent, made up chiefly of fragments of corals, coral sands, and the solid limestone resulting from their consolidation. They are classed as fringing reefs, when they border the land; barrier reefs, when separated from the shore by a broad belt of water; atolls, when they constitute separate islands, usually inclosing a lagoon. See Atoll. -- Coral root (Bot.), a genus (Corallorhiza) of orchideous plants, of a yellowish or brownish red color, parasitic on roots of other plants, and having curious jointed or knotted roots not unlike some kinds of coral. See Illust. under Coralloid. -- Coral snake. (Zo) (a) A small, venomous, Brazilian snake (Elaps corallinus), coral-red, with black bands. (b) A small, harmless, South American snake (Tortrix scytale). -- Coral tree (Bot.), a tropical, leguminous plant, of several species, with showy, scarlet blossoms and coral-red seeds. The best known is Erythrina Corallodendron. -- Coral wood, a hard, red cabinet wood. McElrath.
definition of Wikipedia
African coral snake • Asian coral snake • Australian coral snake • Coral Sea • Coral Snake • Indian coral tree • New World coral snake • Old World coral snake • Western Australia coral pea • battle of the Coral Sea • brain coral • common coral tree • coral bean • coral bean tree • coral bush • coral drops • coral fungus • coral gem • coral honeysuckle • coral island • coral necklace • coral pea • coral reef • coral root • coral snake • coral tree • coral vine • coral weed • coral-red • coral-root bittercress • coral-wood • crested coral root • early coral root • eastern coral snake • gorgonian coral • madriporian coral • mushroom coral • pale coral root • precious coral • red coral • spotted coral root • stag's-horn coral • staghorn coral • stony coral • striped coral root • western coral snake
Corals (n.) [MeSH]
coral (adj.) [épith]
mou, lâche (fr)[Thème]
morphologie des crustacés (fr)[DomainDescrip.]
nuance de couleur claire (fr)[Classe]
accouplement animal (fr)[Classe]
ensemble d'œufs (fr)[Classe...]
|Pillar coral, Dendrogyra cylindricus|
|Extant Subclasses and Orders|
Corals are marine animals in class Anthozoa of phylum Cnidaria typically living in compact colonies of many identical individual "polyps". The group includes the important reef builders that inhabit tropical oceans and secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton.
A coral "head" is a colony of myriad genetically identical polyps. Each polyp is a spineless animal typically only a few millimeters in diameter and a few centimeters in length. A set of tentacles surround a central mouth opening. An exoskeleton is excreted near the base. Over many generations, the colony thus creates a large skeleton that is characteristic of the species. Individual heads grow by asexual reproduction of polyps. Corals also breed sexually by spawning: polyps of the same species release gametes simultaneously over a period of one to several nights around a full moon.
Although corals can catch small fish and plankton, using stinging cells on their tentacles, most corals obtain the majority of their energy and nutrients from photosynthetic unicellular algae called zooxanthellae that live within the coral's tissue. Such corals require sunlight and grow in clear, shallow water, typically at depths shallower than 60 metres (200 ft). Corals can be major contributors to the physical structure of the coral reefs that develop in tropical and subtropical waters, such as the enormous Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Other corals do not have associated algae and can live in much deeper water, with the cold-water genus Lophelia surviving as deep as 3,000 metres (9,800 ft). Examples live on the Darwin Mounds located north-west of Cape Wrath, Scotland. Corals have also been found off the coast of the U.S. in Washington State and the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.
Corals divide into two subclasses, depending on the number of tentacles or lines of symmetry, and a series of orders corresponding to their exoskeleton: nematocyst type and mitochondrial genetic analysis. Common coral typing crosses suborder/class boundaries.
Hermatypic corals in the subclass Scleractinia are stony corals that build reefs. They mostly obtain at least part of their energy requirements from zooxanthellae, symbiotic photosynthetic microalgae. They secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton. Those having six or fewer lines of symmetry in their body structure are called hexacorallia or Zoantharia. This group includes reef-building corals (scleractinians), sea anemones and zoanthids. Hermatypic genera include Scleractinia, Millepora, Tubipora and Heliopora.
In the Caribbean alone, at least 50 species of uniquely structured hard coral exist. Well-known types include:
Ahermatypic corals have no zooxanthellae. They sport eight tentacles and are also called octocorallia. They include corals in subclass Alcyonacea, as well as some species in order Anthipatharia (black coral, Cirripathes, Antipathes). Ahermatypic corals, such as sea whips, sea feathers, and sea pens, are also known as soft corals. Unlike stony corals, they are flexible, undulating in the current, and often are perforated, with a lacy appearance. Their skeletons are proteinaceous, rather than calcareous. Soft corals are somewhat less plentiful (in the Caribbean, twenty species appear) than stony corals.
Corals can be perforate or imperforate. Perforate corals have porous skeletons, which allows their polyps to connect with each other through the skeleton. Imperforate corals have hard solid skeletons.
The Muslim polymath Al-Biruni (d. 1048) classified sponges and corals as animals arguing that they respond to touch. Nevertheless, people believed coral to be a plant until the 18th century, when William Herschel used a microscope to establish that coral had the characteristic thin cell membranes of an animal.
The polyps interconnect by a complex and well-developed system of gastrovascular canals, allowing significant sharing of nutrients and symbiotes. In soft corals, these range in size from 50–500 micrometres (0.0020–0.020 in) in diameter, and allow transport of both metabolites and cellular components.
While the coral head is the familiar visual form of a single organism, it is actually a group of many individual, yet genetically identical, multicellular organisms known as polyps. Polyps are usually a few millimeters in diameter, and are formed by a layer of outer epithelium and inner jellylike tissue known as the mesoglea. They are radially symmetrical, with tentacles surrounding a central mouth, the only opening to the stomach or coelenteron, through which food is ingested and waste expelled.
The stomach closes at the base of the polyp, where the epithelium produces an exoskeleton called the basal plate or calicle (L. small cup). The calicle is formed by a thickened calcareous ring (annular thickening) with six supporting radial ridges (as shown below). These structures grow vertically and project into the base of the polyp. When a polyp is physically stressed, its tentacles contract into the calyx so that virtually no part is exposed above the skeletal platform. This protects the organism from predators and the elements.
The polyp grows by extension of vertical calices which occasionally septate to form a new, higher, basal plate. Over many generations, this extension forms the large calcareous structures of corals and ultimately coral reefs.
Formation of the calcareous exoskeleton involves deposition of the mineral aragonite by the polyps from calcium and carbonate ions they acquire from seawater. The rate of deposition, while varying greatly across species and environmental conditions, can reach 10 g/m² of polyp/day (0.3 ounce/sq yd/day). This is light dependent, with night-time production 90% lower than that during the middle of the day.
Nematocysts at the tips of the calices are stinging cells that carry venom which they rapidly release in response to contact with another organism. The tentacles also bear a contractile band of epithelium called the pharynx. Jellyfish and sea anemones also carry nematocysts.
Polyps feed on a variety of small organisms, from microscopic plankton to small fish. The polyp's tentacles immobilize or kill prey using their nematocysts (also known as 'cnidocysts'). The tentacles then contract to bring the prey into the stomach. Once the prey is digested, the stomach reopens, allowing the elimination of waste products and the beginning of the next hunting cycle.
Many corals, as well as other cnidarian groups such as Aiptasia (a sea anemone) form a symbiotic relationship with a class of algae, zooxanthellae, of the genus Symbiodinium. Aiptasia, a familiar pest among coral reef aquarium hobbyists, serves as a valuable model organism in the study of cnidarian-algal symbiosis. Typically, each polyp harbors one species of algae. Via photosynthesis, these provide energy for the coral, and aid in calcification. The algae benefit from a safe place to live and consume the polyp's carbon dioxide and nitrogenous waste. Due to the strain the algae can put on the polyp, stress on the coral often drives them to eject the algae. Mass ejections are known as coral bleaching, because the algae contribute to coral's brown coloration; other colors, however, are due to host coral pigments, such as green fluorescent proteins (GFPs). Ejection increases the polyp's chance of surviving short-term stress—they can regain algae, possibly of a different species at a later time. If the stressful conditions persist, the polyp eventually dies.
About 75% of all hermatypic corals "broadcast spawn" by releasing gametes—eggs and sperm—into the water to spread offspring. The gametes fuse during fertilization to form a microscopic larva called a planula, typically pink and elliptical in shape. A typical coral colony forms several thousand larvae per year to overcome the odds against formation of a new colony.
Synchronous spawning is very typical on the coral reef, and often, even when multiple species are present, all corals spawn on the same night. This synchrony is essential so male and female gametes can meet. Corals rely on environmental cues, varying from species to species, to determine the proper time to release gametes into the water. The cues involve temperature change, lunar cycle, day length, and possibly chemical signalling. Synchronous spawning may form hybrids and is perhaps involved in coral speciation. The immediate cue is most often sunset, which cues the release. The spawning event can be visually dramatic, clouding the usually clear water with gametes.
Brooding species are most often ahermatypic (not reef-building) in areas of high current or wave action. Brooders release only sperm, which is negatively buoyant, sinking on to the waiting egg carriers who harbor unfertilized eggs for weeks. Synchronous spawning events sometimes occurs even with these species. After fertilization, the corals release planula that are ready to settle.
Planulae exhibit positive phototaxis, swimming towards light to reach surface waters, where they drift and grow before descending to seek a hard surface to which they can attach and begin a new colony. They also exhibit positive sonotaxis, moving towards sounds that emanate from the reef and away from open water. High failure rates afflict many stages of this process, and even though millions of gametes are released by each colony, few new colonies form. The time from spawning to settling is usually two to three days, but can be up to two months. The larva grows into a polyp and eventually becomes a coral head by asexual budding and growth.
Budding involves splitting a smaller polyp from an adult. As the new polyp grows, it forms its body parts. The distance between the new and adult polyps grows, and with it, the coenosarc (the common body of the colony; see coral anatomy). Budding can be:
Division forms two polyps each as large as the original. Longitudinal division begins when a polyp broadens and then divides its coelenteron, analogous to splitting a log along its length. The mouth also divides and new tentacles form. The two "new" polyps then generate their missing body parts and exoskeleton. Transversal division occurs when polyps and the exoskeleton divide transversally into two parts. This means one has the basal disc (bottom) and the other has the oral disc (top), similar to cutting the end off a log. The new polyps must separately generate the missing pieces.
Asexual reproduction has several benefits for these sessile colonial organisms:
Whole colonies can reproduce asexually, forming two colonies with the same genotype.
The hermatypic, stony corals are often found in coral reefs, large calcium carbonate structures generally found in shallow, tropical water. Reefs are built up from coral skeletons, and are held together by layers of calcium carbonate produced by coralline algae. Reefs are extremely diverse marine ecosystems hosting over 4,000 species of fish, massive numbers of cnidaria, mollusks, crustacea, and many other animals.
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|Horn coral fossil.|
Tabulate corals occur in limestones and calcareous shales of the Ordovician and Silurian periods, and often form low cushions or branching masses alongside rugose corals. Their numbers began to decline during the middle of the Silurian period, and they became extinct at the end of the Permian period, . The skeletons of tabulate corals are composed of a form of calcium carbonate known as calcite.
Rugose corals became dominant by the middle of the Silurian period, and became extinct early in the Triassic period. The rugose corals existed in solitary and colonial forms, and were also composed of calcite.
The scleractinian corals filled the niche vacated by the extinct rugose and tabulate species. Their fossils may be found in small numbers in rocks from the Triassic period, and became common in the Jurassic and later periods. Scleractinian skeletons are composed of a form of calcium carbonate known as aragonite. Although they are geologically younger than the tabulate and rugose corals, their aragonitic skeleton is less readily preserved, and their fossil record is less complete.
At certain times in the geological past, corals were very abundant. Like modern corals, these ancestors built reefs, some of which ended as great structures in sedimentary rocks.
Fossils of fellow reef-dwellers algae, sponges, and the remains of many echinoids, brachiopods, bivalves, gastropods, and trilobites appear along with coral fossils. This makes some corals useful index fossils that enabled geologists to date the rocks in which they are found. Coral fossils are not restricted to reef remnants, and many solitary fossils may be found elsewhere, such as Cyclocyathus, which occurs in England's Gault clay formation.
A Petoskey stone is a rock and a fossil, often pebble-shaped, that is composed of a fossilized coral, Hexagonaria percarinata. They are found predominantly in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and the northwestern portion of Michigan's Lower Peninsula.
Coral reefs are under stress around the world. In particular, coral mining, agricultural and urban runoff, pollution (organic and inorganic), overfishing, blast fishing, disease, and the digging of canals and access into islands and bays are localized threats to coral ecosystems. Broader threats are sea temperature rise, sea level rise and pH changes from ocean acidification, all associated with greenhouse gas emissions. In 1998, 16% of the world's reefs died as a result of increased water temperature.
General estimates show approximately 10% of the world's coral reefs are dead. About 60% of the world's reefs are at risk due to human-related activities. The threat to reef health is particularly strong in Southeast Asia, where 80% of reefs are endangered. Over 50% of the world's coral reefs may be destroyed by 2030; as a result, most nations protect them through environmental laws.
In the Caribbean and tropical Pacific, direct contact between ~40 to 70% of common seaweeds and coral causes bleaching and death to the coral via transfer of lipid–soluble metabolites. Seaweed and algae proliferate given adequate nutrients and limited grazing by herbivores such as parrotfish.
Water temperature changes of more than 1-2 degrees Celsius (1.8-3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or salinity changes can kill coral. Under such environmental stresses, corals expel their zooxanthellae; without them coral tissues reveal the white of their skeletons, an event known as coral bleaching.
Submarine springs found along the coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula produce water with a naturally low pH (a measure of acidity) providing conditions similar to those expected to become widespread as the oceans absorb carbon dioxide. Surveys discovered multiple species of live coral that appeared to tolerate the acidity. The colonies were small and patchily distributed, and had not formed structurally complex reefs such as those that compose the nearby Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System.
Many governments now prohibit removal of coral from reefs, and inform coastal residents about reef protection and ecology. While local action such as habitat restoration and herbivore protection can reduce local damage, the longer-term threats of acidification, temperature change and sea-level rise remain a challenge.
Local economies near major coral reefs benefit from an abundance of fish and other marine creatures as a food source. Reefs also provide recreational scuba diving and snorkeling tourism. These activities can damage coral.
Coral's many colors give it appeal for necklaces and other jewelry. Intensely red coral is prized as a gemstone. Sometimes called fire coral, it is not the same as fire coral. Red coral is very rare because of overharvesting.
The annual growth bands in deep sea bamboo corals (Isididae) and others may be among the ocean's first organisms to display the effects of ocean acidification. They produce growth rings similar to those of trees, and can provide a view of changes in the condition in the deep sea over time. They allow geologists to construct year-by-year chronologies, a form of incremental dating, which underlie high-resolution records of past climatic and environmental changes using geochemical techniques.
Certain species form communities called microatolls, which are colonies whose top is dead and mostly above the water line, but whose perimeter is mostly submerged and alive. Average tide level limits their height. By analyzing the various growth morphologies, microatolls offer a low resolution record of sea level change. Fossilized microatolls can also be dated using radioactive carbon dating. Such methods can help to reconstruct Holocene sea levels.
Coral aquaculture, also known as coral farming or coral gardening, is the cultivation of corals for commercial purposes or coral reef restoration. Aquaculture is showing promise as a potentially effective tool for restoring coral reefs, which have been declining around the world. The process bypasses the early growth stages of corals when they are most at risk of dying. Coral seeds are grown in nurseries then replanted on the reef. Coral is farmed by coral farmers who live locally to the reefs and farm for reef conservation or for income. It is also farmed by scientists for research, by businesses for the supply of the live and ornamental coral trade and by private aquarium hobbyists.
Staghorn coral, Acropora
|Wikispecies has information related to: Coral|
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