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Tropical Marine Ecology: Definition, Interaction, and Types of Ecosystems

by Widiya

Tropical marine ecology is a branch of aquatic ecology in tropical waters. Tropical marine ecology is the study of ecosystems both between organisms and the environment in tropical marine waters. The characteristics of the tropical sea are sunshine throughout the year and have two seasons. The advantages of tropical seas are high diversity of organisms, abundant food sources, minerals, and marine products.

Characteristic of Tropical Marine Ecosystems:

  • High salinity
  • High temperature
  • Sunlight penetrates very well
  • Continuity habitat (interconnected with each other)
  • The community consists of producers, consumers, zooplankton, and decomposers
  • The water current keeps moving

Interaction of Tropical Sea Ecosystems

  1. Physical Interactions

The mechanism of physical interaction in mangrove forests, sea grasses, and coral reefs is as follows:

  • Wave energy reduction
  • Sediment reduction
  • The arrangement of water supply both sea and freshwater originating from the river
  1. Interaction of Particle Organic Materials

High protein foods for large marine biota are small fragments on coral reefs. The origin of these fragments is largely from the interaction of organic matter particles that enter the ocean in the form of dissolved organic matter that accumulates and hardens. The rest comes from detritus from decaying mangrove and sea grass leaves. All particulate organic matter is destroyed by mangrove biota.

  1. Biota Migration Interactions
  • Short-term Food Migration

This migration is usually carried out by adult biota. There are two strategies, namely Edge feeders (utilizing a shelter habitat system such as sea urchins) and Migratory feeders (having a certain time to do it like snapper looking for dinner in the seagrass).

  • Life Cycle Migration between Systems is Different

Found in fish and shrimp species which at the time of larvae are on coral reefs that have plenty of shelters but when enlarged they migrate to the high seas.

  1. Interaction of Human Impact

Damage due to human activities in the form of activities:

  • Conversion of mangrove forests for ponds
  • Oil pollution
  • Tourism activities that pay less attention to EIA
  • Installation of boat anchors that damage coral colonies

Tropical Sea Ecosystem Types

The general typology of the marine ecosystem reviewed from land to sea includes 3 types, namely mangrove, followed by stretches of seagrass beds, and spans of coral reefs. Here is the explanation:

  1. Mangrove Ecosystem

Mangroves are halophyte, meaning that they have a high tolerance to the level of salinity of sea water and are alkaline. Mangrove ecophysiology:

  • Survive with high salt concentrations
  • Maintenance of water desalination
  • Root specialization
  • Reproductive
  • Response to light

The functions and roles of mangroves:

Physical function

  • Keep the coastline
  • Speed up the formation of new land
  • Protectors against waves and currents
  • Recycling important nutrients

Biology function

  • As a nursery ground, feeding ground and spawning ground for some shrimp species
  • The habitat of various wild life

Economic function

  • Aquaculture
  • Recreation
  • Wood producer
  1. Sea grass Ecosystem

Sea grass is the only flowering plant that is fully adaptable in waters with high salinity. These plants have rhizomes, vessels, roots, and breed with seeds and shoots. This ecosystem is located in sloping waters that get enough sunlight and high nutrient abundance because it is a transition of land and sea so that organic productivity is high. Ecological characteristics of sea grasses:

  • There are sloping waters
  • Able to live at a depth of 30 meters in calm and protected waters
  • The lowest limit of tidal areas is near mangrove forests or on the plains of coral reefs
  • Depends on sunlight
  • Able to perform metabolism optimally if the whole body is submerged in water
  • Able to live in salt water media
  • Has a well-developed root

The functions and roles of seagrass ecosystems:

  • As a producer
  • Biota habitat
  • Sediment catcher
  • Nutrient recycler
  1. Coral Reef Ecosystem

Ecosystems on the tropical seabed are built by limestone-producing marine biota, especially types of coral and limestone algae.

The function of coral reefs:

  • The habitat of various types of marine species
  • Medical and pharmaceutical bioactive materials
  • Beach border guard from current

Benefits of coral reef ecosystems:

  • Beach and small island protection
  • Marine tourism
  • Mariculture
  • Extractive activities
  • Barrier area

Interactions that occur on coral reefs:

  • Simple interactions include: competition, predator, grazing, commensalism, and the type of mutualism symbiosis
  • Complex interactions: food network interactions

That is a picture of the ecology of the tropical sea. Hopefully, it can be useful and increase knowledge.

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