Initial Publication Date: August 12, 2008

Trouble in Paradise: Factors that Impact Coral Health


Diver measuring coral. Photo courtesy of NASA.

In the previous lab, you explored the characteristics of the ocean environment in which coral reefs thrive. Unfortunately,there are a number of factors, both natural and anthropogenic anthropogenic: resulting from human activities , that can alter the ocean environment and threaten the health of coral reef ecosystems. In this activity, you will examine the three main factors that disrupt corals.

After completing this investigation, you should be able to:

  • use basic Geographic Information System (GIS) data to evaluate threats on coral reefs;
  • explain how certain fishing practices, pollution, and climate change can damage coral ecosystems; and
  • describe the predicted consequences for coral reefs.

Keeping Track of What You Learn

Throughout these labs, you will find two kinds of questions.
  • Checking In questions are intended to keep you engaged and focused on key concepts and to allow you to periodically check if the material is making sense. These questions are often accompanied by hints or answers to let you know if you are on the right track.
  • Stop and Think questions are intended to help your teacher assess your understanding of the key concepts and skills you should be learning from the lab activities and readings.
Your teacher will let you know which answers you should record and turn in.