Marine Ecosystems: Reefs

Supra and Upper Littorial Zones

Littoral zone, marine ecological realm that experiences the effects of tidal and longshore currents and breaking waves to a depth of 5 to 10 metres (16 to 33 feet) below the low-tide level, depending on the intensity of storm waves.


(Encyclopædia Britannica, 2018)

The Supralittoral zone (splash zone, sometimes also referred to as the white zone) outlines the stretch above the high water level, i.e.seawater penetratesthese elevated areas only during storms with highest tides. Organisms here must cope with long periods of exposure to air as well as heat, cold, rain (fresh water), and predation by land animals and seabirds. 

(Madl, 2000)

The high tide zone, or upper mid-littoral zone, is only underwater during periods of high tide. Few aquatic creatures are able to survive the relative lack of water here, though some creatures still do manage to survive in this region. Most animals that live in this region are mobile, because of the scarcity of water. The upper mid-littoral zone may also have its own tide pools where isolated groups of animals live.

(Science Trends, 2018)

Ocean Zonation

"Ocean Zonation." Britannica School, Encyclopædia Britannica, 17 Jun. 2005. Accessed 1 Nov. 2018.


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Welcome to the research guide for Marine Ecosystems: Reefs. Marine ecosystems can be defined as the interaction of plants, animals, and the marine environment. Marine ecosystems are made up smaller distinct ecosystems such as salt marshes, estuaries, the ocean and reefs (Marine Ecosystems, 2018).


This guide explores the ecosystems of the reef platform for the task of studying Mudurup Rocks (Cottesloe Reef). 

Mudurup Rocks (Cottesloe Reef)

Mudurup Rocks is one of the last known and surviving indigenous mythological, ceremonial and fishing sites located on the Western Australian metropolitan coast. The original site name Mudurup (pronounced ‘Moordoorup’ or ‘Murdarup’) which means ‘place of whiting’ derives from the Nyungar mudu (or muda, murdar, murda or muda) meaning whiting + up, meaning place of. 4 In the context of Cottesloe it is said to refer to the place of the yellowfinned whiting (or yellowfin whiting) — this being the species (Sillago schomburgkii) most commonly found in this area. (Macintyre, & Dobson, 2014)

Australian Reef Marine Parks


Abiotic and Biotic Factors

All ecosystems have biotic and abiotic components. It is not possible to count all living and non-living things in an ecosystem but we can try to characterise them by counting their numbers in a transect. A transect is an area in which sample population counts of plants and animals can be taken. The size of the transect needs to be large enough to represent the biotic and abiotic factors of the ecosystem and this will vary depending on the ecosystem being studied. (SCSA, 2015)

The abiotic factors in an ecosystem include all the nonliving elements of the ecosystem. Air, soil or substrate, water, light, salinity and temperature all impact the living elements of an ecosystem.

(Karen, 2018). 

In an ecosystem, biotic factors include all the living parts of the ecosystem. A healthy woodland ecosystem contains producers like grasses and trees, as well as consumers ranging from mice and rabbits to hawks and bears. The biotic components of an ecosystem also encompass decomposers like fungus and bacteria. A healthy aquatic ecosystem includes producers like algae and phytoplankton, consumers like zooplankton and fish, and decomposers like bacteria.

(Karen, 2018). 

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