This activity explores images of a coral bleaching event, which serve as phenomena for learning about marine ecosystems, human impacts, and climate change.
Stressful environmental conditions may cause corals to force out their symbiotic algae in a process called coral bleaching. Though corals can survive short-term bleaching, their risk of disease and death increases. Human activities have led to an increase in coral bleaching worldwide. This impacts corals, coral reef ecosystems, and human communities that rely on coral reefs.
The “Educator Materials” document includes background information and implementation suggestions for using the images as phenomena. The “Student Handout” includes the images and background information. Note there are two groups of images: the images used in the main activity (Figures a and c), which can be used to introduce coral bleaching concepts, and “extension” images (Figures b, d, and e), which can be used to explore deoxygenation as one cause of coral bleaching.
Student Learning Targets
- Examine images of phenomena, make observations, and ask questions.
- Collaborate with peers on ideas, ask questions that require higher levels of reasoning, and develop deeper understanding of concepts.
- Describe the process and causes of coral bleaching and how it may be impacted by human activities.
algae, coral reef, deoxygenation, heat stress, hypoxia, marine biology, microbial mat, oceanography, symbiosis
Johnson, Maggie D., Jarrod J. Scott, Matthieu Leray, Noelle Lucey, Lucia M. Rodriguez Bravo, William L. Wied, and Andrew H. Altieri. “Rapid ecosystem-scale consequences of acute deoxygenation on a Caribbean coral reef.” Nature Communications 12, 4522 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24777-3.
The resource is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. No rights are granted to use HHMI’s or BioInteractive’s names or logos independent from this Resource or in any derivative works.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS2-6, HS-LS2-7; SEP1
AP Biology 2019
IB Biology 2016
4.1, 4.4, C.3
AP Environmental Science 2020
Topics(s): 1.3, 9.5, 9.6 Learning Objectives & Practices: ERT-1.C, STB-4.F, STB-4.G, SP2
IB Environmental Systems and Societies 2017
Common Core 2010
Vision and Change 2009