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Paleo Slide Set: Coral Paleoclimatology:Natural Record of Climate change for High School Student
Food pyramid illustrating the transfer of energy.
This food pyramid shows some of the plants and animals that exist in a coral ecosystem. At the bottom is the basis of the food chain: the autotrophs. (Autotrophs are phytoplankton (microscopic plants) and other plants that convert carbon dioxide and water in the presence of sunlight and chlorophyll into food and oxygen. This process is called photosynthesis. At the second level of the pyramid are zooplankton. Zooplankton are microscopic animals, that are often the immature stages of other organisms, such as lobsters or clams. They receive their energy by consuming phytoplankton. For the most part, all plankton ride the ocean currents and are an easy target for larger organisms. Larger animals, such as sponges, feed on the zooplankton, adding the third level to the pyramid. The great white shark is at the top of the food pyramid and it has no natural predators.

Photo Credits:
Sarah H. Dawson
NOAA Paleoclimatology Program
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Last Modified: 12 October 2001

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