The Biology of Reefs and Reef Organisms

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9780226301679: The Biology of Reefs and Reef Organisms

Reefs provide a wealth of opportunity for learning about biological and ecosystem processes, and reef biology courses are among the most popular in marine biology and zoology departments the world over. Walter M. Goldberg has taught one such course for years, and he marshals that experience in the pages of The Biology of Reefs and Reef Organisms.
Goldberg examines the nature not only of coral reefs—the best known among types of reefs—but also of sponge reefs, worm reefs, and oyster reefs, explaining the factors that influence their growth, distribution, and structure. A central focus of the book is reef construction, and Goldberg details the plants and animals that form the scaffold of the reef system and allow for the attachment and growth of other organisms, including those that function as bafflers, binders, and cementing agents. He also tours readers through reef ecology, paleontology, and biogeography, all of which serve as background for the problems reefs face today and the challenge of their conservation. Visually impressive, profusely illustrated, and easy to read, The Biology of Reefs and Reef Organisms offers a fascinating introduction to reef science and will appeal to students and instructors of marine biology, comparative zoology, and oceanography.

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About the Author:

Walter M. Goldberg is professor emeritus at Florida International University, where he began his career as a marine biologist forty years ago.


“In this excellent synthesis of reefs past and present, Goldberg shows the great diversity of organisms that add structural complexity to the marine environment. . . . This is a great resource, and is fully referenced for those who want to delve further into a particular subject. Highly recommended.” (G. C. Jensen, University of Washington Choice)

“Overall, this book provides a detailed account of all things reef-related: what they are, where they came from, and where they are going. While the book discusses current controversies and challenges to both the study of reefs and reef health itself, it does not have a pessimistic tone. In fact, the beautiful illustrations and pictures, and the facts and information about reefs and their inhabitants, will go a long way toward inspiring a new generation of students to appreciate reefs in all their intricate detail.” (Oceanography)

“At a time when the word Biodiversity is almost everywhere, from scientists to the general public, from scientific journals and international conferences to newspapers, this book comes at the right time to give body to this concept with clear examples, and to summarise the growing literature in the various fields concerning the diversity and functions of reef organisms and structures, including biology, physiology, biogeography, ecology, geology and paleontology. This book shows not only the richness of these ecosystems and their ecological and biological complexity but also their vulnerability and the need to protect them rapidly, as well as the gaps in our knowledge.” (Limnology and Oceanography)

“In the stunningly short space of half a lifetime the world’s coral reefs have melted before our eyes into other things, from multihued to brown, from labyrinthine to flattened, from hard and waxing to brittle and waning, from boom towns glutted by fishes to ghost towns gutted of inhabitants. . . . Now it is our job to train a new generation of coral reef scientists—natural, social, and synthetic—on whose shoulders fall a massive exercise in clinical ecology: the stewarding of our most diverse, productive, and beloved of marine ecosystems into a more certain future in spite of all that we are and all that we have done. . . . As a general text on coral reef biology for college undergraduates, entry-level graduate students, or very advanced high school students, this one as yet has no equal. . . . We are witnessing an event of majesty and horror that is both preventable (though too late for that) and reversible (if we act hard and soon). This book is an essential tool in the campaign to ready our successors for the wonder, the discoveries, and the battles that lie ahead.” (Les Kaufman, Boston University Marine Program and Conservation International Reef Encounter)

“I especially appreciated the elements of page design that interweave structure, function, and often paleontology to give the reader a more holistic view of organism-to-ecosystem ecology and evolution. . . . The extensive use of photographs taken by experts in the field, combined with diagrams derived from the primary literature, puts this 401-page book in the category of ‘must have on my bookshelf.’ . . . The Biology of Reefs and Reef Organisms is clearly a painstakingly assembled labor of love.” (Phillip Dustan, College of Charleston Ecology)

“Reef biology—a sizable field of research—is becoming more pertinent as anthropogenic factors negatively impact fragile marine ecosystems. Encapsulating and accurately communicating the main aspects of reef biology in a single text is a real challenge, yet The Biology of Reefs and Reef Organisms by Walter Goldberg manages to achieve this feat. The text covers a large breadth of content, while still providing in-depth descriptions of the many aspects of reef biology. . . . Its comprehensive nature makes it a major accomplishment for a single author and an extremely useful resource for the field of reef biology.” (Jessica Lye, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia Biological Conservation)

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