Ecology of Reef Systems

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This Demonstration describes the relationship between consumption and production in reef systems with variations in food availability and ecological efficiency. This is based on collected data from French Frigate Shoals in Hawaii. The buttons allow you to choose among several different biological species. The production and consumption are represented on vertical gauges.

Contributed by: Cameron Berglund (June 2015)
Special thanks to the University of Illinois NetMath Program and the Mathematics Department at William Fremd High School.
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



Snapshot 1: production of green turtles

Snapshot 2: production of reef sharks

Snapshot 3: production of tiger sharks with maximum efficiency and varied consumption values

The equation used is , where is production, is efficiency, and is consumption, with production and consumption expressed in . Production is equal to the product of ecological efficiency—how efficient the organism is at using food—and consumption. The production of an organism measures how much of the food intake contributes to its growth.


[1] R. W. Grigg, J. J. Polovina, and M. J. Atkinson, "Model of a Coral Reef Ecosystem," Coral Reefs, 3:1, 1984 pp. 23–27.

[2] NOAA Fisheries. "Hawaiian Monk Seals (Monachus schauinslandi)." (May 13, 2015)

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