Measuring the metabolism of coral reefs and other ecosystems can give insight into the function and interactive processes taking place. These processes form the basis for carbon cycling in coral reefs. Organic carbon production is achieved via photosynthesis and respiration, while inorganic carbon is locked into the reef matrix through the process of calcification in which corals and other calcifying organisms precipitate calcium carbonate skeletons, which over thousands of years builds the structure of the reef. Quantifying the abundance of
This is useful for understanding the ecological status of a reef, for example to know if the system is degraded (i.e., low coral cover, high algal cover) or ‘healthy’ (i.e. more live coral cover).