Glossary of Marine Biology

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Calcareous Made of calcium carbonate

 

Carrying capacity. The total number of individuals of a population that a given environment can sustain

 

Carnivore An organism that captures and consumes animals

 

Catadromous fish.. Fish that spawns in seawater but feed and spends most of its life in estuarine or fresh water

 

Chaetognaths. See Arrowworms

 

Character displacement. A pattern in which two species with overlapping ecological requirements differ more when they co-occur than when they do not. The difference is usually in a morphological feature related to resource exploitation, as in the case of head size, which may be related to prey size

 

Chemosynthesis. Primary production of organic matter, using various substances instead of light as an energy source; confined to a few groups of microorganisms

 

Chlorinity. Grams of chloride ions per 1000 grams of seawater

 

Chloroplast. In eukaryotic organisms, the cellular organelle in which photosynthesis takes place

 

Cladogram. A tree-like diagram showing evolutionary relationships. Any two branch tips sharing the same immediate node are most closely related. All taxa that can be traced directly to one node (that is they are "upstream of a node") are said to be members of a monophyletic group.

 

Coastal reef. A coral reef occurring near and parallel to a coastline

 

Comb jellies. Members of the phylum Ctenophora, a group of gelatinous forms feeding on smaller zooplankton

 

Commensal. Having benefit for one member of a two-species association but neither positive nor negative effect on the other

 

Compensation depth. The depth of the compensation light intensity

 

Compensation light intensity. That light intensity at which oxygen evolved from a photosynthesizing organism equals that consumed in its respiration

 

Competition. An interaction between or among two or more individuals or species in which exploitation of resources by one affects any others negatively

 

Complex life cycle. A life cycle that consists of several distinct stages (e.g., larva and adult)

 

Conformer. An organism whose physiological state (e.g., body temperature) is identical to, and varies identically with, that of the external environment

 

Continental drift. Horizontal movement of continents located in plates moving via sea-floor spreading

 

Continental shelf. A broad expanse of ocean bottom sloping gently and seaward from the shoreline to the shelf-slope break at a depth of 100 to 200 m

 

Continental slope. See Slope

 

Convergence. The contact at the sea surface between two water masses converging, one plunging below the other

 

Copepod. Order of crustaceans found often in the plankton

 

Coprophagy. Feeding on fecal material

 

Coral reef. A wave-resistant structure resulting from cementation processes and the skeletal construction of hermatypic corals, calcareous algae, and other calcium carbonate-secreting organisms

 

Corer. Tubular benthic sampling device that is plunged into the bottom in order to obtain a vertically oriented cylindrical sample

 

Coriolis effect. The deflection of air or water bodies, relative to the solid earth beneath, as a result of the earth's eastward rotation

 

Countercurrent exchange mechanism. Mechanism by which two vessels are set side by side, with fluid flowing in opposite directions, allowing efficient uptake and retention of heat, oxygen, or gas, depending upon the type of exchanger

 

Countershading. Condition of organisms in the water column that are dark-colored on top but light-colored on the bottom

 

Counter-illumination. Having bioluminescent organs that are concentrated on the ventral surface so as to increase the effect of countershading (see also countershading)

 

Critical depth. That depth above which total integrated photosynthetic rate equals total integrated respiration of photosynthesizers

 

Critical salinity. A salinity of approximately 5 to 8% that marks a minimum of species richness in an estuarine system

 

Ctenophora. See Comb jellies