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This glossary contains over 6,000 technical terms, with their definitions, explanations, and illustrative materials where apropos. The aim of the CoRIS glossary is to help the student or layperson, as well as the professional scientist and manager, to understand the complex language and terminology of coral reef ecosystem science when accessing any part of the NOAA Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS), including the scientific and technical literature and data. Habitats and communities adjacent to the coral reefs, such as sea grass meadows, mangrove forests and associated hard and soft substrate habitats are included within the scope of the coral reef ecosystem.

The glossary contains terms concerned with ecology, biogeography, evolution, taxonomy, morphology, physiology, cell and molecular biology, genetics, mapping, development, fisheries, oceanography, geosciences, conservation programs, remote-sensing, physics, chemistry, and data and information management.

The glossary is organized alphabetically by page -- A through Z. Literature sources are listed on the References Page.

The entire glossary is also provided as a PDF document (5.60 MB). The document includes all terms, photographs, images, and literature sources.

Click here to search the Glossary of Terminology.

Making a Contribution

We encourage the professional and academic community to contribute terms to the glossary. Suggestions will be reviewed by glossary staff.

Most terms related to corals, coral reefs, coral reef data and information, and coral reef threats and hazards already are listed in the glossary.

Contributors should provide:

  1. the term, its definition, and a reference source;
  2. its relationship to coral reefs, if it is not evident;
  3. (optional) a related photograph and caption; and
  4. the contributor's name, affiliation, and phone and/or email.

Please send your contributions to coris@noaa.gov. Write Glossary Addition in the subject of the email.