LISTENING 5 “ZOOLOGY CLASS ”
Narrator Listen to part of a lecture in a zoology class. The professor is discussing coral reefs.
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Every ecosystem on Earth is unique, but the coral reef is perhaps the most unusual of all because it’s the only ecosystem made by and made of—animals. All coral reefs are constructed by coral polyps, which are generally small, about the size of this pencil eraser. But, the structures themselves are, well, enormous. Astronauts have been able to identify the Great Barrier Reef in Australia from space. Can you believe that? And the diversity of species in large coral reefs is second only to the rainforest habitats. In fact, we estimate that for every species we’ve identified on a coral reef, there are probably a hundred times that number that remain to be classified and studied.
But how do these little polyps build such impressive reefs? Well, hard coral secrete a shell of calcium carbonate around their bodies. The polyp isnl hard, you see, but the shell is. And these shells are the material that forms a coral reef. So a coral reef Is just a colony—millions and millions of coral animals whose shells are connected. And reproduction is really the basis for the construction of a large reef. You see, as each polyp matures, it converts the calcium and other minerals in ocean water to a hard limestone exoskeleton called a corallite. And this is fascinating. Although the polyps themselves don’t appreciably increase in size, they continue to build new shells periodically, um, connecting them with … with partitions.
Now coral can reproduce sexually through an activity called mass spawning. During one night in the spring when the moon is full, coral polyps release egg bundles that contain both eggs and sperm. Most polyps have both male and female reproductive cells. The egg bundles are round, about half the size of marbles, I would say. They’re brightly colored in orange or red or pink, and they float up to the surface to form a thick layer of, uh… well think of them as rather fragrant beads. So with the water so saturated with them, predators will only be able to devour a small number compared with the huge number that will survive and break open. The sperm cells swim away to fertilize the eggs from another bundle. So … once fertilized, the little egg begins to mature from a coral larva to a planulae, which can swim for a few hours, days, or even a few weeks. Ultimately it locates a hard surface on which to attach itself and from which it will not move for the rest of its life, except for the movement involved in the process of building a new, neighboring shell as … as it continues to mature.
But actually sexual reproduction isn’t the way that coral reefs are really constructed. When a polyp matures on the site it’s selected, the habitat is identified as being conducive to reef building. So the mature polyp doesn’t just grow bigger, it actually replicates itself in a process called budding. After the genetic material is duplicated, then the polyp divides itself in half, and each half becomes a completely mature polyp. This budding process repeats itself, eventually producing thousands of asexually budded coral polyps connected by a tissue that grows over the limestone shells between the polyps. So, as you can imagine, budding will produce a large number of individual polyps, but they’ll all have exactly the same genetic code as the first polyp. And this creates the beginning of a coral reef, but without the diversity that eventually populates the habitat Wherever a coral reef is constructed, abundant sea life congregates. In fact, it’s been estimated that about 25 percent of all ocean species can be found within the coral reefs.
Now most coral polyps eat plankton—single-celled microscopic organisms that float or swim very slowly in the ocean water in their habitat. But, um, a coral reef has such a high concentration of polyps, they can’t rely solely on plankton to survive. So coral polyps have developed a symbiotic relationship with a single-celled algae called zooxanthella. Remember that to qualify as symbiotic, a relationship must be, um, mutually beneficial. So the zooxanthella produces food for the coral through the by-products of photosynthesis, and the coral provides a safe home for the zooxanthella, because it’s hidden from predators that inhabit the coral reef.
Every species of coral grows at a different rate, some as much as six inches a year. But faster grow¬ing colonies are more prone to breaking apart either from their own weight or from the continuous force of the ocean waves. Some species tend to grow more slowly, but they may live as long as a thousand years. Even so, only the top portion of any reef is actually alive and growing and the lower structure is comprised of the skeletal remains… that’s limestone corallite from coral that has died.
And what I find incredibly interesting about coral reefs is that each is a unique structure. But, of course, scientists need to classify, and so there’s a classification system for coral reefs. A fringing reef grows around islands and the shorelines of continents and extends out from the shore. In order to flourish, fringing reefs must have clean water, lots of sunshine, and a moderately high concentration of salt. Some good examples of fringing reefs can be found around the Hawaiian Islands. Oh, yes, these are the most common and also the most recently formed class of coral reefs. Here’s a drawing of a fringing reef.
I think this is actually one of the Hawaiian reefs.
Now, barrier reefs—they’re found further from shore, and they’re usually separated from the shoreline by a shallow body of water, maybe a lagoon. As in the case of the Great Barrier Reef off the shore of Australia, the body of water can be miles wide, so the reef is miles away from the shoreline. And there may actually be a collection of coral reefs fused together. This is a drawing of a reef in the Great Barrier chain.
As I recall there are about twenty-five, or maybe even more individual coral reefs connected to form the Great Barrier Reef. As a general rule, barrier reefs are larger and older than fringing reefs.
But the oldest class of coral reef is the ataff. which is a ring–shaped reef with a lagoon in the middle and deep water surrounding the ring. These are scattered throughout the South Pacific, kind of like oasis settlements in the desert. And they abound with a diversity of sea life. This is one of the South Pacific atolls.
So. as we reflect on everything we’ve said about coral, we know that it’s a relatively simple organism with a body ending in a mouth and tentacles. It reproduces both sexually and asexually by budding, and, um . . . it survives by forming a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthella. But none of this is very extraordinary. What is unique about coral in the animal kingdom is its ability to construct a variety of reefs, creating habitats that are absolutely unlike any others on Earth.
LISTENING 6 “BUSINESS CLASS “
Narrator Listen to part of a discussion in a business class Professor
Industry analysts report that multinational food companies are trying to use the same types of strategies that automobile and electronics manufacturers have found to be successful in the global marketplace.
The problem is that general rules for products that tend to be traditional for national or even regional tastes … these products are very difficult to identify and sales aren’t easy to project. But, the companies that tend to do best are those that are the most responsive to local tastes. And they spend development dollars on taste testing in the local markets before they formulate the final product. Can anyone recall any examples from the case studies in the text? Sandy?
McDonald’s Big Mac has more mustard in the special sauce in Paris than it does in New York. Professor Because?
Because taste tests verified that people in the United States liked sweeter condiments than people did in France. In fact, I think the … the sugar content for export foods in general usually has to be modified when American products are taste tested overseas.
Right you are. Probably the company that’s adapted most to local tastes is Nestle. Can you believe that they produce more than 200 slightly different blends of Nescafe for export to different countries? Amaz¬ing but true. But sometimes taste is less a problem of ingredients and more a matter of the way a food product looks or feels. One case study that comes to mind is the one about the soft cookies that just don’t sell as well in England as crisp cookies. So. you can see that taste extends way beyond just flavor. It’s really a combination of flavor preferences and local expectations.
Look, here’s another example of accommodation that had more to do with the expectation for a process than the flavor of the product. In this case study, it was cake. Remember when Betty Crocker cake mixes were introduced in England, they weren’t accepted because the English homemaker felt more comfortable with convenience foods that required more than water to prepare them. Go figure. But that was the problem uncovered by extensive market research. So when the mix was reformulated without an egg, and the preparation included adding an egg with the water before mixing it, well, Betty Crocker cake mixes became very popular in England. Any other examples come to mind? They don’t have to be from the case studies in the book.
Student 2: How about serving sizes?
Professor: Go on.
Well soft drinks for one. Just compare the serving sizes in the United States and many foreign markets where soft drinks are sold. The cans in foreign markets are much smaller because consumers expect it. But, uh, in the United States, well, super sizing is probably a consideration when a foreign company is trying to crack the American market.
That’s a great example. So the taste can be acceptable, but the packaging has to compare favorably with the competing brands and the public’s expectations.
Yeah, but that makes products more expensive, doesn’t it? I mean because you can’t standardize the product or the packaging so that would make it more … more costly to produce, wouldn’t it?
Right you are, Chris. In fact, you’ve really gone to the heart of the issue. A compromise has to occur between the requirement that products be adapted to please the taste and the expectations of local consumers and the pressure to standardize products for maximum cost effectiveness. Now, let’s complicate that even further. Even the experts don’t agree on the importance of how far to go in adapting products for local markets. A few years ago, Ted Levitt—he’s the editor of the Harvard Business Review—Levin predicted what he called a “pluralization of consumption.” What he means is that at least in some areas, tastes are likely to converge, which makes sense when you think about the increased opportunities tor travel and sampling of foods, as well as the continued global marketing efforts by multinational corporations. So logically, it’s smarter to simply identify the areas in which tastes are most likely to be the same, and concentrate efforts on those food products.
But there’s also the issue of global marketing. How about the potential to create taste? I mean, selling the image that surrounds using a product. If consumers want to associate themselves with that image, won’t they develop a taste for the product that does that for them? For example, there’s some evidence that the popularity of products seen in movies and television spills into the foreign marketplace. This subtle brand association with the movie or the celebrities in it translates into high dollar deals for certain brands to be visibly displayed in widely distributed films.
Oh, right. I was reading about that. It was in a couple of the case studies. The bottle, a can, or … or a package appears as part of the character’s persona, and if it’s a character that audiences choose to identify with, then the taste for the product may follow, or at least that’s what the marketing experts are betting on.
And that includes foreign audiences. Anyone drink Starbucks coffee? Well. Starbucks began as a regional coffee in Seattle. Washington, and made the global leap in 2000, opening shops in China, a huge market surely, but also a traditionally lea-drinking society. So what’s the attraction? Starbucks is marketing to the cosmopolitan consumer, the young trendy set looking for a modem image as well as a different taste.
Still, there have been some real surprises in the multinational dinner party. No one has really figured out why the Italians, Germans, and British love Kraft’s Philadelphia cream cheese, and the Greeks simply don’t buy it. And why did Perrier, a mineral water from France … why did Perrier take America by storm while other imported mineral waters . . . didn’t? In short, success in the food export industry is probably a combination of the real taste … the flavor of the product, with some adaptation for the local markets, the satisfaction of certain expectations for the preparation and packaging, and the taste for the product created by images in the global marketing plan. Add to this mix the potential for a short shelf life or even perishable products and, well, you have a very challenging problem for the multinational food industry.