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Continental Slope Coral Banks of the Southeastern United States: Exploring the Distribution, Ecology, and Biology of Deep Coral Habitats and Associated Fauna 2005

Deep coral habitats are more extensive and important than previously known, and at the same time they are being threatened. These high profile features may concentrate exploitable resources and enhance local productivity in ways similar to seamounts, but this has not yet been explored. Even though hypotheses have been posed on how coral banks form, data are lacking. Live coral ages and growth rates are poorly known in this area, and ages of coral mounds or dead coral stands are also limited or equivocal. The degree to which there is an obligate deep coral fauna is unclear. While the genetic structure of Lophelia in the northeastern Atlantic is being described, such studies are just beginning in the western Atlantic. It is for these reasons that locating, describing, and mapping deep corals and conducting basic biological studies in these habitats are priorities for our research. On our previous cruises, we have documented deep coral and outer shelf reef habitats and associated biota. However, these missions have only begun to quantify this extensive habitat off the southeastern US (SEUS). Our studies have also yielded many new records of biota, new ecological data, new data on habitat distributions/structures, and data on water column trophic connectivity. This cruise continues and expands our explorations of these unique and relatively unknown deep-water habitats.

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Updated: 2024-02-22
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