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TRACES: The Trans-Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Study

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Trans-Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Study logo
Lophelia pertusa reef
Above: The Trans-Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Study (TRACES) will investigate deep-sea coral ecosystems like this Gulf of Mexico Lophelia pertusa reef with its associated community of macrofauna (note blackbelly rosefish at top right and galatheid crabs), meiofauna (for example, worms, hydroids, and smaller crustaceans), and microfauna (all the way down to bacteria and fungi). Photograph by Christina Kellogg, USGS. [larger version]

The concept for the Trans-Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Study (TRACES) program was unveiled at a deep-sea coral symposium conducted as part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting held in Boston, February 14-18, 2008. TRACES will be the first project to trace the flow of genes and animals across the sea-floor communities of an entire ocean basin. This international undertaking will involve researchers from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in an integrated study of deep-sea coral (also called cold-water coral) communities.

Delegate scientists from Canada, the United States, and Brazil met in a followup workshop, held February 28-29 in Wilmington, North Carolina, to begin developing a science plan for TRACES. A second workshop took place in Europe in March. The purpose of these workshops was to define the program’s research questions, establish a science plan, and lay the groundwork for future funding opportunities. The ultimate goal is to establish a funded international research program beginning in 2010.

TRACES coordinator J. Murray Roberts of the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences sums it up: "We must cross national boundaries to understand deep-sea coral ecosystems. The only way we can work out how to protect deep-sea corals is to understand how they are distributed and connected. We owe it to future generations to make sure these unique ecosystems are protected by conservation plans based on sound science."

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), which was a proud sponsor of the TRACES North American workshop, was represented among the delegates by Amanda Demopoulos (ecologist, USGS Florida Integrated Science Center [FISC] office in Gainesville), Christina Kellogg (microbiologist, FISC office in St. Petersburg), and Cheryl Morrison (geneticist, USGS Leetown Science Center in Kearneysville, West Virginia).

Related Web Sites
Trans-Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Study (TRACES)
Scottish Association for Marine Science

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Water Quality in the Salish Sea

Research Striking Variability in Sea-Otter Diets and Feeding Strategies

Meetings U.S. Coastal Water-Quality Workshop

Trans-Atlantic Coral Ecosystem Study

Awards Alaska Bird Conservation Awards

Staff Sea-Otter Expert Joins USGS Staff

New Mendenhall Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Publications May Publications List

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