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Trans-Atlantic coral ecosystem studies (TRACES)
Start date: 01 Sep 2007, End date: 31 Aug 2009 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The TRACES proposal seeks funding for a two-year fellowship. The applicant has over ten years research experience and has worked on cold-water coral ecosystems since 1997.It is now clear that these ecosystems are widespread in the Atlantic Ocean where the y support high biodiversity and are significant archives of palaeo-climatic information. It is also clear that they have been damaged by bottom trawling and may be threatened by ocean acidification.However, the lack of unified ocean basin-scale studies of these deep-water ecosystems limits their use as palaeo-climatic archives, impedes our understanding of their significance as speciation centres and the paucity of information on their ecological connectivity limits the scientific basis for the design of marine protected areas.This proposal will address these deficiencies through two complementary aims:- Coral occurrence: 'to examine the physical forcing factors underlying cold-water coral occurrence in the US South Atlantic Bight',- Trans-Atlantic Study: 'to produce a clear conceptual framework for the first ocean basin-scale assessment of cold-water coral ecosystems'.The fellowship will enhance the career of the applicant by giving a period of sabbatical (University of North Carolina at Wilmington, USA, 16 months) during which he can focus solely on the fellowship objectives and benefit from access to new data, expertise and advanced infrastructure available in the USA.Following this, a re-integration period at the applicant's employer (Scottish Association for Marine Science, UK, 8 months) ensures that the benefits of the mobility period are transferred back to the European Union.As well as enhancing the applicant's international collaborations, this proposal is designed to strengthen deep ocean research links between Europe and North America and make a significant contribution to the European Commission's 'Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment'.
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