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Mikael Dahl

Conservation genetics of cold-water corals

The loss of biological diversity is one of today's grand environmental problems. In the marine area Kosterfjorden is it possible to find the reef building cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. It is an important species because it creates a complex habitat for many other species while it grows and lay down its calcareous skeleton. The distribution of reefs decreases due to various human activities, e.g. seabed trawling, sedimentation and oil drilling. 20 years ago there were several vigorous reefs in Sweden, but today there are only two extant reef patches in Sweden. There are some larger reefs in the vicinity on the Norwegian side, which can be important for the survival of the Swedish population.
In order to be able to protect these reefs and create functional management tools is not only an exhaustive knowledge about the species itself essential, but also the ecology of the associated fauna. The information of biology and ecology for L. pertusa today is insufficient. What we need is more information of vital processes such as reproduction, larval-dispersal, and genetic variation. Molecular approaches provide valuable insights into a wide variety of ecological issues like this.

 My work is funded by:

  • Carl and Lili Lamm memory foundation, a Swedish foundation with the purpose to support scientific research for Swedish environment protection.
  • MARBIPP (Marine Biodiversity Patterns and Processes), a marine research program funded by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.
  • HERMES (Hotspot Ecosystem Research on the Margins of European Seas), an international, multidisciplinary research programme investigating "hotspot" ecosystems-discontinuous environments along the European continental margin. It is funded by the European Commission.

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