Reefs of the Deep: The Biology and Geology of Cold-Water Coral Ecosystems

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Science  28 Apr 2006:
Vol. 312, Issue 5773, pp. 543-547
DOI: 10.1126/science.1119861

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Coral reefs are generally associated with shallow tropical seas; however, recent deep-ocean exploration using advanced acoustics and submersibles has revealed unexpectedly widespread and diverse coral ecosystems in deep waters on continental shelves, slopes, seamounts, and ridge systems around the world. Advances reviewed here include the use of corals as paleoclimatic archives and their biogeological functioning, biodiversity, and biogeography. Threats to these fragile, long-lived, and rich ecosystems are mounting: The impacts of deep-water trawling are already widespread, and effects of ocean acidification are potentially devastating.

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