Project title: Cold-water corals: Assessing the impacts of multiple stressors and developing novel geochemical proxies for environmental change
Researcher: Erica Krueger
Cold-water corals are proxies for sea water temperature and environmental change. This research will aid in addressing pressing environmental challenges related to climate change and microplastic pollution. Negative consequences are predicted for cold-water corals if sub-optimal ocean conditions persist. We need to better understand how these oceanic parameters are affecting cold-water corals in terms of growth, structure, strength, and function, in order to determine how changes may influence deep-sea ecosystem engineering in the future. Data collection is being conducted on previously collected samples that have been used in other research projects. No specimens are threatened species. Using examples from both the contemporary environment and the geological past, CWCs are used to assess different kinds of environmental pressures. With respect to modern-day processes, this research investigates the effect of ocean acidification and microplastic pollution on CWC biomineralisation. This research also investigates how varying seawater temperature conditions affect the geochemical signature preserved in biomineralised fibrous skeletal tissue, and how these geochemical temperature proxies can be applied to the geological past.