Coral reefs are known for their rich biological diversity. In Sweden, only one reef-building coral species exists, a cold-water coral called Lophelia pertusa.
Lophelia pertusa requires an environment with a constant high level of salinity and low water temperatures all year round. In Sweden, these conditions only exist in the northern part of Bohuslän, where deep water from the Atlantic is led in via the Norwegian Trench.
“We’ve known since the mid-1920s that cold-water coral reefs exist here in Sweden,” says marine biologist and researcher Mikael Dahl. “At that time, corals could be found in three locations in the Koster Fjord. Today, only the Säcken reef remains, and it’s in poor condition.”
Some of the causes to this are the impact of trawling and increased sedimentation from eutrophication. Continuous observations with remotely operated vehicles (ROV:s) shows that the health of the reef slowly continues to decline.
“The red list assessment is currently in the ‘under immediate threat’ category. The Säcken reef has been protected against trawling for more than a decade, but trawling damage have been observed on the reef several times after the legislation was set in place”, says Mikael Dahl.Three years ago, the protection of the reef was further strengthened when Sweden’s first national marine park, the Kosterhavet National Park, was created. However, the Säcken reef remains in poor condition.
Coral reefs are entirely dependent on larvae from other reefs in order to recover naturally after they have been damaged, and the researchers have for a long period of time set their hopes to larvae from the nearby coral reefs in Norwegian waters. However, a study recently published in the research journal Coral Reefs, shows that the Säcken reef is isolated from the other reefs in the northeast Skagerrak.
By using genetic markers, researchers have estimated the degree of gene flow between the reefs in Skagerrak. The results show that the genetic distance between the Säcken reef and four other reefs in the northeast Skagerrak is one of the largest on both sides of the Atlantic. The genetic diversity on the Säcken reef is also much lower than observed in any other reef of this type.
“This means that it is highly unlikely that the Säcken reef will recover naturally,” says Mikael Dahl, who led the study. “Instead, interventions are needed in order to ensure the survival of the reef.”
On the basis of these results, researchers from the University of Gothenburg have started a restoration project where healthy corals from nearby reefs in Norway are being removed and placed on the Säcken reef after being genetically characterised. The researchers hope that these corals will survive the process of being transferred, and that they will be able to help with the re-establishment of the reef, through both asexual and sexual reproduction.
The Säcken reef is spread across an area of 5,000 m², but today there is only living coral in an area of around 300-500 m². Further results from the study show that individual specimens of Lophelia pertusa corals may be several thousands of years old, and in the Norwegian coral reef some of the individuals have been estimated to be somewhat 6,200 years old. But many are probably older.
“In other words, it’s not only the reefs themselves that are extremely old, but it’s also actually the same individuals that have been situated there since soon after the withdrawal of the inland ice. These individual corals have been living there in the deep darkness since long before the Pharaohs built the pyramids”, says Mikael Dahl.Link to the article:
Helena Aaberg | idw
How does the loss of species alter ecosystems?
18.05.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig
Excess diesel emissions bring global health & environmental impacts
16.05.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Life Sciences
26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy