The FATE project aim to elucidate the fate of cold-water coral reef ecosystems to changing environmental conditions, and addresses the need for more information on physical, chemical and biological driving forces and key processes affecting ecosystem functions and dynamics. Through combined field and laboratory studies the project will take currant climate research on cold-water coral ecosystems one step further by investigating not only the response of the reef building coral Lophelia pertusa, but also the two key associated species – the bivalve Acesta excavata, and the sponge Mycale lingua, in the Norwegian arctic and boreal regions. Also bioeroding community in the coral reef framework will be studied to provide information on structural resilience of the reef.
The field study will for the first time characterise seasonal variability in water masses associated with cold-water coral reefs, and correlate this knowledge to variability in the biology, physiology and geobiology of cold-water coral ecosystems. The resulting data will be combined with energetic and ecosystem models to increase the understanding of how the functioning of cold-water coral- and associated ecosystems services, will change under predicted acidification and warming scenarios. The goal is to enhance existing knowledge on the effects of ocean acidification, warming and food availability on the functioning of cold-water coral ecosystems, and to identify drivers of ecosystem changes.
The project will be divided into the following five work packages (WP):
WP1. Project planning, lander deployment, seasonal sampling and data analysis
WP2. Cultivation/deployment, seasonal sampling and data analysis
WP3. Perturbation studies and data analysis
WP4. Data coalition and ecosystem modelling
WP5. Outreach, publishing and workshops