A special session “Cold-water corals in a changing ocean“ has been organised at the European Coral Reef Symposium by Cova Orejas, Christine Ferrier-Pagès, Stephanie Reynaud & J. Murray Roberts. This conference will be held in Oxford, UK, from the 13th to the 15th December 2017.

The abstract deadline is June 30 and all conference details & the abstract submission system can be found here:http://www.reefconservationuk.co.uk/

The session will focus on the diverse habitats formed by cold-water corals throughout the global ocean. In particular, it will solicit presentations that investigate how these poorly understood communities will respond to environmental change including both the direct effects of anthropogenic activities (e.g. fisheries, oil prospection, minerals) as well as the indirect effects (e.g. global change including warming and ocean acidification). Contributions will be welcomed that cross the full range of issues associated with understanding change in cold-water coral systems, from habitat damage and modification through to physiological and reproductive ecology. Researchers working on continental shelves and slopes, submarine canyons and seamounts are the primary target audience. Cold-water corals remain poorly understood ecosystems and key questions about their biology and ecology are yet to be answered. It is clear however, that they are increasingly at risk from growing anthropogenic pressures and their slow growth and stable environments may render them exceptionally vulnerable. Headway has been made and is continuing towards protecting cold-water coral habitats although the global distribution of efforts is highly skewed and much more is required to safeguard these ecosystems. This session will explore these issues and the policy context in which this work is taking place. For example, cold-water corals meet the criteria of UN Convention on Biological Diversity Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) and the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) definition of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs). These offer valuable insights for the management of offshore and High Seas ecosystems but need to be considered alongside the vulnerability of cold-water corals to global climatic change. Our invited speakers are active across the range of issues that allow us to tackle the broad sweep of this topic.