One of the most characteristic Mediterranean species, Red Coral (Corallium rubrum, L. 1758), is intensively harvested by professional divers, supporting a specialized jewellery industry with a long tradition. However, all of its commercial stocks are overexploited now, and its populations consist of extremely young colonies (Santangelo & Abbiatti 2001; Tsounis et al. 2007). Recent data show that poaching of immature colonies has increased dramatically (Linares et al. 2003) and that the survival of several populations is threatened by a combination of disturbances (Tsounis et al. 2007). This finally lead to the inclusion of red coral in the CITES Red List of Endangered Species in June 2007.This project is aimed at studying how the factors population structure, colony size, food availability, and level of inter-/intraspecific competition affect the mortality and growth of transplanted red coral. This will be the key to predict the outcome of future transplantation and thus provide methods for the restoration of devastated red coral populations. Even though data regarding these aspects of the ecology and restoration of Mediterranean corals are urgently necessary, there are none available. Finally, the socioeconomic impact of the decline of this species and the cost / value ratio of restoration will be studied.
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