Maria Rakka

Post-doctoral fellow

Despite their remoteness, deep-sea ecosystems are expected to be dramatically affected by climate change. Cold-water corals (CWCs) are major habitat builders in the deep-sea, forming rich communities and providing multiple ecosystem services. Some of the life history characteristics of CWCs, such as slow growth and longevity, make them extremely vulnerable to disturbance, raising concerns about their resilience especially under cumulative effects of climate change and activities such as fishing, gas and oil extraction, as well as prospective deep-sea mining. My project, funded by the Ocean Frontier Institute, aims at studying the potential impacts of multiple stressors on CWC communities in the Northwest Atlantic, by using a trait-based approach. Traits refer to morphological, physiological or phenological species characteristics that define their fitness and therefore their response to environmental variables. By studying the collection of traits in CWC communities across environmental gradients and different stress conditions, trait-based tools can predict potential changes in these communities under future scenarios. Knowing which traits are more likely to persist under certain environmental conditions can improve our understanding of CWC ecology and the potential impacts of anthropogenic activities on deep-sea ecosystems. Moreover, predicting potential changes of CWC communities under future climate change and other stressors can inform conservation and management actions for their protection.


University of the Azores
Department of Oceanography
Faial island, Portugal
PhD in Marine Sciences
January 2017 – March 2022

Erasmus Mundus program
University of Algarve, Portugal
Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Ireland
Master´s in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation
September 2012-June 2014

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki, Greece
Bachelor´s in Biology
September 2007-July 2011


Rovelli L., Carreiro-Silva M., Attard KM., Rakka M., Dominguez-Carrió C., Bilan M., Blackbird S., Morato T., Wolff G., Glud R. 2022. Benthic O2 uptake by coral gardens at the Condor Seamount (Azores). Marine Ecology Progress Series 525: 97-104.

Rakka M., Sampaio I., Colaço A., Carreiro-Silva M. 2021. Reproductive biology of two deep-sea Octocorals in the Azores Archipelago. Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers 175: 103587

Rakka M., Godinho A., Orejas C., Carreiro-Silva M. 2021. Embryo and larval biology of the deep-sea coral Dentomuricea aff. meteor under different temperature regimes. PeerJ 9: e11604.

Rakka M., Maier S., van Oevelen D., Godinho A., Bilan M., Orejas C., Carreiro-Silva M. 2021. Contrasting metabolic strategies of two co-occuring deep-sea octocorals. Scientific Reports 11 (1): 1-12.

Rakka M.,Orejas C., Maier S., Van Oevelen D., Godinho A., Bilan M., Carreiro-Silva M. 2020.Feeding biology of a habitat-forming antipatharian in the Azores Archipelago. Coral Reefs 39 (5): 1469-1482.

Rakka M., Bilan M., Godinho A., Movilla J., Orejas C., Carreiro-Silva M. 2019. First description of polyp bailout in cold-water octocorals under aquaria maintenance. Coral Reefs 38: 15–20.

Rakka M.,Orejas C., Sampaio I., Monteiro J., Parra H., Carreiro-Silva M. 2016. Reproductive biology of the black coral Antipathella wollastoni in the Azores Archipelago. Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography 145: 131-141.

Rakka M., Ganias K. 2015. Assessing species and stage specific effects of preservation on fish oocytes over different temporal scales. Mediterranean Marine Science 16 (3): 533-537.

Scholarships and Awards

OFI postdoctoral research fellowship (2022-present)

ASSEMBLE PLUS travel fellowship (2021)

University of the Azores, Erasmus Plus travel fund (2020)

Regional Government of the Azores, Office for Education and Science PhD scholarship (2017-2021)

Greek States Scholarship Foundation Master´s scholarship (2012-2014)

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Erasmus Studies (2011)

Earthwatch Community Volunteers Fellowship (2010)

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Erasmus Placement (2009)


twitter: @MarianinaRakka