Erik is a marine ecologist, specializing in deep-sea communities including deep-water corals and natural hydrocarbon seeps. Through his research, he hopes to better understand the impact of human activities in the deep sea.  Current research in the Cordes lab includes monitoring of ocean acidification in the deep Gulf of Mexico and its influence on deep-water coral communities, impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deep-sea corals, and patterns of phylogenetic connectivity in deep-water coral communities. He is also interested in the broader questions of how foundation species create habitat for other organisms and how ecological communities are assembled, and the implications of these processes on the global biogeography of deep-sea communities.