Exploring and Exploiting Deep-Ocean Biodiversity Hotspots

Seabed Habitats Seminar By Prof. Alex David Rogers

Science Director, REV Ocean

We now understand that the deep sea presents a rich and heterogenous environment which plays an important role in the Earth system. Through my own research expeditions, I will focus on two habitats in the deep sea, hydrothermal vents and seamounts. The former is characterised by a highly endemic fauna adapted to extreme conditions and now recognisable as forming 11 distinct biogeographic provinces. The latter is less well explored but characterised by a rich biodiversity as well as being hotspots of activity in the deep sea. Human activities have already impacted seamounts through impacts from deep-sea bottom trawling and the effects of pollution and climate change are already being felt in the deep sea. However, a controversial new activity, deep-sea mining may affect both hydrothermal vents and seamounts as well as abyssal habitats. Some of the new studies on the Clarion Clipperton Fracture Zone, an area that is of high interest for marine mining are now revealing a more diverse and heterogeneously distributed fauna than previously realised. What this means for management of mining and other human activities in the deep sea will be discussed.

Biography: Professor Alex David Rogers

Science Director, REV Ocean, Norway

Visiting Professor, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford

Alex is a marine ecologist who is interested in how biodiversity is distributed in the ocean, especially in the deep sea and on tropical coral reefs. He is also interested in human impacts on the ocean and how to manage human activities to mitigate or reduce degradation of marine ecosystems. His work has taken him to the Atlantic, Indian and Southern Oceans and to the Caribbean investigating coral reef ecosystems, seamounts and deep-sea hydrothermal vents. Alex has worked with governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organisations in publicising human impacts, especially those from deep-sea fishing and climate change, and on the development of policy solutions to such problems. He is Scientific Director of REV Ocean a foundation working towards a healthy ocean. Alex recently published the book The Deep: The Hidden Wonders of Our Ocean and How We Can Protect Them Wildfire (2019).

Please register for this webinar zoom link and occasional updates:

Exploiting and conserving deep-sea genetic resources

Pleased to invite you to a seminar by Prof. Louise Allcock, Professor of Zoology at National University of Ireland Galway. Louise Allcock became interested in the deep sea through work on deep-water octopods, and has applied her knowledge of molecular systematics to the challenge of identifying poorly-known deep-water fauna to facilitate a range of interdisciplinary deep-sea research.

Ireland’s deep-sea territory is very extensive, and encompasses a range of habitats including carbonate mounds, and submarine canyons.  The marine animal forest – the corals and sponges – are highly diverse, and vulnerable particularly to fishing.  Over the last few years we have carried out multiple expeditions in Irish deep-sea waters, collecting video footage and biological samples with an ROV.  As well as contributing to systematics studies on corals (particularly sea pens, bamboo corals and black corals), we have investigated the pharmaceutical potential of a selection of coral and sponge species by screening extracts through a range of bioassays, and we have elucidated a range of bioactive new compounds.   We have attempted to model the likelihood of any given coral species producing a bioactive compound based on prior knowledge of bioactivity in various coral taxa.  We are in the process of combining this with species distribution modelling for multiple coral species to generate maps of potential bioactivity hotspots that we can use to promote conservation of these important genetic resources.

The webinar will take place on Tuesday 28th September at 1300 BST and will not be recorded, so please join us by registering for occasional updates below:

Baseline characterization of species assemblages in Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area – Placentia Bay

Today Shreya Nemani and Julia Mackin-McLaughlin, MSc students at the 4DOceans Lab of Memorial University, gave an intriguing and thought-provoking seminar about their coastal benthic habitat mapping work in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada as part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Coastal Environmental Baseline Program. Their work at the 4DOceans lab of the Marine Institute aims to advance understanding of seafloor heterogeneity and assess the spatial and temporal variation in species distribution. They study the spatial distribution of seabed habitats in Placentia Bay. In addition to studying the composition of faunal assemblages, Shreya is also studying their functional composition and diversity of the bay. Concurrent with this research, Julia has modelled the ecological niche of two habitat-forming algal species which support various ecosystem services for the west coast of the bay. We would like to cordially thank both Shreya and Julia for a fascinating talk.

Baseline Characterization of Species Assemblages

Pleased to announce that on Tuesday 31st August at 1300 BST/0930 NDT by Shreya Nemani and Julia Mackin-McLaughlin will be giving the August seminar on “Baseline Characterization of Species Assemblages in An Ecologically and Biologically Sensitive Area (EBSA): Placentia Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada.” Julia and Shreya are MSc students from the 4D Oceans Lab at Memorial University’s Marine Institute, Canada. They study the spatial distribution of seabed habitats in Placentia Bay as part of Canada’s Coastal Environmental Baseline Program. In addition to studying the composition of faunal assemblages, Shreya is also studying their functional composition and diversity of the bay. Concurrent with this research, Julia has modelled the ecological niche of two habitat-forming algal species which support various ecosystem services for the west coast of the bay. Please register below:

Cometh seaweeds, Cometh structure

Phycologist and marine ecologist, post-doctoral researcher Dr Kathryn Schoenrock-Rossiter, of the National University of Ireland Galway, gave an informative webinar entitled “Cometh seaweeds, cometh structure in marine habitats.” The webinar presented Kate’s comparative research on maerl/rhodolith beds and kelp forests in Greenland and in the west of Ireland. Exploring the fjords of south western Greenland, Kate and her multidisciplinary team dived and surveyed the maerl/rhodolith and kelp beds in the region to understand the diversity and differences between these two contrasting marine habitats. Her research in both Greenland and Ireland’s Atlantic region explores how associated communities change as a result of climate change. Her work in Ireland highlighted the importance of citizen science initiatives to create a baseline for marine monitoring in kelp forest communities and her experiences have expanded the scientific diving community in western Ireland, as vital baseline research to build on in future. The webinar can be found below and we would like to thank Kate for joining us from California and sharing her insights on all things seaweed!

Cometh seaweeds, cometh structure in marine habitats

Pleased to invite you to a seminar by Dr Kathryn Schoenrock, who is the EPA-Ireland, Primary Investigator and Postdoctoral Researcher at National University of Ireland (NUI) Galway, on Tuesday 27th July at 1300 BST. The webinar is entitled “Cometh seaweeds, cometh structure in marine habitats.”

She obtained her PhD (Biology) in 2014 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham where she investigated the ecology and physiology of Antarctic Seaweeds, with an emphasis in chemical ecology and climate change effects. She has since worked extensively in south-western Greenland trying to understand the diversity of kelp forest and coralline algae habitats, but her experience with climate change and the marine region drew her to the Lusitanian region of the North Atlantic where marine communities mirror projections for the Boreal region under present climate change regimes. She currently works on creating a baseline for marine monitoring in kelp forest communities found in western Ireland, and works closely with citizen science outlets, science festivals, and commercial organisations. She is originally from California, and has studied marine ecosystems (especially those structured by seaweeds) from Antarctica to Greenland for over 15 years.

Register below for link and updates: