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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:AUBURN UNIVERSITY
Doing Business As Name:Auburn University
PD/PI:
  • Kenneth M Halanych
  • (334) 844-3222
  • ken@auburn.edu
Award Date:02/02/2012
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 231,321
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 231,321
  • FY 2012=$231,321
Start Date:09/01/2012
End Date:02/28/2017
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Biodiversity, connectivity and ecosystem function in organic-rich whale-bone and wood-fall habitats in the deep sea
Federal Award ID Number:1155188
DUNS ID:066470972
Parent DUNS ID:066470972
Program:BIOLOGICAL OCEANOGRAPHY

Awardee Location

Street:VPRED, Research & Innovation Ctr
City:Auburn University
State:AL
ZIP:36832-0001
County:
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Auburn University
Street:
City:
State:AL
ZIP:36849-0001
County:Auburn University
Country:US
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

Organic-rich habitat islands support specialized communities throughout natural ecosystems and often play fundamental roles in maintaining alpha and beta diversity, thus facilitating adaptive radiation and evolutionary novelty. Whale-bone and wood falls occur widely in the deep-sea and contribute fundamentally to biodiversity and evolutionary novelty; nonetheless, large-scale patterns of biodiversity, connectivity, and ecosystem function in these organic-rich metacommunity systems remain essentially unexplored. The PIs propose a novel comparative experimental approach to evaluate bathymetric, regional, and inter-basin variations in biodiversity and connectivity, as well as interactions between biodiversity and ecosystem function, in whale-bone and wood-fall habitats at the deep-sea floor. Their experiments will use bottom landers to carry and hold samples of bone and wood and a control substrate (basalt) at two depths (1500 and 3000 m), 250-500 km apart, in the NE Pacific and SW Atlantic basins, with quantitative recovery of the colonizing assemblages 15 month later. Each depth will have three replicates. Their experiments will test fundamental hypotheses concerning biodiversity (genetic and taxonomic) and biogeography of macrofaunal and microbial organisms exploiting these resource-rich habitats in energy limited deep-sea environments, and will explore the utility of whale-bone and wood falls as model experimental systems to address patterns of connectivity and decomposer function in the deep sea. The project will have broader impacts in five areas: (1) At least two graduate students will conduct Ph.D. research, and three undergraduate students will participate in research cruises and develop senior theses within the project. (2) Project results will be incorporated into undergraduate and graduate courses at two universities. (3) The PIs will develop and deliver a new a graduate-level summer course at Friday Harbor Laboratory entitled Deep-Sea Biodiversity, Connectivity and EcosystemFunction based on project results. A similar course will be offered at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil at no cost to NSF. (4) Public outreach will include project web sites and cruise blogs at both the University of Hawaii (UH) and Auburn University, and presentations at UH and Auburn open houses. (5) Results will be presented at conservation forums such as the annual meeting of Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Kocot, K. M. T. H. Struck, J. Merkel, D. S. Waits, C. Todt, P. M. Brannock, D.A. Weese, J. T. Cannon, L. L. Moroz, B. Leib, and K. M. Halanych. "Phylogenomics of Lophotrochozoa with consideration of systematic error." Systematic Biology, v.66, 2017, p.256.


Project Outcomes Report

Disclaimer

This Project Outcomes Report for the General Public is displayed verbatim as submitted by the Principal Investigator (PI) for this award. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this Report are those of the PI and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation; NSF has not approved or endorsed its content.

Intellectual Merit:

Organic-rich habitat islands support specialized communities throughout natural ecosystems and often play fundamental roles in maintaining alpha and beta diversity, thus facilitating adaptive radiations and evolutionary novelty. Whale-bone and wood falls occur widely in the deep-sea and contribute fundamentally to biodiversity and evolutionary novelty; nonetheless, large-scale patterns of biodiversity, connectivity and ecosystem function in these organic-rich metacommunity systems remain essentially unexplored.  Using bottom landers carrying bone and wood, we evaluated bathymetric, regional and inter-basin variations in biodiversity and connectivity, as well as interactions between biodiversity and ecosystem functions at the deep-sea floor. Our experiments in the Northeastern Pacific were complemented by a set of landers in the Southwest Atlantic that were deployed and studied by international collaboration with Brazilian scientists.

Our results found that the identity and diversity of dominant bone/wood species varies between depths and ocean basins. Also importantly, genetic (and species) exchange appears to be much greater within a depth zone than between depth zones.  This later finding was recovered based on the use of Single Nucleotide Polymorphism data that examines thousands of loci in the nuclear genome. We find that wood-boring bivalves colonizing wood falls, at a given depth, are likely recruited from a single population. We have also been exploring the evolutionary history of these taxa with genetic tools. The data indication that while individual species maybe restricted to a given basin, lineages have been about to move between basins over evolutionary time. Analyses of whole mitochondrial genomes have found that one species of ampharetid annelid worms has more introns (3) than previously reported for any other bilaterian species(to the best of our knowledge). This may hold implications for how deep-sea species deal with transposable elements.

 

Broader Impacts:

During the course of this project at least 4 Ph.D. students and Faculty colleague on sabbatical have been trained. Two of these students were women and throughout all phases of the project we have actively encouraged participation of under-represented groups. We developed a new a graduate-level summer course at Friday Harbor Laboratories, titled Deep-Sea Biodiversity, Connectivity and Ecosystem Function, around our bone/wood lander studies.

Public outreach included project web sites and cruise blogs, presentations and at UH and Auburn open houses. Though publications and presentations at international meeting, we have shared our results with the scientific community. Also links to the data are available at the BCO-DMO data repository.This work holds important implications for understanding biodiversity and energy utilization in the deep sea. In particular, our results suggest that the deep-sea basins and habitats may be much more interconnected than their shallow water counterparts.

 

 


Last Modified: 06/12/2017
Modified by: Kenneth M Halanych

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