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Thesis updates: Rylan and Shreya!

Thesis updates are ongoing and its been fun to hear about all the exciting research being done in the lab. Today’s thesis updates were presented by Rylan and Shreya. Rylan tackled the temporal aspect of benthic fauna such as the deep sea-pink urchin, while Shreya discussed the spatial component by mapping community types.

Rylan’s presented his talk on the Temporal dynamics of the deep-sea pink urchin – Strongylocentrotus fragilis. It was a fascinating dive into the temporal range and environmental conditions that drives this organisms’ abundance patterns and distribution in Barkley canyon - a biodiversity hotspot, located off the west coast of Vancouver Island. He is using data collected by the NEPTUNE observatory, which deploys a wide range of sensors and cameras to monitor the deep-sea in near-real-time. He discussed the effects of warming waters, and its contribution to the expansion of oxygen minimum zones in the Northeast Pacific, known as regions of permanently low dissolved oxygen. Further, the impacts of these conditions are understudied in deep sea ecosystems, making Rylan’s work especially important in recognizing how these effects impact deep sea benthic fauna.

In Shreya’s talk, A Species- and Traits-Based Approach to Predicting the Distribution of Coastal Benthic Communities, she discussed her work classifying community assemblages in Placentia Bay, NL. We saw preliminary results of habitat types observed and a habitat map depicting their spatial distribution. In addition to this, she described the importance of integrating community types based on species identity with biological traits analysis that looks at a species characteristics. These measures are complimentary and seek to provide a more holistic understanding of the underlying diversity of observed habitats in her study sites and their contribution to ecosystem functioning.

Next week Julia and Kate will present their updates – both have had a busy summer of fieldwork, so lots of neat data in store!



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