Fine-Scale Mapping of Deep-Sea Communities Reveals Community and Species-Specific Environmental Drivers

Jenn Dijkstra and Kristen Mello


Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, 3:10pm

Seamounts and canyons are unique deep-sea ecosystems. These seafloor features are important as they are geomorphically complex and support high secondary production and biomass of benthic fauna, particularly of suspension feeding organisms such as corals and sponges. Environmental variables that are strongly tied to species occurrence and population growth are changing in response to climate change in the deep-sea. Kristen Mello and Dr. Jenn Dijkstra will present results of ROV observations and densities of deep-sea species coupled with geomorphology and environmental data collected from the Northwestern Atlantic canyons and seamounts by NOAAs Office of Exploration and Research. Knowledge of coupled environmental variables that contribute to the distribution of deep-sea species will enhance predictions of their occurrence and help to forecast their response under changing ocean conditions.


Jenn Dijkstra is an Assistant Research Professor at the Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping and the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering. Jenn holds a BA in biology, MS in marine biology, and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of New Hampshire. Kristen Mello is a UNH alumnus with a B.Sc. in zoology where she obtained a Rutman Fellowship from the Shoals Marine Laboratory. Soon after completion of her fellowship, she began working at the Center focusing on both shallow and deep-sea habitats.