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             My doctoral research focused on the biodiversity and biogeography of chemosynthesis-based ecosystems in the deep ocean. These environments rely on a process called "chemosynthesis," where microbes generate energy directly from chemicals expelled from the ocean floor, rather than from sunlight ("photosynthesis"). Below, you can read a bit about some of my research projects.


Species partitioning across depth

In the upper depths of the ocean, conditions like water temperature and oxygen concentration change rapidly with depth. This means that moving up or down is a lot harder than moving side to side for living things in the ocean. This research project examined how depth determines the limits of where species live at chemosynthesis-based ecosystems at the Costa Rica Margin. This research project was highly integrative, utilizing methods and principles from oceanography, biogeography, trophic ecology, and landscape ecology. 


Results of this research were published in the Journal of Biogeography and can be read here.

Global connectivity and regional diversity

At chemosynthesis-based ecosystems, deep-sea gastropods (snails and limpets) occur in high numbers and boast a huge diversity of species. Not only are a significant number of those species still undiscovered and undescribed, we also have yet to understand exactly how this incredible diversity evolved in the first place. Using phylogenetic analyses, modern and historical occurrence records, ocean circulation patterns, and geological histories, this research project worked to understand the evolutionary processes that have generated the biodiversity observed in the deep waters off of Costa Rica Margin.


The manuscripts related to this research are currently in preparation.

Genetic structuring across environments

While they both rely on chemosynthesis, hydrothermal vents and hydrocarbon seeps differ in their environmental conditions. Because of these differences, it's often assumed that species may live in one environment or the other, but not both. However, recent work has illuminated genetic exchange across such habitat barriers. In the Eastern Pacific, hydrocarbon seeps and hydrothermal vents occur near one another. Not only that, they host species that are very closely related to one another, too. This research project utilized restriction-site associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq) and associated bioinformatic pipelines to assess the genetic structuring among seep and vent populations. This research utilized specimens from both historical museum collections as well as newly-captured individuals from the deep ocean. 

Taxonomy & systematics of marine gastropods

Taxonomy and systematics deals with the proper identification and naming of species. Despite consistent and correct species identifications laying the foundation for population, community, and ecological investigations, formal identification resources for deep-sea species are unfortunately sparse. Utilizing genetics, microscopy, morphometry, and a thorough review and consolidation of the scientific literature, this research project worked to clarify the identities of gastropod species at the Costa Rica Margin and create a formal guide to help others identify species within an endangered genus of snails.


This identification resource was published in the journal Zookeys and can be read here

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