This study aims to test the theory that populations at bathyal depths are more isolated because the currents that transport larvae decrease as you go deeper. In order to do this, we will investigate how patterns of population connectivity vary with depth in 3 ways:

  1. Use genetic analysis (similar to DNA fingerprinting) to compare how related distant populations are and if they become less closely related as you go deeper. Using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV), we will collect samples of target species from different sites and depths in the North East Atlantic. We will then use genetic analysis to see how related these populations are.
  2. Use a model of ocean currents to simulate the movement of larvae between populations in the North East Atlantic. Oceanographic data collected during the research cruise will be used to develop and improve these models.
  3. Look at the diversity and abundance of species present at distant locations to see if those at shallower depths are more similar to each other than those at bathyal depths. Using the ROV, we will collect video data from different sites and depths and look at the variety and number of species present.

During May and June 2016, we will undertake a 6-week long research cruise to the North East Atlantic onboard the RRS James Cook to collect data. Follow our progress here.