• Like Sea Education Association on Facebook
  • Follow Sea Education Association on Twitter
  • Follow SEA Semester on Instagram
  • Watch Sea Education Association on YouTube
  • Read SEA Currents
  • Listen to SEA Stories
  • View SEA Semester campus visit calendar
Marine Biodiversity

Marine Biodiversity

Biodiversity within species (genetic diversity) and between species is critical for maintenance of the health, productivity and resilience of an ecosystem. Marine biodiversity, in particular, has the potential to transform medicine, industry, environmental remediation, and energy production.  However, marine biodiversity is simultaneously under-sampled and threatened by pollution, habitat destruction, fishing, and climate change. SEA’s repeated cruise tracks across remote areas of the ocean offer an excellent opportunity to advance our understanding of global marine biodiversity, while SEA’s concentrated efforts in the Sargasso Sea generate detailed biodiversity data to inform regional management strategies.

Research Themes

Sea Education Association Research

Eel larvae (Leptocephali)

The Sargasso Sea is a spawning and nursery habitat for a number of marine and freshwater eel species of high ecological and economic value. Eel larvae are collected in surface and subsurface plankton net tows to study vertical and geographic patterns of species distribution.

Selected Eel larvae (Leptocephali) papers and publications

Sea Education Association Research

Microbial communities

Microbes including bacteria, Archaea, and eukaryotic protists dominate marine biomass, productivity, and biodiversity, yet are understudied. Moreover, floating substrates and the surfaces of higher organisms may support different microbial communities from the surrounding water and may serve as vectors for transport. Modern molecular methods allow us to examine diversity of these microbial communities.

Selected Microbial communities papers and publications

Sea Education Association Research

Sargassum and the Sargassum community

Patches of Sargassum represent productivity and biodiversity ‘hotspots’ in a nutrient- and substrate-limited open ocean environment. Emphasizing the importance of field-based observations, we use twice daily surface plankton net tows to study Sargassum species distribution on the regional scale, and targeted dip net sampling to study diversity of the associated community of organisms on individual clumps of Sargassum.

Selected Sargassum and the Sargassum community papers and publications

Sea Education Association Research

Spiny lobster larvae (Phyllosoma)

Caribbean spiny lobster, Panulirus argus, are a commercially important species whose stocks have been in decline during the last decade throughout the Caribbean and southeastern United States waters. At SEA, research focuses on the planktonic larvae using morphological characteristics to determine larval stage/age, and molecular methods to distinguish between source populations, in order to understand transport and recruitment.

Selected Spiny lobster larvae (Phyllosoma) papers and publications

Papers and Publications

Peer-reviewed publications

Schmidt, V. T., J. Reveillaud, E. Zettler*, T. J. Mincer, L. Murphy and L. A. Amaral-Zettler, 2014. Oligotyping reveals community level habitat selection within the genus Vibrio. Front. Microbiol. 5, 563.

doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00563

Sehein, T.^, A. Siuda*, T. Shank and A. Govindarajan, 2014. Connectivity in the slender Sargassum shrimp (Latreutes fucorum): implications for a Sargasso Sea protected area. J. Plankton Res. 36, 1408-1412.

doi: 10.1093/plankt/fbu081

McCliment, E. A., C. E. Nelson, C. A. Carlson, A. L. Alldredge, J. Witting* and L. A. Amaral-Zettler, 2012. An all-taxon microbial inventory of the Moorea coral reef ecosystem. ISME Journal 6, 309-319.

doi: 10.1038/ismej.2011.108

Selected student research

Daley, A., G. Huston, M. Keefe and C. Schultz, 2015. Community and Population Level Biodiversity in the Sargasso Sea: A Study Investigating Biodiversity of Sargassum-associated Mobile Fauna. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-259, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Botta, W., J. Townsend and R. Plantz, 2015. Investigating Dispersion Dynamics of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster Panulirus argus Phyllosoma. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-259, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Alberini, A., L. Goss, C. Graham and H. McMonagle, 2015. Initial Microbial Colonizers of Microplastics in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-259, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Romero, M., O. Robson, K. Rolf and S. Stratton, 2015. Eel Biodiversity and Population Connectivity in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-259, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Walker, K. and A. Work, 2014. Biodiversity of Hydroid Communities Associated with Pelagic Sargassum. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-252, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Bowser, T., M. Camp and B. O'Brien, 2014. Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) Dispersion Dynamics in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-252, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Dixon, C., C. Pauly and M. Tan, 2014. The Effects of Substrate on Microbial Community Composition and Biofilm Quantity in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-252, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Gervase, L., C. Bateson and G. Ballou, 2014. Leptocephali Biodiversity in the Sargasso Sea: Spatial and Diel Patterns. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-252, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Dougherty, A., K. Lipp, A. Osborn, L. Romain and G. St. Aubin, 2013. Larval Life Stage Distribution and Genetic Lineage Alignment of Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-247, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Edson, E., R. Green, S. Houang, B. Kolody and S. Watters, 2013. Colony Morphology and Genetic Diversity of Vibrio on Natural Versus Artificial Substrates Across the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-247, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Couts, T., M. Haberman, L. Nickerson and C. Villar, 2013. Biodiversity and Biogeography of Leptocephali in Surface and Subsurface Waters of the Caribbean and Sargasso Seas. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-247, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Bering, J. and A. Binford-Walsh, 2012. The Distribution and Population Dynamics of Pelagic Sargassum spp. in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-241, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Mooiweer, E. and T. Sehein, 2012. Documenting Sargassum Shrimp Biodiversity in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-241, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Daniel, J. and J. Pivor, 2012. Population Genetics and Dynamics of Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) Phyllosoma in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-241, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Adams, A., C. Cheng, B. Ong and Y. Ye, 2012. A Study of the Biodiversity of Vibrio Bacteria in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-241, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Jackson, M. and L. Spiers, 2012. Analysis of the Biodiversity and Abundance of Leptocephali in the Sargasso Sea. Unpublished student research paper, Class C-241, Sea Education Association, Woods Hole, MA.

Presentations

Camp, M.^, B. O'Brien^, T. Bowser^, L. Amaral-Zettler, E. Zettler* and A. Siuda*, 2015. Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) Dispersion Dynamics in the Sargasso Sea. Association of Southeastern Biologists meeting, Chattanooga, TN.

Nieves, M. A.^ and A. N. S. Siuda*, 2015. Factors that Influence the Composition of the Resident Macrofauna Community of Free-floating Sargassum. ASLO Aquatic Sciences meeting, Granada, Spain.

Gervase, L.^, C. Bateson^, G. Ballou^, A. Siuda*, L. Amaral-Zettler and A. Bucklin, 2015. Leptocephali Biodiversity in the Sargasso Sea: Spatial and Diel Patterns. NY American Fisheries Society meeting, Lake Placid, NY.

Sehein, T.^, A. Siuda*, T. Shank and A. Govindarajan, 2013. Slender Sargassum Shrimp (Latreutes fucorum) Population Genetic Structure in the Sargasso Sea. BioNES meeting, Bristol, RI.

Pivor, J.^, J. Daniel, A. Siuda*, A. Bucklin, L. Blanco-Bercial, L. Amaral-Zettler and E. Zettler*, 2013. Sweepstakes Reproductive Success of the Caribbean Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) in the Sargasso Sea. ASLO Aquatic Sciences meeting, New Orleans, LA.

Edson, E.^, E. Zettler*, L. Amaral-Zettler, A. Siuda*, R. Green^, S. Houang^, B. Kolody^ and S. Watters^, 2013. Genetic Diversity of Vibrio on Natural versus Artificial Substrates across the Sargasso Sea. BioNES meeting, Bristol, RI.

Other

Farmer*, M. W., 1982. Large-scale dispersal and recruitment of phyllosoma larvae. Eos 63, 975.


* SEA faculty and staff
^ SEA Semester alumnus

News

Caribbean Study Abroad

C-279 Marine Biodiversity & Conservation

Posted on: April 16, 2018

The students of C-279, Marine Biodiversity & Conservation, join the SSV Corwith Cramer in Nassau, Bahamas on April 18th.  They depart the ship in New York City on May 24th after a port stop in Bermuda.

Read More

SEA Semester

Caribbean Reef Expedition: Week 9 (At sea, Montserrat)

Posted on: December 18, 2017

Halley Steinmetz, from UMass-Amherst, describes snorkeling the reefs around Montserrat and a tour of the volcano, as part of Caribbean Reef Expedition.

Read More

SEA Semester

Intellectual Voyage

Posted on: July 31, 2017
By: Katarina Zahedi & Nadia Diskin-Gaudette, Milton Academy & Boston Latin School

Hello world. Welcome to the first and final edition of Katarina and Nadia’s blog.

Today we woke up to a delicious breakfast of eggs, potatoes, and pineapples (Katarina really likes pineapples, while Nadia did not eat any. She prefers potatoes). It was lively and loud as usual in B House because B house is best house, whereas in C House it was peaceful and quiet.

Read More

SEA Semester

SEA To Host 6th Annual Sargasso Sea Symposium

Posted on: June 13, 2017
By: Doug Karlson, communications@sea.edu

This one-day symposium is the capstone experience for students from SEA Semester class C-273, Marine Biodiversity & Conservation. The event includes oral presentations of the students’ research findings and policy recommendations to a panel of invited experts, and contributes directly to international effort to protect the Sargasso Sea.  Student presentations will be interspersed with related talks given by some of the invited participants. The public is invited to attend. Space is limited.

Read More

SEA Semester

Off to a great start!

Posted on: April 19, 2017
By: Laura Cooney , Chief Scientist

Hello friends and family,

Today was an exciting day on board the SSV Corwith Cramer!

The day started bright and early with 6 am wake-ups for A watch and 6:40 am wake-ups for B and C watches, and it’s been a steady stream of new experiences and important training for the students-turned-crew of class C-273 ever since.

Read More

Resources

For more information about research at Sea Education Association, please contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)