Saturday, July 31, 2010

Researcher Profile: Anna Metaxas

Anna Metaxas is a benthic ecologist, interested in the factors that regulate populations of marine invertebrates, particularly early life-history stages, in different habitats ranging from the shallow subtidal to the deep sea and from temperate regions to the tropics. She holds a BSc in Ecology from McGill University, a MSc in Oceanography from University of British Columbia, and a PhD in Marine Ecology from Dalhousie University. After completing her PhD, she spent 2 years at each of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution as a postdoc, where she became initiated in deep-water research. She has used occupied (Alvin, Johnson Sea Link, Clelia) and remotely operated submersibles (ROPOS) for research in the Caribbean, at cold seeps in the Gulf of Mexico, hydrothermal vents in the south and northeast Pacific, and the Discovery Corridor including the continental slope in the northwest Atlantic. She is a Professor in the Department of Oceanography at Dalhousie University.
On this cruise, Anna and her students (Myriam Lacharité and Jessie Short) are continuing a long-term project that aims to identify potential dispersal pathways and associated patterns in population connectivity across the different habitats in the Discovery Corridor. These habitats include relatively shallow (150-300 m depth) muddy and sandy bottoms, and rocky outcrops in the Gulf of Maine (Jordan Basin, Georges Basin); the Northeast Channel coral conservation area (300-900 m depth); and the mostly soft-sedimented continental slope (900-3000 m depth). To achieve our goal, we are using a multi-prong approach: (1) with video and acoustic measurements, we will obtain the distribution of habitat types across the Discovery Corridor (in collaboration with Peter Lawton at SABS); (2) using a large collection of video amassed over three cruises since 2006, we will obtain measures of abundance for epifaunal macrofauna (organisms that live on the sediment surface and are large enough to identify visually on video) in each habitat type; (3) using deployed settlement plates and deep-water plankton tows, we will measure rates of larval supply to the bottom in different habitats; and (4) we will combine this information with a regional circulation model to identify potential sources and sinks of dispersing individuals from different species. Understanding patterns of population connectivity and the identification of source and sink populations will allow us to better manage these highly utilized, but in many ways quite unique, ecosystems.

Part of this project falls under the CHONe NSERC Strategic Network.