Nova Southeastern University kicked off the conference program for the year by hosting a two-day Graduate Student Symposium, which featured seven great talks from DEEPEND’s principle investigators and graduate students. Presentations included: genomic analysis of microbial symbionts found in deep-sea in anglerfish lures and in the water column of the Gulf of Mexico (Lopez et al.), the trophic ecology of a bathypelagic fish family (tubeshoulders, Novotny et al.), ingestion of microplastics by deep-pelagic animals (Bos et al.), the relationship between parasites and size, species, and behaviour of deep-pelagic fishes (Woodstock et al.), the distribution of larval tuna (Pruzinsky et al.) with respect to oceanographic features; the dramatic declines in pelagic fishes (Sutton et al.) and crustaceans (Nichols et al.) in the Gulf after Deepwater Horizon, and classifying pelagic habitat features in the Gulf of Mexico (Johnston et al.)

In February DEEPEND researchers from multiple institutions presented research findings at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference (GOMOSES) in New Orleans, LA, and at AGU/ASLO/TOS Ocean Sciences Meeting in Portland, OR. 

The aim of the GOMOSES meeting is to bring together a diverse range of researchers from all disciplines who are working on understanding the biological, chemical and physical processes that operate in the Gulf of Mexico. DEEPEND was well-represented, with 11 presentations. Heather Bracken-Grissom and Laura Timm presented work on the genetic connectivity of crustaceans in the Gulf of Mexico with surrounding regions. Heather Judkins and Kris Clark presented their work describing the distributions and diversity of pelagic molluscs (squids and heteropods, respectively). Regarding fishes, presentations described dramatic declines in abundances of deep-pelagic fishes after Deepwater Horizon (Sutton et al.),  biophysical coupling in a dominant mesopelagic fish family (lanternfishes; Milligan et al.), and pelagic habitat use by important coastal fishes (snappers/groupers; Velez et al.). Physical oceanographic presentations included work on frontal densities (Hu et al.), methods to track the Mississippi River plumes using satellite measurements (Hu & Le), and a newly developed method to classify pelagic habitat features in the GoM (Johnston et al.). 

After the GOMOSES meeting, we were straight on a plane to Portland and the Ocean Sciences Meeting, where (despite an unfortunate outbreak of the flu), the DEEPEND team gave another eight presentations. These included talks describing the ecology of deep-living fishes (see above), and an assessment hydrocarbon contaminants (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) in mesopelagic animals after Deepwater Horizon (Romero et al.). DEEPEND members presented posters describing how microbial communities in the Gulf of Mexico are influenced by diel vertical migrations (Easson et al.), how the assemblage of Oplophorid shrimps has changed since the oil spill (Nichols et al.), habitat classification (Johnston et al.), and the great successes of DEEPEND’s educational outreach program (Musgrave et al.).

To round out our program of talks, DEEPEND’s lead scientist, Tracey Sutton, and DEEPEND’s data manger, Matthew Johnston, gave invited lectures at  NSU’s Distinguished Lecture Series.  Tracey presented some of his recent work describing the global importance and structure of the deep-pelagic biome to faculty and students and Matt lectured on data visualization and interpretation.