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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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Posted: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Biology-GLC Seminar - 'Life in the Trenches: The Biology of the Planet’s Deepest-Living Fishes' - November 7

Please join the Biology Department and the Great Lakes Center for the seminar “Life in the Trenches: The Biology of the Planet’s Deepest-Living Fishes,” presented by Mackenzie Gerringer, assistant professor of biology at SUNY Geneseo, on Monday, November 7, at 3:00 p.m. in Bulger Communication Center 214. Dr. Gerringer received her Ph.D. in marine biology from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa in 2017. She will discuss how the abiotic and biotic aspects of the environment at various ocean depths structure the evolution and distribution of fish. 

The deep ocean represents the largest habitable environment on our planet. Although we consider deep-sea environments harsh—with cold temperatures, high pressures, an absence of sunlight, and limited food supply—they are home to an amazing diversity of fishes. Using collections from bathyal, abyssal, and hadal depths, Dr. Gerringer’s research explores the adaptations that fishes have evolved to succeed in deep-sea habitats and how environmental conditions structure fish distribution. This talk will focus on the snailfishes, family Liparidae (Scorpaeniformes), which have found notable success in the hadal zone from ∼6,000 to 8,200 m. The family includes the deepest-known vertebrate, Pseudoliparis swirei Gerringer & Linley 2017, collected from the Mariana Trench from a depth of 7,966 m (SIO 16-88). The dominance of this family in trenches represents a clear shift from the fish community found at abyssal depths, where elongate, solitary fishes such as rattails (Macrouridae), cutthroat eels (Synaphobranchidae), tripodfishes (Ipnopidae), eelpouts (Zoarcidae), and cusk eels (Ophidiidae) are most common. Multiple factor’s structure fish communities at the abyssal-hadal boundary, including the roles of pressure adaptation, feeding ecology, and life history. In addition to their success in deep-sea trenches, snailfishes also have representatives that live from the intertidal through abyssal depths, with over 400 described species. Studying snailfish species across this full bathymetric range of fishes allows us to investigate adaptation into the deep oceans within a constrained phylogeny. For example, using CT scans of snailfishes from the complete depth range of bony fishes, Dr. Gerringer’s team tested the hypothesis that deep-sea fishes have low-density bones, revealing complex relationships between morphology and habitat. This talk takes an integrative approach, spanning enzymatic, organismal, and ecological scales, and uses techniques in taxonomy, physiology, ecology, and biomechanics that leverage the power of collections to inform new understanding of life in the deep ocean. 

Submitted by: Matthew P Basista
Also appeared:
Monday, November 7, 2022