My project is about glass sponge aggregations of the temperate and boreal North Atlantic. We use samples from several oceanographic campaigns and groundfish surveys to investigate the genetic diversity, structure and connectivity of key habitat-forming species of the North Atlantic.
We focus on three sponge species that are known to form structurally complex habitats and for which no information exists on their genetic diversity or connectivity. We aim to understand the spatial patterns of genetic diversity across each species distribution range at various scales (within and across populations), assess the impact that variable degrees of fishing pressure have on the genetic diversity and structure of the different populations, evaluate the contribution of sexual vs asexual reproduction on the structuring of the populations.
The generated data during this project will deepen our understanding of the genetic patterns which occur at deep-sea sponge grounds and their sustainability under human impact, ultimately aiding conservation strategies as well as potential restoration activities.