Our Scientists – From Coast to Coast to Coast – Ellen Kenchington

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I’m Ellen Kenchington. I’m a PhD and I’m a research scientists with the department of Fisheries and Oceans at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography.

As a benthic ecologist I study the organisms which live on or in the seafloor.

And so it’s really important to have an understanding, not only of the sediment or the seabed structure that they are found on, but also on the overlying water masses which may control their distributions.

And, because I work primarily in the deep water, down to depths of 3,000 meters or more, we have very rare opportunities to directly sample the organisms that live there.

So we rely on large-scale habitat mapping, seabed mapping and water mass characteristics to be able to predict the distribution of things like deep-water coral and sponge beds, which have broader distribution than we are able to sample directly, and these organisms are very important in the marine ecosystem.

Some of them, like sponges, have tremendous filtering capacity.

And so integrating their distribution and their functions into the broad-scale ecosystem function of the north Atlantic is something that I am working on and which, of course, required a lot of this data that I don’t collect personally, but which I rely on in order to interpret my own work.

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