Zooplankton Biodiversity Group

Steve Haddock, Principal Investigator

The ctenophore Bolinopsis infundibulum.

The ctenophore Bolinopsis infundibulum.

The ocean’s midwater zone is dominated by gelatinous predators such as ctenophores, siphonophores, and hydromedusae. These mysterious creatures still hold many secrets like how and why they make light, and how they survive in such an extreme environment. Which of these diverse groups are indicator species that will indicate the state of the ecosystem and potentially signal change? MBARI is the only institute that has had an ongoing dedication to understanding this habitat and addressing these difficult-to-study organisms in investigating this popular hypothesis about global change.

Steve Haddock’s lab aims to characterize and monitor gelatinous plankton through two approaches. The first is to determine the identity and relationships of animals, so that they can be accurately recognized from ROV footage or future plankton monitoring technology. The second approach is to make use of existing MBARI data to “go back in time” and see what changes have already been occurring. Using emerging methods to identify gene information, we can determine the true diversity of the midwater habitat. This is important because, as many examples show, it is not possible to quantify organisms before we are able to recognize them accurately. We will also continue the development of broadly applicable tools that make use of MBARI’s unique video archives to study long-term trends. This 20-year time series contains data that allow the testing of relationships between species distributions and of hypotheses about long-term trends such as the shallowing of the oxygen minimum zone, the shift from fish to jellies and invasive species and range extensions.



Upper-ocean systems
Acoustical ocean ecology
Acoustic instruments
Acoustic fingerprinting
Acoustic community ecology
Acoustics in the news
Biological oceanography
Global modes of sea surface temperature
Krill hotspots in the California Current
Nitrate supply estimates in upwelling systems
Chemical sensors
Chemical data
Land/Ocean Biogeochemical Observatory in Elkhorn Slough
Listing of floats
SOCCOM float visualization
Periodic table of elements in the ocean
Biogeochemical-Argo Report
Profiling float
Interdisciplinary field experiments
Ecogenomic Sensing
Genomic sensors
Field experiments
Harmful algal blooms (HABs)
Water quality
Environmental Sample Processor (ESP)
ESP Web Portal
In the news
Ocean observing system
Midwater research
Midwater ecology
Deep-sea squids and octopuses
Food web dynamics
Midwater time series
Respiration studies
Zooplankton biodiversity
Seafloor processes
Revealing the secrets of Sur Ridge
Exploring Sur Ridge’s coral gardens
Life at Sur Ridge
Mapping Sur Ridge
Biology and ecology
Effects of humans
Ocean acidification, warming, deoxygenation
Lost shipping container study
Effects of upwelling
Faunal patterns
Previous research
Technology development
High-CO2 / low-pH ocean
Benthic respirometer system
Climate change in extreme environments
Station M: A long-term observatory on the abyssal seafloor
Station M long-term time series
Monitoring instrumentation suite
Sargasso Sea research
Antarctic research
Geological changes
Arctic Shelf Edge
Continental Margins and Canyon Dynamics
Coordinated Canyon Experiment
CCE instruments
CCE repeat mapping data
Monterey Canyon: A Grand Canyon beneath the waves
Submarine volcanoes
Mid-ocean ridges
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Hydrothermal systems
Back arc spreading ridges
Near-ridge seamounts
Continental margin seamounts
Non-hot-spot linear chains
Eclectic seamounts topics
Margin processes
Hydrates and seeps
California borderland
Hot spot research
Hot-spot plumes
Magmatic processes
Volcanic processes
Explosive eruptions
Volcanic hazards
Hydrothermal systems
Flexural arch
Coral reefs
ReefGrow software
Eclectic topics
Submarine volcanism cruises
Volcanoes resources
Areas of study
Bioluminescence: Living light in the deep sea
Microscopic biology research
Open ocean biology research
Seafloor biology research
Automated chemical sensors
Methane in the seafloor
Volcanoes and seamounts
Hydrothermal vents
Methane in the seafloor
Submarine canyons
Earthquakes and landslides
Ocean acidification
Physical oceanography and climate change
Ocean circulation and algal blooms
Ocean cycles and climate change
Past research
Molecular ecology
Molecular systematics
SIMZ Project
Bone-eating worms
Gene flow and dispersal
Molecular-ecology expeditions
Ocean chemistry of greenhouse gases
Emerging science of a high CO2/low pH ocean
Damian-Serrano, A., Hetherington, E.D., Choy, C.A., Haddock, S.H.D., Lapides, A., Dunn, C.W., (2022). Characterizing the secret diets of siphonophores (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa) using DNA metabarcoding. PLOS ONE, 17: e0267761. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0267761
Matsumoto, G.I., Christianson, L.M., Robison, B.H., Haddock, S.H.D., Johnson, S.B., (2022). Atolla reynoldsi sp. nov. (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa, Coronatae, Atollidae): A new species of coronate Scyphozoan found in the Eastern North Pacific Ocean. Animals, 12: 1-21. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12060742
Hetherington, E.D., Damian-Serrano, A., Haddock, S.H.D., Dunn, C.W., Choy, C.A., (2022). Integrating siphonophores into marine food-web ecology. Limnology and Oceanography Letters, 7: 81-95. https://doi.org/10.1002/lol2.10235
Full publications list