Our expeditions to the sea floor result in biological as well as geological observations and collections. New fish and sponge species have also been discovered. In another study, deep sea coral on Davidson Seamount were examined and isotopes in their skeletons were used to study past climate change.
Global climate change is causing Antarctic ice shelves to shrink and split apart, yielding thousands of free-drifting icebergs in the nearby Weddell Sea. These floating islands of ice are having a major impact on the ecology and chemistry of the ocean around them, serving as “hotspots” for ocean life.
Analyses of DNA sequences from nuclear and mitochondrial genes have allowed us to reconstruct the recent demographic history of species. Rates of gene flow, geographical patterns of differentiation, and interspecific hybridization have been documented now for a number of deep-sea animals that live at vents and seeps.