Scientist Profile: Steven Auscavitch

[from Deep-Sea Life Issue 14]

Steven Auscavitch

PhD Candidate

Department of Biology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA


Google Scholar:

I am a fifth-year PhD candidate studying the biogeographic patterns of deep-water corals on seamounts. My dissertation research has focused on characterizing the distribution, diversity, and community structure patterns of deep-water corals at bathyal depths from exploratory ROV video datasets in the Anegada Passage (Caribbean Sea), the Phoenix Islands, and seamounts off the western margin of Costa Rica. Specifically, I am interested in identifying the role that widespread oceanic water masses have on species ranges and community similarities across large geographic areas. As water mass boundaries are among the sharpest environmental gradients at bathyal depths, understanding how benthic fauna responds to these changes can better inform about patterns of biodiversity in the deep-sea. My research has also helped improve species inventories and baseline knowledge of deep-water coral community assembly across data deficient localities and remote features, like seamounts.

I also have an interest in investigating phylogenetic community patterns of deep-water benthic megafauna in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. As a result of recent explorations, I have been constructing a DNA barcode database of deep-sea coral collections, with the greatest diversity from octocorals, with the goal of better understanding how evolutionary processes and history influence community assembly in remote parts of the Pacific deep ocean. In addition, a number of recent collections from the central and eastern Pacific have yielded several potentially new species that would benefit from further description and systematic assessment.

I am currently seeking postdoctoral opportunities that focus on addressing questions of change in deep-sea benthic species or communities across environmental gradients using demographic and/or phylogenetic approaches.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *