Cold Dark Benthos – Thurber Lab at Oregon State University

My research focuses on how deep-sea and polar communities function.  These areas cover well over 63 percent of the globe, provide a wealth of services to mankind, and yet remain largely unknown and unexplored. While my research ranges from the lab bench to shallow waters to habitats thousands of meters below the ocean surface, the ultimate goal is to increase our understanding of the planet around us.

Microbe-metazoan interactions.

In the shallows there can be a shelf with Brincilces and, what I didn't know until now, a wealth of amphipods living and eating the ice algae that is growing underneath it.  The storm here are the amphipods swarming.  It felt much like swimming underneath a giant beehive.  Thankfully they don't sting.

Polar habitats provide an excellent place to test how bacteria and animals interact.


A main focus of my labs work is identifying how microbial processes are impacted by multicellualar animals, especially in soft sediment habitats.  Bacteria and Archaea are well known to be dominant drivers in the biogeochemical cycling of the planet.  However how these microbial processes are impacted by grazing by animals is largely unknown, yet we know that these sorts of ‘trophic’ interactions can be incredibly important in driving the function of other systems (such as grasslands and shallow marine communities).  In the deep-sea and polar marine realm we are still at a  stage in this research: identifying that bacteria and archaea are consumed and what that means to the ecology of habitats.

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