Diversity, Systematics and Connectivity of Vulnerable Reef Ecosystems

DISCOVRE is part of an integrated, multidisciplinary, international effort investigating the unique and fragile deepsea coral ecosystems from the microscopic level to the ecosystem level, including components of microbiology, population genetics, paleoecology, food webs, taxonomy, community ecology, physical oceanography, and mapping. DISCOVRE is part of larger regional efforts involving the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and academic institutions.


Benthic Ecology

We are examining fauna living in and on the seafloor in a variety of natural and artificial marine habitats, including deep-sea and shallow-water corals, chemosynthetic seeps, shipwrecks, marine canyons and wetland communities. Our focus is on community structure, biodiversity, trophic structure, and habitat connectivity of marine benthic ecosystems.

Microbial Ecology

We are identifying, characterizing, and enumerating environmental microbial communities which are critical components of healthy marine ecosystems such as coral reefs, chemosynthetic seeps, and submarine canyons. Our focus is on coral microbiomes (both shallow and deep-sea), ecosystem metagenomics, and biodiversity.


We are using long-lived black corals as archives to determine the climate and ocean chemistry over hundreds to thousands of years.

Population Genetics

We use genetic tools to characterize local and regional patterns of deep reef connectivity.