Center For Ocean Sciences Education Excellence COSEE Ocean Systems
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Ocean sediments make up a critical marine habitat covering most of the ocean bottom – from shallow nearshore locations like estuaries to the deepest depths along the abyssal plains, and are one of the largest single ecosystems on the earth. Despite the size of this vast habitat, relatively little is known about its diverse and unique inhabitants. The mysteries of the organisms living within the ocean sediments are only now beginning to be revealed through the use of sophisticated technological tools.
These “benthic” creatures and the systems in which they reside play crucial roles that affect the rest of the ocean ecosystem – including the recycling of nutrients, the burial and storage of organic matter, the fate and distribution of pollutants, and the reworking of sediments. Scientists like Sara Lindsay (University of Maine), Nils Volkenborn (University of South Carolina) and Anne Simpson (University of Maine) make use of advanced and rapidly-evolving technology to better understand the interconnected roles of these unique organisms as well as the impact that humans are having on this lesser known system.
This three part webinar focuses on several key components of benthic ecology:

  1. The ecological role (and behaviors) of benthic organisms
  2. The impact from human activities on benthic systems
  3. The role of injury on feeding, sediment reworking and the ecosystem as a whole
Beneath the Surface: Explorations in Benthic Ecology
Nils Volkenborn
Webinar 1: The Ecological Role of Benthic Organisms
Presented by Dr. Nils Volkenborn - June 12, 2012
Nils Volkenborn gives us a peek into the world under the sediments, giving us insight into the behaviors and ecological roles that benthic organisms play in the larger ecosystem. Nils will also share time-lapse videos of benthic organisms and showcase some of the unique scientific tools and sensors being pioneered to better understand the biology of these creatures.
Anne Simpson
Webinar 2: Human Impacts on Benthic Ecology
Presented by Anne Simpson - June 19, 2012
Focusing on human activities, Anne Simpson shares some of the ecological changes that affect benthic communities (such as the fishing techniques of trawling or dredging), and what the potential impact of habitat loss is on several key benthic species.
Sara Lindsay
Webinar 3: The Effect of Injury on Benthic Invertebrates
Presented by Dr. Sara Lindsay - June 26, 2012
Prof. Sara Lindsay, an integrative biologist at the University of Maine, will delve into some of the unique and unexpected characteristics of several organisms – including their ability to regenerate body parts after injury. She will also share with the audience her data revealing how prevalent injury is to these soft-sediment organisms, and how it impacts their behaviors and physiology.