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Annual General Meeting

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Dec 09, 2009
from 09:00 AM to 04:00 PM


Dalhousie University (Rowe Building, Room 1014), Halifax NS.

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CMB Biodiversity Research Seminars and 2009 Annual General Meeting, 

December 9, 2009 

Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS. 

Seminars and the AGM both take place at the Rowe Building, Room 1014 

Biodiversity Seminars 

9:00 – 9:15: Peter Lawton, Executive Director, CMB. Introduction and brief presentation: 

Representation of biodiversity knowledge in EBM approaches (Co-authors: Lew Incze, and Sara Ellis) 

Conceptual representations of biodiversity organization and of the limits of current knowledge and insights can inform a constructive and evolving partnership between science and management towards meeting societal objectives related to Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) and provide context to stimulate further creative scientific inquiry. Here we present a tripartite schema covering the regional biodiversity size spectrum (for known species, and with projections for presently unknown diversity); compositional, structural, and functional elements of biodiversity (from genes to ecoregions); and the spatial scaling of biodiversity organization. This broad representation of how biodiversity is structured within the system builds on earlier considerations for biodiversity monitoring, and is informed by recent work under the Gulf of Maine Area Program (GoMA), the regional ecosystem pilot of the international Census of Marine Life. 

9:15 – 9:30: Kevin MacIsaac, Dalhousie University. (Supervisor: Ellen Kenchington) 

The spatial and temporal distribution of the larger meso- and bathypelagic crustacea of The Gully 

The Gully Marine Protected Area, the largest submarine canyon along the Atlantic continental margin of North America, appears to support an unusually productive ecosystem via unknown mechanisms. As part of a larger project investigating the ecosystem of The Gully, I am examining the spatial and temporal distribution of the meso- and bathypelagic crustacean micronekton and macrozooplankton. Data were collected over a three year period and include species identifications, counts and weights, along with physical oceanographic and bathymetric data. Initial impressions are that interannual variations are large, at least taxonomically if not functionally. Early findings include evidence for range extensions and new species records for Canada and possibly the Western North Atlantic.  


9:30 – 9:45: Ashley Holmes, University of New Brunswick. (Supervisor: Gerhard Pohle) 

Biodiversity of macroinvertebrate communities within deep water soft sediments of the Gulf of Maine’s Jordan Basin.


As part of the Discovery Corridor initiative of the Centre for Marine Biodiversity (, this study aims at filling a gap in knowledge by investigating the benthic community structure found within the deepwater (200-220 m) soft sediments of Jordan Basin. During the 2005 Discovery Cruise, three replicate video-grab samples were collected at each of three locations (West, Central and East) within the basin. Sediment sub-samples were also taken.  The specimens collected have been identified, enumerated, and curated at the Atlantic Reference Centre, Huntsman Marine Science Centre. 

The community structure is being analyzed using various univariate indices as well as multivariate techniques. Possible correlations between physical sediment characteristics and biological parameters are also being investigated. The anticipated results and significance of this portion of the study are to: characterize the benthos found in the soft bottom sediment of the deeper waters of Jordan Basin and correlate these findings to the physical parameters of the sediment; evaluate the level of biodiversity found within these sites; contribute to the overall species list for the Gulf of Maine; and discover animal range extensions. 

Rapid biodiversity assessment techniques may reduce the time and costs involved with specimen collection and taxonomic identification.  This study will also investigate the use of indicator groups (eg. Polychaeta, Mollusca, Crustacea and Echinodermata) as well as aggregated taxonomic information to higher than species level (eg. genus, family and class) as possible surrogates to the overall species diversity found within the Basin.  The results may suggest possible indicator groups to be used as rapid assessment monitoring tools within the Gulf of Maine. 

9:45 – 10:00: Chelsie Archibald, University of Otago. (Supervisor: Stephen Wing) 

The Influence of Strong Environmental Gradients and Spatial Management on the Distribution of Temperate Reef Fish Assemblages in Fiordland, New Zealand 

This presentation summarizes my Masters work, which investigated spatial and temporal distribution patterns among Fiordland reef fish assemblages. This project represents one part of a larger, long-term ecological study of the fjords occurring at the University of Otago.  The fourteen fjords of southwestern New Zealand contain exceptional biodiversity, and are representative of many different temperate reef habitats as a result of strong environmental gradients across fjord basins.  The pristine region provides an opportunity to study an intact ecosystem, and is particularly important as it contains a network of marine reserves and also borders Fiordland National Park.  Baseline underwater visual surveys of 21 species of reef fish were carried out in 1985-1987 and subsequent surveys occurred in 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2008.  This dataset provided the opportunity to discern spatial and temporal patterns of abundance, diversity, and distribution at the local, fjord basin, and regional scale.  Results of nMDS ordinations and ANOSIM methods support observations that reef fish exhibit spatial structuring across fjords, with diversity increasing seaward, and distinct assemblages characterizing the inner, mid, and outer fjord regions. At the fjord basin level there was also evidence of unique assemblages, particularly in Chalky Inlet and Long Sound.  Redundancy analysis suggests that differences in environmental characteristics can explain more than 84% of the variation in reef fish assemblages among sites.  Depth of the freshwater layer and distance to the fjord entrance were found to be the two most important environmental variables driving distribution. There is also evidence of species turnover and decline in species richness within many fjords since 1985, and of increases within the oldest and largest marine reserve (Milford Sound), which suggests that management also likely influences the diversity, abundance, and distribution of reef fish species within Fiordland. 

10:00 – 10:30: Coffee


10:30 – 10:45: Lindsay Beazley, Dalhousie University. (Supervisor: Ellen Kenchington) 

Reproductive biology of the deep-water coral Acanella arbuscula of Atlantic Canada


Over the past few decades there has been substantial research on the reproductive biology of shallow-water, tropical corals. Much less is known, however, on the basic reproductive characteristics of their deep-water counterparts found below the photic zone. I am currently investigating the major reproductive characteristics of the deep-water gorgonian Acanella arbuscula, which is considered an indicator and key component of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) by NAFO. Samples were collected from the Gully MPA in 2007 using the ROV ROPOS, and from the Flemish Cap region in 2009 through a series of benthic surveys. Using various histological techniques, I will address the mode of sexual reproduction, gametogenesis and fecundity of this species. This project aims to increase our knowledge on the reproductive biology of deep-water corals in our region. Currently, deep-water corals are being removed and damaged by anthropogenic activities at an unprecedented rate, an action in which the consequences are not fully understood. Information on their reproduction may provide insight into how these species re-establish in an area after disturbance, and may be useful in their management. 

10:45 – 11:00: Kira Krumhansl, Dalhousie University. (Supervisor: Robert Scheibling) 

A non-native species alters detrital production from subtidal kelp beds around Nova Scotia. 

Encrustation by the invasive bryozoan, Membranipora membranacea on kelp blades leads to large-scale canopy defoliation in kelp beds. To further understand the ecological implications of this dynamic, we examine the effect of encrustation on growth and blade breakage (erosion) in individual kelps of the species Saccharina longicruris, and Laminaria digitata at two sites along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia in September and November 2008. Cover by M. membranacea on blades was shown to significantly reduce growth (cm d-1) in both species during both months. Erosion (cm d-1) off kelp blades increased with cover of M. membranacea for S. longicruris and L. digitata when M. membranacea cover on blades exceeded 30-40%. Results from individual kelp measurements were extended to the site level by measuring population dynamics at the sites during July, September, and November. Erosion (g m-2 d-1) exceeded productivity (g m-2 d-1) at both sites during September and November for both species. Increases in erosion over productivity corresponded to monthly increases in cover of M. membranacea within sites and species, which led to decreases in biomass at each site from July to November, including losses of larger individuals. These results suggest that the combined effect of reduced growth and increased erosion off kelp blades may contribute to an increase in detrital flux from subtidal kelp beds, which may have implications for detrital food webs in adjacent areas.  

11:00 – 11:15: Jennifer Kelly, Dalhousie University. (Supervisor: Robert Scheibling) 

Tracing native and invasive macroalgae through an experimental food web using fatty acid markers


To investigate the potential for fatty acids (FAs) as tracers of invasive primary producers in benthic ecosystems, we compared the transfer of FA markers from an invasive green alga (Codium fragile ssp. tomentosoides) and a native kelp (Saccharina longicruris) through two trophic levels in an experimental food web: a primary consumer, the green sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis), and two secondary consumers, the native rock crab (Cancer irroratus) and invasive green crab (Carcinus maenas). Urchins fed the two algal species had distinct gonadal FA compositions and contained marker FAs for each alga. Crabs of each species were then fed the gonads of urchins fed either S. longicruris or C. fragile. Crabs of both species in the C. fragile food chain were distinguishable using the marker FAs identified in urchin gonads.  The overall FA composition of the hepatopancreas differed with diet in the green crab but not the rock crab.  Our results suggest that FA markers may be useful for tracing C. fragile production in grazers and some secondary consumers in rocky subtidal habitats in the Northwest Atlantic, but that signal attenuation with each trophic transfer will limit the utility of this approach in higher consumers. 

11:15 – 11:30: Lou Van Guelpen, Huntsman Marine Science Centre (Coauthors: Gerhard Pohle, Mary Kennedy, Lew Incze, and Nick Wolff) 

Species registers of the Canadian Atlantic region - development, status, and potential


Regional species registers provide an authoritative list of all species in a region, with validated entries, regular updates, and links to other important sources of information such as global distributions and biological and ecological descriptions.  DFO manages a geographically nested set of registers developed by the Atlantic Reference Centre, developed with  with support from the Gulf of Maine Census of Marine Life and DFO/CMB.  Individual registers encompass the Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine, Canadian Atlantic, and Northwest North Atlantic.  Through collaboration with the Flanders Marine Institute the latter is incorporated into a North Atlantic Register of Marine Species.  The original registers were preliminary compilations from better known regional faunal treatments.  In recent years species in the registers are being validated taxonomically and geographically, and new species are being entered through comparisons with more extensive taxonomic literature and historic databases.  Comparisons of species names with the World Register of Marine Species and the Integrated Taxonomic Information System is building compatibility with other national and international registers.  A major goal is to provide a basis to standardize taxonomy among species lists (and DFO regions) for discovering, accessing, and utilizing biodiversity information. 

11:30 – 11:45 Rob North: Telling the Story of Science 

11:45 – 12:00 General Discussion/Possible late submission talk 

12:00 – 13:30: Catered Lunch

(for seminar attendees) 

Centre for Marine Biodiversity Annual General Meeting 

13:30 – 16:00 


  1. 2009 CMB Administration Report
  2. Nomination and Elections:
    1. Executive Director
    2. Board Members
  3. CMB Committee and Activity Reports:
    1. Technical Committee
    2. Website Renewal
    3. Seminars
    4. Essay Contest
  4. Strategic Planning for CMB
  5. Planning for 2010, including opportunities to mark International Year of Biodiversity and Release of First Census of Marine Life
  6. Other Business

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