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ENAB stands for Evolution in the North American Basin


Project leaders: Ron Etter and Michael Rex, University of Massachusetts Boston


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This project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), will sample the bathyal and abyssal fauna of the Western North Atlantic along a transect from Massachusetts (USA) to Bermuda. The aim is to quantify patterns of genetic variation in deep-sea mollusks to test several hypotheses about where and how evolution has unfolded in this vast ecosystem. During the last several decades, much has been learned about one dimension of deep-sea biodiversity – spatial variation of species diversity and its possible ecological causes.  The other dimension, the evolutionary origin, radiation and geographic spread of this rich and highly endemic fauna remain virtually unknown. These historical processes generate the deep-sea species pool, and can have a major impact on shaping large-scale contemporary patterns of marine diversity.


Work will specifically address questions on 1) the geographic and bathymetric scales of the formation of new species, 2) the nature and scale of isolating barriers, 3) the role of evolution in creating geographic and bathymetric variation in biodiversity and 4) the direction in which the deep Atlantic was colonised and how rapidly evolving groups of species occurred (so-called radiation). The results will provide novel insights into the evolutionary-historical dimension of deep-sea biodiversity.



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