Objectives. The aim of Work Package 3 is to describe patterns of evolution, distribution and connectivity of deep-sea sponge populations and both the ecological and historical processes behind their maintenance and regeneration. To reach this aim, the following objectives will be addressed:
- Development of a toolbox of genomic resources;
- Assessment of the evolutionary history of key sponge groups;
- Investigation of the reproductive ecology of key species; and
- Evaluation of the genetic structure and connectivity of sponge grounds at different spatial scales using next-generation sequencing technology and particle tracking modelling.
Focus. The Work Package will contribute to the understanding of the biological communities in the deep-sea, and especially how, when and why these sponge grounds were established in the North Atlantic. We will also describe the patterns of distribution of species and their genetic diversity as well as dispersal routes across the deep Atlantic.
Why is this important? The work will deliver information on the reproduction, genetic diversity, dispersal and connectivity patterns, all of which are crucial for the development of management and protection measures for these potentially vulnerable habitats, and it will support possible new conservation plans (e.g. design of spatially-managed protection areas).
Discover more about SponGES WP3 – download the WP3 Infosheet here.