A lot of the research in the Taylor lab focuses on one of the least studied ecosystems on the planet: the deep-sea – this habitat has a wide variety of ecosystems, hydrothermal vents, cold water coral reefs, sediment plains, to mention but a few. In the ‘open’ medium of the ocean the dynamics of deep-sea populations (source-sink, stepping stone or metapopulations) is little understood. One of the avenues of our research is therefore population genomics; how well individuals within a species across a region/ ocean(s) are connected. Where are the breaks in connectivity and the bottlenecks? What causes these disconnects? Ultimately we are interested in the drivers of genetic change, and where genetic diversity originates. One method, that looks at this in an evolutionary sense, is phylogenetics and, increasingly, phylogenomics. Here our lab looks at how organisms across the Tree of Life are related to each other, and over what time scales. Specifically, we are interested in diversifications of life and where and when and why these have occurred in the deep-sea.
Geographically the above research is being undertaken in a number of locations : Antarctica (see video from the Weddell Sea Expedition 2019), the North Atlantic, the SW Indian Ocean and the mid-Atlantic (it’s big so there’s lots to look at). In terms of ecosystems we are interested in the full spectrum of habitats: from sediments, to hydrothermal vents, to cold water coral reefs.
Away from deep-sea research, population connectivity investigations are also being undertaken on shallow water coral reefs, Dr Taylor’s original study system.