I arrived at WHOI in June of 2002. Since then I have submitted two papers from my dissertation, one is published and the other is currently in press. In the lab, I am focusing on one research project, examining the population genetics and dispersal of deep-sea precious corals from the Hawaiian Archipelago. These corals are the focus of a profitable fishery, yet little is known about their dispersal capabilities or general ecology. I am using microsatellite methods to address these issues. The findings of this research will help improve the management of these species as well as improve our general understanding of dispersal in the deep-sea. Most of my time has been spent learning new microsatellite methods and developing useable microsatellite markers for my study. So far I have obtained 7 microsatellite loci for one of these species. I am preparing a manuscript from this research and have presented the results at three international conferences.
I have also submitted several proposals related to the ecology and evolution of seamount fauna. Two of these proposals have been funded, both through NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration. I will have a cruise in Sept- Nov. 2003 to the Northwest Hawaiian Islands to document the distribution of deep-sea corals on 3 previously unexplored seamounts. I will also collect deep-sea corals from 4-5 additional sites in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to add to my current study of dispersal and population genetics of Hawaiian deep-sea precious corals.
A third proposal is currently pending with NOAA NURP Alaska. I participated in an Ocean Exploration cruise to the Gulf of Alaska Seamounts where I collected deep-sea corals and other seamount invertebrates. Based on observations from this cruise I submitted a proposal (to NOAA-NURP Alaska) to return to the same seamount chain to further examine their fauna and to use molecular methods to determine levels of dispersal in some of the dominant taxa.
Baco, A.R. and C.R. Smith. In Press. High biodiversity levels on a deep-sea whale skeleton. Marine Ecology Progress Series.
Baco, A.R. and T.M. Shank. Population Genetic Structure of the Hawaiian Precious Coral Corallium lauuense Using Microsatellites. In prep for special volume Hydrobiologia.
Smith C.R. and A.R. Baco. 2003. Ecology of whale falls at the deep-sea floor. Oceanography and Marine Biology Annual Review 41: 311-354.