Research interests of the Shank lab are focused on understanding ecological and evolutionary processes that structure the diversity of deep-ocean benthic communities, including larval dispersal, colonization, habitat utilization, genetic connectivity, and the evolutionary relationships of invertebrate fauna. These studies include seamount and chemosynthetic ecosystems intimately tied to planetary processes significant to the evolution of life on earth. This research strives to provided fundamental insights into the rates and manner in which dynamic physical, biological, and geological processes, all of which are intrinsic to chemosynthetic and seamount ecosystems structural diversity, connect or isolate populations, stimulate genetic divergence, and drive the formation of new species.


Left to right (top) Kerry McCulloch, Annette Govindarajan, Santiago Herrera, Taylor Heyl, Tim Shank

Left to right (bottom) Anabel Martinez-Lyons, Ellie Bors, Luke McCartin, Martha Hauff, Kelly Williams



News & Highlights




chemosynthetic habitats
Chemosynthetic Habitats
  • Population genetics and biogeography of vent fauna
  • Evolution of chemosynthetic fauna
  • Colonization patterns and temporal genetic diversity
deep-water corals
Deep-Water Corals
  • Population genetics of deep-water scleractinians
  • Ancient coral migrations and climate change
  • Reproduction of deep-water corals
  • Biodiversity of seamount fauna (including deep water coral associated fauna)
  • Population genetics and dispersal of seamount invertebrates
  • Endemism and evolution on seamounts
Tools for deep-submergence and observatory science
Developing Tools for Deep-Submergence and Observatory Science
  • In situ preservation of deep-sea fauna
  • Biological research using autonomous underwater vehicles
  • Synergistic exploration for hydrothermal vents
  • Megafaunal composition and distribution as a function of depth
  • Speciation and population structuring