Event Name/Location

2008 Ocean Sciences Meeting, Orlando, FL, March 2-7, 2008

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Understanding the structure and functioning of marine ecosystems requires accurate knowledge of trophic interactions. Trophic ecology studies generally underestimate prey diversity due to the difficulties imposed by digestion. Further, this degradation leads to uncertainty in the quantification of prey biomass (i.e., energy flow between various ecosystem components). Trophic interactions in the deep sea are poorly known relative to coastal ecosystems due to an incomplete inventory of meso-and bathypelagic species composition. The CoML field project MAR-ECO has increased our knowledge of the faunal structure of the mid-North Atlantic. Deep-pelagic fish specimens from the 2004 MARECO expedition provided a basis for an anatomical reference collection, described here, which will allow a better understanding of interactions among higher trophic levels. A library of 1674 images of diagnostic ‘hard part’ anatomical features (e.g. dentaries, otoliths, premaxillae) from 40 species of meso-and bathypelagic fishes has been compiled, with corresponding length and weight regressions for each feature. The aims of this project are to increase the taxonomic resolution of trophic analyses and gain insight into ecosystem functioning as it relates to biodiversity in deep-marine habitats.