Faculty in Biology
Verena Tunnicliffe, Professor
Office: BWC A325 Office Phone: 250-721-7135
Teaching: Marine ecology, oceanography
Ecology and evolution of hot-vent animals; marine community history.
Image: A “sea pig” or swimming sea cucumber in the Celebes Sea
(Photo from NOAA INDEX Expedition)
My general interest lies in the response of marine communities to perturbation and stressful conditions. I collaborate widely across many disciplines from geophysics to molecular biology. New ocean technologies interest me and I work with submarine systems – both mobile and fixed. At present three programmes are in progress:
- My lab works in a variety of settings – usually related to extreme or variable conditions. I have worked extensively in deep-sea hydrothermal vent habitats where past work has included exploration of Juan de Fuca Ridge and description of major ecological features of community structure. Current work involves exploration in the western Pacific (Mariana Arc and Indonesia) where back arc seafloor spreading creates highly varied venting conditions. Extreme conditions have included erupting volcanoes, high carbon dioxide and intense sulphur release. We often explore the links among venting assemblages.
- I am a collaborator in the Canadian Healthy Ocean Network funded by NSERC. Students are working on projects to help provide a better basis for executing ocean management for conservations. Projects include examining the role of biogenic structure (corals, sponges) in augmenting seafloor diversity and definition of the functional ecological units of foundation species in a Marine Protected Area.
- In 2012, I completed over a decade of service as Director of the ocean observing network VENUS (www.venus.uvic.ca). Scientific instruments under the sea surface and on the sea floor connect directly to a data clearinghouse and to the computers of researchers via fibre optic cables. Study locations in Saanich Inlet and Strait of Georgia provide a wealth of opportunity to study a coastal ocean under stress. I continue my interest in the novel approaches to ocean interaction with students in my lab working on topics such as seafloor community behaviour and responses of various species to dissolved oxygen variability.