Les Watling

  • watling@hawaii.edu
  • (808) 956-8621
  • EDM 312

Research interests

I am interested in the taxonomy, biogeography, ecology, and reproduction of deep-sea octocorals. For the most part my samples have come from seamounts in the North Atlantic Ocean but my research is expanding to cover seamounts and island slopes in the Hawaiian and nearby areas. My colleagues and I are particularly interested in the modes of dispersal of these animals, their long-term evolutionary history, and their relationships to deep ocean water masses. Deep-sea octocorals are also home to a variety of smaller invertebrates. I am interested in how these relationships develop and are maintained. Because these animals live at depths that are accessible only by submersible or remotely operated vehicles, much of what is known has to be gained by inference. We examine closely the bodies of the commensals for clues to their roles in these relationships.