Project Page

Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities - Habitat Assessment and Evaluation

Implementing Organization

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; US Department of the Interior


DWH Project Funding


Known Leveraged Funding


Funding Organization

Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (NRDA)

Funding Program

Natural Resource Damage Assessment NRDA


Project Category


Project Actions

Habitat Restoration and Enhancement

Targeted Resources

Benthic Zone/Sea Floor

Project Description

The life histories, diversity, and population structures of Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Community (MDBC) species in the Gulf of Mexico are not well understood. The goal of this project is to fill those data gaps, determine baseline conditions and characterize key community conditions at both injured and reference sites. This project will support and inform restoration planning and implementation for MDBC through strategically designed field surveys, with subsequent laboratory-based analyses of MDBC components and interactions. The surveys will yield the types of samples that support determinations of ages, growth rates, and reproductive potential of mesophotic and deep water corals, as well as their health and condition. In addition, the project will maximize the effectiveness of MDBC restoration and protection efforts through the use of population genetic analysis methods. The project results will fill critical gaps in our understanding of the biology, ecology, health, biodiversity, recovery, and resilience of mesophotic and deep-sea habitats (corals and soft sediments) following the Deepwater Horizon spill. This project will be adaptively managed throughout its seven to eight year timeframe.


Stephen Heverly
(301) 427-8626
Project Website
Project Partners


Affiliated Institutions

For official trustee information regarding the Deepwater Horizon NRDA, including information regarding the NRDA process and the status of projects, see

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