Ellen Kenchington, PhD

Image Kenchington, Ellen
Research Scientist

Dr. Kenchington's role is to provide scientific advice on issues related to benthic species and habitats both nationally and internationally. Her research focuses on the benthic ecology of the continental shelf and slopes, biodiversity, impacts of fishing and climate change on benthic communities, and population genetics of marine organisms. Outcomes of her research contribute to identification of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs), ecologically or biologically significant areas (EBSAs), marine protected area selection and design, and sustainable fishing practices. 

Current research and/or projects

As a benthic ecologist, Dr. Ellen Kenchington studies the organisms which live on or in the seafloor. She works to deepen our understanding of their relationship with the sediment and the seabed structure they are found on, as well as the overlying water masses which may control their distributions. Her research takes place primarily on the continental shelves and slopes and in water depths of up to 3,000 meters or more. The research relies on large-scale habitat mapping, seabed mapping and water mass characteristics to be able to predict the distribution of organisms important in the marine ecosystem, such as deep-water coral and sponge beds. Domestically she has provided scientific support for the Policy for Managing the Impact of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas and contributed to the establishment of the first area closure under that policy. Recently she has been working to establish benthic biodiversity monitoring sites in the Canadian Arctic in support of the Arctic Council’s Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Plan and to model benthic species distributions in the northwest Atlantic.


Watch as Ellen explains her work in understanding organisms that live in deep waters.


Research and/or project statements

- DFO Competitive Science Research Fund (CSRF), Ecological Assessment of Significant Adverse Impacts of Fishing in NAFO (2021-2024).

- EU Horizon 2020 Project, Call H2020-BG-2018-2: BG-08-2018-2019 (Scope B) Integrated Assessment of Atlantic Marine Ecosystems in Space and Time. Grant agreement ID: 818123. H2020-EU. - Develop the potential of marine resources through an integrated approach H2020-EU. - Climate change impact on marine ecosystems and maritime economy; (~16.5 M CDN); Co-ordinator Prof. J.M. Roberts, University of Edinburgh. Case Study Leader (Area 4) https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/818123 

Dr. Kenchington also recieves funds from DFOs Marine Conservation Targets programme.


Professional activities / interests

Dr. Kenchington is honoured to have been selected for a Women in STEM Poster https://womeninstem.ingeniumcanada.org/posters/ 

-provision of scientific advice in support of national and international policy related to deep sea ecosystems and biodiversity

-offshore benthic ecology with a focus on the continental shelves and slopes

-impacts of fishing

-International Deep Sea Exploration Mission

Education and awards

Ph.D. (Botany)        Botany Department, University of Tasmania (1987)

M.Sc. (Distinction)   Department of Biology, Dalhousie University (1983)

B.Sc. (Honours)      Department of Biology, Dalhousie University (1981)


International experience and/or work

ICES Scientific Committee Member (Canada) 2017-2023


Key publications

2020-2023 SELECTED PUBLICATIONS (excluding some technical publications)

2023 Publications

Roberts, J.M., C. Devey, A. Biastoch, M. Carreiro-Silva, T. Dohna, B. Dorschel, V. Gunn, V. Huvenne, D. Johnson, D. Jollivet, E. Kenchington, K. Larkin, M. Matabos, T. Morato, M.S. Naumann, C. Orejas, J.A.A. Perez, S.A. Ragnarsson, A.J. Smit, A. Sweetman, S. Unger, B. BOTELER & L-A. Henry, 2023. A blueprint for integrating scientific approaches and international communities to assess basin-wide ocean ecosystem status. Nature Communications Earth & Environment 4 (12):1-9. https://doi.org/10.1038/s43247-022-00645-w

VENNEY, C.J., H. CAYUELA, C., C. ROUGEUX, M. Laporte, C. MÉrot, E. Normandeau, M. Leitwein, Y. Dorant, K. Praebel, E. Kenchington, M. ClÉment, P. Sirois, L. Bernatchez, 2022. Genome-wide DNA methylation predicts environmentally-driven life history variation in a marine fish. Evolution, 2023, XX(XX), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1093/evolut/qpac028

Xavier, J.R., S.A. Pomponi & E.L. Kenchington, 2023. Editorial: Deep-sea sponge ecosystems: Knowledge-based approach towards sustainable management and conservation. Frontiers in Marine Science 10:1132451. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2023.1132451

2022 Publications

Busch, K., B. M. Slaby, W. Bach, A. Boetius, I. Clefsen, A. Colaço, M. Creemers, J. Cristobo, L. Federwisch, A. Franke, A. Gavrilidou, A. Hethke, E. Kenchington, F. Mienis, S. Mills, A. Riesgo, P. Ríos, E. M. Roberts, D. Sipkema, L. Pita, P. J. Schupp, J. Xavier, H. T. Rapp, & U. Hentschel, 2022. Biodiversity, environmental drivers, and sustainability of the global deep-sea sponge microbiome. Nature Communications (published online 02 September 2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-32684-4

Dickey-Collas, M., J.S. Link, P. Snelgrove, J.M. Roberts, M.R. Anderson, E. Kenchington, A. Bundy, M.M. Brady, R.L. Shuford, H. Townsend, A. Rindorf, M.A. Rudd, D. Johnson & E. Johannesen, 2022. Exploring ecosystem-based management in the North Atlantic. Journal of Fish Biology 101:342-350. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jfb.15168

FENG, T., R.E. STANLEY, Y. WU, E. KENCHINGTON, J. XU & E. HORNE, 2022. A high-resolution 3-D circulation model in a complex archipelago on the coastal Scotian Shelf. Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans127(3): e2021JC017791 https://doi.org/10.1029/2021JC017791

Jacobs, K., M. Bouchard Marmen, B. Rincón, B. MacDonald, C. Lirette, O. Gibb, M. Treble & E. Kenchington, 2022. Biodiversity Monitoring Stations for Benthic Macrofauna and Meiofauna in the Disko Fan and Hatton Basin Conservation Areas. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3487, vii + 86 p.

KENCHINGTON, E., LIRETTE, C., TREBLE, M., & K. JACOBS, 2022. Biodiversity Monitoring Stations for Benthic Megafauna in the Disko Fan Conservation Area. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3499: v + 75 p.  https://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2022/mpo-dfo/Fs97-6-3487-eng.pdf

STEFFEN, K., A. A. G. INDRANINGRAT, I. ERNGREN, J. HAGLÖF, L. E. BECKING, H. SMIDT, I. YASHAYAEV, E. KENCHINGTON, C. PETTERSSON, P. CÁRDENAS & D. SIPKEMA, 2022. Oceanographic setting influences the prokaryotic community and metabolome in deep-sea sponges. Nature Scientific Reports 12:3356. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-07292-3

WANG, S., F.J. MURILLO, & E. KENCHINGTON, 2022. Climate-change refugia for the bubblegum coral Paragorgia arborea in the northwest Atlantic. Frontiers in Marine Science 9: 863693 https://doi/10.3389/fmars.2022.863693    

2021 Publications 

BEAZLEY, L., E. KENCHINGTON, M. KORABIK, D. FENTON & M. KING, 2021. Other effective area-based conservation measure promotes recovery in a cold-water coral reef. Global Ecology and Conservation 26, e01485. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2351989421000354

Blasiak, R., Kenchington, E. (joint conveners), Arrieta, J.M., Bermúdez-Monsalve, J.R., Calumpong. H. (co-lead member), Changwei, S., chiba, s. (lead member), Dionisi, H., Garcia-Soto, C. (co-lead member), Vieira, H. & Wawrik, B. Chapter 23. Developments in the exploration for and use of marine genetic resources. In: The Second World Ocean Assessment, World Ocean Assessment II. Volume II. United Nations (ed.), United Nations, New York, USA, pp. 363-380. 

BOUCHARD MARMEN, M., B. ODENTHAL, F.J. MURILLO, G. TOMPKINS, E. BAKER, A. SAVARD-DROUIN, W. WALKUSZ, T. SIFERD, & E. KENCHINGTON, 2021. Sponges from the 2010-2014 Paamiut Multispecies Trawl Surveys, Eastern Arctic and Subarctic: Class Demospongiae, Subclass Heteroscleromorpha, Order Poecilosclerida, Families Mycalidae and Isodictyidae. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3452: v + 60 p.

Combes, M., S. Vaz, A. Grehan, T. Morato, S. Arnaud-Haond, C. Dominguez-Carrió, A. Fox, J. M. González-Irusta, D. E. Johnson, O. Callery, A. J. Davies, L. Fauconnet, E. Kenchington, C. Orejas, J. M. Roberts, G. Taranto, L. Menot, 2021. Systematic conservation planning at an ocean basin scale: identifying a viable network of deep-sea protected areas in the North Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Frontiers in Marine Science - Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology: Managing Deep-sea Ecosystems at Ocean Basin Scale. Frontiers in Marine Science 8:611358. https://doi.org//10.3389/fmars.2021.611358 

Korabik, M., E. Baker, L. Beazley, S. Thompson, M.  Bouchard Marmen & E. Kenchington, 2021. A Pictorial Guide to the Epibenthic Megafauna of the Lophelia Coral Conservation Area Identified from In Situ Benthic Images. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3430: v + 142 p. http://waves-vagues.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/40961886.pdf

LIRETTE, C., E. KENCHINGTON, F.J. MURILLO, A.-L. DOWNIE, & A. KENNY, 2021. Biomass Estimates for Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems in the NAFO Regulatory Area. NAFO Scientific Council Research Documents 20/072, Serial No. N7150. 46 pp. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.13684.88963 https://www.nafo.int/Portals/0/PDFs/sc/2020/scr20-072.pdf

Maldonado, M., M. López-Acosta, K. Busch, B. M. Slaby, K. Bayer, L. Beazley, U. Hentschel, E. Kenchington & H.T. RapP, 2021. A microbial nitrogen engine modulated by bacteriosyncytia in hexactinellid sponges: Ecological implications for deep-sea communities. Frontiers in Marine Science - Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology. Deep-sea Sponge Ecosystems: Knowledge-based Approach Towards Sustainable Management and Conservation Front. Mar. Sci. 8:638505. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.638505

Morato, T., C. K. Pham, L. Fauconnet, G. H. Taranto, G. CHIMIENTI, E. Cordes, C. Dominguez-Carrió, P. Durán Muñoz, H. Egilsdottir, J. M. González-Irusta, A. Grehan, D. Hebbeln, L.-A. Henry, E. Kenchington, L. Menot, T. Molodtsova, C. Orejas, B. Ramiro Sanchez, M. Ramos, J M. Roberts, L. Rodrigues, S. W. Ross, J. L. Rueda, M. DEL MAR SACAU CUADRADO, D. Stirling & M. Carreiro-Silva, 2021. North Atlantic basin-scale multi-criteria assessment database to inform effective management and protection of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems. Frontiers in Marine Science, section Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology: Managing Deep-sea Ecosystems at Ocean Basin Scale; Data Report; Frontiers in Marine Science 8:637078. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.637078

TURNER, P.J., M. GIANNI, E. KENCHINGTON, S. VALANKO & D.E. JOHNSON, 2021. New scientific information can help to inform the evaluation of EU deep-sea fisheries regulations. The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 36:1-20. https://doi.org/10.1163/15718085-bja10074

van Denderen, P.D., H. Holah, L.M. Robson, J.G. Hiddink, L. Menot, D. Pedreschi, G. Kazanidis, M. Llope, P.J. Turner, D. Stirling, F.J. Murillo, A. Kenny, N. Campbell, A.L. Allcock, A. Braga-Henriques, J.M. González-Irusta, G. Johnston, C. Orejas, A. Serrano, J.R. Xavier, P. Hopkins, E. Kenchington, E. Nixon & S. Valanko, 2021. A Policy-Based Framework for the Determination of Management Options to Protect Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems under the EU Deep-sea Access Regulations. ICES Journal of Marine Science, fsab237, 1-16. https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsab237

WANG, S.W., E. KENCHINGTON, Z. WANG & A.J. DAVIES, 2021. Life in the fast lane: Modeling the fate of glass sponge larvae in the Gulf Stream. Frontiers in Marine Science - Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology. Deep-sea Sponge Ecosystems: Knowledge-based Approach Towards Sustainable Management and Conservation. Frontiers in Marine Science 8:701218. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.701218

WURZ, E., L. BEAZLEY, B. MACDONALD, E. KENCHINGTON, H.T. RAPP & R. OSINGA, 2021. The hexactinellid deep-water sponge Vazella pourtalesii (Schmidt, 1870) copes with temporarily elevated concentrations of suspended natural sediment. Frontiers in Marine Science - Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology. Deep-sea Sponge Ecosystems: Knowledge-based Approach Towards Sustainable Management and Conservation. Frontiers in Marine Science 8:611539. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2021.611539  

2020 Publications

BART, M.C., A. DE KLUIJVER, S. HOETJES, S. ABSALAH, B. MUELLER, E. KENCHINGTON, H.T. RAPP, & J.M. DE GOEIJ, 2020. Differential processing of dissolved and particulate organic matter by deep-sea sponges and their microbial symbionts. Nature Scientific Reports 10: 17515. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-74670-0

BAYER, K., K. BUSCH, E. KENCHINGTON, L. BEAZLEY, S. FRANZENBURG, J. MICHELS, U. HENTSCHEL & B.M. SLABY, 2020. Microbial strategies for survival in the glass sponge Vazella pourtalesii. mSystems 5(4): e00473-20. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSystems.00473-20

Beazley, L., E. Kenchington, F.J. Murillo, D. Brickman, Z. Wang, A.J. Davies, E.M. Roberts & H.T. Rapp, 2020. Climate change winner in the deep sea: Predicting the impacts of climate change on the distribution of the glass sponge Vazella pourtalesii. Marine Ecology Progress Series 657: 1-23. Feature Article. http://www.int-res.com/articles/feature/m657p001.pdf

BUSCH, K., L. BEAZLEY, E. KENCHINGTON, F. WHORISKEY, B. SLABY, & U. HENTSCHEL, 2020. Microbial diversity of the glass sponge Vazella pourtalesii in response to anthropogenic activities. Conservation Genetics 21: 1001–1010. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-020-01305-2

HANZ, U., L. BEAZLEY, E. KENCHINGTON, G. DUINEVELD, H.T. RAPP & F. MIENIS, 2020. Seasonal variability in near-bed environmental conditions in the Vazella pourtalesii glass sponge grounds of the Scotian Shelf. Frontiers in Marine Science - Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology. Deep-sea Sponge Ecosystems: Knowledge-based Approach Towards Sustainable Management and Conservation 7:597682. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2020.597682

KAZANIDIS, G., C. OREJAS, A. BORJA, E. KENCHINGTON, L.-A. HENRY, O. CALLERY, M. CARREIRO-SILVA, H. EGILSDOTTIR, E. GIACOMELLO, A. GREHAN,  L. MENOT, T. MORATO, S.A. RAGNARSSON, J. L. RUEDA, D. STIRLING, T. STRATMANN, D. VAN OEVELEN, A. PALIALEXIS, D. JOHNSON & J. M. ROBERTS, 2020. Assessing the environmental status of selected North Atlantic deep-sea ecosystems. Ecological Indicators https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.106624 (online in press 17 Sept 2020).

Kenchington, T., D.E. Themelis, S.C. DeVaney & E. KENCHINGTON, 2020. The meso- and bathypelagic fishes in a large submarine canyon: assemblage structure of the principal species in The Gully Marine Protected Area. Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology, Managing Deep-sea Ecosystems at Ocean Basin Scale. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00181

KENCHINGTON, E., C. LIRETTE, F.J. MURILLO, A.-L. DOWNIE, A. KENNY, M. KOEN-ALONSO, M. SACAU CUADRADO, & H. MUNRO, 2020. Kernel Density Analysis and Mapping of Ecosystem Functions in the NAFO Regulatory Area. NAFO Scientific Council Research Documents 20/071, Serial No. N7149. 138 pp. DOI:10.13140/RG.2.2.19679.79521 https://www.nafo.int/Portals/0/PDFs/sc/2020/scr20-071.pdf

MALDONADO, M., L. BEAZLEY, M. LOPEZ-ACOSTA, E. KENCHINGTON, B. CASAULT, U. HANZ, & F. MIENIS, 2020. Massive silicate utilization facilitated by a benthic-pelagic coupled feedback sustains deep-sea sponge aggregations. Limnology and Oceanography 66: 366-391. https://aslopubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lno.11610

MALDONADO, M., M. LOPEZ-ACOSTA, L. BEAZLEY, E. KENCHINGTON, V. KOUTSOUVELI & A. RIESGO, 2020. Cooperation between passive and active silicon transporters clarifies the ecophysiology and evolution of biosilicification in sponges. Science Advances 6 (28): eaba9322. http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/28/eaba9322

Morato, T., J. M. González-Irusta, C. Dominguez-Carrió, C.-L. Wei, A. Davies, A.K. Sweetman, G.H. Taranto, L. Beazley, A. García-Alegre, A. Grehan, P. Laffargue, F.J. Murillo, M. Sacau, S. Vaz, E. Kenchington, S. Arnaud-Haond, O. Callery, G. Chimienti, E. Cordes, H. Egilsdottir, A. Freiwald, R. Gasbarro, C. Gutierrez-Zárate, M. Gianni, K. Gilkinson, V.E. Wareham Hayes, D. Hebbeln, K. Hedges, L.-A. Henry, D. Johnson, M. Koen-Alonso, C. Lirette, F. Mastrototaro, L. Menot, T. Molodtsova, P. Durán Muñoz, C. Orejas, M. Grazia Pennino, P. Puerta, S.A. Ragnarsson, B. Ramiro-Sánchez, J. Rice, J. Rivera, M. Roberts, S.W. Ross, J.L. Rueda, I. Sampaio, P. Snelgrove, D. Stirling, M.A. Treble, J. Urra, J. Vad, D. van Oevelen, L. Watling, W. Walkusz, C. Wienberg, M. Woillez, L.A. Levin & M.Carreiro-Silva, 2020. Climate-induced changes in the suitable habitat of cold-water corals and commercially important deep-sea fishes in the North Atlantic. Global Change Biology 26 (4): 2181-2202 https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.14996 

MURILLO, F.J., B. WEIGEL, E.  KENCHINGTON & M. BOUCHARD MARMEN, 2020. Marine epibenthic functional diversity on Flemish Cap (northwest Atlantic) – identifying trait responses to the environment and mapping ecosystem functions. Diversity and Distributions 26 (4): 460-478 https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13026 

Murillo, F.J., E. Kenchington, M. Koen-Alonso, J. Guijarro, T.J. Kenchington, M. Sacau, L. Beazley & H.T. Rapp, 2020. Mapping benthic ecological diversity and interactions with bottom-contact fishing on the Flemish Cap (northwest Atlantic). Ecological Indicators 112: 106135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2020.106135 

OREJAS, C., E. KENCHINGTON, J. RICE, G. KAZANIDIS, A. PALIALEXIS, D. JOHNSON, M. GIANNI, R. DANOVARO, & M. ROBERTS, 2020. Towards a common approach to the assessment of the environmental status of deep-sea ecosystems in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Marine Policy 121: 104182. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2020.104182

Puerta, P., C. Johnson, M. Carreiro-Silva, L.-A. Henry, E. Kenchington, T. Morato, G. Kazanidis, J.L. Rueda, J. Urra, S. Ross, J.M. González-Irusta, S. Arnaud-Haond, & C. Orejas, 2020. Influence of water masses on the biodiversity and biogeography of deep-sea benthic ecosystems in the North Atlantic. Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology, Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON)Frontiers in Marine Science, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.00239

RIOS, P., E. BAKER, L. BEAZLEY, T. CULWICK, J. CRISTOBO & E. KENCHINGTON, 2020.  Increasing knowledge of biodiversity on the Orphan Knoll: a new species of Tedania (Tedaniopsis) Dendy, 1924. Frontiers in Marine Science - Deep-Sea Environments and Ecology. Deep-sea Sponge Ecosystems: Knowledge-based Approach Towards Sustainable Management and Conservation. Front. Mar. Sci. 8:612857. https://doi.org/10.33389/fmars.2021.612857 

STRATMANN, T., D. VAN OEVELEN, P. MARTINEZ ARBIZU, C.-L. WEI, J.-X. LIAO, M. CUSSON, R. SCROSATI, P. ARCHAMBAULT, P. SNELGROVE, P. RAMEY-BALCI, B. BURD, E. KENCHINGTON, K. GILKINSON, R. BELLEY & K. SOETAERT, 2020. The BenBioDen database, a global database for meio-, macro- and megabenthic biomass and densities. Nature Scientific Data 7, 206 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-020-0551-2

WANG, S., E.L. KENCHINGTON, Z. WANG, I. YASHAYAEV & A.J. DAVIES, 2020. 3-D Ocean particle tracking modeling reveals extensive vertical movement and downstream interdependence of closed areas in the northwest Atlantic. Nature Scientific Reports 10, 21421 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-76617-x

WUDRICK, A., L. BEAZLEY, T. CULWICK, C. GOODWIN, P. CARDENAS, J. XAVIER, & E. KENCHINGTON, 2020.  A  Pictorial  Guide  to  the  Epibenthic  Megafauna  of  Orphan  Knoll  (northwest  Atlantic) Identified from In Situ Benthic Video Footage. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3375: v + 154 p.