Ellen Kenchington, PhD

Image Kenchington, Ellen
Research Scientist

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).

- Research Council of Norway. Supplementary Funding for Norwegian Participants in Horizon 2020 Projects. Lead: Prof. H.T. Rapp, University of Bergen. Maximizing long-term impacts and synergies of H2020 SponGES (2020-2022).

- 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

Professional activities / interests

-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)


Key publications


2021 Publications to date

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.

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

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. 

2019 Publications

Bouchard Marmen, M., G. Tompkins, N. Harrington, A. Savard-Drouin, M. Wells, E. Baker, B. Odenthal, W. Walkusz, T. Siferd & E. Kenchington, 2019. Sponges from the 2010-2014 Paamiut Multispecies Trawl Surveys, Eastern Arctic and Subarctic: Class Demospongiae, Subclass Heteroscleromorpha, Order Poecilosclerida, Families Microcionidae, Acarnidae and Esperiopsidae. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3349: v + 76 p.

HAMEL, J.-F., J. SUN, B.L. GIANASI, E.M. MONTGOMERY, E.L.R. KENCHINGTON, B. BUREL, S. ROWE, P. WINGER & A. MERCIER, 2019. Active buoyancy adjustment increases dispersal potential in benthic marine animals. Journal of Animal Ecology 88 (6): 820-832. https://doi.org/10.1111/1365-2656.12943

HAWKES, N., M. KORABIK, L. BEAZLEY, H.T. RAPP, J.R. XAVIER & E. KENCHINGTON, 2019. Glass sponge grounds on the Scotian Shelf and their associated biodiversity. Marine Ecology Progress Series 614: 91-109.  https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12903

JOHNSON, D. & E. KENCHINGTON, 2019. Should potential for climate change refugia be considered as an eighth criterion for describing EBSAs? Conservation Letters 12 (4): e12634. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12634

KENCHINGTON, E., B.W. MACDONALD, A. COGSWELL, L.C. HAMILTON & A.P. DIZ,  2019. Sex-specific effects of hybridization on reproductive fitness in Mytilus. Special Issue: Doubly Uniparental Inheritance. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research  58 (2): 581-597. https://doi.org/10.1111/jzs.12348      

KENCHINGTON, E., Z. WANG, C. LIRETTE, F.J. MURILLO, J. GUIJARRO, I. YASHAYAEV & M. MALDONADO, 2019. Connectivity modelling of areas closed to protect Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems in the northwest Atlantic. Deep Sea Research Part I 143: 85-103. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr.2018.11.007

KENCHINGTON, E., C. LIRETTE, F.J. MURILLO, L. BEAZLEY & A. L. DOWNIE, 2019. Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems in the NAFO Regulatory Area: Updated Kernel Density Analyses of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystem Indicators. NAFO Scientific Council Research Documents 19/058, Serial No. N7030. 68 pp. https://www.nafo.int/Portals/0/PDFs/sc/2019/scr19-058.pdf

Kenchington, E., O. Callery, F. Davidson, A. Grehan, T. Morato, J. Appiott, A. DaviEs, P. Dunstan, C. Du Preez, J. Finney, J.M. González-Irusta, K. Howell, A. Knudby, M. Lacharité, J. Lee, F.J. Murillo, L. Beazley, J.M. Roberts, M. Roberts, C. Rooper, A. Rowden, E. Rubidge, R. Stanley, D. Stirling, K.R. Tanaka, J. Vanhatalo, B. Weigel, S. Woolley. & C. Yesson, 2019. Use of Species Distribution Modeling in the Deep Sea. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3296: ix + 76 p.

KOEN-ALONSO, M., P. PEPIN, M.J. FOGARTY, A. KENNY & E. KENCHINGTON, 2019. The Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Roadmap for the development and implementation of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries: structure, state of development, and challenges. Marine Policy 100: 342-352.

PHAM, C.K., F. J. MURILLO, C. LIRETTE, M. MALDONADO, A. COLACO & E. KENCHINGTON, 2019. Removal of deep-sea sponges by bottom trawling in the Flemish Cap area: conservation, ecology and economic assessment. Nature Scientific Reports 9: 15843. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52250-1

WANG, S., Z. WANG, C. LIRETTE & E. KENCHINGTON, 2019. Connectivity Between Areas Closed to Protect Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems in the NAFO Regulatory Area using a 3-D Lagrangian Particle Tracking Model. NAFO Scientific Council Research Documents 19/057, Serial No. N7029. 15 pp. https://www.nafo.int/Portals/0/PDFs/sc/2019/scr19-057.pdf

Wang, S., Z. Wang, C. Lirette, A. Davies & E. Kenchington, 2019. Comparison of Physical Connectivity Particle Tracking Models in the Flemish Cap Region. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3353: v + 39 p.

WEI, C.-L., M. CUSSON, P. Archambault, R.  Belley, T. Brown, B.J. Burd, E. Edinger, E. Kenchington, K. Gilkinson, P. Lawton, H. Link, P.A. Ramey-Balci, R.A. Scrosati & P.V.R. Snelgrove, 2020. Seafloor Biodiversity of Canada’s Three Oceans: patterns, hotspots, and potential drivers. Diversity and Distributions 26(2):226-241. https://doi.org/10.1111/ddi.13013