CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A newly-discovered deep-sea crustacean has been named in honor of Dr. Paul Montagna, Endowed Chair for Ecosystem Studies and Modeling at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, for his long and distinguished career studying marine ecosystem dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico. Postdoctoral student Dr. Hyun Woo Bang and Dr. Jeff Baguley, who is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Nevada-Reno and Montagna’s former Ph.D. student, recently discovered the crustacean, Pentacletopsyllus montagni.
“Dr. Baguley is a collaborator on our Natural Resource Damage Assessment work and was a co-author of the highly-received paper we published last year on the Deep-sea footprint of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill,” said Montagna. “So it’s a great honor and recognition that my colleagues at other universities thought to immortalize me by naming a species after me.”
Montagna served as Baguley’s mentor while he worked on his Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Texas. They continue to work together on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) deep-sea study. Their research focuses on how the Deep Water Horizon oil spill may have affected the Gulf of Mexico and deep-sea ecosystems.
“Deep-sea communities are a critical part of the food web and represent important marine biodiversity reservoirs,” said Montagna. “Crustaceans like P.montagni play a key role in providing nutrients for larger and economically-important fish.”
Montagna’s Ecosystems and Modeling lab focuses on the important relationships between humans and the environment. His team of researchers study bottom-dwelling animals like the newly-discovered, P.montagni. Montagna’s specialty is combining his scientific findings with socioeconomic studies to create support and need for better ocean management. Both Montagna’s and Baguley’s recent investigations have uncovered significant impacts to many deep-sea organisms from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
“We only know about a small fraction of the species in the deep sea, so every new organism we encounter and describe is very important to the environment,” said Montagna. “Biodiversity is an essential characteristic of all ecosystem health.”
To learn more about the Ecosystems and Modeling Lab at the Harte Research Institute, click HERE.