ONC Staff Profile

Fabio De Leo

Senior Staff Scientist, Science Services

Fabio is originally from Brazil but also holds a Spanish citizenship. He earned a PhD in Biological Oceanography from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and a Master's degreee in the same field from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil. His research focuses on investigating the vast biological diversity that inhabits the ocean’s seafloor (marine benthos). As a benthic ecologist he has specialized on deep-sea habitats, particularly submarine canyons, which are often hotspots of biodiversity and biomass, harbouring countless life forms that include almost all phyla of the animal kingdom. Crustaceans, molluscs, cold-water corals, and numerous bottom fish species are of particular interest as they are targeted by commercial fisheries. He is interested in locating, mapping and studying these biodiversity hotspots in the ocean floor to help protect communities that may eventually be threatened by human activities such as fishing, oil and gas exploitation, seafloor mining and pollution, and also by climate change. As an outcome from Fabio's PhD research, a 10,500 hectare marine reserve (Hikurangi Marine Reserve) was created in the waters surrounding Kaikoura Submarine Canyon in New Zealand, one of the most productive deep-sea benthic habitats described to date. All exploitation activities such as fishing, mining, oil and gas exploration are now off limits in the Hikurangi nature sanctuary. Fabio has also accumulated over 18 years of seagoing experience and has participated in research cruises off Antarctica, New Zealand, Hawaii, Brazil, Norway, Canada and Spain. His experience at sea also includes diving in manned submersibles as deep as 1,000 m in submarine canyons off Hawaii.

Major responsibilities for Fabio at Ocean Networks Canada include not only helping to involve top-notch deep-sea researchers with the use of our observatory infrastructure, but also to analyze ONC data to produce breakthrough scientific knowledge about the functioning, biodiversity and effects of human-induced change in the deep-sea. Fabio also holds an Adjunct Assistant Professor position in the Department of Biology at UVic, lecturing at BIOL-311, BIOL-319BIOL-466, EOS-350, CENG- 421 courses about deep-sea biodiversity, human impacts in the deep-ocean, and on the use of ONC’s video imagery for science, education and outreach.

Selected Publications


De Leo, F.C., Puig, P. 2018. Bridging the gap between the shallow and deep oceans: the key role of submarine canyons. Progress in Oceanography, in press https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2018.08.006  

Aguzzi, J., Fanelli, E., Ciuffardi, T., Schirone, A., De Leo, F.C., Doya, C., Kawato, M. Miyazaki, M., Furushima, Y., Costa, C., Fujiwara, Y., 2018. Faunal activity rhythms influencing early community succession of an implanted whale carcass offshore Sagami Bay, Japan. Scientific Reports 8, 11163.

Campanyà-Llovet, N., Snelgrove, P.V.R., De Leo, F.C., 2018. Food quantity and quality in Barkley Canyon (NE Pacific) and its influence on macroinfaunal community structure. Progress in Oceanography, in press https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pocean.2018.04.003

Seabrook, S., De Leo, F.C., Baumberger, T., Raineault, N., Thurber, A.R., 2017. Heterogeneity of methane seep biomes in the Northeast Pacific. Deep-Sea Research II, in press. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.10.016

Thomsen L., Aguzzi, J., Costa, C., De Leo, F.C., Ogston, A., Purser, A., 2017. The oceanic biological pump: rapid carbon transfer to depth at continental margins during winter. Scientific Reports 7, 10763, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-11075-6

Doya, C., Chatzievangelou, D., Bahamon, N., Purser, A., De Leo, F.C., Juniper, S.K., Thomsen, L., Aguzzi, J., 2017. Seasonal monitoring of deep-sea megabenthos in Barkley Canyon cold seep by internet operated vehicle (IOV). PLOS One, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0176917

De Leo, F.C., Gauthier, M., Juniper, S.K., Nephin, J., Mihály, S., 2017. Bottom trawling and oxygen minimum zone influences on continental slope benthic community structure off Vancouver Island (NE Pacific). Deep-Sea Research II 137, 404-419.

Gomes-Pereira, J.N., Auger, V., Beisiegel, K., Benjamin, R., Bergman, M., Bowden, D., De Leo, F.C., Dinonisio, G., Edwards, L.,Friedman, A. Greinert, J., 2016. Video annotation software for underwarter video imaging systems: a review. Progress is Oceanography 149, 106-120.

Aguzzi, J.,Doya, C., Tecchio, S., De Leo, F.C., Azzurro, E., Costa, C., Sbragaglia, V., Del Río, J., Navarro, J., Ruhl, H.A., Company, J.B., Favali, P., Purser, A., Thomsen, L., 2015. Coastal observatories for monitoring of fish behaviour and their responses to environmental changes. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries. DOI 10.1007/s11160-015-9387-9.

De Leo, F.C., Vetter, E.W., Smith, C.R., Rowden, A.A., McGranaghan, M., 2014. M. Spatial scale-dependent habitat heterogeneity influences submarine canyon macrofaunal abundance and diversity off the Main and Northwest Hawaiian Islands. Deep-Sea Research-II, 104, 267-290

Smith, C.R., DeMaster, D.J., Thomas, C., Srsen, P., Grange, L., De Leo, F.C., 2012. Pelagic-benthic coupling, food banks and climate change on the West Antarctic Peninsula shelf. Oceanography 25, 116-129

De Leo, F.C., Drazen, J.C., Vetter, E.W., Rowden, A.A., Smith, C.R., 2012. The Effects of submarine canyons and the oxygen minimum zone on deep-sea fish assemblages off Hawaii. Deep-Sea Research I 64, 54-70.

De Leo, F.C., Smith C.R., Rowden, A.A., Bowden, D.A., Clark, M.R., 2010. Submarine canyons: hotspots of benthic biomass and productivity in the deep-sea. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277, 2783-2792.

Vetter, E., Smith, C.R., De Leo, F.C., 2010. Hawaiian Hotspots: Enhanced megafaunal abundance and diversity in submarine canyons on the oceanic islands of Hawaii. Marine Ecology 31, 183-199.

Smith, C.R., De Leo, F.C., Bernardino, A., Sweetman, A., & Martinez, P., 2008. Abyssal Biodiversity, ecosystem function and climate change. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 23, 318-328.

De Leo, F.C., Pires-Vanin, A.M.S., 2006. Benthic megafauna communities under influence of the SACW (South Atlantic Central Water) intrusion onto the Brazilian southeastern shelf: a comparison between an upwelling and a non-upwelling ecosystem. Journal of Marine Systems 60, 268-284.



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