Benthic Ecology


What lies at the bottom of the ocean floor or on the sediments of a lakebed? The benthic zone, or the lowest level of water, is home to unique organisms that thrive on the substrate.

The Projects

Browse the participating projects

Do salamander communities increase stream productivity by eating stream insects?

Carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous are scarce in headwater streams. When insects emerge from these streams...

More About This Challenge

The sciency details

Challenge Amount:
Submission Deadline:
Nov 23, 2016
Campaign Launch:
Dec 08, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions

How do challenge grants work?

This grant is for projects that launch crowdfunding campaigns by Nov 02, 2016. The project that ends with the most backers will receive an additional $500 grant. Eligible projects must be approved before the launch deadline.

When will the grant be awarded?

On January 19th at 5PM PT, the prizes will be awarded according to the posted schedule.

Can I still submit a project?

We are no longer accepting projects for this grant, however we will be launching many more challenge grant opportunities. Sign up for our mailing list for up-to-date community news.

Please Note:

If we see suspicious acitivity of researchers or backers potentially cheating during the challenge, the project will be completely disqualified from winning the grant.

Challenge Aims

Much of the benthos is a mystery. Of the estimated 5% of the ocean that has been explored, the ocean floor makes up an even tinier fraction. The organisms that call the seafloor home are often some of the most primitive and unknown, and in the deepest parts are specially adapted to extreme environments including high pressure, low oxygen, and lack of light. The term benthos also applies to other ecosystems such as the bottoms of more shallow tide pools, and freshwater bodies such as lakes and rivers, and these can be just as elusive and unique.

We are accepting proposals for projects working in the benthos, to launch campaigns in December. A few questions we are curious about:

  • What organisms live there and how do they obtain enough resources to survive?
  • What do we know about their genetic diversity within and across populations?
  • Do these organisms contain any compounds, behaviors, or characteristics that can be adapted for medicine or other science fields?
  • What is the geological makeup and history of the sediment in different parts of the world? How might that influence the local communities?
  • How do microbe communities alter the health of animals and plants that live down there?
  • What tools do we use to explore and gather data about the benthos?
  • How are temperature and carbon fluctuations affecting processes at this level?

Project submissions are not limited to these topics!

Examples of past successfully-funded Experiment projects working in the benthos:

Recent climate change and foraminifera populations on Greenland's continental shelf

Assessing oyster restoration using morphological records and next-generation sequencing

A colorful world: Signaling in mantis shrimp

Wood: Is It What's For Dinner?

Eating tough stuff with floppy jaws - how do freshwater rays eat crabs, insects, and mollusks?

Please watch our call for proposals before you start! This short 3-minute introduction video goes over the process of how crowdfunding on Experiment works:

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