Zooplankton Physiology and Sensory Ecology Laboratory

My current research projects investigate the role of chemical and fluid mechanical signals in mediating zooplankton behavior. I am interested in the fine scale structure of fluid mechanical and chemical signals (created by copepods or by physical forcing), how signals are detected, the behavioral response to these signals, and how zooplankton behavior is manifested in their local and global distribution. This work combines small-scale fluid mechanics, neurophysiology and animal behavior. I apply information derived from examining small-scale interactions towards understanding large-scale distribution patterns.

I am currently funded under the following projects:

  • NSF-Biological OCE The role of phytoplankton ballast material in deterring copepod grazing
  • ONR-Marine Mammal S&T Energy transfer to upper trophic levels on a small offshore bank.
  • NSF-IOB Collaborative Research: From structure to information in mechanosensory systems. The role of sensor morphology in detecting fluid signals.
  • NSF-Bio OCE REU Site Proposal - Bigelow lab REU Site
  • NSF-DBI Acquisition of a Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
  • Research Council of Norway+ Bergen Teknologioverføring AS + Institute of Marine Research Developing a trap for the control of salmon lice.
  • Research Council of Norway “Effect of climate change on the Calanus complex (ECC)” (Submitted)

Ongoing Research

Sensory ecology and neurophysiology of marine zooplankton.

We study the characteristics of the setal motion (and the required fluid motion and force) that gives rise to the neurophysiological response in copepod mechanoreceptors. The work aims to how copepods differentiate among the myriad of fluid signals in their environment and how copepods code these complex signals in a rapid yet highly accurate manner.

Impact of global climate change on zooplankton populations.

We study effects of natural and anthropogenic changes on the energy transfer between trophic levels. Specifically we focus on grazing, respiration, reproduction and fecal pellet production rates of copepods under different climate scenarios.

Learn more about zooplankton physiology and sensory ecology research here.