Small-scale biological-chemical-physical interactions in the plankton, especially the behavior and signal recognition by marine zooplankton: fluid physics of signal structure, neurophysiological basis of signal detection, consequences on feeding ecology, functional morphology, biochemical composition, and reproductive strategies – of marine plankton, especially copepods, from tropical to polar oceanic regions.
Our research in biological oceanography and zooplankton ecology investigates signal recognition by planktonic copepods in a transitional fluid regime and their capability for three-dimensional information processing. As a lab, we are interested in determining how these aquatic microcrustaceans are able to discriminate biological signals from background small-scale turbulent fluid flow. We have focused on signals created by escaping prey, lunging predators, attractive mates, and appropriate hosts.
Currently, the laboratory is very interested in the use of aquatic chemical communication in mating and other planktonic interactions. We are examining how underwater signals are transmitted through the fluid medium and perceived by zooplanktonic organisms. Our laboratory also is working collaboratively on a project to document the hydromechanical signals created by fish and the role of these cues in host-tracking by copepods that are parasitic on salmon. We also are engaged in collaborative research on the effects of krill swimming/feeding currents in disrupting marine snow and the impact on biogeochemical cycling in the sea. Continued interest in the ecology and phylogeny of copepod congeners within the family Euchaetidae include latitudinal comparisons of their physiology, lipid metabolism, and reproductive strategies.