Deep Sea Biological Laboratory

"What happens in the deep sea affects everything that happens on the surface, and what happens on the surface affects what happens in the deep sea. You can't influence one part of the ecosystem without impacting the global ecosystem." - Tamara Frank

Research Activities

  • Visual physiology

  • Deep sea ecosystems

  • Bioluminescence

  • Vertical migrations of macrozooplankton and micronekton

  • Current Research Projects

    1) Describing the crustacean assemblage in the vicinity of the DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill. This includes abundance, diversity and biomass information, information on seasonality for those species that carry eggs, presence or absence of vertical migrations and a comparison of these parameters between 2011, one year after the spill, and 2015-2017, 4 to 6 years after the spill.

    2) Collecting live deep-sea animals for the first ever study of their sensitivity to various components of oil, dispersants and oil+dispersants. These risk assessment studies are under the direction of Dr. Abby Renegar here at NSU.

    3) Examining the structure and physiology of photophores of deep-sea animals. There is now good evidence that photophores contain opsin (one of the precursors the visual pigment rhodopsin). My lab will be studying the photosensitivity of the photophores, to determine if they are capable of responding to light, as well as the structure and nervous connections of the photophores to determine if they contain structures indicative of photoreception, that are damaged by high level of light, and the putative pathway of communication between the photophores and the ganglia (that serve as a “mini-brains” in crustaceans) and brain.

    4) Examining the spectral sensitivity and temporal resolution of a variety of crustacean species. There is a well-known correlation between photophysiology and lifestyle/habitat in insects, and we are extending these studies to both shallow living and deep-sea crustaceans.