Plankton Ecology Lab

Lab Description

The Plankton Ecology Laboratory conducts basic and applied research on the ecology of marine fishes and the dynamics of their early life history stages in the plankton. We are especially interested in the processes underlying the growth, survival, and dispersal of early life stages, leading to successful recruitment to adult populations. How do fish larvae forage successfully in patchy oceanic environments while simultaneously avoiding being consumed themselves?

Our research questions explore a variety of systems from tropical coral reefs to temperate estuaries and rocky reefs. Our most current work couples fine-scale plankton imaging with biological collections to investigate larval fish growth and survival in the context of their pelagic surroundings. What processes contribute to larval fish survival and successful population replenishment? Our overarching goal is to better understand the events occurring during the pelagic larval stage that influence population replenishment and connectivity. Ultimately, we intend to not only advance ecology and oceanography but also help forecast patterns of population replenishment in light of ongoing environmental changes.

Visit the Plankton Lab website.


Principal Investigators
Su Sponaugle
Bob Cowen
HMSC Director, Professor
Research Area(s)
Marine Tools and Tech
Shifting Ecosystems