Zooplankton Diversity & Distribution
Deep sea meroplankton larval diversity from Kersten et al. 2019
The beauty and complexities of zooplankton got me hooked on studying the diversity of species and using molecular tools to investigate their roles in ecosystems.
While molecular identification is considered the best level of ID for these sometimes challenging to identify creatures, pairing morphological identification of organisms and sequencing their DNA is a passion of mine and I am always interested in contributing new information to our knowledge of the diversity of life on earth!
Our world is changing rapidly. Not only in ways that are obvious to us - like more extreme weather patterns - but also through the spread of invasive species and reorganization of the functioning of aquatic ecosystems.
Zooplankton are critical components of aquatic food webs, as consumers of phyto- and microplankton, and as prey to planktivorous predators.
How do these food webs change when the species composition changes? Are there ways we can manage food webs from the bottom up to provide better support for struggling fish populations? These are just some of the questions my lab is interested in.
Food Web Ecology
Comparison of morphological and molecular identification of prey in larval fish guts, from Jungbluth et al. 2021 (eDNA)
We're generally interested in studying population dynamics of planktonic organisms, toward a better understanding of how populations respond to stressors and inform how we can make our ecosystems more resilient to future changes. Larval stages of aquatic organisms are often highly abundant (many R-selected species) and play important roles in aquatic food webs partly from their high abundance and high mortality rates (e.g. important food for planktivorous fishes). They are often difficult to study in part because they are harder to identify to species than adult stages. Molecular techniques can help fill the gap in studies of larval biology and ecology in ways that just aren't possible with traditional methods.
In addition to using dietary DNA to study what larval organisms are eating (e.g. Jungbluth et al. 2021- eDNA) my lab has also developed a molecular technique that utilizes something called quantitative PCR to estimate the abundance and biomass of difficult to identify larval copepods (Jungbluth et al. 2013, Jungbluth et al. 2022).
Prospective students, Post-doctoral scholars, or volunteers
I would love to hear from you if you might be interested in joining the lab.
Please know my ability to support students or post-docs financially is mainly dictated by available funding. If our interests align and if you are willing to explore independent funding sources, we can probably figure something out to bring you in! Contact me with the form below or directly by email.
San Francisco State University,
Estuary & Ocean Science Center
3150 Paradise Drive, Bld 36
Tiburon, CA 94920
Tel: 415-338-3730 x83730