Work at Lizard Island (Queensland Australia)
I am currently working on my PhD characterizing the visual ecology of mantis shrimp, or stomatopod, larvae. While a large body of work surrounds the colorful, charismatic, and highly visual adult stomatopods, very little is known about how the larvae interact with light in their environment. One of the limitations surrounding work with stomatopod larvae is the issue of identification, which until recently relied upon successful culturing practices to tie unknown larval forms to their adult species. I have overcome this issue through the use of DNA barcoding, a technique that uses a short sequence of mitochondrial DNA to link an unknown larva to its described adult. The ease with which I can identify my study organisms has opened the door to an area ripe with basic research opportunities.
With my dissertation research, I am seeking to understand several of the fundamental questions surrounding stomatopod larval visual ecology, spanning from a basic characterization of the visual physiology among species to mechanisms of camouflage in the pelagic environment.