Undergraduate Students Unravel Challenges to Predicting Zooplankton Vulnerability to Warming

Mentored by Professor Hans Dam and Ph.D. student Matthew Sasaki, Undergraduate students Sydney Hedberg and Kailin Richardson (participants in the UConn-Mystic Aquarium Research-Experience-for-Undergraduates Program, http://www.mysticaquarium.org/reu/) carried out experiments that yield important insights into how zooplankton respond to warming. The results of the work are now published in the journal Royal Society Open Science (https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.182115). The research shows that predicting the vulnerability of populations to global warming involves complex interactions between evolutionary adaptation, phenotypic plasticity, and sex (females rule !). The paper has two important implications. Surprisingly, tropical populations are more at risk because animals are already living near their thermal limits. In addition, because of the low survival of males, populations facing warming may be limited by the ability of males to fertilize females.


Photos by Hans Dam