Hans G. Dam

(Ph.D., SUNY Stony Brook) Professor of Marine Sciences

I am a biological oceanographer. My research interests are in the biology, ecology and evolution of planktonic organisms, particularly pelagic copepods and toxic dinoflagellates. Earlier in my career, I investigated questions dealing with the role of planktonic organisms on biogeochemical cycles in the ocean and the formation and fate of marine aggregates. Currently, my interests deal with questions of the evolutionary ecology of plankton, particularly zooplankton adaptation to ocean warming and acidification, and reciprocal interactions between zooplankton and toxic dinoflagellates

My proudest professional achievement is the training of some excellent graduate students. I encourage my students to become critical thinkers, to work on important questions in the field, and to publish their work in a timely manner.

For news about my lab’s activities, visit our Facebook page or our Twitter feed

Current Research Projects:

Interaction of Grazers and Toxic Algae. Toxic algal blooms are proliferating worldwide, but we understand little of the consequences of such proliferation. We are currently interested in the evolution of grazer adaptation to phytoplankton neurotoxins produced by the dinoflagellate Alexandrium.  We have experimentally demonstrated that populations of grazers that experience frequent blooms of toxic Alexandrium have a fitness advantage over those populations that do not frequently experience such blooms. We have developed methods to identify phenotypes of adaptation to toxic algae and measured fitness costs and advantages of toxin adaptation. We are also actively working on the molecular mechanisms of grazer adaptation to the toxins produced by Alexandrium. New areas of research in the lab are: 1) Novel mechanisms of toxicity (reactive oxygen species) in Alexandrium.  2) Costs and advantages of toxin production in Alexandrium. 3) Grazer-induced toxicity in Alexandrium.

Thermal & Low pH Zooplankton Adaptation. A formidable challenge to ocean scientists is to understand and predict the response of the biota to global change. We employ an experimental evolution approach to measuring zooplankton adaptation and its costs under future climate change conditions (warming, acidification, and combined warming and acidification). We also collaborate with genomic scientists to understand the molecular basis of adaptation. 
Oceanography and Management of Long Island Sound. Long Island Sound is one of the most urbanized estuaries in the world and faces multidimensional environmental management issues. I helped found the Long Island Sound Integrated Coastal Observing System (LISICOS) and keep an interest in water quality management for the Sound. In collaboration with G. McManus and the CT Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, we currently have a zooplankton monitoring program in place. Our interests is to understand how eutrophication and climate change affect zooplankton populations and communities.  

Recent Research Grants

Linking eco-evolutionary dynamics of thermal adaptation and grazing in copepods from highly seasonal environments. National Science Foundation.

ECOHAB 2017: Are growth and toxicity of the dinoflagellate Alexandrium controlled by grazer-induced defense? ECOHAB program, NOAA.

Transgenerational phenotypic and genomic responses of marine copepods to the interactive effects of temperature and CO2.  National Science Foundation.

Response of zooplankton to projected changes in temperature in Long Island Sound – NOAA, CT Sea Grant Program

Chemical defenses in a toxic dinoflagellate: Mechanisms and constraints – National Science Foundation

Monitoring mesozooplankton and microzooplankton in Long Island Sound. – Environmental Protection Agency/CT DEEP

Current Students & Postdocs

Ewaldo Leitao – Ph.D. Student

Mathew Holmes-Hackerd -M.S. Student

Mikayla Baer – Ph.D. Student

Gihong Park – Postdoc

Matthew Sasaki – Postdoc

Former Students (alphabetically)

Christina Batoh – Ph.D. 2012

Zair Burris – Ph.D. 2014

Mari Butler – M.S. 1993

Lihua Chen – Ph.D. 2010

Sean Colin – Ph.D. 2002

Ben Cournoyer – M.S. 2013

James deMayo – Ph.D. 2021

David Detlor – M.Sc. 1998

Leah Feinberg – M.S. 1998

Michael Finiguerra – Ph.D. 2013

Michael Ford – M.Sc 2000

Sheean Haley – M.S. 2002

Caroline A. Loglisci – M.S. 2007

Gihong Park – Ph.D. 2018

Kimberly Philips – M.S. 1996

Matthew Sasaki – Ph.D. 2020

Amy Smith Siuda – Ph.D. 2007

Kam Tang – Ph.D. 2000

Xinsheng Zhang – Ph.D. 1997

Research Staff

Lydia Norton

Courses Taught

Graduate Courses:
MARN 5010. Biological Oceanography

Honors Received

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2015)

Sustaining Fellow, Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (2016)

Member of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences (2009)

Member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (2007)

National Science Foundation Ocean Sciences CAREER award (1995)

Augmentation award for science and engineering training (AASERT) from the Office of Naval Research (1994)

Recent Representative Publications

Click here to see my publication record (Googgle Scholar)

Click here to download my papers on Research Gate

Dam, H.G. et al. 2021. Rapid, but limited, adaptation of marine zooplankton
to simultaneous warming and acidification. Nature Climate Change. 11: 780–786

Sasaki, M. and H.G. Dam. 2021. Global patterns in copepod thermal tolerance. J. Plankton Res. 43: 598–609, 

deMayo,J.A., A. Girod, M. Sasaki, and H.G. Dam. 2021. Adaptation to simultaneous warming and acidification carries a thermal tolerance cost in a marine copepod. Biol. Letters. 17: 2021007120210071. 

*Park, G. and H.G. Dam. 2021. Gene expression reveals a direct fitness cost of grazer-induced toxin production in red tide dinoflagellate prey. Proc. R. Soc. B.288: 20202480 

Sasaki, M. and H.G. Dam.  2021. Negative relationship between thermal tolerance and plasticity in tolerance emerges during experimental evolution in a widespread marine invertebrate. Evolutionary Applications. 14: 2114-2123. 

Sasaki, M. and H.G. Dam. 2019. Integrating patterns of thermal tolerance and phenotypic plasticity with population genetics to improve understanding of vulnerability to warming in a widespread copepod. Global Change Biology. 25(12): 4147-4164.

Griffin, J. E., G. Park* and H.G. Dam. 2019.  Relative importance of nitrogen sources, algal alarm cues and grazer exposure to toxin production of the marine dinoflagellate Alexandrium catenella.  Harmful Algae. 84: 181-187

Dam, H.G. and H. Baumann. 2017 Climate, zooplankton and fisheries. In: The Impacts of Climate Change on Fisheries and Aquaculture. B. Philips and M. Perez-Ramirez, Eds. Wiley.

Sent-Batoh, C., H.G. Dam, S.E. Shumway, G.H. Wikfors and C.D. Schlichting. 2015. Influence of predator-prey evolutionary history, chemical alarm-cues and feeding selection on induction of toxin production in a marine dinoflagellate. Limnol. Oceanogr. 60:318-328.

Dam, H.G. Evolutionary adaptation of marine zooplankton to global change. 2013. Ann. Rev. Mar. Sci.  5: 349-370.


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