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Emphasizing the 'bio' in biophysical studies of zooplankton hotspots

In our lab, we research biological-physical coupling in zooplankton to characterize the mechanisms that accumulate zooplankton into predator foraging hotspots. This field conventionally focuses on physical processes while biological processes are not usually well defined. Using field studies and numerical models, our research has shown that zooplankton biomass accumulation is explained by physiological responses of zooplankton to their physical environment through buoyancy regulation and temperature-dependent growth. We study how variation in biomass, energy content and plankton behavior affect the accumulation of energy-dense habitat patches in the ocean.  This knowledge has been used to define the spatial boundaries of critical habitat for North Atlantic right whales based on biologically relevant measures of the prey-field hotspot.


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