Research

Our labs in Boston and Woods Hole focus on three seemingly disparate research areas: chemical ecology of lobsters, navigation in sharks, and dispersal in larval reef fishes. These efforts are linked by a common theme: understanding how marine animals sense their environment, how they use this information to make decisions leading to food and mates while avoiding danger, and how these decisions play out in population dynamics. Applications of this research can be found in public education via magazine articles (e.g. New Scientist, New York Times), popular books (The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson) and TV programs (most recently: “Daily Planet”). Our work contributes to lobster management and impacts reef conservation and marine protected areas. The lobster and shark research on sensing has lead to navigation algorithms for autonomous underwater vehicles (“robo-lobster”).

 

The Boston University lab conducts research on two areas of lobster biology: behavioral tests of chemical signaling and neurophysiological experiments on the integration of chemical and mechanical flow signals used in navigation. The shark work is carried out in unique facilities in Woods Hole and Sarasota, Florida, using four different species. It includes recording brain activity in freely swimming sharks. The reef fish work, which includes oceanography, population genetics and sensory/behavioral analysis, is done on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and involves an international team of scientists. All projects include student participation, from high school to PhD.