Featured Stories

Hurricane Harvey flooding linked to more fish food and larger jellyfish

May 24, 2022

In the Scientific Reports paper, PhD candidate Zach Topor and collaborators identify, for the first time, hurricane-related, environmental drivers of zooplankton abundances and diversity. Researchers used archived samples to compare historic hurricane years with non-storm years, including samples collected after Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Rita, and Hurricane Ike. We coupled samples collected following Hurricane Harvey in 2017 with those from SEAMAP off Galveston, Texas. Samples were rapidly processed using novel benchtop imaging technology ZooScan.  150,499 organisms were identified with advanced machine learning approaches and used to compare how different hurricanes might impact zooplankton communities uniquely. The hurricanes’ impact on zooplankton has important repercussions for the marine food webs as wetter hurricanes are predicted to occur more frequently as oceans continue to warm due to climate change. Results from this study set the stage for scientists to ask key questions concerning how these hurricanes may influence the way energy travels through food webs or the fate of carbon in coastal oceans. Read the article here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-12573-y

10 Ways Microscopic Ocean Animals Are Fascinating: a LUMCON Science talk

May 7, 2020 
Close-up of an arrow worm (Phylum Chaetognath) head spines, which are tipped with zinc. A minature Ocean Wolverine!

In a bucket of seawater there are tens to hundreds of microscopic, drifting animals called zooplankton. These small wanderers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and taxonomic diversity. Some flit through the water on ethereal wings like a hummingbird while others dart at incredible speeds (1000 body lengths per second!) through a molasses-like liquid. Zooplankton are amazing in so many ways; not to mention how some of them grow up to be delicious food (crab cakes anyone?). Join a virtual exploration of how these microscopic, ocean monsters are among the most fascinating animals on Earth. Watch the recording by clicking the YouTube Video below.