Abigail Tyrell



I am a third-year PhD student. My dissertation focuses on the effects of viscosity on plankton feeding and movement. Viscosity is similar to the thickness of a fluid. In the ocean, viscosity can more than double due to changes in temperature and compounds excreted during algal blooms. These changes in viscosity have negligible effects on large organisms, such as fish, while smaller organisms, like plankton, are sensitive to viscosity. Complicating the effects of viscosity on plankton are diverse zooplanktonic feeding mechanisms: ambush feeders passively wait for prey to approach, while active feeders expend energy to seek out prey. Each feeding mechanism relies on different factors and allocates energy in a different way, so it is likely that viscosity has differential effects on zooplankton based on their feeding mechanism; changes in viscosity could favor certain species. Therefore, viscosity may affect planktonic communities over large regional and spatial timescales. The objective of my research is to separately determine the effects of viscosity and temperature on marine zooplankton feeding and movement, across different feeding mechanisms.