Many organisms perform migrations, but arguably the largest and most frequent is the diel migration of zooplankton. Every day they swim down through the water column from the surface to the darker waters, only to make the return journey after the sun sets. However, this migration is far from uniform in its strength between species and even within single populations there is a high degree of variability. In my PhD, I’m interested in understanding how multiple threats in the landscape of fear affect the integrated phenotype and how these phenotypes interplay with other organisms. Part of this requires investigating the migration behaviours and how intraspecific variation in these behaviours spatially structure populations.
Daphnia sp. are the perfect organisms to study such themes. Using fluorescent nanoparticles and 3D tracking software I will be able to quantify the behavioural aspects of this mm-sized organism on an individual scale. Alongside the well-studied Daphnia sp., I will compare their behaviours to other sympatric zooplankton specifically that of calanoid copepods. Studying these organisms in tandem will provide unique insights into how individual variation affects the community structure and a globally prevalent migration.