I am interested in understanding how environmental conditions (natural and anthropogenic) affect life-sustaining activities (feeding and escape performances) of larval fishes. In Dr. McHenry's lab, I am currently investigating how larval fish use their sensory systems to capture prey in dark conditions.
What roles does the lateral line system play in foraging larval zebrafish? (McHenry Lab)
For my Ph.D. project, I have been investigating how larval zebrafish (Danio rerio) use their lateral line system to detect prey in order to feed. In one group of fish, I ablated the lateral line to compare how fish feed with versus without a lateral line. In the light, fish use vision to successfully find and capture prey. In the dark, the lateral line seems to play an important role in feeding. I am currently investigating if larval zebrafish can learn to use their lateral line.
How does extended embryonic-incubation affect feeding ability and morphology at hatching?
For my M.S. project, I investigated how extending embryonic incubation (beyond hatching competency) affects the feeding rates and the associated functional morphology of the larval grunion (Leuresthes tenuis). The results of my thesis suggest that larval grunion increase some morphological aspects (number of teeth, fin ray structures) while others remain unchanged (mouth size, body length) as a result of extending incubation. Feeding rates also increase as a result of extended incubation, likely a result from improved feeding morphology.
Grunion spawning on the beach (LA county)
Grunion embryos hatch only after wave stimulation.
Do anaerobic enzyme activities affect burst-swimming performance in larval white seabass? (S.C.E.R.P. Scholar)
As a Southern California Ecosystems Research Program (S.C.E.R.P.) scholar, I investigated if anaerobic enzyme activities (lactate dehydrogenase and creatine phosphokinase) determine burst-swimming performances in larval white seabass (Atractoscion nobilis). I did not find any correlation between these enzymes and burst-swimming performance, but I gained a great appreciation for larval fishes.