Trisha Towanda


I am interested in the ecological physiology of animals approaching the limits of their capabilities.  I am currently exploring the ecological physiology of heteropods, which occur in oxygen minimum zones.  These unusual gastropods are most closely related to limpets; however the heteropods have evolved to live as plankton and are voracious predators of other planktonic organisms. Athough they are frequently found in oxygen-poor and light-limited conditions, these gelatinous animals actively pursue their prey, which are located with large, lensed eyes that scan for prey against the backlit water above them.  In addition to their energetics, I am also pursuing the mechanisms behind a pigmentation change that occurs in low oxygen concentrations among some heteropods.

Prior to this, I earned my masters degree at Evergreen State College in Washington State with a study on the effects of high CO2 and low pH on the intertidal, photosynthetic anemeone, Anthopleura elegantissima. As an undergraduate, I investigated the symbiotic relationships of the crab Cancer gracilis and the amphipod Hyperia medusarum with their scyphozoan jellyfish host Phacellophora camtschatica and contributed to research with Dr. Erik Thuesen on the effects of hypoxia on the physiology and behavior of the jellyfish Aurelia labiata.