The overarching research goal of the Dowd laboratory is to understand the interactions between environmental variation and physiological variation. Current models include rocky intertidal zone mussels (in the genus Mytilus) and tidepool copepods (Tigriopus californicus), focusing on small-scale spatial and temporal environmental variation and its relationship to inter-individual and inter-species differences in physiological phenomena such as thermal tolerance, antioxidant capacity, and measures of performance (growth/fecundity). We are particularly interested in potential biochemical mediators of cross-talk between responses to multiple environmental stressors (e.g., salinity, temperature, oxygen, food availability), as well as the broader ecological and evolutionary consequences of these mechanisms. We work in the laboratory and in dynamic coastal habitats.
We have two principal ongoing lines of research:
1. The causes and consequences of micro-scale variation in body temperature among neighboring intertidal mussels, Mytilus californianus. We work to understand both the patterns of inter-individual variation in body temperature as well as the physiological correlates of this variation. Analyses focus on traits at multiple levels of organization, from whole-organism (e.g., survival, growth) to tissue biochemistry (e.g., antioxidant capacities) to patterns of gene and protein expression (e.g., transcriptomics and proteomics).
2. The interactive effects of multiple environmental stressors on physiology and performance of the splashpool copepod Tigriopus californicus, an animal whose habitat varies in remarkable – and often unpredictable – fashion in salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and pH. We aim to gain a better understanding of the ways in which present-day patterns of variation in multiple environmental parameters influence organismal physiology. This is an important prerequisite for forecasting the physiological effects of likely future environmental scenarios, in which we expect more than one environmental parameter to change. Parallel work examines the mechanisms by which these factors interact.
I will continue to build my laboratory over the coming years, but I expect to accept no more than one graduate student per year. Please contact me if you find our work exciting; I am happy to discuss opportunities.