||lblankenship @ hotmail . com
|Current Research: The
deep-sea trenches represent the deepest of the deep-sea habitats,
with depths in excess of 11,000 meters. Sampling trench fauna is very
difficult, as sampling gear must traverse great depths and withstand
very high hydrostatic pressure. Consequently, little is known about
the biological communities residing in deep-sea trenches.
Scavenging amphipods (crustaceans) are reliably captured from deep-sea
trenches with baited traps. I use scavenging amphipods retrieved from
the Tonga and Kermadec Trenches to assess vertical zonation patterns
in amphipod populations. Since amphipod guts are normally filled with
bait, they do not lend themselves easily to routine microscopic examination
of guts for diet assessment. However, DNA from ingested organisms
usually survives. I’ve adapted a method previously used for
microbial biodiversity surveys as a novel approach to study invertebrate
diets. This method, combined with stable isotope analysis of amphipod
tissues, provides information about the nutritional strategies of
trench-inhabiting amphipods. In particular, I am looking for differences
in diets between species, depths, and life stage. Presumably, only
a fraction of each trench community has been sampled; if the amphipods
ingest a wide range of organisms, then a comprehensive diet analysis
might serve as a trench biodiversity indicator.
|Other Research Interests: Elasmobranch
conservation. I’ve become increasingly aware of the
imminent danger of global overfishing. In particular, the recent demand
for shark fins has surged. Shark fins are used to make shark fin soup.
This expensive and prized meal has become a lucrative market for fisherman,
who can now profit off shark bycatch instead of discarding them (alive).
Unfortunately, shark fins are a classic case of waste. Fins make up
about 5% of the shark (by weight) and to maximize profits, the fins
are normally sliced off the shark and saved, and the finned shark
body is then discarded overboard and left to die. This saves freezer
space and allows for more sharks to be fished in one trip. Worldwide,
shark stocks are in declining at an alarming rate, a trend noticed
even by divers.
received a B.A. in Marine Biology and a B.A. in Pure Mathematics from
UC Santa Cruz in 2000. During my second and third year at UC San Diego,
I continued my education in mathematics with seven upper division
and graduate courses in math, the bulk of them being statistics courses.
I immensely enjoy teaching, especially at the lower division level
and have pursued diverse teaching opportunities. My teaching experience
includes two T.A.ships for the UCSD Biology department, designing
the curriculum for and instructing the class “Discover Sharks”
for academically advanced high school students, and instructing organismal
biology at USD and general biology at MiraCosta College.