We are a research lab in the School of Ocean Science and Engineering at The University of Southern Mississippi, based at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Ocean Springs, MS. Our research focuses on environmental constraints on behavior, performance, and fitness of marine and estuarine invertebrates, and the strategies used by organisms to overcome these constraints. More specifically, this encompasses (1) plastic and adaptive behavioral and physiological responses to environmental change and environmental stress, (2) environmental effects on life histories, distributions, and population dynamics, and (3) anthropogenic impacts on organism-environment interactions. This research also has a strong applied focus, using ecophysiological approaches to address fisheries management and conservation questions. We work closely with local and regional management agencies to improve our understanding and management of coastal invertebrate species.


12/19/19: We are recruiting an undergraduate student to work with us during Summer 2020, investigating fiddler crab behavior and thermal ecology. This 10-week, paid internship is based at GCRL but includes field work in FL, NC, and NY. More information is available here.

9/5/19: The Craboratory was awarded a grant from the National Geographic Society, Balancing risk vs. reward: thermal risk-taking behavior in the pursuit of mating opportunities in fiddler crabs, which will fund field work in Darwin, Australia in December.

7/3/2019: New paper just purchased in JEMBE: Thermal and desiccation constraints drive territory preference in fiddler crabs. Full text available here.

1/29/2019: The Craboratory would like to welcome new Ph.D. student Talene Yeghissian!

1/4/2019: New paper just published in Journal of Crustacean Biology: Elevated temperature induces a decrease in intermolt period and growth per molt in the lesser blue crab Callinectes similis Williams, 1966 (Decapoda: Brachyura: Portunidae). Full text available here.

10/3/2018: New paper just published in JEMBE: Autotomy of the major claw stimulates molting and suppresses feeding in fiddler crabs. Full text available here.

9/1/2018: The Craboratory would like to welcome two new graduate students: Zac Lane (Ph.D. student) and Emelia Marshall (M.S. student)!

8/15/2018: The Craboratory was awarded a grant from NSF's Integrative Ecological Physiology program! The project, An Integrative Field and Biophysical Model of Thermal Stress, Physiological Performance, and Reproductive Fitness, is a collaboration with Dr. Jeff Levinton and Dr. Warren Porter.

7/23/2018: New paper published today in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society: Large-scale movements of postcopulatory female blue crabs Callinectes sapidus in tidal and non-tidal estuaries of North Carolina.Full text available here.

7/10/2018: Our Gulf-wide blue crab tagging program has tagged over 15,500 mature female blue crabs across the Gulf. For more information on this project, visit the project website here.

03/22/2018: Construction of our new boat, the Thalinectes, is complete. The boat was purchased with funds from the Coypu Foundation and built by Hanko's Metal Works in Berwick, LA. This boat will support research at the Chandeleur Islands and other coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico. Pictures of the new boat here

03/20/2018: Congratulations to Adam Kemberling and Lennah Shakeri who both successfully defended their M.S. theses this semester!

12/30/2017: New paper published today in Marine Biology: Geographic variation in thermal tolerance and morphology in a fiddler crab sister-species pair. Full text available here.

10/6/17: Abby Kuhn successfully defended her M.S. thesis: Effects of temperature on growth and molting in blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus) and lesser blue crabs (Callinectes similis)! Congratulations, Abby!

10/1/17: We are recruiting exceptional M.S. and Ph.D. students to join The Craboratory in Fall 2018 and later semesters. Funding is available through competitive departmental fellowships. Please click here for more information and contact Zack if you are interested in discussing these opportunities.

8/15/17: The Craboratory welcomes Christian Hayes, a new Ph.D. student co-advised by Kelly Darnell and Zack Darnell.

6/1/17: The Craboratory (in collaboration with Kelly Darnell's Coastal Ecology and Seagrass Biology Lab) received funding from the NOAA RESTORE Act Science Program to investigate habitat use patterns of nekton in turtlegreass beds across the Gulf of Mexico. This project is a collaboration with Lee Smee (Dauphin Island Sea Lab), Charlie Martin (University of Florida), Penny Hall (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) and Brad Furman (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission).

5/9/17: The Division of Coastal Sciences is offering graduate fellowships to qualified applicants for the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Please click here for more information and contact Zack if you are interested in discussing potential opportunities in the lab. Fellowship applicants for Spring 2018 admission will be reviewed beginning July 30th (application deadline October 1).

Press coverage of our research: