Rachel Lasley-Rasher

Contact Information

Phone: 207.563.8115

Email: rachel.lasleyrasher@maine.edu


B.S. University of the Virgin Islands
Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology


I am a zooplankton ecologist. I study the big impacts of small organisms that occupy basal trophic levels. These animals play a critical role in transferring energy to higher consumers including many commercially important fish. I am most interested in interdisciplary research questions that relate individual-scale behaviors such as predator avoidance, mate finding, and migration to community and ecosystem-scale effects. I have always been intrigued as to how small animals navigate the vast, viscous, and dilute world that is the marine environment.

My previous work includes determining the indirect effects of predators on copepod reproductive success and measuring the behavioral effects of ingesting toxic algae on copepod swimming behavior and predator encounter. More recently, I have used historic fish diet data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to quantify the abundance patterns of small shrimp across the Northeastern U.S. shelf ecosystem.

Currently, I am working on a project to determine how the estuarine food web has changed following a historic restoration effort in the Penobscot River. The Penobscot River restoration is one of the largest habitat restoration projects in our nation’s history, opening thousands of kilometers of riverine habitat for migratory fish, such as river herring. I am working with collaborators from NOAA and the University of Southern Maine to see how the dramatic increase in river herring is affecting zooplankton distribution and abundance.