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Tamara Frank

Tamara Frank
Associate Professor
Dept. of Marine and Environmental Sciences
(954) 262-3637


  • B.S. - California State University, Long Beach
  • M.A. - University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Ph.D. - University of California, Santa Barbara: Vision and Bioluminescence in Deep-sea Crustaceans
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Connecticut Health Sciences Center: Intracellular studies on the role of Ca(2+) and IP(3) on Limulus photoreceptors
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Hatfield Marine Science Center: Effect of pyrethroid insecticides on nodose and petrosal ganglion cell sodium channel kinetics in trout vs. mice
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution: The role of UV visual pigments in deep-sea crustaceans

Area(s) of research

Visual and Zooplankton Ecology

  • Visual adaptations to the dim light environment in the deep-sea
  • The relationship between habitat/prey preferences and visual systems, i.e. how are differences in feeding modes, such as filter feeding versus active prey capture, reflected in visual Physiology in both shallow water and deep-sea species
  • The relationship between bioluminescence and visual adaptations in deep-sea environments
  • How light affects the vertical distributions and vertical migrations of deep-sea animals
  • Taxonomy and spatial distribution patterns of deep-sea crustaceans (micronektonic – I don’t do copepods, ostracods, etc.) in the Gulf of Mexico

Most of these studies require special temperature insulated, light-tight collectors deployed with my opening/closing midwater Tucker Trawl, or from submersibles and ROVs for benthic work.   I have had, or currently have, funding from NSF Organismal Systems/Integrative Biology/Biological Oceanography, NOAA OER, NOAA NRDA, NOAA CIOERT, Florida Institute of Oceanography, Whitehall Foundation and GOMRI.  

Graduate Students

  • Noelle Notarnicola
  • Charles Fine
  • Eric Burdett
  • Valerie Miranda
  • Mary Carson
  • Richard Hartland
  • Megan Weber

McComb, D.M., T.M. Frank, R.E. Hueter and S.M. Kajiura (2010). Temporal Resolution and Spectral Sensitivity of the Visual System of Three Coastal Shark Species from Different Light Environments. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 83(2):299-307) (cover article)

Frank T.M. 2009. Vision in the deep. JMBA Global marine Environment 9: 2-3.

Frank, T.M., M. Porter, T.W. Cronin (2009). Spectral sensitivity, visual pigments and screening pigments fin two life history stages of the ontogenetic migrator Gnathophausia ingens. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 89(1): 119-129

Wagner, H.-J., R.H. Douglas, T.M. Frank, N.W. Roberts, J.C. Partridge (2009). A novel vertebrate eye using both refractive and reflective optics. Current Biology 19(2):108 - 114.

Whitehill, E.A.G., T.M. Frank, and M.K. Olds (2009. The structure and sensitivity of the eye of different life history stages of the ontogenetic migrator Gnathophausia ingens. Marine Biology 156: 1347 - 1357

Matz, M.V., T.M. Frank, N.J. Marshall, E.A.Widder, S. Johnsen (2008). Giant deep-sea protist produces bilaterian-like traces. Current Biology 18 (23): 1849 - 1854

Cohen, J.H., and T. M. Frank (2007). Vision in the hyperiid amphipod Scina crassicornis. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Cohen, J.H. and T. M. Frank (2006). Visual Physiology of the Antarctic Amphipod Abyssorchomene plebs. Biological Bulletin (Woods Hole) 211: 140-148. (cover article)

Myslinski, T., T. M. Frank and E. A. Widder (2005). Correlation between photosensitivity and downwelling irradiance in mesopelagic crustaceans. Marine Biology 147(3): 619-629

Frank, T. M. (2004). Effects of light adaptation on the temporal resolution of deep-sea crustaceans. Integrative and Comparative Biology 43(4): 559 - 570.

Marshall, N. J., T. W. Cronin and T. M. Frank (2003). Visual adaptations in Crustaceans: chromatic, developmental, and temporal aspects. In: Sensory Processing in Aquatic Environments (S. P. Collin and N. J. Marshall, eds.), Springer, New York, pp. 343-372.

Vecchione M., C. F. E. Roper, E. A. Widder, T. M. Frank (2002). In-situ observations of three species of large-finned deep-sea squids. Bulletin of Marine Science 71(2): 893-901.

Frank, T. M. and E. A. Widder (2002). Effects of a decrease in downwelling irradiance on the daytime vertical distribution patterns of zooplankton and micronekton. Marine Biology 140 :1181-1193.

Widder, E. A. and T. M. Frank (2001). The speed of an isolume: a shrimp's eye view. Marine Biology 138: 669-677.

Frank, T. M. (2000). Temporal Resolution in Mesopelagic Crustaceans. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B 355: 1195-1198.

Frank, T. M. and E. A. Widder (1999). Comparative study of the spectral sensitivities of mesopelagic crustaceans. Journal of Comparative Physiology 185: 255-265.

Lindsay, S., M., T. M. Frank, J. Kent, J. C. Partridge, and M. I. Latz (1999). Spectral sensitivity of vision and bioluminescence in the midwater shrimp Sergestes similis. Biological Bulletin(Woods Hole) 197: 348 - 360.

Frank, T. M. (1999). Comparative Study of Temporal Resolution in the Visual Systems of Mesopelagic Crustaceans. Biological Bulletin (Woods Hole) 196: 137-144.

Frank, T. M. and E. A. Widder (1997). The correlation of downwelling irradiance and staggered vertical migration patterns of zooplankton in Wilkinson Basin, Gulf of Maine.Journal of Plankton Research 19(12): 1975-1991.

Cronin, T.W. and T. M. Frank (1996). A short-wavelength photoreceptor class in a deep-sea shrimp. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B263: 861-865.

Frank, T.M. and E.A. Widder (1996) UV light in the deep-sea: In situ measurements of downwelling irradiance in relation to the visual threshold sensitivity of UV-sensitive crustaceans. In: Zooplankton: Sensory Ecology and Physiology (eds PH Lenz, D K Hartline, J Purcell, D Macmillian; CRC Press, 590 p.

Frank, T. M. and E. A. Widder (1996). UV light in the deep-sea: In situ measurements of downwelling irradiance in relation to the visual threshold sensitivity of UV-sensitive crustaceans. Marine and Freshwater Behavior and Physiology 27: 189-197.

Frank, T. M., and E. A. Widder (1994). Evidence for behavioral sensitivity to near-UV light in the deep-sea crustacean Systellaspis debilis. Marine Biology 118 : 279-284.

Frank, T. M., and E. A. Widder (1994). Comparative study of behavioral-sensitivity threshold to near-UV and blue-green light in deep-sea crustaceans. Marine Biology 121: 229-235.

Feng, J. J., T. M. Frank and A. Fein (1991). Excitation of Limulus photoreceptors by hydrolysis-resistant analogs of cGMP and cAMP. Brain Research 552: 291-294.

Frank, T. M. and A. Fein (1991). The role of the inositol phosphate cascade in visual excitation of invertebrate microvillar photoreceptors. Journal of General Physiology 97: 697-723.

Frank, T. M. and J. F. Case JF (1988). Visual spectral sensitivities of bioluminescent deep-sea crustaceans. Biological Bulletin (Woods Hole) 175: 261-273.

Frank, T. M. and J. F. Case (1988). Visual spectral sensitivity of the bioluminescent deep-sea mysid,

Latz, M. I., T. M. Frank and J. F. Case (1988). Spectral composition of bioluminescence of epipelagic organisms from the Sargasso Sea. Marine Biology 98: 441-446.

Latz, M. I., T. M. Frank, M. R. Bowlby, E. A. Widder, and J. F. Case. (1987). Variability of flash characteristics of a bioluminescent copepod. Biological Bulletin (Woods Hole) 173: 489-503.

Latz, M.I., T. M. Frank, J. F. Case, E. Swift and R. Bidigare (1987). Bioluminescence of colonial radiolaria in the western Sargasso Sea. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology109: 25-38.

Frank, T. M., E. A. Widder, M. I. Latz and J. F. Case (1984). Dietary maintenance of bioluminescence in a deep-sea mysid. Journal of Experimental Biology 109: 383-389.

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