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LSM3254 Ecology of Aquatic Environments Practical 4: Plankton sampling 11th October 2011


Following up on the “Plankton and Productivity” lecture, this practical will give you an opportunity to observe living plankton from Singapore’s coastal waters. OBJECTIVES 1. 2. 3. 4. Sample plankton from two locations along the south coast of Singapore. Collect various water quality parameters from the same two locations. Explore the diversity of the plankton under a microscope. Estimate the density of the plankton using a Sedgewick rafter chamber. BACKGROUND Plankton are small aquatic organisms suspended in the water column and incapable of moving against water currents. Plankton are often separated into two categories, phytoplankton (drifting/floating photosynthetic organisms) and zooplankton (drifting/floating animals). These divisions are rather arbitrary with many groups containing species not easily assigned (e.g., protists). One of the major characteristics separating phytoplankton and zooplankton is size, generally zooplankton are larger than phytoplankton. Here we will be using nets of 80 µm mesh size that will collect both zooplankton and larger phytoplankton. PROGRAMME This exercise comprises two parts: plankton sampling in the field (Republic of Singapore Yacht Club or Marina at Keppel Bay) and some microscope work back in Lab 7. Fieldwork: A. Materials Per group: Plankton net, rope and pole x 1 Wash bottle x 1 Sample bottles x 5 Bucket x 1 Pencil and labels for samples Transect tape x 1 B. Procedure   Collect some water ~1m below the surface using the water sampler (1st sample). Empty this into the bucket provided. Use some of this water to fill the bottle at the end of the plankton net. Use the rest of the water to measure the environmental parameters listed in Table 1.

Per site (shared among groups): Horizontal water samplers x 2 Multimeter probe x 1 Secchi disc x 1 First aid kit x 1

Take another sample (2nd sample) from slightly deeper (~4 m) and test this too.
1st sample (~1m) 2nd sample (~4m)

Table 1. Water physico-chemical parameters

pH Temperature (C) Dissolved oxygen (mg/l) Salinity (ppt) Secchi depth (m?)

Use the Secchi disc to fill in the last parameter in Table 1. Follow these instructions:  Record the depth at which the disc disappears. Slowly raise the disc and record the depth of reappearance. The Secchi depth is the median of the two readings. Repeat 3 times and use the overall mean value as the final Secchi depth.

 

Roll out 30m of transect tape along the railing/edge of the jetty/pontoon/breakwater. Take the plankton net rope and feed it through the PVC pole. Standing at one end of the transect tape, drop the net into the water like you were fishing. Now, slowly walk along the tape until the end, making sure that the opening of the net is about 1m below the surface as you pull it along. Turn around and repeat. Do this 4 times until you have walked 120m. Carefully pull up the net and catch the bottle. Unscrew the bottle and pour the contents into your sample jar. Now, replace the bottle and rinse the inside of the net using the seawater-filled wash bottle (I suggest all this is done in the bucket so you do not lose any water). Pour this water into the same sample jar, seal and label.

Lab work A. Materials Per group: Disposable pipettes Dissecting stereomicroscopes Identification sheets Sedgewick rafter chamber B. Procedure 1: Exploring plankton diversity 1. Shake your sample bottle and pipette 1ml or so into a petri or glass dish. Put this under a dissecting stereomicroscope and try and identify what you see. 2. Take 1ml from the pre-prepared concentrated samples (shake them first) at the front of the lab and repeat as 1. Look at the samples from both sites – are there any obvious differences?


3. In Table 3, start drawing and naming the types of organisms you are seeing. If you see something that is not included in the laminated ID sheet, ask your TA or look for it in the guidebooks. B. Procedure 2: Estimating plankton density 1. Add some Lugol’s solution (1% of the volume of your sample) to your samples to preserve them. 2. Pipette 1ml of your preserved sample into a Sedgwick rafter chamber and cover with the cover slip (before filling the cell, try placing the cover slip diagonally across the cell as this should help prevent formation of air bubbles in the cell corners). 3. Count the phytoplankton and zooplankton you see in 5 randomly selected grid squares. Read the section in the Appendix on how to use a random number table to select your grid squares. Carry on until Table 2 is completed. Table 2
Replicate number  Squares from left  Squares from top  Phytoplankton  Zooplankton   1                  2 3 4 5       Total   Mean     

Now fill out all of this section based on your Sedgewick rafter chamber work Phytoplankton per ml (mean x number of grid squares in your chamber) = Zooplankton per ml (mean x number of grid squares in your chamber) = Area of net opening in cm2 (πr2 in case you had forgotten!) = Distance net was towed in cm = CALCULATIONS: The number of plankton present in a litre of water can be calculated using this formula: Plankton per litre = ___________plankton per ml × total volume of sample (in ml) . 2 (area of net opening in cm × distance net was towed in cm) / 1000

Using your own data (counts from your Sedgewick rafter chamber) calculate phytoplankton per litre and zooplankton per litre: Phytoplankton per litre = × ( × ) / 1000 = `

Zooplankton per litre =

× ( × ) / 1000



Collate your groups’ results on the Master Sheet your TA has provided you with.

Table 2. Make simple drawings of the plankton you are seeing and try and name them! Phytoplankton




Appendix: Using random number tables Determine starting point in table by dropping your finger on the table with your eyes closed. Choose a direction in which to read (up to down, down to up, left to right, or right to left). Starting at the first number you put your finger on, select the last X digits that are between 0 and N; N being the maximum number of grids squares along the top (about 50) or down the side (about 20) of your Sedgwick rafter chamber. Once a number is chosen, do not use it again. If you reach the end of the table before obtaining all the numbers you need, move onto the next row or column and carry on.


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