Rating the Growth of Pico-phytoplankton
Ecologists often study the populations of organisms and how their rates increase or decrease. These interactions between organisms and their environments shape the reproduction of the organisms and therefore their environment as well. Population growth is not dynamic but instead depends upon multiple factors both abiotic and biotic.
The scientists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) conducted a laboratory experiment with the goal to explore how resource availability influences the growth and physiology of the picophytoplankton (small phytoplankton) Osterococcus lucimarinus. The specific objectives of the experiment was to characterize phytoplankton growth under a gradient of nutrient conditions and to compare the effects of nitrogen (N) availability to phosphorus (P) availability.
In this lesson, students will use density data from a laboratory experiment conducted by researchers at MBARI to calculate growth rates of phytoplankton, graph the data, collaborate to look for patterns in the data and then communicate their conclusions.
Author: Megan O’Neill, Kathy Couchon, Katie Sard, Katie Lodes, Slade Sapora, Kama Almasi; EARTH 2015