Experimental Plankton Biology

** Prerequisites:** A prior course in Organismal Biology or equivalent is highly desirable but not required.

This course examines the full diversity of microbial, phyto- and zooplankton in coastal to open ocean environments and will allow students to experimentally manipulate plankton. Students will learn the life cycles of planktonic organisms and will understand the diversity of plankton available within the Mobile Bay, Mississippi Sound, and open coastal waters in the vicinity of Dauphin Island Area.

Students will identify plankton and learn how to assay plankton populations using classic filtration, microscopy, and molecular methods. Students will become familiar with the seasonal drivers of planktonic populations. Students will become proficient with their understanding of the microbial loop, anthropogenic impacts on phyto- and zooplankton and the mechanisms and implications of explosive jellyfish blooms, the concept of ‘Jelly World’, invasive species, and HABs. Students will experience diel migration in offshore day and night excursions.

Students will examine 1-2 ‘hot’ new research papers each week in a brief journal club type session in which the topic will be critiqued by the group.

This is an experimental course: All students will become familiar with the setup of an experiment and will work in groups of two to research an aspect of the biology of their favorite planktonic organism. Each student will keep a detailed notebook of collections (periodically reviewed) and their experiment, and additionally, will give a ten-minute classroom presentation or demonstration on their favorite planktonic organism. Students will have short quizzes each week to help students stay up to date, accumulative final test and will be graded for attendance.

A textbook is required (Johnson & Allen, Zooplankton of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Johns Hopkins Univ. Press) and an optional recommended highly visual text (Sardet, Plankton, Univ. Chicago Press) is suggested. Scientific papers will be provided online for no additional cost; numerous additional identification manuals/links will be made available.