The latest entry in the “Word Wednesdays” series discusses this class of organisms that includes both plant-like and animal-like creatures such as paramecium, amoebas, and foraminifera.
ACER’s Microplankton sub-group, lead by Dr. Jeffrey Krause, is studying processes and interactions within the microplankton community and how they are affected by oil and dispersant in the water.
Their current experiment is investigating microplankton structure and function in water contaminated with oil and dispersant. Specifically they have 4 treatments – seawater, seawater with oil, seawater with dispersant and seawater with both oil and dispersant. During the experiment, they are measuring a number of different parameters. These include community diversity (who is in the community), abundance (how many are present) and biomass (how big / weighty they are). They are also measuring various aspects of community function including (but not limited to) how much photosynthesis is going on, how efficient the photosynthetic process is, and how much predation (grazing) is occurring.