Week 6: Phytoplankton Limitation Experiment 3

Well despite starting earlier this week, we didn’t get quite the blooms we were looking for at all of our sites. Ironically, the early start may have been the problem, as the night collection may be to blame. Yes, that’s right if I would have remembered my Intro Oceanography classes from years ago, I may have recalled that zooplankton undergo vertical migration during the evenings to feast on phytoplankton. If we had collected some of these migrating zooplankton then its a pretty safe bet that it will affect our results. There was some question this week as to whether this could have been the problem, as we still got pretty strong responses at our OSU site. On Friday however, our Toledo, Cannon Quarry, and Elk City sites weren’t showing the responses we were quite hoping for, but instead of coming in over the weekend we decided to wait till Monday.

The one common theme throughout these six weeks has been that is quite difficult to work with something you can’t see. A million different things could be going wrong at any given moment, and the possible migrating zooplankton from this week is just one example of this. Paranoia can strike pretty quickly. Thoughts race through your mind: Did that bottle not get a spike?Is our nutrient spike solution degrading? Is the equipment malfunctioning? Were zooplankton not successfully filtered? Are the lights in the tanks producing tank effects? Or perhaps the most frightening of all: Is this just how things are? That explanation has seemed more and more amazing to me as the summer has gone on. I can’t help but think of the great experiments in science over time, and wonder if they experienced similar paranoia before acceptance. The answer to that question is probably a resounding yes. Science is paranoia. Science is exhaustive. Science is complete. It may take many experiments and many results, but eventually the answers to the questions will be teased out of the data.

So that’s what we’ll continue to do over these last few weeks–try to tease out some answers from a few more weeks worth of data, and try to minimize and/or justify the paranoia when necessary. It is a process that I am thoroughly enjoying. It is like unraveling a conspiracy one clue at a time. Alright, that’s all for now. Until next week, when there may be another wrinkle in the conspiracy, or perhaps another clue if we are lucky. Good night!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.