During the summer of 2017, UNE student Ariella Danzinger worked to develop a prototype for a remote-controlled zooplankton collection device. Her mentor, Dr. Markus Frederich, Professor of Marine Sciences at the University of New England (UNE), studies the invasive green crab and its response to climate change. Next in Frederich's line of research is to better understand the green crab during its larval stage.
UNE student Ariella Danzinger with her zooplankton suction and collection device, which was used to collect green crab larvae samples during a summer study with Dr. Markus Frederich. Credit: University of New England.
"We know by now in great detail what kind of adult invasive crabs come here, when they breed, how fast they grow, and more. But we don’t know much about the larvae populations in this area," says Frederich.
The collection of green crab larvae and other zooplankton samples can be thwarted by water that is too deep for the researcher to wade in or by water too shallow for a boat to tow a plankton net. Danzinger spent her summer working in Frederich's lab developing a remote plankton suction and collection device, affectionately termed the "sucker", to solve the zooplankton collection gap.
The "sucker" in-action near Ram Island off the coast of Maine. Credit: University of New England.
The "sucker" is a remote-controlled, submarine, PVC structure housing a plankton collection device. It is attached to the bottom of a boogie board that floats the electronics above the water's surface. The plankton collection device housed within the PVC structure is comprised of a thruster that pulls water through a filter net and into a sample collection container.
Danzinger used the FlowCam in Frederich's laboratory to analyze the green crab larvae samples collected. Frederich acquired the FlowCam in 2016 using a grant from the National Science Foundation.
The remotely-controlled "sucker" houses a zooplankton collection device within the PVC frame. The structure is attached to the bottom of a boogie board used to keep the electronic components above the water's surface. Credit: University of New England.
Danzinger presented her research at the 2018 Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology in San Francisco. Danzinger's zooplankton suction and collection device will serve as a prototype for future UNE students to continue to develop and perfect.