Last blog

This summer has come to the end and I had a great time doing research on campus. I have successfully found the zooplankton I need from James River rockpool system in Richmond. Now my zooplankton are happy and alive in my lab occupying over one hundred beakers. I also developed a two-week sampling routine with my professor to sample 34 rockpool. I will then identifying and record all the species present in each pool and generate a presence/ absence data sheet. We can monitor the community assembly of these pools through time with the data.

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Combo: the mediun that keeps zooplankton happy

The preparation for my common garden experiment for zooplankton Daphnia pulex and Simocephalus vetulus is going well. To make sure my beloved cute zooplankton can stay very happy during my experiment and ever after, my professor and I decided to make a favorable and standardized medium for them. Combo medium is our choice. It is composed of 25 chemicals and is proved to support both algae and zooplankton culture well. As my professor said, “Combo lab is fancy lab”. This medium will make our lab a cool lab while my pulex babies thrive in it.  I’m very glad to report that our first batch of Combo made my pulex very happy.

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Sampling James River Rockpool system in Belle Isle

My summer research is focused on how genetic difference can affect species competition strength. My experimental organisms are zooplankton. The first step of the preparation work is to get genetic different zooplankton from James river rockpool system located in Belle Isle. The ideal focal species for my competition experiment is Daphnia pulex, which is a well studied species with all of its genome sequenced, and one other zooplankton species with relative large body size. Finding them is the tricky part. No one has looked into the zooplankton in Belle Isle rockpool system before. My professor and I had no idea what species we can find there. We were hoping to find Daphnia pulex and to choose the second focal species base on what we can find.

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Brief Summary of Summer Work

This summer my partner and I looked closely at one model of zooplankton population.  Using this model we found that the mortality was one of the most sensitive parameters which implied that it is one of the most sensitive parameters in other zooplankton population models.  This supported the claim that the mortality term need more research and refinement.  Some of the work we did was included in a proposal for a NSF grant to continue research on zooplankton modeling.  We also looked at different types of mortality terms that include predation and competition to limit the growth the population, but more work is need to find which is best, if any.

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Determining Dynamics

What have I been up to since my last post?

Well…a lot more math.  We finished calculating the sensitivities of the model with respect to each parameter: development, mortality, and birth.  These terms are dependent on temperature so then we calculated the sensitivity with respect to temperature.  Sensitivity tells you how the eigenvalues of the model change as the parameters change.  The eigenvalues are indicators of the behavior of the model.  Basically we were using the techniques we learned with the smaller models from last time to understand the dynamics of the zooplankton model. We also looked at how the parameters change over time, so that we can make connections between the sensitivities and the model’s dynamics.

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