Zooplankton observations in the Belgian Part of the North Sea

Zooplankton communities and their dynamics are unambiguously important in marine food webs, serving as an important link between primary producers and higher trophic levels. Changes to the environment, naturally or anthropogenically induced, will quickly translate into changing zooplankton dynamics. Despite their importance, zooplankton is hardly studied in the Belgian Part of the North Sea (BPNS).

Monthly sampling campaigns in the BPNS are conducted in the framework of LifeWatch, deploying two types of imaging systems for the collection of zooplankton biodiversity data. Physical zooplankton samples are processed with the ZooScan; whereas the Video Plankton Recorder (VPR) is deployed for obtaining in-situ data.

The student will be involved in data collection during the monthly LifeWatch campaigns on board of the RV Simon Stevin by collecting WP2 net samples and deploying the VPR. Additionaly, during these campaigns the student will also learn how CTD data and phytoplankton, nutrient, pigment and DNA samples are collected. The student will dilute and digitalise the physical zooplankton samples (operating the Motoda splitter and ZooScanner) in the lab, process plankton data running image recognition software and validate zooplankton images to complete and build upon existing image libraries. Short-term data collected during this period will be explored in order to make quality assessments of the collected data.

Language requirements: 
English or Dutch
Specific competences required : 
- Knowledge on zooplankton is a plus but not required.
Safety issues: 
- Working on board of a research vessel. - Working with chemicals (e.g. formaldehyde).
Accommodation possibilities : 
Additional costs to be covered by the student: 
Describe the additional costs to be covered by the student: 
Bring lunch. Public transport to and from Ostend is covered by VLIZ.