Welcome to the Plankton Imaging Lab at the University of Maine’s School of Marine Sciences

We use a variety of automated instrumentation to observe and enumerate plankton in the field. These data help us better understand the community composition of phytoplankton and zooplankton in the ocean, and how the sizes and types of the plankton are connected to and influence seasonal changes, blooms, and processes such as carbon export. In addition, the large quantity of data collected using the automated instruments described below are used for validation and uncertainty quantification of satellite remote sensing information, and we are able to explore the possibilities and boundaries of detecting phytoplankton community and size composition from space.


Imaging FlowCytobot
The IFCB captures high resolution images of all particles in a 5 mL sample of water, either continuously every 20 minutes on a flow-through system at sea or a mooring, or by providing discrete water samples (e.g. from a CTD rosette cast). The particles imaged range from several microns to 150 microns in size, and image classification software is used to aid in the sorting of all images into different categories. The instrument uses a fluorescence and/or scattering trigger to image on the order of 30,000 particles per hour, and as a result we easily accumulate millions of images over the course of several weeks at sea. More information can be found at the website of the manufacturer, McLANE Research Laboratories, Inc.

Underwater Vision Profiler
The UVP takes pictures of particles in the water ranging is size from about 100 microns up to several millimeters. The instrument can be deployed in a variety of ways but is often incorporated into the CTD rosette, where it will sample the entire water column during the downcast of the rosette system. Images of plankton and other particles are can sorted with the help of the same software used to analyze IFCB images. More information can be found on the Hydroptic website.