Zooplankton ID Guide Project

Summary: 
This project involves the development of an online resource for the purpose of efficient identification of zooplankton samples for other research endeavors such as the ARC Project, the Suisun Ponds Project, and the Complete Marsh Project. The online zooplankton identification guide linked below aims to standardize the way lab members quantify zooplankton and minimize in-person training time for new hires. The website is also frequently optimized based on user feedback.

Zooplankton play a huge role in aquatic ecosystems and facilitate energy transport between primary producers like phytoplankton and higher trophic levels composed of larger consumers. Where there still remains a lack of understanding is how physical factors in oceanic and estuarine environments affect how much and what kind of zooplankton live in certain areas. Even more unknown is how recent anthropogenic activity-driven environmental changes have impacted zooplankton populations and in turn affect the greater food webs. By understanding population dynamics of zooplankton communities over time, we can better understand the health of individual ecosystems in terms of abundance, diversity, and production of plankton and nekton.

Since zooplankton play a key role in understanding the health of a given ecosystem, the methods in which research groups quantify zooplankton samples are essential in providing reliable data. Not only should identification and counting methods be standardized, but also as efficient as possible. Depending on the size of the zooplankton sample and level of specificity each project calls for, quantifying each  sample can take from 3-12 hours when performed manually. The goal of this site is to provide a centralized online resource that offers a step-by-step method of accurately identifying zooplankton commonly found in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. This site aims to be user-friendly and concise while offering summaries of key morphological features as well as detailed life history information. 

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