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Yessica Pacheco

Phytoplankton Lab Write Up


Effects of Nutrients on Phytoplankton Growth
Background Knowledge: Fertilizing the ocean can be both harmful and helpful. It is harmful because it can cause eutrophication and create hypoxia in the waters. It is good for the Phytoplankton because they love the nutrients, but it's not good for the rest of the ocean. Phytoplankton is a keystone species in marine ecosystems and small organisms that can go through photosynthesis. Phytoplankton also produces oxygen for other fish in the ocean which plays a major role in the ocean. The nutrients they need are nitrates and phosphates- but too much can cause an over excessive growth of phytoplankton (eutrophication). Along with those nutrients, the micronutrient of iron helps phytoplankton carry electrons and is a catalyst in photosynthesis. If we lose the Phytoplankton, we lose a huge source of oxygen, and if we lose that much oxygen, then we will lose animals and nutrients in the ocean, which in the end will cause the whole ocean, will become a huge dead zone and there will no longer be any marine life Hypothesis: If 3 flasks are filled with water, water/nutrients, or water/nutrients/iron, then the flask with the water/nutrients/iron will experience the most phytoplankton growth. I say the more nutrients that there are the more phytoplankton they will produce. Protocol: The experiment we conducted was with different groups and within out group there were three groups. Each group had different phytoplankton treatments. One group had the control while the other two groups had their Phytoplankton in Nutrients and the other group in Nutrients + Iron. We monitored the independent variables which were each different amount of nutrients and solution we placed on the Phytoplankton. The dependent variable was the same amount of Phytoplankton. Materials: 5mL of phytoplankton, 100mL of filtered seawater, 50-250mL flask, cotton ball, light source, 3-300 microliter pipettes, nitrate/phosphate/iron solutions, microscope/slides, and spectrometer Procedure: Three groups had, each, a 250mL flask. Group one had just the filtered seawater (control). Group 2 had filtered seawater and nutrients. Group 3 had filtered seawater, nutrients, and iron. The flasks were filled with 100mL of filtered seawater. Group 1 put 100mL of seawater and phytoplankton. Group 2 put 600 microliters of nutrients and phytoplankton. Group 3 put 600 microliters of nutrients and iron and phytoplankton. After putting everything that needed to be put into the flasks, a cotton ball was put in the top of it and they were put under a light source. For 8 days we monitored by using a spectrometer to find the transmittance of the seawater and a drop of the seawater on a slide

Yessica Pacheco and looking at it through a telescope. The variables that were monitored were the amounts of phytoplankton and transmittance of seawater. Data Tables:

Yessica Pacheco

CONCLUSION: My hypothesis was that the flask with nutrients and iron will have more phytoplankton than the flasks with just water and just nutrients. This hypothesis wasn't correct because as shown in the data above, the flask with just the nutrients had the most amount of phytoplankton. The flask with nutrients and iron were supposed to have the most phytoplankton, but there must have been an error somewhere in my groups procedure and/or the measuring of data. What I learned was that nutrients are the reason why there is life in the ocean and the reason why the phytoplankton grow. Phytoplanktons are marine organisms that are the keystone species in marine ecosystems. Phytoplankton needs nutrients such as nitrates, phosphates and iron to survive. Phytoplankton is important in the ecosystem because they are at the bottom of the ocean food web and provide us with more than 50% of our Oxygen. I learned that Phytoplankton is necessary and essential for the whole world. I think we should collect a huge amount of data because the more data we have, the more exact the experiment will be. The pros of iron fertilization are it helps organisms such as phytoplankton to grow bigger. A con in iron fertilization is that the grazers can use that iron which released CO2 gas into the atmosphere. A lot of nutrients are good for the Phytoplankton but not good for the whole ocean.