Examining Lake Plankton on Lower St. Regis Lake

Sampling on the water

Our innovative Biology 101 labs get you out in the field to study real organisms and ecosystems that most college biology students can only read about.
For example, when we explore the microscopic world in lab we collect our own living specimens right on our lakeside campus rather than ordering them from a supply catalog. To do so, we learn to use a plankton net that sieves tiny organisms from the water.

Monitoring in the lab

Our first investigative plankton lab trains you in plankton identification and analysis under the microscope, a job skill that enables you to evaluate basic water quality from the species of plankton in the lake.

Each weekly lab begins with an update on the latest composition of the plankton, and the data are analyzed statistically at the end of the semester. Faculty such as Dr. Lee Ann Sporn and students use our findings to document how the plankton changes from late summer to the fall freeze-up, and to compare this year’s data to Biology lab records we’ve been keeping since 1990.

In this way, your Introductory Biology lab also becomes a long-term ecological monitoring project, a valuable point of reference to help evaluate environmental shifts that may later occur due to climate change or invasive species.