Automated optical analysis of zooplankton in Dealware Bay

Zooplankton are animals typically millimeters in length and thus barely visible to the naked human eye, but of vital importance to the Delaware Estuary ecosystem.  They include copepods and mysids along with early life stages of crabs, oysters, and finfish, providing an important link between primary producers and higher trophic levels.  However, a comprehensive survey of zooplankton has not been done in the Delaware Estuary for decades, leaving scientists and resource managers with little information on how zooplankton populations have changed, and how zooplankton dynamics in the Estuary relate to fisheries.  This project is using a novel optical scanning instrument (ZooScan) coupled with pattern recognition software for the semi-autonomous quantification of zooplankton in field collected samples from the Delaware Estuary over a 12 month period to study spatiotemporal distributions of zooplankton as related to environmental variables in order to compare to historical records and to inform work on invasive species detection, and oyster larvae dispersal and settlement.  This work is funded through Delaware Sea Grant/NOAA. 

This project has been featured in several recent news articles: Environmental Monitor, UDaily, WDDE radio, The Coast Press, and The News Journal (with Adam on the front page!).

Project Team

Adam Wickline (UD Masters student) and Jon Cohen (PI)

Featured Faculty

Jonathan Cohen

Jonathan Cohen picture

Assistant Professor Marine Biosciences


CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

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College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment • 111 Robinson Hall • Newark, DE 19716 • USA
Phone: 302-831-2841 • E-mail: ceoe-info@udel.edu

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