Types of Plankton in the Great Lakes

Diversity is important in the functioning and stability of ecosystem processes. Diversity is the number and variety of species in an area and their special distribution. In this Data Set file, there are three separate spreadsheets: one each with data on algae, protozoans and zooplankton.

Plankton Diversity Data Set

Suggestions: Comparisons can be made by examining nearshore and offshore areas of Lake Erie, seasonal differences (May and August), abundance in different locations, and patterns using time or space.

View the Data: Plankton Diversity Data Set

General Questions:

  • Does a specific species dominate in either the nearshore or offshore areas of Lake Erie?
  • Is there more species productivity in May or August in Lake Erie?
  • Does the location of zooplankton and protozoa in the water column relate to the amount and diversity of algae? In what way?
  • Which group of organisms (algae, protozoa or zooplankton) is more abundant in the nearshore environment? In the offshore environment?

Note: For a question to be testable, the locality, time and variables must be specific.

Background – Plankton Diversity

Scientists have more than 60 different specialized indices for measuring diversity. Differences among these indices are mostly in the way scientists measure and weigh two important aspects of diversity: richness and evenness. Richness is measured by the total number of species or number found per sample, or per unit effort (more species = more diversity). Measuring evenness involves determining the proportions of species collected or observed.

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