Mesocosms are experimental tanks that are larger than aquariums (microcosms) but smaller than natural ponds (macrocosms). We have 12 tanks that each hold about 350 gallons of water. Water is pumped from Muskegon Lake, passed through filters, and enters each tank individually. A small amount of the electricity used to power the artificial lights that hang above each tank comes from solar (photovoltaic) panels attached to the front of the field station.
This facility increases our capability to conduct experimental research at AWRI. Experiments have been conducted on the effect of light on the growth of phytoplankton and their ability to develop nuisance algal blooms. Also, interactions between different fish species, particularly round gobies and yellow perch, have been studied.
In the future, we plan on looking at the effects of nutrients on plant growth, the role of invasive species in Great Lakes food webs, and the impact of toxic sediments on aquatic life.
The mesocosm facility includes a walkway above the tanks to allow students and visitors to view the experiments underway. This type of student-research interaction is at the heart of AWRI's mission, and hopefully will inspire students to be future scientists.
Page last modified March 26, 2012