If someone gives you an agarplate with several different bacteria colonies, could you guess where the water sample comes from? Well, maybe pinpointing the exact place is not that easy but by describing the amount, color and community of the bacteria colonies you can actually get some good ideas. You can distinguish if the sample comes from a duckpond, a fish tank or the sea.
12 students from the Marine Ecology course had to play this game last week and did a good job describing the sampled water and nutrient inputs into the water systems. Beside, they grew marine bacteria in different DOM-media and looked at the cells in the microscope.
Some time before, the same students had a mussle-lab, looking at the clearance rate of blue-mussles under different conditions (influence of light, size, frequency and salinity).
Other first year biology students have a project right now where they look into the role of nutrients for phytoplankton or bacteria and try to find out whether carbon, nitrogen or phosphate is limiting the growth of the microorganisms. A lot more samples to analyze…