FlowCam for Oyster & Green Crab Larvae Detection: A FlowCam Grant Project

FlowCam for Oyster & Green Crab Larvae Detection: A FlowCam Grant Project

We recently caught up with Kelsey Meyer, the recipient of the 2022-23 FlowCam Aquatic Research Grant for Graduate Students. Kelsey is a Ph.D. candidate studying marine biology at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. 

Kelsey oversees Dr. Brown's lab field sampling efforts which include taking samples from Great Bay Estuary (GBE) in southeastern New Hampshire. Specifically, her Ph.D. research aims to determine the extent to which green crabs are a predator of oysters and, if so, at what specific life stages for each species.

You can read more about her work from her grant announcement: https://blog.fluidimaging.com/blog/announcing-the-2022-flowcam-aquatic-grant-winner

A highly successful equipment grant program, the FlowCam Aquatic Research Grant offers students and faculty members an opportunity to use FlowCam in their lab for a full semester. We have categories for graduate students and undergraduate faculty members.

Read on to hear more about Kelsey’s experience with the FlowCam 8100 during the summer of 2022.

FlowCam: Has FlowCam improved your research and workflow? If so, how?

Kelsey: FlowCam has helped immensely with our time efficiency, reliability, and validity of counting larvae. Before FlowCam, we had to count oyster and crab larvae under a microscope, which is tedious and difficult. It was easy to lose track of what’s already been counted, and discrepancies would occur. With FlowCam, we didn’t worry about double-counting.

FlowCam collage of crab larvaeFlowCam Images of crab zoea (Carcinus Maenas)

FlowCam: How do you plan to use your data once FlowCam is returned?

Kelsey: The data will help provide a context for seasonal fluctuations in oyster and crab larvae. We’ll be able to compare multiple years and use both temporal and spatial data while studying the abundance and distribution of larvae over space and time. The data proves that oyster populations are declining in Great Bay, and we can now advocate for oyster restoration projects. Another part of my research was targeting invasive crab species, and now I know when and where they are spawning.


FlowCam: What challenges did you overcome this semester?

Kelsey: The turbidity in Great Bay Estuary is a major factor in the collection and running of water samples. We encountered some debris that would cause the flow cell to become clogged, which emphasized the importance of cleaning and filtering the sample before running it.


FlowCam: Are there any training tools or resources you particularly liked or wished you had?

Kelsey: The modules for FlowCam University were very helpful. Some videos demonstrated how to unclog a flow cell and how to change a flow cell which proved to be very useful, especially given the nature of our water samples.


FlowCam: What do you see as the single biggest advantage of FlowCam?

Kelsey: FlowCam offered us a reliable and objective means of counting cells and particles in our water samples. It was great to be able to pinpoint both oyster and crab larvae. We created libraries and set up a classification scheme to automatically identify and count oyster and crab larvae, and having FlowCam provide this data objectively was fantastic.

FlowCam collage of larval oystersFlowCam images of larval oysters

Keep an eye out soon for updates on our undergraduate recipient for the 2022-23 grant cycle. Subscribe to our blog to receive announcements for the 2023-24 grant cycle!

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