A low-cost benthic incubation chamber for in-situ community metabolism measurements

Mallon, J., Banaszak, A. T., Donachie, L., Exton, D., Cyronak, T., Balke, T. and Bass, A. M. (2022) A low-cost benthic incubation chamber for in-situ community metabolism measurements. PeerJ, 10, e13116. (doi: 10.7717/peerj.13116) (PMID:35402104) (PMCID:PMC8992662)

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Benthic incubation chambers facilitate in-situ metabolism studies in shallow water environments. They are used to isolate the water surrounding a study organism or community so that changes in water chemistry can be quantified to characterise physiological processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, and calcification. Such field measurements capture the biological processes taking place within the benthic community while incorporating the influence of environmental variables that are often difficult to recreate in ex-situ settings. Variations in benthic chamber designs have evolved for a range of applications. In this study, we built upon previous designs to create a novel chamber, which is (1) low-cost and assembled without specialised equipment, (2) easily reproducible, (3) minimally invasive, (4) adaptable to varied substrates, and (5) comparable with other available designs in performance. We tested the design in the laboratory and field and found that it achieved the outlined objectives. Using non-specialised materials, we were able to construct the chamber at a low cost (under $20 USD per unit), while maintaining similar performance and reproducibility with that of existing designs. Laboratory and field tests demonstrated minimal leakage (2.08 ± 0.78% water exchange over 4 h) and acceptable light transmission (86.9 ± 1.9%), results comparable to those reported for other chambers. In the field, chambers were deployed in a shallow coastal environment in Akumal, Mexico, to measure productivity of seagrass, and coral-, algae-, and sand-dominated reef patches. In both case studies, production rates aligned with those of comparable benthic chamber deployments in the literature and followed established trends with light, the primary driver of benthic metabolism, indicating robust performance under field conditions. We demonstrate that our low-cost benthic chamber design uses locally accessible and minimal resources, is adaptable for a variety of field settings, and can be used to collect reliable and repeatable benthic metabolism data. This chamber has the potential to broaden accessibility and applications of in-situ incubations for future studies.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Fieldwork in Mexico was funded by Operation Wallacea. This project was supported by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) with a Henrietta Hutton Research Grant. Additional support was provided by the Coral Conservation Society.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mallon, Jennifer and Bass, Dr Adrian and Balke, Dr Thorsten
Authors: Mallon, J., Banaszak, A. T., Donachie, L., Exton, D., Cyronak, T., Balke, T., and Bass, A. M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering
College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:PeerJ
ISSN (Online):2167-8359
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 The Authors
First Published:First published in PeerJ 10:e13116
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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