University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

Research platforms may affect accurate data collection in low light

Light is an important cue for nearly all life on Earth. Plants use light for photosynthesis, animals use light to set sleep cycles, and marine organisms use light to find food, avoid predators and even hide in plain sight. Since 2014, University of Delaware marine scientist Jonathan Cohen has been studying how winter darkness in the polar night affects biological processes and marine organisms, such as zooplankton, in the Arctic regions of Svalbard, Norway.

Zooplankton are millimeter to centimeter scale organisms that live in water and form the base of the marine food web. Scientists know that light triggers zooplankton and other marine organisms to move up and down in the water column during normal day and night cycles.

Now, Cohen and an international team of researchers have released a new report in Science Advances that reveals that zooplankton are susceptible to artificial light from research vessels, too.