Marine Biology

, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 323-327

First online:

Application of Laser Doppler Spectroscopy (LDS) in determining swimming velocities of motile phytoplankton

  • E. BauerfeindAffiliated withZentrale, Biologische Anstalt Helgoland
  • , M. ElbrächterAffiliated withLitoralstation List, Biologische Anstalt Helgoland
  • , R. SteinerAffiliated withPhysiologisches Zentrum, Institut für Klinische Physiologie, Medizinische Einrichtungen der Universität Düsseldorf
  • , J. ThrondsenAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Marine Botany, University of Oslo

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The swimming velocities of 18 motile phytoplankton species were measured by applying Laser Doppler Spectroscopy (LDS). The size of the organisms used in the experiments ranged from nanoplankton (<20 μm) to large dinoflagellates (>100 μm). Results of the measurements showed that the swimming rates of nanoflagellates and coccolithophorids are similar to those of dinoflagellates. Swimming rates obtained for dinoflagellates and coccolithophorids exceed the sinking rates reported in the literature. LDS offers several advantages when compared with other methods applied to measuring velocity: (1) it is very fast (1–3 min); (2) it is not invasive; (3) up to ten parallel samples can be measured automatically in sequence and repetitively; (4) in contrast to microscopic measurements, motility is measured in three dimensions; and (5) it is a direct and objective method which only requires small sample volume.