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Carbon Cycle

Introduces the pathways through which carbon is recycled through the biosphere.

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Bring In The SHARQ
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Bring In The SHARQ

Divers assembling SHARQ underwater. SHARQ was designed to be broken down into 8 ft. segments for easy transport and assembly.


Experimental Enclosures

Student Exploration

A Portable Mesocosm

Control of variables is important to experimental scientific design. This principle allows for the isolation and manipulation of specific variables to gauge their effect. This principle is very difficult to apply to field work because of the number of variables encountered and the innate variability of the environment. Fortunately, field biologists are adept at finding novel solutions to this very basic problem. One example of this is the researchers who developed "SHARQ" - a portable enclosure which allows them to isolate and manipulate areas of the sea floor. They are using it to gain quantified information on big questions like "How are changes in the carbon cycle due to the burning of fossil fuels impacting coral reefs?"

Extension Investigation

Use the resources below to answer the following questions:

  1. What does SHARQ stand for? What is its purpose?
  2. Why do you think it is important to measure coral's metabolism in the field as opposed to the lab? What kinds of complications would be added to an experiment of this nature if the corals were transported to the lab?
  3. What kind of water motion do organisms inside SHARQ experience? How is this accomplished? Why is this particularly important for studies of sessile organisms and ocean chemistry?
  4. What changes in the carbon cycle are projected to have major impacts on coral reefs? Explain these changes as fully as possible. What is the source of these changes? Why is quantification vital for studies of this nature?
  5. What is a mesocosm? Why are they vital to studies of our oceans?

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