Publication Date

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Moss Landing Marine Laboratories


Erika E. McPhee-Shaw


Algal cultivation, Autonomous underwater vehicles, Biological oceanography, Optical instruments, Physical oceanography, Plankton community composition

Subject Areas

Physical oceanography; Biological oceanography; Optics


Autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) equipped with oceanographic sensors demonstrate the capability to describe plankton communities in the marine environment. The vehicles collect data from the surface through the mixed layer for a variety of oceanographic parameters. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute operates the Dorado upper-water-column AUV. The Dorado AUV collects data for 32 size-classes, from 1.25 to 250 μm, using a laser in-situ scattering and transmissometry (LISST-100X) instrument. The objective of this study is to analyze data from AUVs and laboratory work to inform sampling methods with applications in targeting specific classes of plankton, particularly harmful algal bloom species. The results of this study show that specific combinations of LISST-100X size class channels can be combined to reconstruct fluorescence data. This project includes laboratory tests with monocultures of phytoplankton on both a backscattering sensor that detects chlorophyll at 695 nm and on the forward scattering LISST-100X sensor. The results show a linear relationship between backscattered chlorophyll concentration and cell density for four monocultures of phytoplankton. The forward scattering lab experiments show distinct organism signatures for three genera of phytoplankton tested as monocultures.