Use of spherical and spheroidal models to calculate zooplankton biovolume from particle equivalent spherical diameter as measured by an optical plankton counter

Alexander T. Mustard,Thomas R. Anderson

Limnol. Oceanogr. Methods 3:183-189 (2005) | DOI: 10.4319/lom.2005.3.183

ABSTRACT: Three methods of calculating the biovolume of particles from their shadows as recorded by and optical plankton counter (OPC), based on optical geometry, are presented. In the first method (Vsphere), particles are assumed to be opaque spheres. In the other two methods, particles are represented as opaque spheroids, oriented with their major axes either parallel to the flow thus presenting maximum shadow area (Vmax), or randomly orientated relative to the flow (Vran). The models were tested by comparing with net biovolume, measured from samples of a zooplankton assemblage dominated by Calanus finmarchicus collected during a cruise to the northeast Atlantic during 2001. The randomly orientated spheroidal model (Vran) provided the best fit with the net data: on average the ratio of OPC biovolume to net biovolume was 1.02, compared to ratios of 0.84 when calculating OPC biovolume as Vmax and 1.50 when calculating as Vsphere. The Vran and Vmax methods gave reasonable estimates of net biovolume from OPC measurements without recourse to the use of empirical tuning parameters that are otherwise required. This success was enhanced by the fact that the community chosen for validation purposes was dominated by a single species, C. finmarchicus, which could be approximated by spheroids of known dimension. The calibration methods are less likely to be effective when applied to zooplankton communities incorporating a diverse range of organisms.