Biological Research in the SAFL EcoLab

The SAFL Ecological Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (EcoLab) was initiated and funded by the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED) in 2002. SAFL EcoLab is a place where researchers can study organisms’ physiological responses in a moving fluid – from an organism’s scale to the scale of characteristic eddies in a turbulent flow. 


From Field to Laboratory

Field measurements drive boundary and initial conditions that are applied in SAFL EcoLab experiments. Scaling relationships between an organism’s physiological responses and moving fluid are facilitated and verified in the field. General equipment used within SAFL EcoLab and field applications includes:

  • Water quality sondes (Hydrolabs)
  • Acoustic-Doppler velocimetry probes
  • Nitrate biological sensors
  • Self-Contained Autonomous Microstructure Profiler (SCAMP)
  • Radio-frequency identification system for monitoring Lagrangian velocity of fish, sediments, and water parcels
  • Hach DR/4000V spectrophotometer used to quantify soluble reactive phosphorous, nitrate, protein, bacterial cell density, and chlorophyll content

Laboratory Equipment
SAFL EcoLab houses a solid base of laboratory equipment including:

  • Laminar flow hood
  • Biological safety cabinet
  • Incubators with light/temperature control and cycling
  • Muffle furnace
  • Milli-Q water purifier
  • Nikon SMZ800 dissection microscope
  • Nikon Eclipse E400 microscope with 100-1000 times magnification, epi-fluorescence, and digital image capture capabilities
  • Refrigerated centrifuge
  • Autoclave 
  • TSI micro particle image velocimeter (uPIV) with controllable shear flow
  • Optical hot wire velocity sensors
  • Optical dissolved oxygen sensors
  • Nitrate microelectrodes
  • Desktop turbulence generator driven by acoustic speakers
  • Plankton tower with controllable temperature stratification and turbulence 
  • Lachat QuikChem FIA+ 8000 series auto-analyzer capable of nitrate/nitrite, orthophosphate (SRP), ammonia, and alkalinity analysis