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Limnobotics is scientific project that brings together the fields of limnology (study of freshwaters) and robotics for a better comprehension of the hydrology and biology of lake Zürich, a pre-alpine lake located in Switzerland.

The goal of this multi-disciplinary project is to provide unprecedented spatial and temporal coverage of key environmental characteristics of Lake Zurich for a better understanding of the mass occurrence and population dynamics of the toxic cyanobacterium Planktothrix rubescens (see here). We developed an Autonomous Boat equipped with a variety of sensors (temperature, pH, light, oxygen, nutrients, and algal pigments) to allow for the high-frequency monitoring of cyanobacterial spatiotemporal distribution. In parallel, we develop and apply molecular methods to rapidly assess the contribution of toxic strains to the P. rubescens population. The boat-generated field data will serve:

  1. to create a lake basin-wide model of P. rubescens development in the context of physico-chemical parameters and
  2. to guide the specific (event-driven) manual sampling campaigns and subsequent laboratory analyses, such as strain typing, gene expression of microcystin production and single-cell detection of microcystin concentration.

This project is a collaboration between the Limnological Station from University of Zurich, and the Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL) from ETH Zurich. It will run for 3 years (Oct 2010 to Dec 2013) and will provide funding for one PhD at the ASL and one postdoc at the Limnological Station.

This project is funded by SNF (no CR22I2_130023).

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