A low‐cost modular control system for multistressor experiments

Marine organisms and ecosystems face multiple, temporally variable stressors in a rapidly changing world. Realistic experiments that incorporate these aspects of physiological stress are important for advancing our ability to understand, predict, and manage their ecological impacts. However, the experimental systems needed to conduct such experiments can be costly. Here, we describe a low‐cost, modular control system that can be used with seawater sensors and actuators to dynamically manipulate multiple seawater variables. It enables researchers to run a variety of realistic multiple‐stressor, variable exposure experiments with a range of marine organisms. This tank controller system is based on the open‐source Arduino prototyping platform and features a custom‐made circuit board with a 16‐bit analog‐to‐digital converter, a real‐time clock, a MicroSD memory card reader, a high‐voltage transistor array, and solderless screw terminal connectors for easy connection of sensors, actuators, and power supplies. The assembly and use of this controller system does not require extensive electronics engineering or programming experience, and each module can be assembled for under 80 USD in parts. To demonstrate the system’s capabilities, we present seawater manipulations from experiments involving (1) simultaneous manipulations of dissolved oxygen and pH; (2) fluctuating dissolved oxygen levels; and (3) a controlled stepwise decrease in dissolved oxygen at different temperatures. The low cost and high customizability of this Arduino‐based control system can contribute to expanding capacities for running global change experiments for researchers and students worldwide.

Low N. H. N., Ng C. A. & Micheli F., in press. A low‐cost modular control system for multistressor experiments. Limnology and Oceanography Methods. Article.

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