SETL intro English

SETL project was first deployed by Gimaris in 2006 in marine harbours to get a clear view on the growth of invasive species. The monitored surface is infact the downward facing side of the plate. Every 3 months the plates are photographed and taken out of the water in a container. Then it is photographed again in high resolution. Unknown species are taken of the plate and are analyzed. For analyzing an overlay grid of 25 squares is used to check the position and counts of organisms. In salt and brakkish water new or cleaned plates are hung back.

In fresh water the growth is not always that spectacular so the freshwater strategy differs from the saltwater protocol.
The goal is not specifically to look for invasive species, but what settles in general at different temperatures during seasons.
Offcourse you can use it to look for invasive species. In that respect you definately need 4 plates per period.

The first try-out year.

From 15-12-2012 till 15-12-2013 we have done a trial, where a SETL plate was added every three months next to the existing ones. We only took pictures of the plates. We had no idea how fast organisms would settle and grow during the seasons. During the year it was actually quite spectaculair to see what settled within three months time.

At first glance a plate may look empty, but organisms don't necessarily have to be visible to the naked eye. On a microscopic level there is a lot going on.

To show the reader of this blog what happens to a plate, we make photo's on a regular basis to show the changes.
see tab SETL actif.

Starting at 15-12-2013 a different freshwater protocol.

We leave the two oldest SETL plates hanging to get insight in pioneering organisms and longterm organisms.
SETL H136 (placed at 27-09-2012) and SETL H106 (placed at 15-12-2012).
We take close-up photo's of these every three months, by taking them out of the water and placing them back afterwards.

In addition we replace two hanging SETL plates with new ones every three months.
You can try this protocol for as long as you want and at different depths and locations.

The recovered plates will be photographed and analysed using a microscope when necessary.
Interresting samples are preserved for later use. After analysis the plates are cleaned and will be used for the next cycle.

Fixed SETL dates : 15 march / 15 june / 15 september / 15 december.

What is the collected data used for?

Data is only collected and is shared on this website. We look at which species are present on the plates and do a count whenever this is possible.
To be of any scientific significance, we need to be much more professional, but at this stage we have seen interresting things.
The data gives us a long term idea of seasonal changes in organisms.
At this point the Quaggamussel is under our attention.

Gimaris (developer of SETL) wishes to have longterm data on freshwater lakes.
Freshwater organisms can vary quite a bit between lakes. So in order to form a species list, data on species that settle is needed.

Liking SETL very much after a year? 
It can be quite a commitment so if your team is up for it,

It is a cheap and relatively easy way to start a project. All you need are sanded PVC plates.(using sandpaper 60 grain) , a perforated brick, some tieraps and a few meters of washingline. Last but not least a suitable location to hang the plates 1 meter below the water surface. 
Just bare in mind that the SETL location has to be in easy reach to retreive and replace the plates. 
In some cases it is adviseable to keep a somewhat hidden location to avoid the attraction of those very few divers who cannot control their the remodeling skills.
You can even try hanging them at various depths. We look at the growth on the downward facing side of the plate, but you could also attach them vertically. For seawater environments where corals grow, a ceramic plate or tile (Use the coarse side) could prove to be a better substrate then PVC. 

To identify species it is prefered to have a good camera with a macro function. It is nice to have is a microscope to actually take samples from a plate. I've bought a Bresser Microscope of Euro 70,- with a cameralens and software. A mobile phone camera placed on the microscope lens works brilliant too.

Should you want to start your own SETL project please do not hesitate to contact me at foa Axel Gunderson.
I'd be happy to help you start your own project and answer your questions.

Project Baseline Haarlemmermeer has a collaboration with the biology department of Duik Team Haarlemmermeer. They have helped us with the SETL project which they are running since 2009 and it was the first freshwater SETL project in the Netherlands. At they are known as location 8 . The link shows their results and hopefully our SETL project becomes just as succesfull.

At Project Baseline Haarlemmermeer the first two plates were placed at 27th sept 2012. Within five days some brownish growth had already settled. You can read about the details later.

May I say that we were amazed what had settled on a apparantly empty plate. 

Below is a video of how we retreived the first SETL plate and took samples from another location as we were under the impression nothing had settled on it. 

Also check out the Final report I had written (in Dutch) from our first plate to give you an idea.

PB H'bos - SETL project from Ted Huikeshoven on Vimeo.