Tools of the Trade: Ponar

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The Ponar is the device we use to take samples of sediment dwelling organisms. Sediment dwelling organisms are called benthic invertebrates, and include organisms like zebra mussels, quagga mussels, and ‘scuds’ or amphipods.

The Ponar was invented in 1966 by Great Lakes scientists dissatisfied with the options they had available to sample sediments at the time (Grand Valley State University 2014). Those scientists were:

Powers, Charles E.                                                                                                                   Ogle, Robert A. Jr.                                                                                                                     Noble, Vincent E.                                                                                                                     Ayers, John C.                                                                                                                               Robertson, Andrew

There are lots of different options for sampling sediments, including corers that keep the vertical profile intact so that sediments can be aged. The Ponar is a type of grab sampler. It works by taking a ‘bite’ out of the top 20 cm/8 in of sediments, so this type of sediment sampler is ideal for our purpose, which is to collect benthic invertebrates. If we wanted to know the past history of how much mercury was in the lake, we would need to use a ‘corer’ instead of a grab sampler.

Read more about how the Ponar works here!


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