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March 20th, 2019

Oh respirometry

Taught a lab yesterday on respirometry, which is the measurement of the amount of oxygen consumed and/or carbon dioxide produced by living organisms. I've done a lot of respirometry experiments over the past decade or so, so I was kind of excited to get to teach this to students, too.

But...the challenge with respirometry often boils down to instrumentation. In this case, since each lab has four student groups, instrumentation all gets multiplied by four. That means that I just don't have the time to go through and cross-check everything ahead of lab.

On top of that...oxygen sensors. They tend to go bad after 2-5 years.

And, the teaching-grade instrumentation is pretty terrible in terms of flow control and instrument sensitivity, which means it doesn't work so well for animals with relatively low respiration rates, i.e. all of the ectotherms that I currently have available. And so it just brought to the surface my feelings about not being able to get my rearing and teaching protocols in order for the sake of bringing in vertebrates.

So I wound up feeling pretty "meh" about how the day went.

We do have equipment for some alternative manometric methods, so at least I know I can get aspects of this lab to run much better next year.

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