Marine Ecosystems Research Laboratory – MERL

Marine Ecosystems Research Laboratory – MERL

Legal name of organisation
University of Rhode Island



Organisation address

University of Rhode Island

Primary contact information (PI)

Prof. Candace Oviatt

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Years of Mesocosm Experiments

Description of Facility

outdoor – pelagic – marine

Fourteen cylindrical enclosures, 1.8 m in diameter and 5.5 m in depth, arranged along an access deck outside and adjacent to the building

Controlled Parameters

Aquatic ecosystem studies includig nutrients, trace metals, other contaminants, salinity, hydrocarbons, larval fish, and animal species.

Research Topics

Long-term experiments, often of a duration greater than one year, have been conducted to observe ecosystems under the influence of hydrocarbon, enhanced nutrients, different nutrient ratios, sewage sludge and effluent, polluted sediments, salinity gradients and stratification.

Many short-term experiments have been conducted to observe the behavior of several individual hydrocarbons, trace metals and animal species, such as larval fish.

Facility location(s)


Primary interests

Specialist areas


The facility has laboratories for biology, radio-tracer studies, and nutrient chemistry:
– Analysis of dissolved and particulate nutrients with an Automated Analyzer. Phosphate, nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, and silicate analyses are available
– Chlorophyll extraction and analysis with a Turner Fluorometer
– Productivity measurements using a carbon-14 tracer
– Total Suspended Solids (TSS) analysis
– Dissolved Inorganic Carbon (DIC) analysis
РBenthic invertebrate identification and analysis РWinkler titrations


Photos of experiments/installations

MERL facility

MERL outdoor mesocosms

Schema of the MERL construction