Size-Fractionated Plankton Tow

Technology #ua16-152

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David Walker
Assistant Research Scientist, Soil water Enviro
Managed By
Tod Mccauley

Title: Netting System For Separating Plankton by Size


Invention: Inventors at the University of Arizona have developed a netting system designed to separate particles of varying sizes while conducting plankton tows. This configurable setup allows for different sized particles to be separated as they are collected. It also includes improvements made from standard plankton netting, including stability improvements and adjustable buoyancy.


Background: Plankton netting is commonly used by limnologists, oceanographers, and resource management agencies for studying plankton and other aquatic materials of interest. Plankton is often collected as part of bioaccumulation and biomagnification studies. Currently, there are no plankton nets or tows that fractionate plankton by size on the market. As an answer to this unmet need, this novel system of nets is designed to separate materials of interest by their size.



  • Gathering and separation of plankton and other aquatic materials by size
  • Commercial or amateur fishing



  • Fractionates materials as they are gathered
  • Designed to make it easier for researchers to separate the materials gathered during plakton tows based on size
  • Creates more stable and reproducible collections
  • Includes a number of improvements to the standard setup, including stabilizing fins, adjustable buoyancy, and an installed mechanical flowmeter
  • Potential to be adapted for commercial or amateur fishing to separate endangered or protected fish from commercial fish


Licensing Manager: 

Tod McCauley

(520) 626-7916