California Academy of Sciences
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What is a settling plate?
A settling plate is simply an artificial habitat for colonizing organisms which begin life as free-floating plankton, then settle out of the water column and attach themselves onto hard substrates (the settling plate). Deploying a clean settling plate into the water and periodically recording the types and numbers of organisms that have settled on the plate allows students to explore:
Deploying plates during different time of the year and in different locations allows exploration of other questions, such as:
Plate before deployment
Plate after 3 months in the water
Settling plates are best deployed on floating docks. Since floating docks rise and fall with the tides, they are never left dry. For this reason they are home to a unique group of animals and plants called "dock-fouling organisms". During the spring there is a peak in reproduction of dock-fouling organisms and therefore enormous competition among their larvae for places to settle. This is a good time of year to deploy your settling plates to observe rapid changes.