Environmental Services

Environmental Services - Benthic and Plankton Laboratory - Versar, Inc.

Benthic and Plankton Laboratory

Versar maintains fully equipped benthic, plankton, and sediment processing laboratories. Our capabilities include processing (sorting) of freshwater, estuarine, and marine macro-invertebrate samples. Our certified and renowned taxonomists provide species-level taxonomic identification of freshwater, estuarine, and marine macro-invertebrates collected from all regions and water bodies within the Unites States and its territories. Versar taxonomists also provide particle-size distribution and total organic carbon analysis for sediments collected from any type of water body in addition to wet weight, dry weight, and ash-free dry weight biomass determinations of biological samples. Versar maintains a reference collection of organisms and is in contact with a network of taxonomic specialists nationwide who provide taxonomic confirmation of rare and hard to identify species.

Our recent projects include support to the Coastal Ecology Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Coastal Environmental Health & Biomolecular Research in its assessment of biological condition of protected areas such as national marine sanctuaries and national estuarine research reserve system sites. Versar recently completed the processing, taxonomic identification, and benthic community assessment of samples collected at the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia. Benthic macrofauna and sediment properties are also being analyzed for other coastal regions of the US.

Versar scientists have monitored benthic communities in the Maryland Chesapeake Bay and its major tributaries for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources as part of the federal Chesapeake Bay Program since 1984. Versar scientists have done processing, taxonomic identification, biomass determination, and analysis of sediment properties for thousands of benthic samples collected in all tidal regions of the Maryland Chesapeake Bay.

For freshwater systems, Versar is providing benthic macro-invertebrate sample collection, sorting, and taxonomic identification in support of Baltimore County Stream Biomonitoring Program. Versar scientists processed samples for more than 500 locations within the Patapsco River, Back River, and Gunpowder Falls watersheds. We have performed similar freshwater benthic sample processing and identification services to many county clients in Maryland and Virginia, states in EPA Region 7, and the National Capital Region of the National Park Service.

Versar assessed biological resources in submerged coastline areas in Assateague Island National Seashore for the National Park Service. The inventory included analysis of demersal fish, benthic macro-invertebrates, and sediment properties from samples collected throughout the survey area. We also supported providing development of a benthic indicator of biological condition by sorting, taxonomic identification, sediment analysis, and biomass determinations for samples collected from coastal and intracoastal areas in New Jersey.