Multimedia Gallery - Soil Water Bears


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ID # 62

Soil Water Bears
This short video shows images and movement of soil water bears (Tardigrades) at 40 to 500X magnification.

STEM Standard addressed: ESS2E - Biogeology


Appropriate Grade Level(s)
  • 6-8
  • 9-12
  • College-level
Materials are best used for
  • Classroom Lectures
  • Laboratory Activities
  • Distance Education Classes
General Course Areas
  • Environmental Science
  • Introduction to Soil Science
  • Soil Microbiology

Category: Biology & Biochemistry


Description
Water bears are a fascinating group of soil animals that appear like a person walking on all fours in a sleeping bag. They are small invertebrates that didn’t fit well into existing taxonomic groups, so scientists gave them their own phylum (Tardigrada). They have eight legs and are sometimes called ‘slow steppers’ due to their slow, methodical walking. Many soil water bears are white or gray but can be many other colors such as red, green, and yellow. They are rarely longer than 0.5 mm. They consume plant debris and other soil organisms such as protozoa and nematodes. One very unusual feature is their ability to withstand long periods of desiccation and then rejuvenate as moisture returns.

Method
Organisms were grown on cornmeal extract agar using the procedures found in Loynachan (2006). Magnification of images are at 40 to 500X.

References
Amador, J.A., and J.H. Gorres. 2005. Fauna. pp. 181-200. In: D.M. Sylvia et al. (ed.) Principles and Applications of Soil Microbiology (2nd ed), Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ. Coleman, D.C., and D.H. Wall. 2015. Soil fauna: Occurrence, biodiversity, and roles in ecosystem function. pp. 111-149. In: E.A. Paul (ed.) Soil Microbiology, Ecology, and Biochemistry (4th ed), Elsevier, New York, NY. Loynachan, T.E. 2006. Quick, easy method to show living soil organisms to high school or beginning-level college students. J. Nat. Res Life Sci. Ed. 35:202-208. Nardi, J.B. 2003. The world beneath our feet. Oxford University Press, New York, N.Y.

Peer Review: Yes

Provided By: Dr. Thomas E. Loynachan


Author(s)/Creator(s)

  • * Tom Loynachan
    Iowa State University

Submitted By: Dr. Thomas E. Loynachan


Keywords

  • microorganisms
  • tardigrades
  • soil life
  • food chain
  • slow steppers
  • small fauna

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