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)
Materials are best used for
General Course Areas
- Classroom Lectures
- Laboratory Activities
- Distance Education Classes
- Environmental Science
- Introduction to Soil Science
- Soil Microbiology
Category: Biology & Biochemistry
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.
Organisms were grown on cornmeal extract agar using the procedures found in Loynachan (2006). Magnification of images are at 40 to 500X.
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
* Tom Loynachan
Iowa State University
- soil life
- food chain
- slow steppers
- small fauna
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