Multimedia Gallery - Soil Mites


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ID # 67

Soil Mites
This short video shows images and movement of soil mites 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
Description
Soil mites are mesofauna (0.1 to 1 mm in length) and in most soils outnumber springtails. Many are barely visual to the sharpest eye but have lots of detail when viewed under a microscope. All have eight legs and walk slowly. Some are grazers and others are predatory (the video shows both). The oribatid mites are small oval mites that are often eyeless. They are decomposers of organic debris, fungi, and algae. They may consume up to 20% of their body weight daily. They are sometimes called beetle mites because of their dark shells and round beetle appearance. The larger predatory gamasid mites have more defined mouth parts designed for biting and sucking fluids from other tiny arthropods, potworms, and nematodes. Gamasid mites are fewer in soil than oribatid mites. Seeing one come at you could be one of your worst nightmares if you were a small soil arthropod. They look pretty menacing as shown in the video at 500X.

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
  • Acari
  • soil life
  • food chain
  • small fauna

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