|photo credit: Byron Adams|
|Photo credit: Uffe Nielsen|
Collembola are also called "springtails" because they have tail-like appendages that are used for jumping. They mostly eat fungi, but not much is known about what they do in Antarctic soil.
So, as you can see, there are a variety of different types of animals living in the soil here. There's more than just penguins and seals that everyone knows about when they think of Antarctica! And these microscopic soil animals are very important, because they help process those nutrients that we've been studying! We focus mainly on nematodes, because they are the coolest animals down here!
Today, we spent some time preparing samples of soil to look at the nematodes that live in them. We have to be very careful not to hurt the nematodes, so that we can look at them under a microscope while they're still alive. Breana and Ed weigh out the samples of soil and label them:
Then, they give the soil to Diana, who puts them in a sieve and runs water over them. This rinses away most of the soil, so that you have only nematodes floating in water.
Then, Byron gets the sample. He tries to separate the nematodes from the water so that it is easier to see the nematodes under a microscope. Byron, however, lost his luggage when flying down to Antarctica. So, he's wearing clothes from the lost-and-found that we decorated to look like a bee. Here, it's not called lost-and-found, though. It's called the Skua Bin, because skuas are scavenger sea birds. The nematodes will sit in the refrigerator until later, when we look at them under the microscope to identify and count them. Hopefully I'll get some pictures of the nematodes to show you!