Metroparks Microhabitat – introduction to the space

I recently joined a program hosted by the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Cleveland Metroparks. Right from the start, I saw that this program could contain some very interesting Foldscope potential!


The Setting

The program takes place at the South Chagrin Reservation, an absolutely gorgeous body of land with various pockets of terrain. There are forests full of hemlocks and shagbark hickory trees, clay-filled cliffs, fields of goldenrod, and rocky rivers, creeks, and springs. The Cleveland Metroparks website provides:

The reservation … also features an Arboretum, Polo Field and many interesting trails to explore. Look About Lodge, a log cabin built in 1938 by the Cleveland Natural Science Club, offers year-round outdoor education programming for all ages.


The Microhabitat

Part of the program has an exercise in studying “microhabitats.” Essentially, I am to document the same small area of land once a week over the duration of the program (14 weeks).  The idea “take the same path every day, and each day find something new” resonates well with this exercise.  With that idea in mind, I am so excited—it forces me to examine, look closer, and really dedicate time to exploration (something often neglected when work and life compete for attention).

I can document the space in any way I like—so I thought it’d be most interesting for me to use a combination of field art and Foldscope collected data. The program’s use of the term “micro” here only refers to a 3 square foot plot of land, but I thought it would be fun to interpret that in an even more literal sense.


The Findings

So… I’d like to introduce you to my microhabitat!

konte_foldscopefun_3

This sketch depicts an overview of my space. There are rocks covered in moss & lichen,  and a small stream bed with water trickling through. A good size tree leans over the stream bed, with exposed roots brushing against the ground.

I didn’t want to disturb my habitat too much, so I collected a very small amount of moss off the largest rock, seen in the bottom left of my sketch. I let the samples sit in water overnight, and this is what I found the following day…

here are some screenshots from the videos as well:

It appears I found a nematode!

Improvement wise-I’ll have a glass slide for my next post, and I will remember to zoom in and film in a landscape orientation.

As the weeks progress, I will investigate more specific areas of my microhabitat in the form of themes… One week may be the soil, or perhaps a survey of all the plants in my space. No matter which theme I choose, I will include some form of Foldscope exploration as well.

Thank you all for taking the time to explore this space with me!

Rebecca


http://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/Main/Reservations-Partners/South-Chagrin-Reservation-14.aspx

 

6 Comments Add yours

  1. laksiyer says:

    Rebecca. Your artwork is spectacular as usual. It is a fairly large nematode, a hermaphrodite. Zooming in would have definitely given you a view of its internal organs. You know exactly what to do. Happy hunting and cant wait to see your next artwork.

    1. RebeccaKonte says:

      @LAKSIYER Thanks so much, it’s great to hear from you! I did notice the light catching some internal structures, next time I’ll try to zoom in & take it one step further! 🙂

  2. MaxCoyle says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    This is such a cool project, I’m really excited to follow your explorations over the coming weeks. I’m also inspired to do something similar

    Best,
    Max

    1. RebeccaKonte says:

      @Maxcoyle Thank you, Max! That’s a great idea, you should! I’m very excited to continue exploring– I’d love to see what you discover as well! 🙂

  3. Manu Prakash says:

    Hi Rebecca,

    It’s a phenomenal way to discover and learn how habitats change so often and still at the microscopic level might be very resilient to change. So although the macroscopic landscape will look very different; the microscopic inhabitants might be adapted to survive all those changes. My bet is; you will see this nematode again 🙂

    Yes; glass slides would be very useful. Since you have such an amazing visual sense in your work; you will find incredible details to build on top of.

    Also; see this post on using “table lamp” as a light source at different angles to change your illumination. You can also try outdoors with sunlight as the mode of light.
    https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=16093

    Incredible work again – really inspires me to pick up the pencil and draw again.

    cheers
    manu

    1. RebeccaKonte says:

      Manu,

      Ah that’s such an interesting point! With that contrast in mind, it may be even more interesting to watch & illustrate the change in seasons. I look forward to observing it on both scales.

      Also thank you for the helpful tips, I will try both in my next micro endeavor!

      Rebecca

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