I have been greatly inspired by the Stanford Tardigrade post and want to explore the local lichens for similar associations. Initially, I was just focused on finding Tardigrades, but then everytime I picked up a lichen for foldscoping there were other life forms that were consistently observed in the same environs. I then thought that I should report all life I see in the lichen and using a network method analyze strong or weak associations like in my previous post. Here’s one where I found a tardigrade and its friends (Coordinates of lichen: .Latitude 184.108.40.206 N, Longitude 220.127.116.11 W)
Protocol: Taking a bit of the lichen, I reconstitute it in mineral water overnight in a tiny petridish. This I will keep until I stop observing life in it, a pond water-like sample you might say. When the sample dries up a bit I add more mineral water.
I also maintain a mini-aquarium on a slide and tardigrades seem perfect for those as they have survived for over 3 days and I have shown all my friends the water-bears.
Video 1. Tardigrade (Tardigrade-19782-1-LI): I must have watched these for hours. What a delightful sight the Tardigrade is. Here’s a small one.
Video 2. The larger version belongs to the same species in my view and foldscoping it brings out many interesting internal features useful for classification. Based on these, and using this key, I conclude that this is a Eutardigrade of the Milnasiidae family, more specifically Milnesium tardigradum. Use the same key while seeing the below video and see if you agree with me. Further, I also have a mystery question for you in the video, so please take a look carefully.
Video 3 . Ok here is a minor detail, the tardigrade was alive even after 72 hours in my microaquarium. Here is a video after 48 hours in my micro aquarium, a picture of its moults and eggs.
Video 4 I have always found nematodes in my lichens. Nematode-19782-4-LI
Video 5. Next is this Tetrahymena-like ciliate. Ciliate-19782-5-LI
Video 6. Ciliate-19782-6-LI. A small ciliate.
Video 7. This kidney-shaped ciliate is often seen with lichens (Ciliate-19782-7-LI). I am going to study this a bit more in future posts.
So there you go, a tardigrade with 3 ciliates and a nematode in a lichen (which is a fungus and a chlorophyte association). How might they all talk to each other I wonder?