Life in an ‘Organic pond’ – Part 2

Let’s explore more of the life in an ‘organic’ pond, continuing with the same water sample that we investigated for the last post. I now noticed a larva, about 5 mm long, swimming in the water. It was moving very fast, but I patiently followed it with a dropper and was finally able to pick…

Life in an ‘Organic pond’ – Part 1

After my experience and learning with the Dal Lake water sample, I have been constantly on the lookout for water ecosystems. Recently, I visited my sister’s home at the ‘Organo Eco-Habitat’ in Hyderabad, where there is an artificial pond. I collected water from a corner of the pond, in which I found an insect wing…

Mysteries of Dal Lake, Kashmir – Part 1

It all started when my friend got a water sample from Dal Lake, Srinagar. The ecosystem of Dal is ecologically rich with 117 recorded species of hydrophytes and phytoplankton. Here are some views of this beautiful Lake: wonder what we can find inside it, under the Foldscope! In my first observation, I saw many microbes…

Microbial diversity in a paddy field water sample – Part 2

DIATOMS, ROTIFERS and SOMEONE UNIQUE The water drop sample from the paddy field further showed moving diatoms and rotifers. One particular organism puzzled me. At first, from its bifurcated tail, I thought it was a rotifer. But on better focusing, I observed its cilia. Was it a ciliate? It seemed too big for a ciliate….

Foldscopes in a frog workshop?

Have you ever been in the middle of a tropical forest during the peak of monsoon? Continuous rainfall for days, overflowing streams, mushrooming waterfalls, leeches and a hundred shades of green – this is what participants of the Bisle Frog Watch face every year. The Bisle Frog Watch is a citizen science initiative held in…

Unseen gems from the Western Ghats of India

One foot into the Western Ghats of India and you will hear a variety of birds singing, frogs croaking, cicadas calling and see the landscape covered with evergreen trees of different shades of colours. But what lies beyond what can be heard or seen with the naked eye? Each year, several new species of flora…

First fun photos from Foldscope!

        I’m so excited to play with a foldscope. I’ve been hooked on the microscopic world since first looking through a scope in 5th grade. As a kid, I’ll never forget asking Santa for a microscope and getting this horrid, plastic thing that didn’t work. Later, my parents both me a used…

Ecosystem networks and flux

Any species that we observe under a microscope is part of an ecological network that depends on resources and interactions with other species. Think of all the ecosystems we are so used to seeing and reading about regularly: Serengeti, Yosemite, Kaziranga, Madagascar and Artic, each of these have completely different profiles of macro-species from the…

Diatoms and lichens

I came across this paper on diatoms found in lichens for the first time in 2004 (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.0022-3646.2004.02-205.x/pdf).  Those of you who are interested in viewing lichens with your Foldscope, you might be able to find diatoms as well.  Try taking a small piece of the lichen thallus and soaking it with distilled or spring water…

Diatoms of Clear Lake, CA

I recently went to my brothers graduation in Chico and on the way home took a little detour to visit Clear Lake, California, hypothesized to be one of the oldest lakes in North America at 480,000 years old according to USGS. The lake is teaming with life and in the summer gets deep green with…

Diatoms – living in a glass house

Walk around a pond and just take a small cup of water from the edge of the pond. What you just got is lots and lots and lots of glass houses. It’s almost ironic; what you think is nasty pond scum is mostly absolutely beautiful jewels of nature. Ironically, nobody knows what these glass houses…