Bringing Soil Animals to Life
How can we involve and educate people as to the wonders of life in the soil? While we have
filmed every other frontier, our earth has been impenetrable.
How can we bring the animals in the soil to life? Below it the proper gear for extarcting small soil creature. They are called Tullgren Funnels.
It came to me when trying to explain to some youngsters around the house. I picked up a lump of soil, and said: "Inside this there are lots of little animals which I can show you. If I can get these creatures to move out of the soil I can show you what they look like" And this is how to do it on the cheap...
There are thanks to several people in helping me to overcome some challenges - Keith for getting the creatures onto tissue, Nancy for tin can idea, and Rob for suggesting to strap digital microscope to binocular microscope.
Any lump of soil whether cold of clay, leaf litter or bit of lawn..
Empty bottle 2 litre cola
1 Light Bulb 50-100 watt, NOT energy saving! You need an old one that throws off some heat.
Binocular Microscope (£100) , or 20-200X digital microscope that show on PC screens £20+)
Retort Stand (or just put upturn the Cola bottle in a jam jar) to hold Cola bottle.
Gauze, either metal or cotton
I made a 60 Tullgren funnel unit. So thought I'd buy a unit lik eone above. Expect when it cam eto the grand needed. So I thought I'd do it on the cheap...
Have a look at two sample videos, based on the extraction process described above, collected on the first day. Access them (in full colour!) in Dropbox, Soilanimals 1.1 & Soilanimals 1.2 (See file at bottom of page, 'Soilanimals 1 & 3', on how to 'read' these videos)
First are springtails..
Later the oribatid mites appear. there are different stages in their life going from nymphs to hard nut adults, which eat into leaves. The Soil Report 2007 by CS noted that "highest catches of mites were found in plots at which rainforest was highest. while springtails favoured lower rainfall plots" and "Highest mite:springtail were found in habitats that are associated with high rain fall". (8.3.4)
This is what home soil lab look slike..
Then going to Todmorden
Nematodes require different ways to extract,
Let sit 1-3 days to allow the nematodes to crawl out of the soil. Make sure the sample stays in contact with the water - do not let the dish become dry. Covering the dish with plastic wrap or foil will help prevent drying. This tells us something about nematodes - that they cannot exist outside water. Except when they make cysts, which withstand all sorts of conditions.
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