No tardigrades at the lightning field…
Well I’m not sure if that is true, but I couldn’t find any tardigrade habitats. The landscape of the Lightning Field was mostly plain (as in prairie, not ordinary). There was almost no tree or rock where I’m used to seen moss and lichen grow. It had been raining frequently so it was muddy, but I’m not in the business of bringing back dirt (and I don’t think my girlfriend would appreciate that too much either). Oh well for that…
After deciding to get some lichen and moss samples for tardigrade acquisition here in ABQ (at the Rio Grande) I decided to continue my efforts near The Lightning Field near Quemado, NM which I will be visiting for the next 24 hours. Now I have no idea what the terrain and conditions will be, but I feel like there is some chance I can find what I need.
In any case I’m going prepared. I’ve brought a few petri dishes, a razor blade (for removing samples from the wild), some latex gloves (for sterility and protection), and rubber bands (to keep the petri dishes closed). Hopefully I come back with something.
Map of Quemado, NM (You may need to zoom out)
Featured image courtesy of Wikipedia.
Tomorrow I plan on searching the Rio Grande Valley for Tardigrades. I found a paper yesterday by Clark W. Beasley that documents found species here in New Mexico at various altitudes. From what I read it seems like there are plenty in the ABQ altitude range and hopefully I have no problem locating them.
This is no easy feat when you consider that they are microscopic, but I have a secret. I know where they live. Apparently they like to hide out in moss and lichen so I want to collect a bunch of samples to see if I can spring them loose. There are some methods in the paper linked above that describe how to go about extraction. According to their methods, you moisten the moss/lichen for a while and then shake vigorously (I’m not joking!). After that you need to use a micropipette, for extraction and preparation for sample analysis. I don’t think I care about that and will instead focus on just bathing them in D2O from that point on.
I’m planning on collecting a bunch of samples and will probably walk along the Rio Grande Bike Trail (I figure the best chance of moss and lichen is near the only water source in ABQ) extracting samples. Of course I’m winging this, but it should be a fun adventure to say the least.
Here is the map for the access points I will most likely take:
Access Points Map If you click the link you can go to actual Google Maps and in the options select bicycling and it will show you the bike paths in ABQ. The dark green path near the access points that follows the Rio Grande is where I’ll be.