One of the amazing things (there are many!) about being at Toolik is that there are several projects happening here during the summer. The field site is packed with teams of researchers, their graduate and undergraduate students, and a steady hum of scientific conversations (as well as the neverending hum of the mosquito). Meal time in the community cafeteria is loud and exciting and there is always someone to talk to.

Saturday night I crashed the lab of Dr. John Moore, a researcher and professor from Colorado State in Ft. Collins. His team is looking at how the Arctic responds to change over time, especially after wildfires. On Saturday night however, the lab was focused on finding tardigrades, commonly known as water bears, in moss and liverwort samples collected from the tundra.

Mosses and liverwort
Team Moore collected various samples of mosses and liverwort from the Arctic tundra.

The team used petri dishes and soaked the moss and liverwort samples for three hours. Then they took a sample at a time and looked at them under a microscope. Once one was found, the little guy (or girl) was placed on a plate and observed under a camera microscope.

One of the "bears" found under a high powered camera microscope.

It was a great way to spend my Saturday night at Toolik and I am appreciative of the team for letting me join them for the evening. They were warm and welcoming and very generous with their time, knowledge, and resources. I appreciated the opportunity to see another lab in action. They had a great energy and you could tell that they truly enjoyed their research.

I have moss samples to bring home to Tucson for my classes this fall. We will be finding "bears" from the Arctic, the cold desert, in the hot desert!

Toolik Field Station



Wow! why are they called bears? Do you like the cold weather better there than the hot weather here? Would you like to go there again?


hello ms.anderson how is the wether there?do spiders live there? in the articcircle is it all ice? or does it have some dirt?


there is a caterpillar and it is called an archtic wooly bear sorry that is spelled wrong


Hi mrs. anderson in the arcticwhat type of animals have you seen


*what type of animals have you seen


what type of wild life have you seen there and which animal do you hope to see


what is the temperture there.


What has been your best experience so far


why do they call that a bear it looks like a cell


Do you like alaska or tucson better?


What would you do if you were out there all by yourself with no communication?


I have never seen brown moss before i have only seen green is that like named moss that is only in cold Bioms???


I am sorry I used an inappropriate word earlier in one of my replies. I was trying to ask you if there is anything you do not like about being in the arctic.

Svea Anderson

Thanks for your question Jairus. All of the experiences have been amazing so far. I have had an incredible experience here in Alaska. I think they are all my best experiences!

Svea Anderson

Alaska and Arizona are both great places. I love Tucson for the mountains, the beauty of the saguaros and the desert, the sunsets... I really enjoy the space in Alaska as well as the diversity of environments. They both hold special places in my heart.

Svea Anderson

Oh goodness! What a question!! What would I do? I am grateful that I am surrounded by the scientists here- I am constantly learning new things and having great experiences. I have limited wifi, so does that work as no communication?? :)

Svea Anderson

Cristian- Great question!! I am actually bringing some mosses and liverworts home to Tucson so you will see them in person! I have to do some research- or maybe you should!- about brown mosses and where they are found! :)

Svea Anderson

Thank you for your clarification. I appreciate that you explained your reply. I don't like the mosquitoes. It is snowing now so they are dead for the moment, and I am hoping for the rest of my time here. They are the only thing in the Arctic that I have found I don't like. :)