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.
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.
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!