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The tardigrades on a Giant Redwood

Well, Germany is not the native country of the impressive Giant Redwood tree. Nevertheless a few individuals of this species can be found within Germany. For example the state-run experimental forest in a small German town called Grafrath houses one of them. The scientific name is Sequoiadendron giganteum.

[ Giant redwood, in a German town called Grafrath, near Munich ]

A Giant Redwood tree housed within a state-run experimental forest near Grafrath, a small town in Germany (near Munich, Bavaria). The German "Mammutbaum-Register" names the data: planted in the year 1884, height 31 m, thickness 1,4 m. Of course, on an international scale it is still among the modest members of its species but nevertheless impressive when standing close to it.

There is a group of people in Germany maintaining a database on German Giant Redwoods, with an additional link to the respective European register!

Well, of course, here at the Water Bear web base we are interested in the potential inhabitants of the mosses on a Giant Redwood:

[ Moss on a Giant Redwood ]

Moss on a Giant Redwood tree

Though our samples are minute as always we took care not to harm the bark when collecting a loose moss sample. As usual the moss sample was wetted in a petri dish for a few hours. In the end we found out that the tardigrade population on the Giant Redwood was fairly homogeneous, apparently consisting of only one type of animals. We are going to show a few photomicrographs:

[ Tardigrade from a Giant Redwood, total view ]

Tardigrade from a Giant Redwood, total view. Eye pigment is existing but out of focus in the image. Body length ca. 0.3 mm.

Professionals might sigh heavily when looking at this photograph: "How on earth do you think one might tell the species on this basis?".
So we did our best to look closer without endangering the tardigrades:

[ Tardigrade from a Giant Redwood, head region ]

Tardigrade from a Giant Redwood. Detail: head region. Image width ca. 0.1 mm.

[ Tardigrade from a Giant Redwood, last pair of legs ]

Tardigrade from a Giant Redwood, last pair of legs. The pair of claws oriented upwards in the image shows a symmetrical claw pattern like the one of the genera Macrobiotus or Minibiotus. The claws of the leg pointing towards the right side are retracted due to motion. Image width ca. 0.1 mm.

According to tardiologist Dr. Rolf Schuster these are most probably Minibiotus intermedius individuals.

© Text, images and video clips by  Martin Mach  (webmaster@baertierchen.de).
Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of the German language monthly magazine  Bärtierchen-Journal . Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.

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