[Title fragment 1.1] [Title fragment 1.2] [Title fragment 1.3]
[Title fragment 2.1] [Title fragment 2.2] [Title fragment 2.3]
[Title fragment 3.1] [Title fragment 3.2] [Title fragment 3.3]

The re-naturalization of the Isar river in Munich (II)

This time we again pass on the microphone to our guest columnist whom we had introduced already in the last issue:

"Here speaks Max, Max from the Maimilian's Bridge - like all other gossip columnists he has its own portrait on top of his text colum.

[ Echiniscus ]

Tardigrade portrait "Max" (genus Echiniscus). On this ligh microscopic image you will perceive the characteristic body colour, the body transparency and the eyes of a live tardigrade. Please keep in mind that you wouldn't see anything of this when looking at an electron microscope image (no eyes visible, no transparency, no real colour). The Gorbatschow type pigment spot on the forehead does indicate some age and wisdom.

Body width ca. 0.1 mm.

There has been much hustle and bustle about us tardigrades in the past years. Just have a look around in the web and search for the TARDIS project (Tardigrades in Space): The smoking-men-scientists did open a rocket window into space and thus exposed a few of us tardigrades to vacuum and high levels of radiation. In the end they pretended to be astonished that some of us survived this typically human biological experiment. If you were asking me directly: they always behave like this, it appears to be their standard attitude towards animals of all kinds.

Just have a look at our strongly restricted world. We are living in a tiny temporary film of water, most of the time firmly clinging to our host plant. Of course we have some tenacity and the power to survive incredible challenges. But there is one point in which we feel slightly envious towards the human beings: We are not able to go back one step in order to grasp an overview panorama of our world - when you are standing on a bridge like the smoker-man-cyclist pausing on the bridge and looking down onto the river as depicted in the photograph below:

[ Isar re-naturalization ]

"Isar-Feeling" in the very center of the city of Munich. View from North toward Maximilian's Bridge.

[ Isar-Renaturierung ]

"Isar-Feeling" in the very center of the city of Munich. View from the Museum's Bridge (near the German Technical Museum) towards the "Thick lady" a bronze statue alongside a bicyclists' route.On the right-hand side of the image is a big tardigrade moss habitat.

When standing there you might even see both our worlds, yours and mine, at a single glance. It goes without saying that those dirty smoking-men need public baths etc. in oder to stay clean whereas we keep ourselves fresh just on the basis of a tiny portion of dew.

[ Isar re-naturalization ]

View from the Museum's Bridge towards the Miller Public Bath. Foreground: tardigrade habitat.

Of course there is no doubt who of uns is spoiling the other's habitat:

[ Isar re-naturalization ]

View from Maximilian's Bridge onto the riverbed: a really silly joke. Somebody has thrown a bicycle into the river.

[ Isar re-naturalization ]

Detail: Bicycle in the riverbed.

Of course I do appreciate the newly installed artificial islands. But I do not want to comment the behaviour of those smoking-men who are using those little islands as well. Just have a look at the photographs:

[ Isar re-naturalization ]

Litter deposited by those smoker-men alongside the river on the newly installed artificial islands. Potatoe chip and barbecue remains.

But personally I am convinced that in the long run there will be advantages for us tardigrades.Some of those artifical islands appear to bee to small for the smoking-men. Moreover, as most smoking-men appear to be lazy, they will not carry their beer boxes onto an island when it appears to be too complicated.

[ Isar re-naturalization ]

Newly installed small island within the waters of the Isar river.

See you, Max."

After Max has explained almost everything we just would like to document our search for tardigrades within the river Isar moss, on the basis of a few photographs:

[ Isar moss with tardigrades ]

(1) Isar tardigrade habitat on a cement construction.

[ Isar moss with tardigrades ]

(2) Dry moss cushon, as seen in cross section. You will perceive the individual moss plants and their zoning: green, brown, earthen. A single moss cushion might easily contain a few hundred moss plants.
Image width ca. 1.2 cm.

[ Isar moss with tardigrades ]

(3) Three moss plants, in the dry state. Lenght of plants: ca. 5 mm.

[ Isar moss with tardigrades ]

(4) The same three moss plants after wetting with water, in the micro aquarium.

[ Isar moss with tardigrades ]

(5) In this sample we found only a single tardigrade. We photographed it directly in the micro aquarium, sitting undisturbed on its moss plant (besides there were many nematodes and amoebae in the sample). The image quality is somewhat reduced, but when looking quite close you will see the typical red Echiniscus eye (please take care not to hurt your nose tip!). Body length ca. 0.2 mm.

© 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.

Main Page