Alex Young, a student at Lewis and Clark College, recalls his discovery of a new tardigrade species during his undergraduate research internship:
Suspended from a single branch, 60 feet up in a Red Oak, looking over the Wakarusa River, I knew I had chosen the right undergraduate research internship. With support from the National Science Foundation, I spent my summer teamed with intrepid researchers studying the microscopic world of water bears and their taxonomy. Water bears, formally known as tardigrades, are microscopic invertebrates that have eight legs, each with a set of claws. They occur on every continent and occupy an extraordinary range of habitats. An average day of research ranged from tree-top views of miles and miles of Kansas prairie to viewing microns of detail in the lab. The two perspectives complemented each other beautifully! Modern microscopes enabled us to view morphological characteristics previously unmentioned in any scientific literature, empowering the addition of a new species to the vast tree of life. This particular species is an elusive top predator in the microcosm where it lives, feasting on anything it can fit down its “throat”. I firmly believe that there are still whole worlds yet to be discovered, and would like to highlight the need to document and conserve the world’s biological assets. I can think of no better way to promote forest conservation than to offer the naming of this top predator to preserve entire swaths of forests in Ethiopia.
You can bid on the opportunity to name this new species of tardigrade here:
All auction funds will go towards the construction of local stone walls to conserve the last remaining forest fragments in northern Ethiopia, otherwise known as church forests!
New species published that was auctioned to conserve the forests of Ethiopia. Thank you to Alex Young and his family for his conservation-contribution!