A Mite-y Experience

Hi Everyone,

The summer has really flown by in the blink of an eye. Luckily, I feel like I was able to accomplish a lot and learn something new each day I spent at Centre for Biodiversity Genomics. This summer I had a chance to experience both the Ontario BioBlitz in the Credit River watershed, as well as the Bioblitz hosted at the rare Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge.

I spent some time at both events enjoying the beautiful riverside view while standing in chest high waders or trying to make sure my mentor Monica Young wouldn’t get stuck in the mud looking for water mites. It always amazes me the things we pulled up using the dip nets, and the diversity of life that we sampled in different sites across Ontario. The real struggle comes when you are trying to distinguish between a copepod and a water mite right after you pull up a dip net full of river muck. Their swimming patterns are very different; copepods swim with a more erratic and paddle-like pattern while water mites seem to swim in a smoother and more fluid pattern. Not to mention water mites can be extremely small and hard to spot with the naked eye (my contacts would dry up the harder I tried to spot the tiny arachnids).

Looking for water mites using plastic pipettes at the rare Charitable Research Reserve Bioblitz. Photo credit: Michelle Pyle
Looking for water mites using plastic pipettes at the rare Charitable Research Reserve Bioblitz. Photo credit: Michelle Pyle

I want to spend a bit of time talking about water mites because they are considered to be more extravagant in appearance compared to soil mites. These mites have cute eye spots, beautiful colouring (they come in blue, white, red and purple) and have the most amazing curves. Recently, I have been spending time taking photos of these water mites and the amount of diversity seen between the water mite families are huge.  All of the mites have their own unique features and beautiful colour patterns.

I photographed this water mite using a high powered microscope
I photographed this water mite using a high powered microscope

My summer work position is wrapping up quickly and I learned so much and gained a lot of experience working in the field and the lab with the staff here at CBG. I am so excited to see what new contributions to science CBG will make in the future.  

Best wishes,

Nat