The English connection

I am writing from a room in the campus of the University of Birmingham, were the British Ecological Society annual meeting is taking place. If you happen to be around, I will present my talk on Thursday 20th: “Some like it hot – others not. Population and community effects of temperature and habitat size in protist microcosms” (10.15, Arts Lecture Room 2). I know, I keep recycling the same title over and over again! It also has the usual first slide with Marylin Monroe’s picture, for that matter. I like it, it’s catchy. Now that someone pointed it out, I promise next time I will squeeze my brains and come out with a new title. (Besides, the rest of the talk is brand new).

Before coming to Birmingham I stopped by the Queen Mary University in London, were Eoin O’Gorman organized the first Hengill workshop (14-16 December 2012). Continue reading

Explorers of the microscopic

Or: doing science, one milliliter at a time.

For sampling protists in our geothermal streams we use Sedgewick Rafter cell counters. The “Sedgewick” is a particular type of microscope slide that holds a volume of exactly 1 mL. It has a grid of 20x50mm which allows to identify and count the microorcanisms in the volume under observation. This is a sample of what we see (more or less):

(picture taken from: Continue reading

The Drop of Water

Tonight I am just too tired to write, but I would like to share this short story Hans Christian Andersen wrote in 1848. It is a protist tale. I stepped into it while browsing pictures from, a great, informal reference for desperate protist hunters like me.


Of course, you must know what a microscope is, that round magnifying glass which makes everything look hundreds of times larger than it really is. Continue reading

Im Norden nichts Neues

(All quiet on the Northern Front)

Quiet, my foot! Loads of good science going on at Hengill. The Americans and the english team are on the field almost daily, collecting data about the stream temperatures and their relationship with a broad range of ecological variables. Among the variables in study: primary productivity, decomposition, molluscan growth rates, invertebrate richness and diversity. In the meantime, Continue reading