Under Professor Perry’s tutelage, students are well equipped for fundamental scientific research on the species.
Marine Biology students are presently working with Emma Perry on important tardigrade research. Tardigrades are tiny (.039 of an inch on average) invertebrate organisms and, despite their small size, are big enough to be seen using a low-power microscope. They are found all across the globe and can thrive in some of the most hostile conditions on earth, from the deepest Maine lakes to the vacuum of outer space.
Under Perry’s tutelage, students are well equipped for fundamental scientific research on the species. They have specific objectives and a sound understanding of techniques for researching tarigrades which include observing, measuring, sorting, codifying and discovering. Currently, students are looking at tarigrades that live on the apple trees at different distances from the College campus as well as working on samples from the Hemlock Ecosystem Management Study (HEMS) plots.
Scientific tardigrade research is important because, according to the Consortium of European Taxonomy Facilities (CETAF), “biodiversity loss, global warming and other environmental issues need natural history collections and related expertise as sources of knowledge and for reference.”
Graduates who have training and skills in taxonomy are crucial in the continuation of biodiversity research and conservation, and, according to the National Science Foundation, the information is particularly important “on large but poorly known groups such as bacteria, fungi, protists, and numerous marine and terrestrial invertebrates.” Research on these species is essential because they “constitute critical elements of food chains and ecosystems and the high proportion of unrecognized species in these groups limit research and progress in many areas of biology and conservation.”