Tuesday 21, August 2018

Soil: What is Crawling Underneath

ASCUS Art & Science is excited to be hosting multiple workshops throughout The Festival of Creative Learning as we invite you to our open lab where you can learn about the microscopic world around you and the impact it has on everyday life! The Festival of Creative Learning is a year-long festival focusing on creative learning and innovation at the University of Edinburgh, culminating in a curated programme of events every February.

Photo by Dr Jiri Jirout – Springtail extracted from soil. Darkfield illumination, 100x magnification

Soil: What is Crawling Underneath
3:00-5:30 & 6:30-9:00pm, Wednesday 21st Feb 2018

Are you curious about the hidden life in soil and what lies beneath? Want to understand more about soil’s complex composition and how this broad diversity of organisms depends on a fine balance of organic matter, mineral particles, air and water? Soil is crucial to almost every aspect of life on land from climate regulation to nutrient cycling and decomposition. This dirt beneath our feet is also an exceptionally high source of biodiversity: some estimates suggest that at least one quarter of all species live in or on the soil. This wide variety of organisms in soil help to maintain it’s balance. Some consume live or dead plant material, some are predators, and some are feeding on the microorganisms. They are dependent on each other and each play a different role in keeping the soil ecosystem that in check.

Come along to ASCUS Lab to explore the range of living organisms, such as mites, centipedes, springtails and the many others that live in just a handful of soil. Learn how to extract, collect and mount them on a microscopy slide and observe them under high magnification. As Leonardo da Vinci’s said more than 500 years ago, a statement that is still valid today “We know more about the movement of celestial bodies than about the soil underfoot”, so join us to unearth the soil animals including creatures as strange as that from any science fiction story.

Check out what else is happening in ASCUS lab during this years Festival of Creative Learning Week where we have a a range of workshops that explore the small and hidden world around us!

What will be covered:

SOIL EXPERIMENTS
COLLECTING ANIMALS
SLIDE PREPARATION
MICROSCOPY

About the researcher


Dr Jiri Jirout works at the ASCUS Lab as lab technician. He has experiences in soil biology research at the Institute of Soil Biology, Biology Centre of the Czech Academy of Sciences. His research was mainly focused on the community composition of soil microorganisms, their roles in soils and their interactions with larger soil animals.

Here’s how it went…

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