Remove the larger pieces of substrate - plant material (lichen) with fine tweezers. Shake them in the water to dislodge any tardigrades. Carefully tilt the petri dish about a 1/4" and pipette off excess water being careful not to create currents to suck up the tardigrades. Wash the upper part of the dish with the pipette to ensure that no tardigrades are left high and dry. Next, pipette off the debris and tardigrades in the bottom of the dish and deposit in a vile. You may fill several vials.
Next let the vials sit about 20 minutes to allow all the material to settle to the bottom. Now carefully, pipette off about 3/4 of the water in each vile. Then combine the debris of two vials into one and repeat the process until you have all the debris and tardigrades in one vial with little water. Fill the vial with alcohol and let settle, pipette off and replace with alcohol again. This will establish the preservation concentration. Formalin can be used instead of alcohol.
Cut from a piece of copier paper and a label small enough to fit inside the vial (1"x 0.5"). On the label write with a No 2 pencil your School Number, Date of Collection, and Tree Number. Slide the label into the vial and put the lid on tight. Next, place a strip of masking tape up one side, over the top, and down the other. Smooth out the tape to seal the top. Write the label information on the masking tape with a pencil or felt pen. The tape protects the vial from breakage.
Use a small box (the post office has a great 3 x 4 x 2" box or a video
tape box works too). Pack the vials with paper towels, tissue, or small
bubble wrap, interlace the vials within the packaging materials and fill
the space with extra material to create a tight package. Put an address
inside the box before taping it closed. Send to Tardigrade
Returns from Dr. Miller will include:
The Mentor will acknowledge the receipt of the package to the class.
The Mentor will make microscope slides of and identify the tardigrades in the vials.
The Mentor will return a set of microscope slides with examples of each species found.
The Mentor will return data, drawings, descriptions, and pictures of each species found.
The Mentor will donate slides to the International Tardigrade Survey Collection.
The Mentor will enter class in the annual "First Records" competition.
The Mentor will notify the class of the verification of specimens.
After hearing from the mentor, the student (s) will enter their data through the Data Submission Area. Students
should upload a high quality digital photograph of the tardigrade with the data submission (If Possible!)
A micro-pipette can be made by heating a standard glass tube over a Bunsen burner with a fish tail flared tip to broaden out the heat over a greater length of glass. When ready, pull the ends of the tube swiftly but smoothly apart and the glass will stretch into a very fine tube. Break off the glass such that the tub is as fine as possible. Attach an 18" piece of aquarium tube to the full sized end. Now you have a micropipette that you can use under the dissecting scope to select and move one tardigrade at a time to either preservation or from preservation to a microscope slide. It takes a little practice both to make the pipette and to use it by controlling the suction within the tube in your mouth while looking through the scope at a critter that is less than 1 mm in length.
Another option for handling tardigrades is the Irwin Loop. Basically a miniature inoculation loop of a very fine wire twisted to an opening of about 200 ~m and with a little practice very small animals can be moved without loss. Irwin Loops are custom tools not available commercially. The only known source is:
Dr. Mark Schram
15 Ponderosa Dr.
Batesvill, AR 72501
who custom makes a set of three small, blue loops on request for $30.00 plus shipping.