The Protozoa "Naturalist" Page

Exploring lakes, ponds, and streams with a microscope one can find a variety of unseen creatures.   My favorites are the protozoa.  They are single cell organisms yet have complicated structures and behaviors similar to multicellular organisms.

They are grouped by their structures of locomotion: 
     Ciliates:       that move with many short hair like cilia.
     Flagellates: that move using one or few long flagella.
     Amoeba:      that move by changing their shape.


The Euplotes species above is a
type of active ciliate often found walking on algae in ponds. 
Click here to see a list of ciliates.  Click each species to see images
for identification. 


The Mallomonas species above is
a colorful flagellate often found in flooded backwaters. 
Click here
to see a list of flagellates.  Click those species to see images
of them for identification.


The image above is a time lapse of
an Amoeba as it moves across the microscope slide. 
Click here
to see a list of amoeba.  Click those species to see images
of them for identification.

Not all amoeba are microscopic. This is a giant Myxamoeba. The time-lapse video shows it engulfing a rock. This is eight hours of motion condensed to one minute of video. It is technically a single cell made up of millions of merged communal amoeba.
To appreciate it fully watch it at the HD 1080 setting, and turn up the sound.

Tardigrades are not protozoa. They are multicellular microscopic organisms that live in many moist environments where they cohabit with protozoa.  They are also known as Waterbears due to their motion resembling that of a bear. They are common in mosses and lichens. When their environment dries they have the ability to survive in a dormant state called a "tun". When moisture returns they become active again. As an experiment to see what this process looks like I placed some waterbears on a microscope slide with some detritus and let the slide dry. A couple months later I added a drop of water and set my microscope camera to take a photograph every 30 seconds. After three hours I took the images and compiled them into a video.

Here is the video which is best viewed full screen and at 1080p HD:

For much more information on waterbears be sure to check out

Nitrate test

Along the same lines of microbiology is this experiment using bacteria:
The following experiment relates to my hobbies of chemistry, microbiology, and rocketry as it uses bacteria to convert ammonia to nitrates. When the nitrates are purified with potassium ions the resulting potassium nitrate can be used as an oxidizer in sugar sorbitol rocketry. The following link shows how this experimental test of concept was set up and early results  Nitrate Synthesis from Ammonia in a Bacterial Bio-reactor

To see the microscope camera setup I made to take microphotography images and videos of see the link: