Microlife is not a taxon or a scientific category. It is a term used to refer to a large, very diverse group of microscopic organisms, from plants to animals and species in between. For convenience Splash groups bacteria, algae (plants), protozoa and rotifers into the category of microlife. Each of these subgroups includes thousands of species, only a few of which live in vernal pools.
Many of these microscopic creatures have been on the planet for millions or billions of years. Some of their DNA appears in the DNA of humans! Many species have not yet been described or named by scientists.
While we might refer to them as simple lifeforms, there is nothing simple about their lives. As you read about them and watch the videos of them hunting, you will discover how much microscopic life is going on without our even noticing! A microscope is a window into an otherwise invisible world. Splash gives kids a ticket to that show.
Scientific name: There are thousands of species of freshwater algae. Three vernal pool algae are:Volvox, Chara and Zygnema. Classification: Most algae are plants. Some are in a special group that is neither plant nor animal. Habitat: most aquatic habitats on Earth.
Scientific name: There are thousands of species of protozoa. Some groups found in vernal pools are: Vorticella, Heliozoa, and Ameoba Phylum: Protozoa Habitat: most aquatic habitats on earth. Size: microscopic, 2 to 70 microns (0.002 to 0.07 mm)
For Splash students, a “Tadpole Shrimp” is an endangered species that lives in vernal pools. For rice farmers, a “Tadpole Shrimp” is a common pest that destroys their rice fields. A rice farmer would think you were crazy wanting to save “Tadpole Shrimp” from extinction!
With scientific names, there’s no room for confusion: the rice pest is Triops longicaudatus and the endangered species is Lepidurus packardi. Even a scientists who speak different languages can understand one another when they all use the Latin name!