Journal of Undergraduate Research


antartctic tardigrades, wet or dry, exposed to freese and thaw cycling


Life Sciences




: Substantial amounts of evidence prove that there are drastic climate changes taking place everywhere on Earth. Antarctica, the home to microscopic tardigrades, or water bears, is no exception. Tardigrades have distinct roles and adaptations that allow them to survive the harsh climates of their environment. Because of climate change in Antarctica, there is a clear increase in the presence of liquid water and freeze/thaw cycles. This correlation raises the question of whether or not the increase of freeze/thaw cycles in Antarctica could result in increased tardigrade mortality. Normally, tardigrades experience the majority of their freeze-thaw cycles in a desiccated state, and don’t have to survive the additional challenges that come with freezing water molecules in their cells and tissues. But with climate change, these freeze/thaw cycles not only occur more frequently, but also when the animals are wet, as opposed to freeze-dried. My project tested this correlation between increased Antarctic freeze/thaw cycles and the increased mortality rate of tardigrades. From my research thus far, I plan to see the correlation that increases in mortality are the result of exposure to various numbers of freeze/thaw cycles. These results can possibly show how Antarctic soil ecosystem functioning might eventually change because of the tardigrades importance in the nutrient cycle of the soil.

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