The Tig Life
As more of us join the CTELab, more interests and study organisms have entered the lab's scope. One of these is the tiny harpacticoid copepod, Tigriopus californicus, or Tigs for short. These little arthropods live in tidepools high in the intertidal or supratidal and because of this are hardy little fellows. They can thrive in a range of salinities and temperatures, which make them nice study animals that do fantastically in small jars.
In fact, I started a little experiment to see how they would do on my desk in just 60 mL of water:
While you can barely see them in this image, there are more than a hundred easily visible Tigs in the culture flask. They're the little orangey specks. Even more exciting, there are a bunch of tiny, nearly invisible larvae called nauplii. These are all the products of about 15 Tigs I put in the flask a few weeks ago, most of which were caught and placed in mating pairs. I've been feeding them dried, store-bought spirulina algae, which is actually pretty lousy food in terms of fatty acids, one CTELab's uniting interests. Harpacticoids seem to be quite good at producing the FAs they need, and I suspect my tig pets are also eating bacteria and other microbes that are breaking down the algae.
Below is a fun vid of a bunch of Tigs (it starts off at normal speed and then goes slo-mo). I'll be posting more about what our lab is up to with these critters soon!