Microlife: Images and Collection

Microscopic life is usually very similar from one region to another, provided the conditions are similar. However, this limits the sorts of things you can find in any one place. The photos here are mainly from around Calgary, Canada in the northern prairie, which is home to a number of small rivers and creeks.

The weather here is temperate but cool, with intermittent freezing in the spring and fall. Particularly important is that the water here is all very hard, i.e. high in calcium, so many kinds that prefer acidic water will not occur, such as most desmids. Needless to say there is also no tropical or marine life.

Most of the samples were taken home in a clear container and examined for a few days, after which the composition begins changing and they are returned. The following pages give some more notes about where they were from and what was in each, along with many additional images.

  1. Streams
    1. 2011-08 - Confederation Park - Cladophora from stream
    2. 2010-07 - Confederation Park - Cladophora from stream
    3. 2008-10 - Confederation Park - Rock from stream
    4. 2012-08 - Fish Creek - Shallow mud from creek
    5. 2010-01 - Fish Creek - Hole in ice over creek
    6. 2009-06 - Fish Creek - Spirogyra from creek
    7. 2009-04 - Fish Creek - Spring run-off
    8. 2008-07 - Fish Creek - Draparnaldia from creek [no notes]
  2. Lakes
    1. 2012-06 - Chestermere Lake - Plants and sediment
    2. 2008-09 - Chestermere Lake - Debris from shore
    3. 2009-08 - Glenmore Reservoir - Floating plants
    4. 2009-05 - Glenmore Reservoir - Stonewort fragments
    5. 2009-05 - Glenmore Reservoir - Floating plants
  3. Ponds & Marshes
    1. 2014-07 - Duck pond - Vaucheria from ditch
    2. 2012-05 - Duck pond - Muddy water
    3. 2009-09 - Duck pond - Floating pondweed
    4. 2008-09 - Duck pond - Floating pondweed
    5. 2014-05 - Stormwater ponds - Water from marsh
    6. 2012-10 - Stormwater ponds - Loose debris from marsh
    7. 2011-04 - Stormwater ponds - Water from marsh
    8. 2010-07 - Stormwater ponds - Cyanobacteria from cattails
    9. 2009-07 - Fish Creek Park - Algae from shallow marsh
    10. 2009-06 - Fish Creek Park - Vaucheria from shallow marsh
    11. 2008-09 - Fish Creek Park - Moss from shallow marsh
    12. 2008-07 - Fish Creek Park - Rhizoclonium from pond
    13. 2008-07 - Fish Creek Park - Moss from marsh [no notes]
  4. Puddles
    1. 2014-06 - Spring puddle in field
    2. 2013-07 - Dirt puddle by park
    3. 2012-08 - Dirt puddles in alley
    4. 2010-03 - Puddle in long grass
    5. 2009-04 - Meltwater puddle

I have been using simple light microscopes and Canon cameras, which are good at low-level light, and more importantly can be attached to the eyepiece via an adaptor. Auto ISO is also a useful feature to avoid changing settings for different magnifications, and video can help capture faster protozoa and animals.

The images have been adjusted for brightness, contrast, and sometimes colour. In addition, the red, green, and blue layers have been lined up to correct for chromatic aberration, and in a few cases several images have been combined together. Otherwise they are more or less unedited.