Do Water Bears Climb Trees Too?

  • William R. Miller
  • Logan Gallardo
  • Tiffany Clark


Microinvertebrates are those animals on the edge of invisibility, generally requiring a microscope to see. They include mites, rotifers, nematodes, and tardigrades and form an unseen part of the food web. These animals eat smaller organisms (bacteria, algae, and protozoans,) and are eaten by larger ones (mites, insect larva, insects, or each other). In turn, they are consumed by the animals that graze on their habitat of moss and lichen. But their habitat is threatened by logging, burning, air pollution, and global warming. Edge effect and forest islands are increasing, as are average temperatures. It is clear that the underlying habitat for microinvertebrates (moss, lichen, and algae on trees) must also be declining and changing and the formula for the survival of these invisible components of the canopy ecosystem is being altered. It is unclear if the microinvertebrates can or will be able to change as the paradigm for their survival shifts. If not, they might be the weak link in the productivity of forest ecosystems.


Tardigrade Vertical distribution Diversity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • William R. Miller
    • 1
    • 2
  • Logan Gallardo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tiffany Clark
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyBaker UniversityBaldwin CityUSA
  2. 2.North Carolina Museum of Natural SciencesRaleighUSA

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