Microscopic observation archives

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Diagrams sourced from The biomass distribution on Earth, Yinon M. Bar-On, Rob Phillips, Ron Milo.

By considering the biomass[1] and lifespan superiority of some microscopic beings in comparison to us human beings, we can look outside of our mammals’ bubble for a moment. Thus, we reach the bubble of decomposers, beings who make life on this planet possible, out of our sight. Without them, our world is rotten forever, since they recycle everything that was, once, alive. As well as pollinators allow plants to reproduce, decomposers transform organic matter in mineral food for plants, the basic trophic level of most ecosystems.

They are everywhere, and we domesticated some of them to produce our own food, from cheese to bread and wine. However, as apex predators, we exist only because they sustain themselves since millions of years.

Characteristics of the microscope used for this exploration:

Microscope used for our researches.
  • Type: Biological-/ Stereo-type microscope
  • Model: BRESSER BioDiscover
  • Year of production: 2007
  • Magnification table:
Eypiece Objective Magnification with Barlow lens
5x 4x 20x 40x
5x 10x 50x 100x
5x 40x 200x 400x
16x 4x 64x 128x
16x 10x 160x 320x
16x 40x 640x 1280x

November 2020 | Blue Ardenne collect

The Soft Protest Digest followed this path to explore a glimpse of the Blue Ardenne.
Context of collect Date of collect Date of observation Items observed
Hike in the Blue Ardenne 16th of November 2020 January 2021 Fungi[2] and small animals crawling in samples.

Observations made while hiking

Amanita muscaria Clavulinopsis aurantiocinnabarina Fomes fomentarius old Fomes fomentarius young Polyporaceae corda Meruliaceae Hypoxylaceae

Fungi (mycelium organ) grown on mushroom

Macroscopic view of the observed sample Hypoxylacae conidium Hypoxylacae and Penicillium conidiums Tyrophagus putrescentiae Tenebrionidae family Beetle wing Fungi on beetle

Lichen [3]

Macroscopic view of the observed sample EEvernia genus lichen Evernia genus lichen Mushroom alveolar gills

April 2021 | Hoeve de Koeberg soil analysis

Landscape next to the pasture where the soil was sampled.
Context of collect Date of collect Date of observation Items observed
Soil analysis of milk providers: 1 hectare grassland next to the farm's main barn 19th of April 2021 April 2021 Microscopic fungi and animals, macroscopic insects [2] crawling in samples.

Trowel sampling: 16 small 10cm deep samples

20.04-26.04 — Samples bend together in plastic bag for a total of 1kg

  • All macro-animals out of the total:
    • 3 cuts of medium earthworms, 2 blacks 1 white (anecics species?)
    • 1 cut of small earthworm (epigeic species?)
    • 2 small earthworms alive, brown and pinkish (epigeic species?)
    • 1 small short earthworm alive (or medium cut?)
    • 1 Acari sp. alive

20.04 — 20g extracted and mixed with 100g demineralised water:

  • First look right to left at 64x: no movement but lots of worm shaped things.
  • Too much organic matter to get clear views: try with lower concentration.
Actinobacteria x2pic Bacterial colony x2pic Mycelium from fungi x3pic Nematode remains Soil organic structure x2pic

26.04 — 10g extracted for 110g demineralised water:

  • First (yellow) look right to left at 64x and 160x: no movement but good texture of organic matter.
  • Second (pink) look random at 200x: lots of fungi bits and good bacterial aggregates.
Various unidentified fungi x4pic Nematode remains Soil organic structure Zygomicota fungi

Pitfall trap: one 365mL jar in the center of the pasture

View of the trap after 2 nights.

19.04 — Process:

  1. Dig a hole of the jar's size.
  2. Put in that hole an opened jar/container filed at 1/3 with water + drop of alcool.
  3. Assemble 4 wood nails with a flat plastic container lid to elevate it when lying on the floor.
  4. Cover the trap with this “roof” (to prevent vertebrates to fall in) which nails will be stick in the ground.
  5. Wait for 2 nights.
  6. Get back the jar filed with macrofauna and store it in the fridge (6 days).

26.04 — Results:

  • 26 unidentified small Coleopteras of Bembidion genus all alive (3mm, oblong shape, black)
  • 2 unidentified medium Coleopteras of Phyllophaga genus, 1 alive (5-6mm, round shape, striped elytra, black)
  • 1 unidentified big Coleoptera of Amara genus (8mm, oblong shape, striped body, black)
  • 3 unidentified ants of same specie (2mm, brownish)
  • 2 unidentified small spiders (2-3mm, high greenish)
  • 3 unidentified big Coleopteras of Dermaptera order (12-15mm, long body, marked head-thorax limit, black)
  • 3 unidentified big spiders (7-8mm, big brownish)
Bembidion genus beetle x2pic Amara genus beetle x2pic Unidentified ant x2pic Insect of Dermaptera order x5pic Phyllophaga genus beetle x3pic Big unidentified spider x2pic Small unidentified spider x2pic Bembidion genus beetle dominance

Baermann funnel: 50g of soil and demineralised water

26.04 — Process:

  1. 50g of soil in gauze attached to the border of a funnel.
  2. The end of the funnel is sealed with plastic over a jar.
  3. Demineralised water is poured until top fennel to let the nematodes fall in the funnel.
  4. The jar is used a day later to collect the nematodes by piercing the plastic.

27.04 — Results by looking from right to left at 64x:

  • 1 unidentified rotifer moving around
  • Fungi bits and bacterial aggregates
Unidentified Rotifera picture Unidentified Rotifera animated GIF Unidentified organic matter Unidentified fungi


  1. See the article The biomass distribution on Earth, Yinon M. Bar-On, Rob Phillips, Ron Milo. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jun 2018, 115 (25) 6506-6511; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1711842115. source: https://www.pnas.org/content/115/25/6506
  2. 2.0 2.1 Identified when possible with the help of internet ressources (Wikipedia and The Mushroom Observer or others).
  3. Composite organism made of algae/cyanobacteria living among filaments of fungi.