Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project

ArCS Blog

Report of the FY2019 program for overseas visits by young researchers: Geographical distribution of water bears (Tardigrada) in snow and ice in Arctic region

I stayed at Adm Mickiewicz University in Poland from 18th September to 25th November 2019 to conduct a collaborative research on tardigrades collected from Japanese snow and an Alaskan glacier.

Snow packs and glaciers are environments that are highly sensitive to the effects of global warming. Such environments are inhabited by various cold-tolerant organisms. Studies on these organisms are important to understand changes of the snow and ice conditions under a warming climate, particularly in the Arctic region.

A tardigrada (water bear), which is one of the cold-tolerant organisms, is a micro-invertebrate classified under the phylum Tardigrada. It has been reported from many glaciers in the world, particularly in the Arctic, however, there is still lack of information on its region-specific geographical distributions. The purpose of my visit to the university in Poland is to analyze the morphological and phylogenic characteristics of tardigrades collected from Japanese snow and an Alaskan glacier. In doing so, we hope to understand its geographical distribution in snow and ice habitats. 

During my stay, I have had many impressive experiences in life as well as research in Poland. I had a chance to participate in a workshop on the glacier biology and give a presentation about tardigrades living in snow from Japan. In the workshop, I had many exciting discussions on the topic with professors from Italy and a graduate student from Czech Republic. All experiences including the non-Japanese communications, collaborative research, presentation in English, making friends in foreign countries were all new to me. It was trial and error every day. When I was alone at restaurants, a menu in Polish was bothering me every time. If I can visit Poland again, I should learn Polish language before my departure. 

Adam Mickiwecz University is located in Poznan, a small city in western Poland.I was impressed with the city’s historic townscape. In the group I joined, there are many researchers who study about tardigrades. It was a wonderful time to study with them. I will continue my research on tardigrades and I am looking forward to discussing with them regarding my new results on the tardigrades in the future. 

In spite being in my first year as a master student, I learned a lot from this opportunity. I would like to thank the ArCS Young Researchers Overseas Project, the people who supported me as well as the people whom I met in Poland.

Masato Ono (Chiba University)

Old town in Poznan. Many patterns are drawn on the building

With joint researchers taken in the party