By: Ximena Mazariegos
Summary. Ice worms are quite mysterious considering how only about a half-dozen researchers have studied these worms. Ice worms are found in the Northwest Glaciers and grow to be only about an inch long. High-altitude glaciers are not considered hotspots for living creatures, they are usually barren of life. That is why finding these ice worms living in the glaciers was astonishing, but despite the fact the ice worms live in the glaciers, they can actually die if the temperature goes below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). Since not much research has been done on these ice worms, we have no idea how they reproduce or what role they play in the ecosystem. According to Scott Hotaling, a researcher at Washington State University, winter might be the season where they can increase their energy stores on account of the fact that they are larger than when they first emerge in early spring. We do not know exactly what their diet consists of, but we think they survive off snow algae and bacteria. Researchers also hypothesize that they survive winter by burrowing under the snow. As I stated before, researchers still do not know how ice worms reproduce but seeing how they find smaller worms during the summer they assume the ice worms hatch somewhere before that. During the summer, the worms surface to the top when the sun is less intense, but we still do not know why they surface. We do know that they can withstand extremely elevated levels of ultraviolet light according to researcher Hotaling. There are still many unanswered questions about ice worms, they have gone unnoticed for far too long, but more research is being done to find out more about these creatures and what role they play in their ecosystem.
Why we should care? There are so many things we do not know about these ice worms. We don't know what role they play in the ecosystem, we basically know nothing of them. Digging deeper could lead us to finding more biodiversity that we are unaware of.
I found this particular article interesting because it talked about the return of the mysterious ice worms. I had no idea they existed, so I was intrigued from their word usage "return". This article stood out too because it mentioned something about biodiversity which we learned about in class. It goes over the hypotheses of how the ice worms reproduce, what they eat, and how they survive. It also stood out that the article talked about how ice worms could withstand high levels of ultraviolet light. I felt like this article included the most information than the others I had looked at.
Science in Action.
Dr. Scott Hotaling is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Washington State University.
Scott Hotaling’s research centers around the understanding of organisms living in cold places and how they have adapted to it, but it also focuses on the future of these organisms considering how climate change is affecting them or is going to affect them. I believe this research is relevant to my blog because ice worms are organisms that live in a cold climate and can and will be affected by climate change. Climate change is already melting glaciers, and this is the type of research Hotaling focuses on. He is already working on finding out more about these ice worms since they are a complete mystery to us right now.