Microbes inside glaciers

Did you know?
Ecosystems occur inside and on the surface of glaciers (see story 2.1 from this volume and story 3.3 in Science Stories 1, 2015)
The microscopic communities are formed of microbes and very small microscopic animals.
Some contaminants for the microbes to live on come from industries in the south and forest fires.
The snow can have many different colours because of the microbes (see story 3.3 in Science Stories 1, 2015). It can be brown, green or even red. The red snow is commonly called watermelon snow. The green colour is caused by the algae containing the photosynthetic chlorophyll pigment which is the reason why leaves are green.
Photo: Bob Gibbons/Alamy

Get Active!
Explore a microscopic ecosystem and see who eats who.
What Depends on What?
Glaciers in the harsh Arctic and Antarctic environment look lifeless, but within the ice there is a whole host of biodiversity that we just can't easily see. Microscopic ecosystems are thriving on and inside ice sheets and glaciers. Microbes are fundamental for life on Earth. For example, bacteria are the main producers of oxygen in oceans, soils and lakes. Microbes also help decompose dead matter on Earth and without it our planet would look like a landfill. Of course, even microorganisms have food chains. The pictures below are of the sun, the source of energy for some microbes, bacteria, algae and a small invertebrate known as a tardigrade found in and on glaciers. Tardigrades are also known as moss piglets or water bears: can you see why they are called that?
Use the photos below and put each organism in order of 'who eats who' and how energy flows.
Solution: Sun, bacteria, algae and tardigrade