Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
Home
Tree of LifeKeepers of the Biosphere
Dangerous Friends and Friendly Enemies
Creators of the Future

(home) Biosphere | Oceans of Microbes (to Puzzle)

View From the Forest
Dr. Dan Janzen, a biologist from the University of Pennsylvania, is a scientist with a more holistic view of ecosystems. He and his wife have teamed up with Dr. Ignacio Chapela, a microbiologist, to catalog both the larger and microbial life forms inside a single ecosystem in Costa Rica. Dr. Janzen realizes that microbes are everywhere, connecting all the other components of the ecosystem.

Dr. Janzen has the ambitious goal of completing a "species survey" of the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica's northwest. He plans to inventory every plant, animal and insect living in this large ecosystem.

For a few months every year, he and his wife, Dr. Winnie Hallwachs, catalog the creatures and plants in the jungle, but they are not overlooking the microbes. Microbiology is not their speciality, but they appreciate their importance to the ecosystem of the Guanacaste area. To help inventory the microbial life, Dr. Ignacio Chapela, a microbiologist from the University of California at Berkeley, is concurrently cataloging the microbes in the same area.

Microbes in the jungle form an unseen web of life. Nutrients are distributed through the web as microbes decompose the dead plants and animals. Everything in the jungle plays an important part in the ecosystem. Neither the plants, animals, or microbes would be able to exist without the others.

The Wonders of Microbes, on the MicrobeWorld Web site, has a portrait gallery of microbes.

 

(home) Biosphere | Oceans of Microbes (to Puzzle)

 

   

Tree of Life | Biosphere | Friendly Enemies | New Age | Game of Life
Home | Site Map


Copyright © 1999 Oregon Public Broadcasting and PBS Online