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The Dirt on Soil Down & Dirty Field Guide Soil Safari
 

So what if you're microscopic?Members of the soil ecosystem must play by the same rules as larger, more familiar creatures. They face the same struggle to eat or be eaten. Space and food are just as valuable. Some places are better to live than others. And each species has its own job, or niche, in this huge web of life.

Scientists work hard to find and identify soil wildlife. It's even harder to figure out what creatures do down there. The most important soil organisms are very, very tiny. You can't put a radio collar on a bacterium and follow it around. Many species from the same group look nearly alike. But they have all found different ways to make a living.

Here is a creature from each major group of soil organisms. Each one may have hundreds, if not thousands, of cousins. Scientists may never give them all names. But these critters are still down there, keeping the soil alive.

 
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Amoeba
Amoeba

Bacteria
Bacteria
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Beetle Mite
Beetle Mite

Eastern  Mole
Eastern Mole

Nemotode (Round Worm
Nemotode (Round Worm)

Night Crawler
Night Crawler

Root Fungus
Root Fungus

Pictures: Saskatchewan Interactive/Dr. Jeff Bettany | Point Pelee National Park, Canada |
Yuuji Tsukii | Tomoki Takahashi | V. Behan-Pelletier and B. Eamer | Ana Luisa Child |
Jon C. Glase Ph.D. | Dr. E.R. Ingham


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