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Scientist Researching in Nematodes to Tackle Climate Crisis

BYU professor Byron Adams studies The microscopic worms – are not only the most abundant animal species on Earth, but they also make up four-fifths of animal life on this planet. That is right; four out of every five animals on Earth are nematode worms.

A new study of soil nematodes co-authored by Adams reveals that there are 57 billion of them for every single residing human being a lot greater than previously estimated. They also have total biomass of about 300 million tons, roughly 80 % of the combined weight of Earth’s human population.

The study, co-authored by Adams and published Wednesday in Nature, gives conclusive evidence that the majority of these tiny animals live somewhere specialists did not count on high latitude arctic and sub-arctic soils.

Recognizing the place, these tiny worms reside matters because nematodes play a critical role within the cycling of carbon and nutrients and heavily influence CO2 emissions. An important discovering of the paper is that nematode abundance is strongly correlated with soil carbon (more carbon = more worms). Understanding the little organisms at a world stage is critical if humans are going to understand and address climate change.

For the study, researchers took 6,759 soil samples representing each continent, and each environment, from arctic tundra to tropical rainforest. They used microscopes to investigate the density of each type of nematode and generate a representative global dataset. Utilizing the information, they built models which predict nematode populations for every square kilometer and create the first global high-resolution maps of soil nematode density.

For the past 17 years, Adams has traveled yearly to the ice-free areas of Antarctica to study nematodes, tardigrades (water bears) and other microscopic creatures. His research program explores the roles these animals play in fundamental ecosystem processes as well as how they survive in icy and dry environments.

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