Sediment Below the Evaporite

We are Alexa Boesel, Oliver Goodman, and Fred Cohan from Wesleyan University, and here is our next story for Invisible Life! These are exhilarating days for the discovery of bacterial diversity, much like an earlier golden age of biological discovery two centuries ago. In the early 1800’s, European naturalists traveled the globe in search of … Read moreSediment Below the Evaporite


Invisible Life: Life on Mars We are Alexa Boesel, Oliver Goodman, and Fred Cohan from Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and here is our next story for Invisible Life. About 34 million miles away from Death Valley National Park roams the Mars Rover Opportunity in search of any indications of life. If there is life on … Read moreRosickyite

North and South Facing Ecosystems

We’re Alexa Boesel and Fred Cohan with our next posting of Invisible Life. Today’s posting comes out of Fred’s research in Death Valley. Fred and his students and collaborators were interested in how environmental differences that seem subtle to us might have a huge impact on the bacteria that can grow there. Their study site … Read moreNorth and South Facing Ecosystems

Gut Microbiomes of Herbivores and Carnivores

Consider two of the most iconic mammals of Death Valley: the Kit Fox and the Desert Bighorn Sheep. In constant struggle to survive with extreme temperatures and limited water sources, sheep and fox alike must maximize their digestion capacity. When either a Kit Fox or Desert Bighorn Sheep finds food, it passes through its mouth, … Read moreGut Microbiomes of Herbivores and Carnivores

Invisible Life: An Introduction

Last week we contemplated the resilience of microbes, inhabiting every earthly environment including the saltpan of Death Valley. These tiny organisms, unseen and underappreciated for millennia, are just now becoming understood by biologists. But why should you care? How do these unicellular creatures affect the world in any appreciable way? First, consider your own body. … Read moreInvisible Life: An Introduction

“Can Anything Live Out There?”

This is the most common question Death Valley rangers are asked. Looking across the vast saltpan, with craters and crystalized formations completely devoid of any obvious life, Death Valley looks extraterrestrial. Yet, just underneath the salt, the soil teems with communities of microbes. Microbes are single-celled organisms that are invisible to the unaided eye. They consist primarily of the … Read more“Can Anything Live Out There?”