Science - Well, lay your eyes on this

20th November 2009 at 00:00

A two-year "science meets art" project in the Scottish Borders is dredging up some unusual creatures. The collaboration between a local artist and Scottish Natural Heritage focuses on tiny inhabitants of a national nature reserve.

The project is based around diatoms, single-celled creatures called phytoplankton, which are found at SNH's Whitlaw Mosses National Nature Reserve, near Selkirk, in "well eyes", the local name for spring-fed pools. The tiny creatures take nutrients straight from the water and are eaten by waterfleas and other bigger creatures. Their numbers go in cycles depending on nutrients in the water, daylight level and temperature and so are good indicators of the health of the pools.

Working with SNH, award-winning Borders artist Liz Douglas has been sampling the diatoms and capturing their images, with the help of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh's powerful microscope. She then draws them and works with schools to produce artworks from the images. Tweedbank Primary, Selkirk High and Galashiels Academy are all involved in the science and art aspects of the project.

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