Redefining the Classroom

Student biologist on expedition with National Geographic photographer

Posted: April 19th, 2013

National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager documents one cubic foot

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – How much life fits into one cubic foot? To answer that question, National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager takes a green metal frame, a 12-inch cube, to environments around the world — land and water, tropical and temperate. At wildly different locales he sets down the cube and starts watching, counting, and photographing with the help of biologists.

Harry Dittrich

His goal: to represent the creatures that live in or move through that space. His team then sorts through habitat cubes, coaxing out every inhabitant, down to a size of about a millimeter. Accomplishing this takes an average of three weeks at each site.

LSSU student Harry Dittrich has joined a "one-cubic-foot" expedition with National Geographic photographer David Liittschwager and Christopher Meyer, of the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History.

The expedition is observing the biodiversity of an intertidal zone and a site on Mount Tamalpais in the San Francisco Bay area during the last two weeks of March and first part of April. Liittschwager is also asking Dittrich to assist in developing tutorial videos to be used to instruct K-12 and college students/teachers on how to perform similar studies in their areas.

The California expedition will be a great resource for Dittrich's senior thesis this summer, when he applies the one-cubic-foot survey approach to a biodiversity study he's conducting of the Duck Lake Fire area in Michigan's upper peninsula.

In the meantime, click here to read Dittrich's daily updates of his California expedition.


CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315.