Well-written Newsweek article on Tardigrades’ ability to survive at high temperatures doesn’t exaggerate the results of the study
A news story written by Hannah Osborne on the website ‘Newsweek’ covered the topic, “Tardigrades, The Toughest Creatures on Earth, Have an Achilles’ Heel – Global Warming” based on a study published by Scientific Reports led by Ricardo Neves from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark on how well the species of tardigrade, Ramazzottius varieornatus, coped under different temperature conditions.
The news story begins by explaining how the study challenges what is already known about tardigrades. Tardigrades are micro-animals that have been known to survive in extreme conditions, such as being boiled, frozen, and even survive in the vacuum of space. Several studies have investigated short-term extreme conditions and how tardigrades were able to survive (ex. through cryptobiosis), whereas this new study examined R. varieornatus in longer periods exceeding one hour. According to the study, half of the tardigrades died in their active state at only 37.1 C and 37.6 C if they were allowed to acclimatize, among other discoveries. The story emphasized that Denmark’s highest temperatures are very close to the median lethal temperature of the tardigrades, and sourced another credible website run by Denmark’s Ministry of the Environment and Food of Denmark and the Environmental Protection Agency which lists that Denmark may have warmer summers due to climate change– thus risking the tardigrade populations.
Throughout the story, Osborne included direct statements and opinions from the researchers of the study, rather than including their own opinions which makes the story more well-founded. The story would have been stronger if opinions from other experts in the field, apart from the researchers of the study, were included. Additionally, Osborne did an effective job of stating the background, importance of the study, the main methods, key results, and future goals of the researchers. Links to sources were clearly indicated to the reader, including the original research paper and the information about Denmark’s weather. Unfortunately, Osborne’s contact information was unavailable in case the reader needed to contact them regarding the story. Overall, it was an effective story that was easy to read and clearly conveyed the information of the study.
In this article, Hannah Osborne from Newsweek discusses the consequences global warming and high temperatures have on the tardigrade, a microscopic aquatic invertebrate known for their remarkable ability in tolerating extreme conditions. In a new study published in Scientific Reports, Ricardo Neves and colleagues discovered through their research results that although tardigrades have amazing feats in extreme environmental endurance, metabolically active tardigrades do have a limit and are clearly susceptible to high temperatures. With that being said, it was also mentioned that their level of endurance may have a small but significant increase over time, as the tardigrades build up tolerance and become acclimatized to such high temperatures.
Osborne reports statements in the introduction such as the tardigrades “are one of the toughest species on the planet” and that they could “survive being boiled and frozen”. There was no primary evidence whatsoever presented within the article proving the claim that tardigrades were indeed one of the toughest species on the planet or could survive in such extreme temperatures. The use of exaggeration here may lead to readers taking the statement out of context and questioning the credibility of the news article.
Although the information from the research paper was efficiently communicated and concisely summarized in this article, some of the jargon used, such as tardigrade and cryptobiosis, were not clearly explained in language that is appropriate to the target audience. Overall, this news article did present some of the major points highlighted in the research paper, however, changes to the aforementioned flaws will greatly improve its credibility to their readers.
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