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Citizen Science Insect Monitoring

Anya Metcalfe and Eric Kortenhoeven recording notes after a night of light trapping.

Anya Metcalfe and Eric Kortenhoeven recording notes after a night of light trapping.

 


 

We need your help. Become a Citizen Scientist!

 

Insect emergence is a fundamental process in streams and rivers, because it represents a key life stage for aquatic insects and provides an important prey resource for terrestrial (e.g., birds, bats, and lizards) and aquatic consumers (e.g., fish). Studying insect emergence can lead to fundamental insights about the life history of insects, for example by identifying the specific times of year when emergence occurs. The number of insects emerging from a river is a function of larval population abundance in a river, so quantifying insect emergence might also be a useful proxy for standard benthic monitoring of insects; benthic monitoring in Grand Canyon is extremely challenging because of swift currents, deep water, and daily hydropeaking.

A swarm of adult midges (Family Chironomidae) in Marble Canyon.  Larval midges live in aquatic habitats like the Colorado River whereas adults ‘emerge’ from the river to mate.  After mating, female midges lay eggs on the river surface, thus completing the life cycle.

A swarm of adult midges (Family Chironomidae) in Marble Canyon.  Larval midges live in aquatic habitats like the Colorado River whereas adults ‘emerge’ from the river to mate.  After mating, female midges lay eggs on the river surface, thus completing the life cycle.

 

In 2012 we started collaborating with commercial river guides (http://www.gcrg.org/) and Grand Canyon Youth (http://www.gcyouth.org/) to quantify insect emergence throughout the 240 mile long segment of the Colorado River in Marble and Grand Canyon.  Each night in camp, guides put out a simple light trap to collect flying insects.  After one hour, the light was turned off, the sample poured into a collection bottle, and some notes were recorded in a field book.  After the conclusion of the river trip, guides dropped off samples and field notes at our office and we processed the samples in the laboratory.  This project is ongoing and will be conducted annually. If you are running a commercial OR private river trip in 2014 and are interested in participating, please send us an email that includes your Grand Canyon launch dates and the number of days you will be on the river in 2014 (citizen_science@usgs.gov) We are particularly interested in hearing from private boaters that will be rafting in Grand Canyon in February, March, October and November 2014.

Close-up on adult midge (Family Chironomidae)

 

Close-up on adult midge (Family- Chironomidae)

Checking out the catch in a light trap deployed along the Colorado River

 

Checking out the catch in a light trap deployed along the Colorado River

Emergent insects are an important food source for fish, and also terrestrial consumers such as woodhouse toads (left; Bufo woodhousii) and tree lizards (right; Urosaurus ornatus).

Emergent insects are an important food source for fish, and also terrestrial consumers such as woodhouse toads (left; Bufo woodhousii) and tree lizards (right; Urosaurus ornatus).

Emergent insects are an important food source for fish, and also terrestrial consumers such as woodhouse toads (left; Bufo woodhousii) and tree lizards (right;Urosaurus ornatus).

 

Publications:
Guides + Science = Citizen Science, from the Boatmen’s Quarterly Review Spring 2013 v. 26-1

 

IN THE NEWS: this project was featured in an EarthNotes story that aired December 18 on KNAU (link here)

 

For questions or comments about any of these projects, please send an email to citizen_science@usgs.gov

 

Photo credit: Freshwater Illustrated/ US Geological Survey

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Grand Canyon Monitoring & Research Center | 2255 North Gemini Drive Flagstaff, AZ 86001 | Phone: 928.556.7380 Fax: 928.556.7100

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Last Update: November 3, 2011