Above: adult dragonfly. During the stream monitoring event volunteers will collect the nymph stage of dragonflies before they emerge from the water. Photo credit: Corey Higley
Ever wonder how scientists monitor rivers to determine how healthy they are? You can don a pair of waders (or sit stream-side) and collect aquatic macroinvertebrates as you learn one monitoring techniques alongside the Ingham Conservation District at their fall stream team monitoring event taking place Saturday October 14, 2017 from 9:00-1:00.
Like canaries in a coal mine, the diversity and abundance of aquatic macroinvertebrates can be used to alert scientists of pollution issues. An aquatic macroinvertebrate is an aquatic animal that is big enough to see with the naked eye that does not have a backbone, essentially a water bug. Hundreds of species exist, and each has a different pollution tolerance. By tracking long-term what aquatic macroinvertebrates are found in a waterbody, environmental groups can see changes.
“I always enjoy seeing the amazement on the faces of new volunteers, especially kids joining us for the first time, when they get to see just how much life and diversity there is in a stream. It's not something we get to see every day,” said Michelle Beloskur, Ingham Conservation District Executive Director. “Of course, when we do not find much life in a stream that also helps us know where we need to direct more resources and attention to reduce problems”.
The State of Michigan has limited resources to conduct stream monitoring and is only able to monitor select rivers every five years. Many small streams that feed into larger rivers never get monitored. Therefore, the State of Michigan relies heavily on volunteer monitoring programs and utilizes the data collected by trained volunteers to make management recommendations. Volunteer programs are able to track the health of more waterbodies on a regular basis and are used as an educational tool. Sampling for aquatic macroinvertebrates occurs in the spring and fall of every year, allowing environmental groups to identify quickly if water quality is declining and bring awareness and resources to correct the issue.
The Ingham Conservation District will provide training and supplies at the fall stream monitoring event. Children 12 and up are welcome to participate if accompanied by an adult. The event will take place October 14, 2017 from 9:00-1:00. Meet at the Ingham Conservation District office at 1031 W. Dexter Trail, Mason. Visit www.inghamconservation.com to register for the event. Contact Michelle Beloskur at 517-676-2290 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.