PAW PAW, Mich. — The Van Buren Conservation District (VBCD) and Two Rivers Coalition (TRC) have been working together to monitor the macroinvertebrate (aquatic insect) life in the rivers and smaller streams in Van Buren County since 2014. Monitoring events held in both Spring and Fall have shown a wide diversity of aquatic insect life, including some species that are sensitive to pollution.
The VBCD provides all the equipment necessary for the insect monitoring, like long handled scoop nets and insect identification guides. But more important than the equipment are the volunteers who have turned out for these collection events. Interested Volunteers can join this fall’s event on Sunday, October 1, 2017 from 9am-1pm.
What do our Volunteer do? Participants meet at a riverside park in Lawrence for orientation and brief training and, most importantly, coffee and donuts. Team Leaders (TRC members) are assigned a team of 3-5 volunteers that go to a designated sampling location on a waterway in one of the watersheds. Teams collect aquatic insects along a 100 yard stretch of the stream for 40 minutes, trying to sample in a variety of habitats such as submerged logs, undercut banks, aquatic vegetation, etc. One person wears chest waders and is in the stream using the net to scoop in promising looking spots. Another person empties the contents of the net into a bucket and carries it to the stream bank where the rest of the team is waiting. These team members, called “pickers”, use tweezers to pick through the mud, leaves and bark looking for anything that wriggles. These are the insects in their aquatic or nymph form. These “bugs” are then preserved in alcohol and taken back to the VBCD office for expert identification. Each team does two sites, usually one river site and one small steam site. According to Brucks,” We have been fortunate to have had enough volunteers to be able to sample from 12 different sites; this is important because the more sites we can monitor, the better picture we get of what is going on with these watersheds.
Volunteers are always needed. Anyone interested in participating in this kind of citizen science should call VBCD at 269-657-4030×5 and leave their contact info.
— The Van Buren Conservation District
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