By Andrea Kautz, Entomologist, Powdermill Nature Reserve, Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Tips and Best Practices
By Matt Wilson, Entomologist at Stroud Water Research Center
We were curious to find out what are the dominant stream taxa across the Great Plains, Eastern Temperate Forest, and Northern Forest ecoregions?
For most field ecologists – myself included – we tend to focus on a few research questions and/or geographic areas. As a result, it can be natural to incorporate what we see in our research and in our samples into our mental model of which taxa are more broadly common in streams.
In other words, if we focus our research on the changes resulting in headwater streams from agriculture then most of what we see reflects the animals present in small streams and the tolerant taxa found in agriculture. Or if we focus on conservation of a specific watershed then our mental model has a tendency to narrow in geography. To compensate for this, and remove any personal bias from taxa selections, I took advantage of a dataset that is both professionally curated and publicly available from the National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC; http://waterqualitydata.us/).
This dataset included decades of samples from the US Geological Survey, Environmental Protection Agency, and NWQMC collected across the United States and a few select sites in Canada.
When I spend time with volunteers and learners, I try to spend the first part of my time with them listening to the things that they talk about and the ideas and questions that they have. This group of young people were very inquisitive about the world around them--something that probably led to their participating in this program. They asked lots of questions about trees, birds, insects, and the ecology of the parks and streams that we visited over the past few weeks.
By Lauren Allen, Learning Media Design Center @CMU
An interdisciplinary team