Dragons and Damsels






These beauties are going to kick-off Environmental Awareness Month!

This week the conservation district wrapped up it’s Volunteer Stream Monitoring Fall 2017 project. If you missed past posts and/or newspaper articles, Volunteer Stream Monitoring is a project designed and overseen by MiCorps (or Michigan Clean Water Corps)–a network of volunteer water quality monitoring programs. Stream monitoring involves collecting organisms and identifying those organisms. These macroinvertebrates living in our rivers and streams (and lakes too) can provide insight to a water-body’s health. AKA–raising awareness about our surrounding environments

At the beginning of October, eight sites, located on various rivers and streams, were sampled. Those preserved samples were then identified…over the course of a few days. They are called macroinvertebrates which means you are supposed to be able to see them with the naked eye, however, that is kind of a lie. Some are very tiny and a microscope is definitely necessary. Pictured above are a few larger creatures found in the Clam River: (left to right) damselfly nymph, armored mayfly nymph, dragonfly nymph. Those are all insects you have probably heard of before and know them better as winged adults. There are many insect larva (or active, immature life stage) and nymphs that live in the water before emerging as terrestrial adults. The three pictured are nymphs which means their metamorphosis is incomplete–they never become pupa or make a chrysalis (inactive, immature life stage).

I know, it can be a bit much. What this all boils down to is these insects are either very sensitive to water pollution, mildly sensitive, or very tolerant. Thus, giving those of us removing them from their home and then poking and prodding at them, a basic idea of the water quality where they were collected. Chemical water tests, soil samples, plant samples…these can tell us more, but they are much more time consuming, expensive, and may not be easily done by volunteers. Our volunteers make this project possible, and the great thing about the project is that it takes fairly little training to get a person without macroinvertebate background to participate.

Results for Fall 2017 monitoring: 1 “Excellent”, 5 “Good”, and 2 “Fair” water quality streams. The MiCorps scoring system categorizes streams as Excellent, Good, Fair, or Poor. Full results will be published on our Stream Monitoring webpage, coming this winter.

Our next stream monitoring collection and ID events will be held May 2018. Contact Kate at 231.839.7193 or kate.nietling@macd.org to receive updates and/or be added to the Stream Team list!

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