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Posted on: February 18, 2020

Insect Study in Connelly's Run

Students in two courses (Introduction to Ecology and Genetics) at Radford University are working together to determine the distribution of aquatic insects in Connelly’s Run by collecting larval insects, emerging adult insects, and environmental DNA data. Some larval insects (similar to the caterpillar stage) spend most of their time under water eating. These larval insects undergo metamorphosis by emerging from the stream surface as reproducing adults (similar to the butterfly-stage). Bits of DNA or environmental DNA (eDNA) are present in the water and along the stream bank soil for many reasons. Geneticists have a way to determine which insect species are present in a stream by studying this eDNA. Our students will be collecting all three types of data at 12 spots in Connelly’s Run – from end to end of Wildwood Park. The ecology students will use nets to collect the larval stage and jars to collect water and soil for the genetics students to analyze during their lab session. However, the method to collect emerging adults will be noticeable to those enjoying the Park (see image). These emergence traps (2 X 2 X 2-foot pyramid) float on the surface of the water. The ecology students will check the pyramids once per week to see what kinds of insect emerge from the stream during that 4-week time frame. Park patrons can expect to see them in Connelly’s Run as early as Tuesday, March 3 until as late as Tuesday, March 31. Please feel free to approach Dr. Jamie Lau or her ecology students to chat about the project! In April, both the ecology and genetics students (led by Dr. Tara Pelletier) will present their findings during Radford University’s Student Engagement Forum, which is open to the public. Details about the date and time to come! If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Jamie at jlau@radford.edu.

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