Today, the School Malaise Trap Program Team has exciting news to share with you about your contributions to biodiversity research and the international scientific community. Quite recently, a research article titled “Exploring Genetic Divergence in a Species-Rich Insect Genus Using 2790 DNA Barcodes” was published in PLOS ONE. The researchers utilized DNA barcode data collected by several School Malaise Trap Program participants to support their research. The Director of Education and Outreach at the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, Dr. Dirk Steinke, explains the significance of your contributions in a recent blog post entry on his site (http://dna-barcoding.blogspot.ca/) and has allowed us to re-post it below for your convenience:
School DNA Barcodes Published
Participants of the School Malaise Trap program told us repeatedly that perhaps the most important aspect of the project, the one that students regard as particularly exciting, is the fact that they take part in the creation of a valuable public and scientific resource. They know their work will have a lasting impact. In case there are people that had any doubts that school data would actually be used in science let me point you to a new paper published just yesterday. Research colleagues in Norway analysed data of the chironomid genus Tanytarsus:
We explore the quality of DNA barcodes to delimit species in the diverse chironomid genus Tanytarsus (Diptera: Chironomidae) by using different analytical tools. The genus Tanytarsus is the most species-rich taxon of tribe Tanytarsini (Diptera: Chironomidae) with more than 400 species worldwide, some of which can be notoriously difficult to identify to species-level using morphology. Our dataset, based on sequences generated from own material and publicly available data in BOLD, consist of 2790 DNA barcodes with a fragment length of at least 500 base pairs. A neighbor joining tree of this dataset comprises 131 well separated clusters representing 121 morphological species of Tanytarsus: 77 named, 16 unnamed and 28 unidentified theoretical species.
Chironomids are notoriously common in Malaise trap collections. It comes to no surprise that a global search for data records will reveal some school samples. However, to my knowledge this is the first time such a result makes it into a research paper. In total the study includes 47 samples from Canadian schools. And here we go – congratulations to the following schools. Your data have just made it into PLoS ONE.
Last week we caught what we believe to be perhaps around 100 insects (some are very tiny!). The weather today is rainy, and the rest of the week looks to have tumultuous weather, but we are hoping to see more bugs out there! The new jar was set up this morning around 8:30am.
Also, just for fun, we saw this super huge Crane Fly last week on our main building!
We hope everyone is having a good first week of insect collecting!
This email is a reminder to remove the collection bottle from Week 1 from the trap by the end of tomorrow (Sept. 25). Be sure to secure the cap back onto to the bottle and store it out of direct sunlight (cool, dark, secure place). Remember to install the bottle for Week 2 on Monday, Sept. 28th (no collecting will take place over the weekend).
ALSO! – At some point tomorrow, don’t forgot to let us know how your collection is coming along. Refer to the tick lines marked along the side of the bottle to give us an estimate as to how many insects you have collected so far as well as how the weather has/will be for your area. If the insects fall below the first tick line, please try to do a rough count of the specimens if possible.
Please feel free to blog about your collection volume in order to share your findings with students from across Canada. You may also tweet/blog pictures of your collection bottle @SMTP_Canada. Comments are enabled on our blog so that you will be able to respond to other school’s posts!
Today is a beautiful day. It is nice and sunny with a little breeze. Our Malaise Trap has been undisturbed so it is good to know that our location is secure. We have collected about 1 cm of bugs so far. We can see that many of them are ladybugs! We can see ladybugs crawling on the trap as well. -Kiera, Laura, Erika and Abigail
This is the class 5/4D at Father Scollen reporting in. Our trap is up and running as planned and we wanted to share our experiences so far.
Last week, before we set up the trap, everyone in our class wrote down five insects that they thought we might catch in our trap. Mr. Drew (our teacher) made a Wordle out of it. The larger words are words that came up the most in our estimates. You can check out the wordle, as it is attached to this post!
On Monday, the students here in our district unfortunately had the day off, as it was a professional development day for teachers. Because of this, our students didn’t get to see Mr. Drew fumble with all the poles and stakes while erecting our Malaise trap. It was a two person job for us, as our grade 3 teacher assisted him (and probably did all the work).
On Tuesday, may of us noticed the trap was set up as we were walking to school. The trap is located near the corner of the school and is visible from the sidewalk many of us take when we are walking to school. It reminded a lot of us of a camping tent. We had an awesome field trip that day in which we got to go to a real life wetland located right here in Calgary. As a result of the field trip though, we didn’t really have the opportunity to go out and look at the trap closely during class hours. Many of us did check it out for a closer look after school though.
Today (Wednesday) we finally were able to go out as a class to examine the trap, see how it works, as well as witness how many bugs we’ve captured in our bottle so far. We were all pleased to see that there is already quite a few creepy crawlies in our collection bottle. We estimated that there may be around 50-100 in there, but it is very difficult to tell.
We will be sure to check out the trap tomorrow around the same time to see how many more specimens have been caught and we’ll be sure to keep you updated.
This morning at The Riverwood Conservancy, elementary instructor Alison, and teaching intern Theresa set up the Malaise Trap near the historic Chappell House. The chosen site is surrounded by forsythia, oak, beech, pine, and a beautiful Carolinian garden. We are excited to get the jar set up next week and see what we catch!
We are pleased to announce the winners of our #SMTPselfie contest! Thank you to all who entered, we had some great pictures this program! The winners for the #SMTPselfie contest will receive a Life Scanner Kit which will essentially allow them to DNA barcode 4 organisms of their choice and find out what species they are! Currently these kits are being offered for free + shipping online at the above mentioned link, so be sure to sign your class up for one!
And without further ado…the winners of the #SMTPselfie contest are:
1) M.C. Knoll Elementary School
2) John Polanyi Collegiate Institute
3) Iona Academy
4) Chedabucto Education Centre/ Guysborough Academy
5) École Précieux-Sang
Congratulations to the winners, and a big thank you to all who participated! The Life Scanner Kits have been mailed and are on their way to you!