Through the School Malaise Trap Program, we provide each class with its own Malaise trap, a tent-like apparatus for collecting insects, to explore biodiversity in their schoolyard. We ask each class to set up its trap and collect insects during the same two weeks. In the past, we have also partnered with several great organizations, including institutions, National Parks, and Conservation Areas, which agreed to run Malaise traps. In addition, we routinely set one up on our property at the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG). At the end of the two collection weeks, all traps and collection bottles are picked up and returned to CBG to allow analysis to begin.
Once the collection bottles arrive, CBG staff record details on the collection locality from each bottle and compile the weather data recorded by the students in each class. Next, the contents of each bottle are poured into a sorting dish, and, using a microscope, every specimen from each trap is counted. Our collection technicians then attempt to pick as many different species as possible, selecting up to 285 animals to DNA barcode from each trap. Each selected specimen is then placed in an individual well of a DNA tissue plate. If a specimen is too large to fit in a well, one leg is removed and placed in the well. Once these plates are ready, they are transferred to the molecular laboratory for the next phase of barcode analysis.
The following video shows our collection technicians in action – sorting, imaging, and archiving School Malaise Trap Program specimens!