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.
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!
Happy collecting on this first day of trap deployment! Several of you have been tweeting and blogging pictures and we are so glad that you have found the perfect locations for your Malaise traps! We encourage you and your class to take a “#SMTPselfie” with your trap as well as tell us about the weather in your area!
Don’t forget to start filling out the “Collection Records Spreadsheet“, as you will need to submit this document to us at the end of the program (hard or electronic copy).
We are approaching trap deployment; Sept. 21st is just around the corner! Please remember to set up your trap and have the first collection bottle ready to go on Monday morning (Sept. 21). We encourage you to set up your trap tomorrow so that come Monday morning, all you will have to do is screw in the week 1 bottle and make trap observations (store bottle lid in a place you will remember!).
Report Catch Volume
Recall that we ask you to let us know at the end of the first week how your trap is doing. We will send out another reminder, but please send us an email indicating your catch volume on Friday, Sept. 26th.
Collection Bottle Send-off
Please have your collection bottles and Malaise trap packed and ready to be sent via FedEx on Monday, Oct. 5th. Please arrange a package pick-up time with FedEx for this date. Further details will follow.
Don’t forget to keep up the great blogging work! We encourage you and your class to take a picture with your Malaise trap (#SMTPselfie) once it has been set up as well as tell us about your schoolyard habitats. Please feel free to blog, tweet, or add these pictures/comments to our FaceBook page.
If there are any questions please let us know. We are here to assist you at every step along the way and there will be more reminder emails to come!
Once again, the School Malaise Trap Program team is continuing one of their favorite program trends…taking a selfie with the Malaise trap! We encourage all classes to participate and post your #SMTPselfie on our blog or tweet at us (@SMTP_Canada). You can also email us your selfie and we will post it on your behalf. Once a class has submitted their selfie, they will be entered into a draw for one of our prizes (yes, you can enter more than one selfie!)! Further contest/prize details to come.
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!
We thought you may be interested in seeing a few pictures of one of the Malaise traps participating in BIO’s Global Malaise Trap Program. The following pictures are of a Malaise trap deployed in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
This trap was deployed around the same time that you were collecting in your schoolyards. If you look closely, you can certainly see that the samples collected in this trap are very different from the ones collected in your traps.
This week, BIO has been hosting live virtual tours of our BIObus (our field research vehicle). During these tours students have been learning about different insect trapping methods, insect orders, and have had the chance to interact with our expert!
Can you name the insect trapping methods pictured below?
BIO has also been collecting specimens this week. Check out our week 2 bottle below!
Based on the collection reports, weather data/feedback that we have received from you over the past few days, the School Malaise Trap Program Team has decided to extend trapping by one week. This means that trapping will now officially conclude by noon, Friday, May 8th. With this extension comes greater pressure on BIO to process your specimens before the end of the school year so that you may receive your results. We will do our very best, however will require your utmost cooperation on the shipping front. As you will only be trapping till noon on Friday, May 8th, we will require you to package your trap up and arrange for a FedEx pickup that day. Your package must be sent out during the afternoon of Friday, May 8th! As some participants are in quite rural locations, you will need to drop off your package for shipment at the same location which you picked it up. Once again, package send-out must take place on Friday, May 8th. Further shipping instructions will be forwarded to you shortly.
Since most of you have collected very little over week one, we will be using the week 1 bottle to trap during the second week. Come Monday morning (April 27th), please reattach the week 1 bottle to the Malaise trap and remove it at the end of the day Friday, May 1st. Monday morning, May 4th, please attach the week 2 bottle and remove it by noon on Friday, May 8th in order to ship your package back to BIO in a timely manner.
Some of you have experienced some ethanol spillage from your week one bottle. As long as the ethanol is around the “2” level, you should be able to proceed with trapping. If your ethanol is lower than the “2” level, please bring it up to that level by pouring some ethanol from your week 2 bottle into the week 1 bottle.
Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns regarding trapping extension.
Furthermore, keep up the great blogging and twitter work. We are hoping that next week will bring warmer weather for all and we would like to hear how this affects collecting.
I look forward to hearing your classroom’s thoughts about trap extension. Please keep us updated!