How it Works

Why has the School Malaise Trap Program been so successful? Because our team has developed a workflow that streamlines every step of the program from the schoolyard to the lab. These standardized procedures allow us to collect samples and data from classrooms across Canada, while providing hands-on science education to young biodiversity scientists.

1 – Setting the Trap

Rothesay Park School children set up a Malaise TrapNow that the trap has arrived, it’s time to figure out where to put it! Does your school have a garden or any wooded areas? Do you think it might be safer to put it in your teacher’s backyard? What different kinds of insects would you get in a field compared to under some trees?

2 – Sorting the Specimens

Overhead view of specimen collection bottle containing insect specimens in ethanolAfter two weeks of sampling, the specimens come back to the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics (CBG) where our team of experts are ready to prepare them for the lab. That’s over 100 bottles of bugs to sort, count, and sample! All of this is done by hand, using a microscope to help see some of the tinier insects.

3 – In the Lab

DNA extraction machine. Now that the Collections team has sampled the bottles sent back to CBG, the insect tissue is ready to go to the lab so they can extract the DNA and create a barcode for every specimen. Our core laboratory, the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding (CCDB), is equipped with the latest technology and can automate most steps of the DNA barcode creation process.

4 – Analyzing the Data

Scientist viewing computer screen showing DNA barcodes.After the lab has generated the DNA barcodes, the next step is to interpret all of the information. To do this we use the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD), an online database that has been specifically designed to work with DNA barcode data. All of the sequences, photos, and associated information (like GPS coordinates) are uploaded to BOLD.

5 – The Results!

Pinned insect specimen box.At long last, the results are ready to deliver to participating schools! After two weeks of collecting, a couple weeks of sorting, a week in the lab, another week to analyze the results and a week or so to write up the reports, we’re ready to share what you’ve discovered in your schoolyard.

Bringing Biodiversity to Canada's Schoolyards