I’m not bugging around!

I was never a fan of insects and spiders, but sometimes you have to face your fears for the sake of science. This summer, I’m working with the Bernhardt Lab to help gather data for our Bass Connections project: ‘A City and Its River: Durham’s Ellerbe Creek Watershed.’ This project combines the fields of chemistry, biology, and social science to seek to understand if/how wealth and social status affect the state of the environment for Durham’s Ellerbe Creek watershed residents. So you may be asking, where do the bugs come in?

I’m working alongside a graduate student to look at 3 river sites in Durham. The developed Northgate and Glen Stone sites are in Ellerbe Creek and our third site, also known as our reference site, is New Hope Creek in the Duke forest. We’re using different techniques to catch samples of fly larvae within the water, right above the water, and then far above the water. I will be taking the sticky traps that we use to catch flies far above the water and using them to measure weekly biodiversity and abundance across all three sites. Then, I will use physical data such as stream temperature, precipitation, storm surges, etc. to see if they have any correlation with biodiversity and abundance. Basically, my general aim is to see why biodiversity and abundance differs across all three sites. I hypothesize that urban stream sites will see lower biodiversity due to storm surges and higher temperatures, but this is yet to be seen. My work will involve counting and identifying insects on the sticky traps each week. I’m not particularly fond of bugs, but I am fond of my research question, so I just have to pull through!

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