Dragonflies meet citizen scientists at Zion National Park; public events

Dragonfly. Undated. | Photo licensed under Creative Commons CC0, courtesy of Wikipedia, St. George News

SPRINGDALE — The Dragonfly Society of the Americas is holding its annual conference in Utah and is teaming up with Zion National Park to sponsor a “BioBlitz” on Wednesday. A limited number of local citizens are invited to assist.

Dragonflies are attracted to and depend on the perennial water in Zion National Park, as their larvae, known as “nymphs,” are aquatic. Dragonfly adults eat other flying insects, often mosquitos, and are an important part of the ecosystem. According to the park’s news release, dragonfly fossil records suggest that they have existed for over 300 million years.

“A BioBlitz is when citizens work with subject matter experts to survey a certain territory to identify the presence and distribution of selected species on the landscape,” park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said. “We are taking advantage of having these dragonfly experts in Utah so that we can learn about habitat in the park that is important to these insects and add to our knowledge of different species, and it is a good opportunity for the public to be a part of this effort.”

Part of the field sampling will collect dragonfly nymphs from creeks.  The nymphs are relatively long-lived and accumulate mercury that falls from airborne pollutants.  These specimens will be analyzed by a United States Geological Survey lab as part of a nationwide atmospheric mercury deposition study to assess environmental health.

Public involvement

  • Field workshop participation
    • Participation will be limited to the first 24 adults who register by calling telephone 435-772-7644.  These limits are required to prevent damage to delicate habitat and BioBlitz is an adults-only field workshop because of the strenuous nature of reaching some areas.
    • Participants are asked to bring food, water, sun protection and anything they need for a day in the field.  The citizen scientists will depart from the Human History Museum and  Kolob Canyons Visitor Center by 8:00 a.m. head to the field sites.
  • General public opportunities
    • A public education and viewing of specimens collected by the workshop participants will be held from 1-5 p.m. at the Zion Lodge.
    • There will be dragonfly ranger-led walks and activities for park visitors throughout the day.
    • At 7 p.m. the evening program at Zion Lodge will feature dragonfly conservation.

Resources:

  • Dragonfly Society of the Americas website

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

 

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