Cannot believe that 150 bee specimen have been pinned so far. How did I do it? So many tiny insects to pin correctly. Don’t get me wrong, I like pinning, but you know when to call it a day when there are tiny dots on your thumb from poking yourself so much. With time running by and the ending of this internship within sight, how can I accomplish everything. Summer is a short frame nowadays when you are just scratching the surface of a topic. Showing people what I have done so far feels like an accomplishment to me because someone sees my project for what it is to further understand pollinators. Many visitors do not get to experience what I am doing, but they can if given the opportunity. The last project of this internship will be writing a proposal to the park to set up transects at heavily visited sites along trails for visitors to get involved with pollinator counts. They will have the chance to learn about the different pollinator species by recording the number they see on flowers along the trails . This project would serve as a type of citizen science opportunity for people to collect data to help the park know what type of pollinators are out there during the season. Data collected can help resource managers understand how pollinator activity correlates with the blooming times
of flower species when restoring areas. The picture below is a cool moment with folks from two different internship organizations in the same room coming together to learn about each other’s experiences.
Bees are pretty to look at and admire when you can see a big yellow and black bug on a flower. If you look closer at its characteristics, you may be fooled. When I caught my first bee this week, my supervisor Desi showed me that it was not an actual bee, but a type of fly. Remember the old saying “Looks can be deceiving.” That was the case in this situation. Desi showed me that this “bee” was actually a type of fly that mimics a bee’s characteristics. I misidentified this mimic fly because the body had the yellow and black patterns on its body, but the antennae were more like a fly species than a bee species. Some of the head characteristics did not look like that of a bee species either. It was still a pollinator species, but not what we were collecting. Wish I would have got a good photo of it to show all of you, but the fly flew off before I could get the camera out.
You may also know some common bee species such as bumblebees and honeybees. Did you know that there are actually over 4,000 different bee species in North America alone. A survey done here at the Indiana Dunes recorded over 200 species found at various sites across the park. I have started to look at the bee species that were collected from that study to identify and it is a microscopic task. What I mean is that I look at the insect under a microscope to identify small key characteristics in the head, wing, and legs, and others I have yet to see. For most to get identified, insect specimens have to be sent out to experts that specialize in identifying certain groups of insects. There is no one entomologist that can identify all the insects in the world. This goes to show the vast number that inhabit the world.
I recently underwent a workshop sponsored by an organization called ISWOOP. The name means interpreters and scientists working on our parks. This workshop brought together park interpreters and researchers conducting studies at the Indiana Dunes to present ways for visitors to understand scientific research being done at the park. The theme of the week was amphibian research and was led by my former professor Dr. Robert Brodman. The first day of the workshop, he presented the research he has done at the park to study how climate change has been affecting amphibian’s populations. The two main species focused on in his research is Wood frog and Blue-spotted salamanders. The dunes are located on these species’ southern range. The importance of Brodman’s research is to see how these species will adapt to warmer conditions and show how vulnerable these species are to such changes. We got the chance to go into to field to show interpreters how amphibians were surveyed.
There are two different techniques used in order to collect amphibians. One way was with dip nets that were scooped in water. Often enough, tadpoles and salamander larva were found. The quantity of species found was recorded. The other technique used to collected was trapping. Mesh minnow traps were set up in ponds around wetlands in the park and checked once a day. Traps used caused no harm to species captured as they were only used to capture them. Once traps were checked and species were identified, they were released.
The last part of the workshop was for me to work with a group of interpreters to come up with a mock program to incorporate aspects of Brodman’s research to visitors. My group and I came up with a program called the Amphibious Assault on West Beach. This program is an add-on to a night hike that the park does on Friday evenings. The hike would consist of showing visitors areas where frogs and toads could be heard and teaching them what species make those sounds. To even show a visual representation of calls, IPADS with sound software can show the sound waves that these species make for visitors to understand how frogs and toads make these calls. From this workshop, I have a better understanding of how to work with interpreters and to further prepare to create citizen science programs for pollinators.
This week I got to start setting up for the native bee project. The project is being finalized and soon will begin sampling what species have been inhabiting the dunes. The exciting part of this week was getting a chance to do restoration work for the day taking out invasive species with herbicide. The rest of was week was spent researching methodologies and current conservation issues with native bees. Next week there will be an event call ISWOOP where park interpreters will learn from researches about different conservation topics to express awareness to the public. The picture below shows bowls that will be set up in transects in sample areas. The bowls will be filled with soapy water to remove surface tension so when bees land in the bowl, they are captured. The color of the bowls mimics flower color because bees are attracted to these colors when they are pollinating. Bees are generally attracted to flower color as it is the most noticeable characteristic of the plant. The importance of this project is to catalog what species of bees inhabit the park. It is a replication of a study that was conducted in 2011 that inventoried bee species in the park. The bowls help maximize collection and sampling efforts with the hopes that the collections will give us a good representation of bee species captured. Previous studies have found that the park has 200 different species of native bees. I hope to find as many species as I can this summer with the hopes of measuring how these populations have changed since they were surveyed in 2011.
My name is Jacob Villalpando. I just started my new internship at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a pollinator steward. This week was mainly training about the rules and ethics of the park. Working for a federal agency is a different job experience than other experiences I have had. This was the first time that I had to have a key card to log on any computer. My mentor laid out the plan for the summer and I am more excited to get started. Mainly this week we scouted for vernal pools in the woods for another intern’s project. These pools are a type of seasonal wetland that is a wet habitat during the wet season and dried out during the dry season.
On my first day I got to try raspberry cheesecake french toast for lunch. My mentor has been showing other interns and me the layout of the park and what to expect in surveying these areas. My main task for right now is to read primary literature about native bees species and start figuring out what areas in the park would be good sites to sample. Overall, it was a great first week and can’t wait to see what’s next.