GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 25-11
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


KO, Katherine, Department of the Interior, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, 691 Scenic View Road, Page, AZ 86040

The Dragonfly Mercury Project (DMP) is a nation-wide study that engages citizen scientists the collection of dragonfly larvae in national parks in order to understand mercury risk in aquatic ecosystems. National Park Service staff, interns, and partners conduct sampling efforts with citizen scientists in local park units. The dragonfly larvae collected are then shipped to the US. Geological Survey (USGS) laboratory in Corvallis, OR for mercury analysis. The results of this ongoing study inform resource management decisions regarding environmental toxins, water quality, and ecosystem health. Since 2011, the DMP has engaged over 100 park units and 4,000 citizen scientists throughout the United States. The DMP prioritizes not only scientific data collection, but also engaging citizen scientists in the outdoors and connecting people to parks. In 2019, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (GLCA) participated in its second year of sampling for the DMP. Larvae were sampled from five sites by five unique citizen science groups. Water quality monitoring was also conducted at each of these sites in accordance with the Utah Water Watch protocol in an effort to identify relationships between hydrology and wildlife. The results of sampling efforts at GLCA showcase the value of citizen scientists in capturing ongoing scientific data. In return, these volunteers have a unique experience exploring their local parks and contributing to a nation-wide study. Programs like the DMP that engage citizen scientists in novel research are crucial to obtaining large-scale and long-term data, as well as inspiring future generations to become stewards of their environment.