Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Beetles at Acadia National Park

A day at the Schoodic section of Acadia national Park is always a pleasure.....beautiful scenery, picnic area, hiking trails....without the crowds on Mount Desert Island.  Even better is a visit to the Schoodic Institute (Schoodic Education and Research Center) on the grounds of the old Navy base.  It's a wonderful place with lots of educational programs open to the public.  It is also the site of an annual entomology Bioblitz.  This year the Park Service and Schoodic Institute hosted a workshop about the Bioblitz for the general public.

BEETLES....coleoptera.....was this year's order of collection and study.  

Here's a video of the 2009 Bioblitz that I made with a Flip Video camcorder....this was the first mini-pocket camcorder!

The program began with Ranger Katie Petrie giving a great talk about bioblitzes and beetles.

Schoodic Institute

We learned that there are over 400,000 species of "beetles" and that they make up over 25% of ALL living species!!!

Lady Bugs, lightning Bugs,  Weevils, Potato Bugs and a myriad of "Beetles"......they all look different, but they are all coleopterae.

Except, of course, these guys!

Ranger Katie told us about where we can upload our observations  and showed us a pilot program by National Geographic and the National Park Service to get species identification of ANY species with an i-pad photo.'s citizen science on steroids!

"Now remember are adults and that kids can handle these devices much be patient with yourselves."

We learned about the different methods to capture beetles for identification.  Above is a Berlese insect collecting trap.....named after it's inventor, Antonio Berlese, an Italian entomologist.

We also got to try our hands at "net sweeping."

This is Nick.....a young, home schooled prodigy, who gave the binomial for every species we saw!!

This was an "all ages" program!

"HEY...we've got a beetle!"  That's new Schoodic Institute President, Mark Berry and family.....wonderful to see such engaged participation in public programs!

Lots of little critters here....."Where's Nick!"

Ranger Alexa Pezzano led the collection team and gathered up our beetles to take back to the lab where we were briefed on the Bioblitz species identification process and met the chief taxonomist.

Above and below are a couple of ground beetles you might encounter on the SERC campus and around Maine.  Above is a Tiger Beetle and below...a Scarab of some short.....I will leave the taxonomy to the experts....and Nick!

Ranger Michael Marlow gave the group a tour of the bioblitz lab and showed us many of the over 300 species collected.
Be sure to check the Maine Entomoligical Scociety website for this and past year's Bioblitz results.

That's Dr Don Chandler, from the University of New Hampshire....chief taxonomist.   SI president Mark and son, Asa seem quite we all were.

What a great time learning about this year's Bioblitz.....but wait....the day wasn't over yet.  We were invited to a DNA species identification program and lunch...both sponsored by MDI Biological Laboratory.  Dr Karen James of the lab introduced us to a citizen science program she is developing to collect species data by DNA sampling and matching by AMATEUR NATURALISTS!!  Whoa.....this is way out of the box....great stuff and sure to take field biology to the next level.

Here is an example of the DNA graphs we worked with.....basically, naturalists will get e-mails to go out into the field and collect targeted DNA samples....get the samples to a program scientist who submits them for DNA scanning....then in a couple of weeks, the amateur naturalists goes online to match the DNA and get a species this absolutely awesome!!!! Us "older naturalists" got some needed computer assistance from the Earthwatch Institute high school students working on fellowships in SI.
 Thanks so much to Dr James and MDI Biolab.....I can't wait to get a BIGFOOT hair sample!!!!

What a GREAT day at the Schoodic Institute....thanks to all involved.  I can't wait for future public programs and I can't wait for next summer's Acadia Bioblitz.

A cup of tea and some reflection after such a wonderful day.  I read somewhere that "If you are the smartest one in the are in the wrong room."  Well....I certainly am in the RIGHT room at Acadia National Park and the Schoodic Institute.....Thanks again!

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