Join a biologist extraordinaire Dr. Boyce Drummond during his week-long residency at Toklat, June 28th - July 4th. His Toklat project will focus on the little creatures' lives and behaviours. In his own words:
"I want to inventory the arthropods (i.e., spiders and insects) in the area around Toklat and compare their species diversity among habitats, both terrestrial -- meadow, ground squirrel gardens, aspen forest, spruce/fir forest; and wetland/aquatic – riparian, stream, beaver pond. This will involve collecting voucher specimens of as many species as possible using a variety of methods: Malaise trap (aerial intercept traps) during the day and light traps (mercury vapor and blacklight) at night; “sugaring” (baiting tree trunks with fermented molasses to attract moths); sweep samples of vegetation; aerial netting of flying insects; beating trays (to collect arthropods from tree and shrub foliage); pitfall traps (cans in the ground) to collect ground surface arthropods; D-ring nets to sample aquatic macroinvertebrates; etc. Visitors can observe any of these collection methods and can participate in the collection process if they wish, all the while learning about the biology of insects and arthropods and their ecological importance from me in running commentary.
The collections (as they accumulate) will be available for viewing and should provide a powerful visual comparison of the “hidden” arthropod fauna of the various habitat types in the Castle Creek valley. I will also maintain some live insects and spiders in clear containers and mini-terrariums at Toklat as teaching tools to share with visitors. A focus of the study will be to measure diversity gradients across habitats and to relate these differences to vegetation structure and plant diversity (= environmental heterogeneity). The prediction is that diversity of arthropod faunas will be directly correlated with measures of increasing habitat complexity (=environmental heterogeneity) and with intermediate levels of habitat disturbance (e.g., flooding from beaver dams; soil engineering by Wyoming ground squirrels; avalanche shutes; etc.).
Another focus will be to interpret the ecological role of the different arthropod groups – especially those that serve as pollinators, seed predators, herbivores on specific plants, parasites, predators (of other arthropods), and prey (of other arthropods, birds, fish, etc.).
In short, I plan to take an ecological snapshot of the invertebrate fauna of the Toklat area and interpret the patterns I find in terms of habitat type, environmental structure, and the ecological roles of the groups involved. "