Is there more I can do at my pond?

Collect Specimens for Fat Content Analysis

Dr. Mike May, an MDP steering committee member and odonate expert at Rutgers University, is conducting a related investigation on the fat content of migrant dragonflies. You can help with this study if you live anywhere in North America, including Mexico, and are willing to collect adults of any of the five main migratory species (Common Green Darner, Black Saddlebags, Wandering Glider, Spot-Winged Glider, or Variegated Meadowhawk).

Specimen Preservation

Specimens to be used for fat analysis should be air-dried, NOT preserved in acetone (the usual method for odonate preservation). Each specimen to be processed should be placed in its own individual envelope, so that if any body parts break off after processing, they can still be associated with the correct individual.  Specimens should be dried until the legs and abdomen are stiff, and each should have one intact forewing and hindwing.

Drying may be done in several different ways, depending on the equipment you have available:

  1. Place the envelopes in an oven or toaster oven on a very low "warm" setting, i.e., 100-110F for several hours.
  2. Place the envelopes in a cardboard box with a 75-100W incandescent bulb extending through a hole in the top for several hours.
  3. Place the envelopes in a drying oven set at 45C for 24-48 hrs.
  4. Envelopes can also be dried in direct sunlight (i.e., on the dashboard of a car) or with a hair dryer, but this will take much longer and may result in incomplete drying.

Dried specimens can be sent to:

Dr. Mike May at Department of Entomology, Thompson Hall, 96 Lipman Drive, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA, 08901-8525. Please use a small box with enough padding that the specimens won't be crushed during transit.

Additional Studies

MDP may institute a variety of additional studies conducted across a shorter time span than Pond Watch and Migration Monitoring, to address specific research questions as they arise. For example, we recently completed an analysis of stable hydrogen isotope ratios in Common Green Darner wings, with the help of specimens collected by volunteers. These ratios allow us to determine the distance a dragonfly traveled from the wetland in which it developed, and are giving us a better picture of migration distances and timing.

Similar projects involve monitoring and collecting exuviae of Common Green Darners by volunteers, to gain a clearer understanding of regional breeding and emergence patterns. Please check back to the MDP web site or sign-up for monthly e-newsletters to receive up-to-date information about these shorter-term projects.

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