Using Dragonflies as Contamination Detectors

60-Second Science


Mercury pollution from power plants and mining operations can end up in our air and water. But it's tricky to predict. Just how much of that. Environmental mercury will make its way into our food and our bodies we were working on developing a bio indicator of sent. And all that could inform us of the levels of mercury contamination across the us ecologist colin eagles smith of the united states survey. He and his colleagues came up with a practical way to determine the scope of mercury contamination in an ecosystem by measuring mercury levels in a single species their bio indicator juvenile dragonflies or larvae dragonfly larvae. Stander water don't move. Much are easy to collect and live long enough to accumulate significant amounts of mercury. If you have enough location sampled with dragonflies you can develop an index of of the relative amount of mercury in the biological community. The team measured mercury concentrations in thousands of dragonfly larvae collected from waterways. One hundred national parks during a ten year period and to amass the large sample number. They recruited volunteers through the dragonfly. Mercury project the volunteers used dip nets to collect dragonfly. Larvae from their aquatic national park staff then sent the larvae to laboratories for processing

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