July 9, 2016
Fred Armstrong, 928 643-7105
Springdale, UT- The Dragonfly Society of the Americas is holding their annual conference in Utah and is teaming up with Zion National Park to sponsor a BioBlitz on Wednesday, July 13. A limited number of local citizens are invited to assist.
Dragonflies are attracted to and depend on the perennial water in Zion National Park, as their larvae, known as "nymphs", are aquatic. Dragonfly adults eat other flying insects, often mosquitos, and are an important part of the ecosystem. Dragonfly fossil records suggest that they have existed for over 300 million years.
"A BioBlitz is when citizens work with subject matter experts to survey a certain territory to identify the presence and distribution of selected species on the landscape," according to park superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh. In this case it is dragonflies. "We are taking advantage of having these dragonfly experts in Utah so that we can learn about habitat in the park that is important to these insects and add to our knowledge of different species, and it is a good opportunity for the public to be a part of this effort," said Bradybaugh.
Citizen participation will be limited to the first 24 adults who register by calling 435-772- 7644. These limits are required to prevent damage to delicate habitat, and limited to adults because of the strenuous nature of reaching some areas. Participants should bring food, water, sun protection and anything they need for a day in the field. They will head to the field sites from the Human History Museum and the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center by 8:00 a.m.
The authorized field groups will bring their collected specimens to the Zion Lodge where they will be available for public education and viewing from 1:00 –5:00 p.m. There will be dragonfly ranger-led walks and activities for park visitors throughout the day and the 7:00 p.m. evening program at Zion Lodge will be about dragonfly conservation.
Dragonflies can teach us about ourselves. Part of the field sampling will collect dragonfly nymphs from creeks. The nymphs are relatively long-lived and accumulate mercury that falls from airborne pollutants. These specimens will be analyzed by a USGS lab as part of a nationwide atmospheric mercury deposition study to assess environmental health.