March turned out to be a super eventful month for myself and the Ogeechee Riverkeeper.
The water levels have continued to be high because of all the rain the area has gotten in the past few months. This has made sampling a tricky event because floodplains contain many deep spots that are easy to fall into and can be dangerous to navigate at times.
Still, my first round of aquatic macroinvertebrate sampling has been a success in the Ogeechee River. Macroinvertebrates are insects, molluscs, and other invertebrate organisms that are visible in the water with the naked eye. We even got to see the early emergence of some mayflies on the river.
The quick change in temperature to about 80 degrees has caused some mayflies to go into a false emergence earlier than usual. Where I am from in Detroit, we have an entire festival dedicated to mayflies, where they are called “fish flies.”
Macroinvertebrates are a key part of the ecosystem. They help break down detritus, natural debris like leaves and wood that fall into the river. They are also great sources of food for other organisms like fishes, frogs, and salamanders. They are an integral part of the food web in an aquatic system. Organizations, such as the DNR and EPA, even use macroinvertebrates as an indicator for water quality.
I am following the same protocols as those organizations would for my own study to help the Ogeechee Riverkeeper get a good baseline on the organisms found in the system. These macroinvertebrates will be used in my thesis study at Georgia Southern University over the next year. I will end up sampling for them three more times over the course of the year, so be prepared for some more cool pictures as time goes on.
In mid-March, I attended the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Confluence event with other members of the Ogeechee Riverkeeper and Georgia Southern University. The event was held in Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia. I helped run a macroinvertebrate survey session at the conference (You will see macroinvertebrates from me a lot, as that is one of my specialties). It was wonderful to get to meet people from many different walks of life and career paths coming together to discuss our experiences with Adopt-A-Stream and volunteering.
Adopt-A-Stream is a citizen-science based program in Georgia that helps the community get involved in water quality assessments. Volunteers have sites set up around the state and members from all over assist with monitoring streams. The monitoring includes water parameter testing, such as dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, etc, bacterial monitoring for E. coli, and macroinvertebrate diversity for water quality assessment. If you are interested in a program like this, please visit https://adoptastream.georgia.gov/how-do-i-get-started-adopt-stream.
Molly McKeon, 2023 Fellow