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Big Muddy Presentations: "Missouri River Macro-invertebrates"

Unique and Interesting Life in Muddy Water

Presented by Barry Poulton, Ph.D, US Geological Survey

Tues, April 14, 2009, 7:00 p.m.

at the Bryant Cabin at Overton North Unit of the Big Muddy NFWR (directions below)

Missouri River Relief, Friends of Big Muddy and Big Muddy National Fish & Wildlife Refuge are proud to announce that our April 14 educational program will feature USGS River Studies biologist Barry Poulton, discussing the foundation of the Big Muddy food chain: the macro-invertebrates that inhabit its muddy waters.

The amount of small macro-invertebrate life in the Missouri River is staggering. Massive mayfly hatches have been known to show up on Dopplar radar, looking much like an approaching storm (see image on right, actually from the Mississippi River). When the river is at its lowest, usually in the winter, the rocks that line its banks are completely coated in millions of slimy caddisfly cases left high and dry by the depleted water. Sandbars have been known to erupt overnight with the emergency of adult dragonflies.

The importance of this teeming lifeforce, one of the foundations of the big river food chain, is undeniable. Yet very little is known about the populations, habitats and life history of the macroinvertebrate life in the Big Muddy. Much of what we do know is due to an ongoing USGS study led by Barry Poulton focused on developing macrovialsbig river sampling techniques and classifying the various communities they found.

Barry will be coming to the Bryant Cabin to discuss some of what he's learned throughout the study. Sampling such a huge ecosystem, with its diverse habitat sites and erratic river levels, has been one of the biggest challenges the biologists face. Barry will also talk about some of the inventive methods the scientists have come up with to collect their samples, including sucking out the stomach contents of shovelnose sturgeon to see what they are eating.

golden stonefly

Barry Poulton, Ph.D, has been a research ecologist with the USGS River Studies Branch since 1990 studying aquatic entomology and pollution ecology. In addition to his ongoing work on Missouri River macroinvertebrates, he is also currently studying the effects of urbanization on macroinvertebrate communities in eastern Kansas.

(bottom photo: Golden Stonefly larvae. Specimen collected by Barry Poulton, USGS. Photo by Amy Jungclaus, MDC)

The talk, hosted by Friends of Big Muddy, Missouri River Relief and the Big Muddy NFWR will be held at 7 p.m., April 14, at the Bryant Cabin at the Overton Bottoms North Unit of the Big Muddy Refuge.

Named after J.C. Bryant, the original manager for the Big Muddy refuge, the cabin was acquired by the refuge in 2007 as part of a 500 acre parcel they purchased to add to Overton Bottoms North. It was built to be used as a hunting cabin by the former owners. However the term "hunting cabin" doesn’t do justice to this beautiful, 2,000+ square foot, three bedroom house with all hardwood interior paneling and a huge deck overlooking the Missouri River floodplain. It makes a perfect meeting place for Friends of Big Muddy and we are grateful to refuge staff for allowing us to use this facility for our programs.

Directions

From I-70 heading west - take the Overton/Woodridge exit (exit 111 - the first exit west of the Missouri River). Head north. Take an immediate left on Highway 98. Go west seven tenths of a mile and turn right on Brady Lane (the first road to the right). In six tenths of a mile, Brady Lane curves ninety degrees to the right. Go straight on the gravel drive, going past the Loesing parking area and through the open gate. The lane follows the ridge around to the cabin. A map is on the refuge web site, and the Bryant Cabin is in the dark "closed area." Just ignore the closed area signs, as you have special authorization for these programs to enter the area.

From I-70 heading east - (NOTE: the overpass at the Overton/Wooldridge exit is closed, so if you are coming from the west you'll need to follow this detour) take Exit 106 (Business 70). Head north (left). Take a right on Highway 98. Follow for about five miles. Turn left on Brady Lane. In six tenths of a mile, Brady Lane curves ninety degrees to the right. Go straight on the gravel drive, going past the Loesing parking area and through the open gate. The lane follows the ridge around to the cabin. A map is on the refuge web site, and the Bryant Cabin is in the dark "closed area." Just ignore the closed area signs, as you have special authorization for these programs to enter the area.

All programs are open to the public. You do not need to be a member of either organization to participate.

We hope you can come and learn more about the Missouri River!

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