Whether or not the weather cooperates, field season is upon us. We've already completed our first little project of the year, which was to get another batch of Pteronarcys stoneflies from the Colorado River to transplant over to the Arkansas. These bugs were native to the Arkansas before acid mine drainage wiped them out. The Arkansas has been cleaned up enough in modern times that it looks like they could survive there again. So last year my friend and counterpart in Salida, Greg Policky, came up with the idea of making these transplants.
In 2012 we collected about 37,000 nymphs from the Colorado to transport to the Arkansas. This year, over two days of collection we managed to gather about 50,000 nymphs. Greg transplanted all these nymphs to four specific riffles with good habitat on the Arkansas. He did observe adults hatching last year. So now it's just a question of whether or not there are enough adults to find each other once they do hatch and look for mates.
Here are some photos of this year's collection efforts. They were taken by Mike Kline, who is working with me as a field technician this spring.
Here we are trying to become enthusiastic about getting in the river on a less-than-pleasant day.
Any day in the field is better than any day in the office, though, right? Sometimes we have to remind ourselves of that repeatedly.
Here's the collection process. It's just a matter of rolling rocks in the places with just the right depth and velocity. You quickly get a feel for finding the "sweet spots" that hold a lot of nymphs.
When you roll a good rock, your net looks like this.
High-quality trout food.
As field season progresses, my approach to these posts is going to change a bit. My year basically runs in two modes: data collection mode and data analysis mode. What you've been seeing up to this point is the result of the data analysis part of my year. Now that field season is here, I don't do a lot of data analysis. So these posts are going to become more of a journal of what my weeks entail, and what interesting things we ran across. Keep posting questions - this is going to be a much better resource for everyone if there is two-way communication here. So I appreciate that and it helps guide me as far as what topics are of interest to people.
On tap for the next two weeks is eight days of spring raft electrofishing surveys on the Colorado. We're surveying four, two-mile reaches that are roughly evenly spaced between Pumphouse and Dotsero. Here's hoping that the weather doesn't treat us too miserably.