Citizen Science in Grand Canyon

Citizen Science in Grand Canyon


Jack Schmidt: “This is the nation’s river.
And this is everybody’s river. And this is one of the most magnificent places on earth.” Jack Schmidt: “These beautiful, spectacular
canyons have been a focal point of national protection” Jack Schmidt: “These canyons are also awesome
places to build dams” Jack Schmidt: “This is one of the most heavily
regulated rivers in the world. This river has bigger reservoirs and bigger diversions
than just about any other river, certainly in North America. We could just walk away
from this place as a society and say, well we put all these dams here we’re just not
even gonna try to have healthy, natural environment.” Ted Kennedy: “We have the largest population
of endangered humpback chub anywhere in the basin.” Carol Fritzinger: “The humpback chub is just
this piece of this ecosystem that remains here even though it’s incredibly altered by
the flows of Glen Canyon dam. I think of it as the indicator species for the health of
the whole ecosystem.” Jack Schmidt: “This is a complicated place
because it’s the clash of a native ecosystem with a set of physical conditions that that
native ecosystem has never had to deal with before.” Anya Metcalfe: “The largest difference between
what the river was and what it is what the dam has done.” Jack Schmidt: “This river is no longer a sand
bedded, turbid, stream. This is a clear, gravel, cold stream. This is a stream that trout love.” Jack Schmidt: “it’s created a blue ribbon,
internationally famous trout fishery.” Jack Schmidt: “We have this huge question,
which is: how do non-native trout and humpback chub live together in the same river? And
is that possible?” Ted Kennedy: “We’ve documented that fish are
food limited. Both rainbow trout here and native fishes down in Grand Canyon appear
to be limited by the availability of high quality invertebrate prey.” Ted Kennedy: “People might not think about
what supports those fish populations, so I would point to the base of that food web” Ted Kennedy: “Aquatic insects have a pretty
complex life cycle where they spend their larval stage in the river feeding and then
transform into a winged adult and make the leap to the land.” Anya Metcalfe: “Really, those swarms are the
core energy of this entire system, because the fish are eating them as larvae, and then
they emerge as adults and they are feeding the terrestrial system as well” Ted Kennedy: “Things like birds, bats, spiders” Ted Kennedy: “I think aquatic ecologists are
limited in the Grand Canyon with the kind of questions they can ask based on the logistics.” Anya Metcalfe: “Even though USGS sends a lot
of trips here throughout the year, even though we have a lot of hard working people here,
it is impossible to get the full picture just through those trips….. These emergent aquatic
insects are virtually throughout the entire canyon, throughout the entire year and to
get a better understanding and picture of that we need a lot of specimens, we need a
lot of collection points” Ted Kennedy: “That’s what’s so exciting about
this citizen science project. We can tap into the guide’s season long access to the river
and characterize aquatic insect emergence in the Grand Canyon all 240 miles of it for
the entire growing season. It really opens up the kinds of questions we can ask” Carol Fritzinger: “The powerfulness of this
citizen science, it’s pretty mind blowing. I mean for the food base program, there’s
no way that they could gather all that data on their own without the help of these river
guides” Anya Metcalfe: “We do also get private boaters
and educational trips, such as Grand Canyon Youth” Carol Fritzinger: “There’s no way they could
know as much about what they know and there’s no way they could tell the story they can
now tell because of the guide’s involvement.” Anya Metcalfe: “Putting this dam in changed
this river. It made it cold. It made the water clear. And it also deeply impacted the insect
fauna.” Ted Kennedy: “We’ve lost a lot of our aquatic
insects. Things like mayflies and caddisflies. We think that the Grand Canyon used to harbor
a very diverse aquatic insect assemblage and those are gone now.” Anya Metcalfe: “By understanding what drives
these cycles of population and of emergence we can better understand how this ecosystem
functions and if we better understand how it functions we can better know how to manage
it.” Carol Fritzinger: “We have a tool: a dam.
If we could manipulate the flows to maximize insect production, especially at times that
are important for these endangered species, then that’s the game of adaptive management” Anya Metcalfe: “Most of our river guides that
get involved are just curious. They want to learn more about this place they live in at
least half the year” Bob Dye: “Part of it is just being involved
a little bit. Helping and feeling like you’re contributing to the canyon, besides seeing
what you get… and it does contribute to the knowledge base, for sure” Jack Schmidt: “I tell you, none of the science
we’ve done down here in Grand Canyon could have been conducted without the full support
of the guides who make it possible to work here”

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