A whole lot of sorting going on…

Over the last several months we have been working on sorting through all the specimens collected from the 14 parks we visited in the summer of 2012. In each park, with the cooperation of Parks Canada, the BIObus crew set up a malaise trap to collect insects for the duration of the summer. Insects fly into the trap, crawl up to the highest point and drop into the collection bottle. These bottles were changed out once a week and stored for the remainder of the summer. Once the bottles were returned to the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, we selected every other week to process. All the specimens in the bottles were sorted taxonomically (for example, all the flies — i.e. Diptera — were put together) before they were whisked off to our DNA lab to sequence the DNA barcode for each specimen.

A malaise trap deployed in Wood Buffalo National Park.
A malaise trap deployed in Wood Buffalo National Park.
Crystal and Agata, crew members from BIObus 2012, sorting malaise trap samples at BIO
Crystal and Agata, crew members from BIObus 2012, sorting malaise trap samples at BIO

We are happy to report we are almost done sorting the collection bottles — with 106,720 specimens pulled out so far, we’re 91% complete! It will take a few more months for all the DNA sequences to be generated, and then we can query the sequences against the BOLD database to tentatively identify each specimen. With such a large quantity of specimens, we hope to discover the unique biodiversity of each park and maybe even some undiscovered species.

We will be sure to update you with our findings!

– Crystal

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