The Prairie Potholes are a critical sanctuary for wildlife, including amphibians and migrating birds. They are true oases in an agricultural landscape.
We’re studying the effects of agricultural runoff (through tile-drains or surface runoff) on water quality and wildlife. Our lab is specifically interested in the effects of pollution on the emergence of aquatic insects. Emerging aquatic insects can form up to 90% of the diet of ducklings, making them a key source of food for economically important wildlife species, along with numerous other birds, spiders, lizards, bats and other wildlife.
In addition to reducing emergence altogether, contaminants such as selenium may also become incorporated into the body tissues of insects. We’re measuring this potential flux of selenium from the water to land by examining the concentration this element in adult aquatic insects.