Catawba College students in the Conservation Biology class assisted a research scientist from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences on a project to document crayfish diversity in North Carolina. The students visited stream sites near Kannapolis and Concord, where they searched for crayfish to contribute to the museum's collection.
Catawba students involved were Katelyn Baity, Haley Hudson, Madison Kluge, and Matthew Rodriguez, all enrolled in Dr. Joe Poston's Conservation Biology class for the fall semester. They joined Dr. Bronwyn Williams, research curator of non-molluscan invertebrates at the museum. Her research attempts to document new species of crayfish in North Carolina and elsewhere. "Many people don't realize that scientists are still identifying previously unknown species," Poston said.
"This was a great opportunity to do some real field work and experience the excitement of discovering a new species," said student Matthew Rodriguez.
At each of four streams they visited, the students searched for crayfish under rocks and tucked away in leaf litter on the bottom of the stream The students also learned about crayfish anatomy and species identification from Williams.
Williams taught students how to use a seine to effectively capture the crayfish from various microhabitats within the stream environment. By the end of the day, the group had gathered crayfish from each of the four streams that will be added to the museum's collection and will be analyzed to document crayfish diversity patterns in the state.
"This was a chance to not only see firsthand what it's like to work in conservation, but to feel like a part of the conservation efforts themselves, while still having a really fun day," said Hudson.
Photos by Joe Poston