The third season of the Metchosin Insect Biomass study, led by Dr. Neville Winchester of the University of Victoria and partially supported by the Metchosin Foundation, kicked off on Saturday, March 7th at the Municipal Hall. Dr. Winchester delivered a presentation to Metchosin’s citizen scientist Malaise trap site hosts, summarizing the preliminary findings of 2018 and 2019, as well as the emerging global crisis of falling insect populations, related to the multitude of threats insects face from agricultural pesticides, climate change, and habitat destruction. Metchosin is serving as an important component in the worldwide effort to understand this phenomenon, and this long-term study is the only one of its kind so far in Canada, and perhaps in North America. In 2019, Metchosin Malaise traps (tent-like structures that catch and preserve a small sampling of flying insects for study) collected 114,782 individual specimens, which are still in the process of being sorted and identified (not a small task) and will be added to the collection at the Royal British Columbia Museum. Most of the 19 private landowners who are generously providing trap sites and sample collection support for the study were in attendance, and the presentation was followed by a Q & A. This year, the project will be expanded with the continued support of Metchosin Foundation volunteers and other expert volunteers to better document characteristics of the different trap sites. This effort will include land classification from aerial imagery, vegetation surveys, and documenting other factors including elevation, human use, proximity to water features, etc. This will help to gain a better understanding the factors driving the differences in insect abundance and diversity across the different trap sites. Outcomes of this study will include identifying measures that can be taken locally within Metchosin, and beyond, to support insect population health. Dr. Winchester will also be assisted by student researchers, including one funded by an Eco Canada scholarship that the Metchosin Foundation applied for. We have an exciting field season ahead, including the possibility of being featured in the CBC’s “The Nature of Things with David Suzuki”! The Metchosin Foundation would like to thank our community’s citizen scientist Malaise trap hosts for their continued support of this important project.
A copy of Dr. Winchester’s presentation from March 7th is attached here for download. Metchosin_Insect_Biomass_Study_update_2020_Neville_Winchester_(web)