We investigate how extreme low flows that will be common due to climate change in the future alter aquatic insect communities of Sierra Nevada headwaters near Kings Canyon National Park. Future Sierra Nevada snowmelt is predicted to occur up to two months earlier in the year, which may result in lower summer flows, shifts in insect emergence timing, and changes in community structure. We sampled a watershed in the rain-snow transition zone to determine what aspect of low flow (e.g. reduced current, sedimentation, and increased temperature) has the greatest impact on native aquatic insects. We also will determine how species interactions may differ with low flow conditions and the relative influence of the upstream community. This experiment will improve our understanding of how climate change may alter stream communities as temperatures rise and precipitation shifts from snow to rain.
The URAP student will assist in sorting and identifying macroinvertebrates most weeks of the semester. This will require availability of two 3-4 hour shifts to complete a sample with a partner most weeks. This time should be available in your schedule. The student will be trained in identifying and sorting aquatic insects at the beginning of the semester. We welcome undergraduates to join Ruhi Lab meetings and learn more about our research if they desire to. We will provide personal development opportunities like learning how to manage data and apply for graduate school. The student will also have the opportunity to continue working on the project and pursue his or her own research question in the future, provided their work is satisfactory. Co-authorship is possible with a significant contribution to the project that can be discussed. Fieldwork is possible with this project or others in the lab if interested!
No prior experience is required, but skills or coursework in aquatic ecology, entomology, and microscope identification of samples are advantageous and should be mentioned in the application. The URAP student should be excited to learn about freshwater ecology and collaborate with our lab team. The student must have 2-3 days that they can devote 8 hours total time to sorting work. The student should highlight why they want to work with this project, how it matches their interests, and how it would help them reach their goals with aspects of their background used as supporting information throughout.