Underwater Storytellers: Understanding Wetlands by Studying Aquatic Invertebrates

Beneath the surface of Alberta’s wetlands lives a diverse community of aquatic invertebrates. For most of us, the species that call wetlands home only become recognizable after individuals reach their adult phase, and take the form of flying insects like dragonflies and mosquitoes. Taxonomists, however, like those working in the ABMI’s Processing Centre at the Royal Alberta Museum, are not “most of us”. Their understanding of biodiversity at the species-level, whether on land or in water, helps us better understand Alberta’s ecosystems as a whole. Watch Robert Hinchliffe, the ABMI’S aquatic invertebrate taxonomist at the RAM, explain the value of the ABMI’s province-wide wetland monitoring program (now, in it’s 9th year) which– through it’s deep species-level and human land use dataset– is on the verge of helping us understand wetland dynamics in changing landscapes. “Nobody has ever collected data like this on such a huge scale, and because of that we don’t really have an understanding of how wetlands integrate into the landscape. As we (the ABMI in collaboration with the RAM) move forward, as we collect more data on wetlands, it’s just going to get stronger and eventually those pieces of the puzzle are going to come together.”