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Undergraduate

Zack LaGrange

Inspired by recent research pointing to a world-wide “insect apocalypse,” I am compiling data on mosquito and Odonata (dragonfly and damselfly) populations in the Bay Area.  Precise information about insects is generally lacking, which impedes accurate monitoring of population changes.  At Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, however, cores from Searsville Lake provide an unparalleled data repository of insect distribution and abundance over time. 

Currently I am compiling data on mosquitoes and Odonata in the Bay Area, including information on habitat preference, life cycles, population dynamics, and in the case of mosquitos, disease.  I am utilizing information provided by the Center for Disease Control, local wildlife groups, state and county mosquito control websites, and peer-reviewed articles.  I am also collecting data from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), which stores digitized species observations from all over the world, contributed by naturalists at every level -- from amateurs to museum taxonomists. Using the statistical modeling software “R," we have been able to unpack GBIF data to understand what species are present in the region. This current distribution and abundance will be compared with the historical records in the core, to get a more accurate picture of insect decline over time.