Friday, May 31, 2013

School Malaise Trap Program 2013

It's time to share the results of the School Malaise Trap program with the schools and the rest of the world. All participating teachers will receive an email this afternoon with a big results package.

You might remember that the program involved 60 schools in 42 cities. That is 77 classrooms with 2003 students that had a chance to learn a bit about DNA Barcoding and contribute to a large scale project aiming to catalog Canada's insect biodiversity. A total of 81 traps were running from April 22 to May 3 which was very early in the season. Actually the week before we had a major ice storm in Ontario.

The trap catches were quite high for early in the spring season. The 81 traps on average collected 1,180 specimens for the collecting period. Our staff sorted 95,500 specimens and selected 22,646 to be barcoded. Our final dataset was made up of 19,501 DNA Barcodes (not all worked and short barcodes were discarded). An impressive number of 1,392 putative species were collected over the two week period of the program. Here a breakdown:

276 of these species were new to BOLD which could either mean that they are known but have not been sampled yet or that they are indeed new to the region or even to science. That is now a job for the taxonomists were are working with. DNA Barcoding worked as a first proxy and now all those specimens in question will be looked at with an expert eye. Eventually some of them will get a species name.

The results were pretty amazing and that is reason enough to 'annoy' you with a series of blog posts over the next few days.


  1. Cool project. But I can't seem to find any reference to which exact group of taxonomists is going to be dealing with the material... Is this publicly available somewhere?

  2. Well, first the ones in house. As you might know BIO has employed some and then depending on the group we will be sending out specimens to colleagues at the CNC (Canadian National Collection of Insects) and the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) or even internationally if our national experts can't help any further.