By April Sevy, MDC VWQM Coordinator
What do you get when you mix science, volunteers, and snails? A lot of data! Just five years ago, snail data in Missouri was sparse – especially aquatic snail data. This all changed in 2020 when two scientists with the Missouri Department of Conservation asked the Missouri Stream Team Program for help.
Aquatic snails can be broken down into two big groups: lunged (pulmonate) and gilled (prosobranch). Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring (VWQM) volunteers also refer to these as left-handed and right-handed snails, respectively, depending on which way their shells coil. Both snail groups can be found in similar habitats, but gilled snails are more pollution sensitive than their left-coiled counterparts.
VWQM volunteers understand that stream macroinvertebrates are indicators of stream health. Gilled snails can tell us a story about a stream’s health, specifically on ammonia. Having existing data on snails allows us to predict where they should be and provides clues to why they are missing from certain systems.
Why do the scientists care about snail data? Not only were existing snail distribution records few and far between, but we were lacking important background data in case problems arise in the future. Having more snail data allows MDC’s malacologist (scientist that studies mollusks such as snails and mussels) to have a robust distribution map of aquatic snails. This data also supports informed decision making to develop or revise state water quality standards, which helps to protect water quality.
In spring of 2020, we kicked off the first year of Show Me Snails. This project recruited VWQM volunteers to collect snail specimens from stream sites across the state to submit to MDC’s malacologist. This didn’t require any additional training and most volunteers already had the supplies needed. We didn’t know what to expect the first year of this project, especially since there was a global health pandemic. The first year of sampling concluded with a whopping 121 specimen vials submitted. Some vials had a single snail; some vials had dozens of snails. That’s a successful first year!
Volunteers were ready to search for more snails in 2021. The second year of sampling returned 155 specimen vials. Incredible effort by our volunteers! We are now on our third year of sampling and hope to continue through 2024. It will take some time to identify all the snail specimens submitted and create information to share. For now, locations of snail collections can be viewed on the Stream Team interactive map by viewing the Show Me Snails layer.
I would like to give a very big Thank You to the volunteers that have participated in this project!
If you are interested in learning more about the Show Me Snails project, contact me at April.Sevy@mdc.mo.gov.
Welcome MDC Stream Team Supervisor, Rebecca O’Hearn
Hello! My name is Rebecca O’Hearn, and I am the new Stream Team Program Supervisor for the Department of Conservation. I am originally from St. Louis County and moved to Columbia where I earned my Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri. My graduate thesis work focused on nutrients and fecal bacteria transport in Lake of the Ozarks.
For the past 13 years I’ve worked as MDC’s Pollution Biologist. In that position I administered an inter-agency fish kill response program, monitored and conducted water quality research, and advised MDC on new and emerging pollution issues affecting aquatic life. Most of the fish kill cases I’ve worked over the years originated with a call from a concerned citizen, some of them Stream Team volunteers. I’m a huge believer that citizens are the core of conservation, and that doing the work of conservation can be fun for everyone! I look forward to years of fun with Missouri Stream Team!
How to Reach Out to the Public while Monitoring
By Cara Arrigo, MDC Stream Team Coordination Biologist
As you go to monitor this summer and fall, you may encounter members of the general public who are curious about Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring. Here are some tips to help you engage with those who express an interest in the program:
Linked below is a short video example of interacting with members of the public: How to Reach Out to the Public
Since our last issue of Channels, Stream Team members reported:
Check out more highlights below . . .
Team 7 – Four generations of the Table Rock Lake Shell Knob School Team came together from multiple states to continue a long family tradition of keeping Table Rock clean, thanks to the inspiration and passion of matriarch Chloe Gibbons.
Team 4581 – 36 participants from the City of Ozark, Trekk Design Engineers, and the James River Basin Partnership cleaned nearly half a ton of trash from the Finley River, including 13 tires, a car door, and 30 bags of trash.
Team 4907 – Fly Fishers at the Crossing conducted their late spring monitoring on Bon Homme Creek, noting the super clear, slower water than they encountered in their training earlier in the season, but the stream was clear of trash and fish were abundant!
Teams 5879 – Indian Creek in Kansas City continues to get a little TLC from the Barstow Stream Team’s Upward Bound environmental science students.
Teams 6163 – Cass County reached out to the community to help educate on stormwater impacts and recruited 13 volunteers to plant 37 trees in Harrisonville City Park, all to benefit the South Grand River watershed.
Teams 6198 – The Saint Louis Aquarium Team is Revamping the Riverfront in downtown Saint Louis to bring awareness to the Mississippi River in a series of events throughout the summer. Learn how to join the effort at https://www.stlaquariumfoundation.org/events/revamp-the-riverfront/.
Teams 6204 – The Dirty Oars Stream Team has launched! The Meramec River is a bit cleaner from several trips of fun in the sun with this lively group, bringing new friends to show them the ropes of the river.
Register during August for a Paddle MO 2022 river adventure with Stream Teams United!
In our 7th year of hosting the Paddle MO program, we are excited to expand the program to include two new destinations: the James River south of Springfield, MO and the Missouri River at Kansas City.
Since 2016, Stream Teams United has hosted a Paddle MO river adventure each September on the last 100 miles of the Missouri River, from Hermann to St. Louis and through the confluence with the Mississippi River.
Paddle MO trips are multi-day, educational paddle trips hosted on some of the most scenic and historic stretches of our state’s waterways. The trips help serve as a fundraiser for Stream Teams United, as the non-profit Coalition of Missouri Stream Team Associations.
For the first trip of 2022, Stream Teams United is partnering with the James River Basin Partnership (JRBP) during their 25th anniversary year for an inaugural trip on the James River. JRBP staff and educators will help guide and provide information about 22 miles of the historic James River in the White River watershed.
The inaugural Paddle MO KC trip begins in historical Atchison, KS, near the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. Participants will travel by canoe or kayak over three days and float a total of 70 miles through Kansas City. Along the way, participants will be guided by river experts and stop at riverfront towns including Leavenworth and Parkville.
We will also continue to host a St. Louis based trip that provides the opportunity to float through the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and a trip on the upper Current River, our nation’s first National Scenic Riverway.
Paddle MO is a great opportunity for people who have never paddled on the Missouri, Current, or James Rivers to experience these rivers in a supported, group atmosphere. It is also a great opportunity for experienced paddlers to enjoy these rivers with delicious food and educational stops along the way.
Find out more and register soon at www.paddlemo.org! We hope you can join us this fall to Paddle MO and help support the Missouri Stream Team Coalition!
Welcome Malcolm DeBroeck
Hello everyone! My name is Malcolm DeBroeck, and I am the new Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Assistant for MDC. I was born and raised in Jefferson City, but now reside in Columbia. Just this May I graduated from Southeast Missouri State University, receiving my Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Conservation Biology. My undergraduate field experience is related to collecting data on tiger salamander populations, where we would catch, weigh, measure, and PIT tag them.
I have always had an affinity towards water and many of the activities associated with it. I love to fish, catch other water critters, paddleboard, and kayak. My favorite activity when I was younger was to go to Washington Park and catch things in the stream that ran through it, which was one of the many things that fostered my love for conservation. It is a dream come true to be working with a team that takes what sparked my passions to the next level, and I look forward to the future with all of my coworkers and wonderful volunteers!
Welcome Rebecca O'Hearn
Save the Dates
Welcome Malcolm Debroeck