An SOS from your friendly local mayfly

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An SOS from your friendly local mayfly
Spring is blooming along White Clay Creek and our research team is heading out for another summer of fieldwork. Meanwhile in our streams and rivers, some of our aquatic macroinvertebrates are waiting for the cue to emerge from the stream in the adult winged form. In fact, we recently received an interesting letter I want to share with you.
Dear Dr. Arscott,
I’m sending an SOS as your friendly local mayfly! It’s nearing the season for us to fly, and I sit here in my wonderful cool but warming stream, and worry about the next generation. I know my duty is to emerge from the stream, make a little whoopee, lay my eggs, and leave this world, but I worry about the future of my eggs. Our streams seem to be getting warmer and sometimes a little salty. Mayflies have seen the dinosaurs come and go, and I certainly don’t want to end up like the dinosaurs! Can you help us?

Your friend, 
Madam Mayfly

Dear Madam Mayfly,
Thanks for your letter! As you may know, Stroud Water Research Center has been studying streams and rivers for the past 56 years, and we can share how we’re helping to ensure successes of all Ephemeroptera species around the globe. Just last year, we looked at the effects of road salt on life cycles of mayflies, and spoke to many townships, municipalities, and government officials about other options. I know you only have one short day to see our work, but maybe during that short time you can hit up a computer lab and read more about this work. Above all else,  avoid those hungry trout  that are looking for you! 

While our scientists continue to collect data — conductivity, temperature, turbidity, and more — our restoration team is working with landowners to plant streamside buffers to help cool and filter our streams. We planted 16,000 trees in 2022 alone! We know there’s more work to be done, and it takes a team, but we’re doing our best to ensure that your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren see streams as good as but hopefully better than yours!

Your friends at Stroud Water Research Center

In the end, it does take all of us! 

First, the bad news: The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection published a report last year saying that nearly 28,000 miles of the state’s streams are impaired. In the United States, more than 700,000 miles (or nearly half) of our streams and rivers are impaired, and that doesn’t count any that have not been assessed. 

The good news  is that it has gotten better. Most of us have forgotten how bad it was, so we don’t talk about how often rivers once caught on fire! Our co-founders, Mr. and Mrs. Stroud and Dr. Ruth Patrick, would be certain to remind us of this. Through research, education, and restoration, our team is working hard to ensure the future of fresh water is bright for the next generation of mayflies and people alike (and every living thing in between), but we can’t do it without the continued support of our donors like you.