Valle de Oro: Macroinvertabrates

Elijah Botello and Cameron Pase

Elijah Botello and Cameron Pase

Ian Hart, contributor

by Ian Hart

As members of the Albuquerque community we have accepted the river as a normal part of our lives, but how much do we know about what really lives in the river? This is the question that the Macroinvertebrates group of the Valle de Oro project seeks to answer. At the riverside drain of the Rio Grande River, the team consisting of nex+Gen seniors: Jaylen Padilla, Cameron Pase, Elijah Botello, Adriana Alonso, Eamon Padilla, Kyle King, Rachel Snow, and Alyssa Sedillo set up their small workstation, equipped with waders and life jackets to enter the water; nets and buckets to catch the small critters that reside in the river bed. This is when real data collecting occurs.

Cameron Pase, Adriana Alonso, Eamon Padilla, and their mentor Ariel Elliot collect their samples from the Wetland at the Valle de Oro.

Three team members begin to don their waders and vests, under the shade of the recently set up tent shade, grabbed some buckets and some nets on poles. They walked down the small path towards the water and walked right in. This was their second time coming out to do their work, and they already knew the drill. Two used the poles to shake up the bottom of the river, shaking up all of the small creatures living in the dirt. Then, the third member of this aquatic team used the bucket to scoop up the results. Walking out of the water, you could already see some of the life that they had gathered in the bucket. They then used a much shallower container to begin the search and sorting. Using droppers and their handy guides, the entire team began sorting each of the small critters, like Mayfly larva, and blood worms into Petri dishes.

Rachel Snow and Jaylen Padilla sorting the Macroinvertabrets into petri dishes.

Now, you are probably asking yourself, “what is the point of this?” Well, these little microbes are one of the best indicators of the health of the river. Based on the number, and even the species of these creatures, we can come to conclusions on what we could be doing better to help the water quality, like more comprehensive water management, or more effective purification. So next time you cross the river or take a hike in the Bosque, just think that every creature has a purpose, even the tiniest ones.