Chasing northern insects

Several Lyman people spent much of the summer in the Canadian arctic as part of the Northern Biodiversity Program. We collected flies, ichneumonid wasps, spiders and beetles to examine ecological patterns in arthropod communities across the north, long-term change in northern arthropod communities since the 1950s, and the genetic structure of northern populations. Mostly, we had a great opportunity to do fieldwork in some beautiful parts of the country that most people never experience.

Racing the storm, Dempster Highway, Yukon

Our accommodations varied from luxurious apartments in some of the northern communities, to a cluster of tents on the windswept tundra of northern Banks Island, and the habitats we worked in ranged from the northern edge of the boreal forest, to high arctic tundra that looked, from a distance, completely desolate. But all of these places were alive with arthropods and other life.

Midnight sun, Aulavik National Park, Banks Island

We dodged clouds of mosquitoes, we saw dance flies and hover flies warming their flight muscles in Dryas flowers, we watched crane flies skate across tundra ponds like water striders, we waited with bated breath as groups of muskox grazed their way through our sampling plots (not a single trap lost!), we ate arctic char fresh from northern rivers and sorrel salad fresh from the tundra, and we generated piles of data that will keep many of us, and many of our colleagues and collaborators busy for a long time to come.

Life and death, Aulavik National Park, Banks Island


About terry wheeler

professor, museum director, entomologist, ecologist, naturalist
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