She's Learning from Life at the Bottom

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Do you have questions about what it’s like to be a benthic biologist? Ask Jessica Cormier, and keep your eyes on Science Buzz for the answer!

"The Outdoor StreamLab is teeming with life. I study its macroinvertebrates, but many plants, algae, and sometimes even ducks also make the OSL their home.”

Swimming and crawling through the pebbles and sand, a host of creatures lives at the bottoms of our streams and rivers. They graze on rotting leaves, suck meals of algae and bacteria from the flowing water, and hunt each other in the mud. They’re called benthic macroinvertebrates, and the lives of these bugs can tell us a lot about the quality of our water, and the health of the streams they live in.

Jessica Cormier, a biology student at St. Catherine University, is studying benthic macroinvertebrates at the Outdoor StreamLab at the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics. By finding out which bugs (and how many) live under which conditions, she can help tell when a body of water is healthy, and when it might need help.