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Ogeechee Riverkeeper contributes to scientific paper

The journal article was edited for young readers and their educators.

Damon Mullis, executive director and riverkeeper at Ogeechee Riverkeeper (ORK) and Checo Colon-Gaud, Ph.D., professor & associate dean of the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies at Georgia Southern University and ORK board member, published their findings on various methods for collecting macroinvertebrates. Macroinvertebrates are creatures without a spine that can be seen with the naked eye. Common ones in the Ogeechee watershed include dragonflies, crayfish, mayflies, and beetles.

Mullis and Colon-Gaud, along with fellow co-author Kelsey Willbanks, a student at the University of Georgia, experimented with using various types of sampling devices – netted pouches filled with bark, leaves and other natural materials that attract the wildlife they wanted to study. They compared the number of macroinvertebrates they captured with each type of device. Although the snag with wooden pieces captured the greatest number of organisms, all types caught sufficient numbers for sampling. 

The findings of this article were first published in the Journal for Freshwater Ecology. The article was edited and repurposed for young readers and their educators, and was published by Frontiers for Young Minds. The site makes technical science accessible for students in multiple disciplines. 

“I’m excited that our work is available to younger students,” said Colon-Gaud. “As a teacher, I am always looking for ways to engage interested minds in what I love studying.”

Sampling macroinvertebrates is a key way for scientists to test the ecological health of a body of water. For example, many need certain levels of dissolved oxygen in the water to thrive. Determining the presence, or lack thereof, of certain species helps scientists understand if the oxygen level in a waterbody is out of balance. 

“ORK is dedicated to practicing good science, but also to making it accessible to the public,” said Mullis. “We want people to understand what we are doing so that they understand why clean water is important to us all.”

The article is available at:

Ogeechee Riverkeeper also maintains a library of free resources and educational activities for teachers and curious students at: