23 July 2008

Dragons in the Park

Dragons in the ParkVisiting students from Kyungpook National University, Daegu, Korea, enrolled in an intensive English language program at Saint John College (University of New Brunswick), will have an opportunity to practice their English in a way they probably didn’t expect – communing with bugs! In partnership with Saint John College, the New Brunswick Museum is testing an innovative program called “Dragons in the Park”.

Korean students will work with Canadian students, employed as summer research assistants at the Museum on a project studying dragonfly diversity in Rockwood Park. During the two-day program, starting July 24, the students will receive in-class instruction followed by participation in dragonfly surveys in Rockwood Park.

Dragons in the ParkDave McGuire, who is coordinating the Kyungpook National University program for Saint John College, is excited about the project. “This is a unique opportunity for our Korean students to participate in active research while also practicing their English skills with other young people.”

A total of 21 Korean university students, along with seven Canadian students from the Museum, will be participating in the program. Following classroom instruction that will include studying live larval dragonflies and insect net-handling practice, students will convene at the Rockwood Park Interpretive Centre. From there, with Canadian student partners, the Korean students will fan out across the Park to spend five hours surveying dragonfly species. The Museum expects Atlantic dragonfly expert and NBM Research Associate Paul Brunelle to be on hand as well.

Dragons in the ParkDr. Donald McAlpine, Research Curator in Zoology at the Museum said, “We have been studying the dragonfly diversity in Rockwood Park for the past two years as part of the Community-University Research Alliance program, so we have a good dataset to work from. My hope is that the Dragons in the Park program could become a regular one-day annual survey that will provide data on long-term trends in dragonfly numbers and diversity. It could also be a great way to introduce the non-specialist to these fascinating insects”.

Dragons in the ParkDragonflies are being used increasingly to monitor the health of aquatic systems and Rockwood Park has plenty of lakes and small streams that provide habitat for these insects. Over the past two years the project has recorded 54 dragonfly species in the Park of the more than 140 that have been recorded in New Brunswick. The largest numbers of dragonfly species are flying in Rockwood Park in late July and early August. The information that the Korean students collect will be integrated into the larger multi-year study of dragonfly diversity in Rockwood Park that has been under way since 2006.

For more information: (506) 643-2300 or 1-888-268-9595

For further information:
Dr. Donald F. McAlpine
Chair, Department of Natural Science
Head, Zoology Section
Research Curator
(506) 643-2345

Vita Kipping
NBM Community Relations
(506) 643-2358

Dan Tanaka
Communications Manager
University of New Brunswick
(506) 648-5697