Sarah Nelson will lead a presentation on dragonfly larvae as indicators of water quality at Merryspring Nature Center Tuesday, May 6, at noon.

While mercury is a natural element, it is often found in elevated levels in waterways across the country, including Maine. Because mercury levels are hard to predict in many lakes and rivers, statewide advisories exist where even only slight levels are detected. However, citizen scientists have discovered a new tool to detect mercury levels — enter the dragonfly larvae. Nelson’s talk will cover the problems and complications of mercury pollutions, and how current research and collaborative citizen science programs are using dragonfly larvae to better understand mercury levels in underwater ecosystems.

Nelson is an associate research professor at the University of Maine’s Mitchell Center and in the School of Forest Resources, where she studies freshwater chemistry and ecology. Her research focuses on the effects of stressors like acid rain, climate change, and mercury on lakes, streams, and wetlands across Maine, New England, and the U.S., with a special emphasis on remote and protected places.

This talk is part of the Spring Lecture Series at Merryspring, sponsored by the First. Admission to Tuesday Talks is free for members of Merryspring, with a  $5 fee for non-members.