ANC students monitoring Milk River bioindicators

Nov 3rd, 2011 | By | Category: 23-2: Climate Commitment, Tribal College News
By Rebecca Bishop

“Life doesn’t lie.” Those three words help describe the purpose of the Milk River study that Aaniiih Nakoda College (ANC, Harlem, MT) students participated in last summer.

This workshop was part of the larger Milk River Alliance study, “Using Bioindicators to Monitor and Assess River Health on the Middle Milk River.” The study is authored by Dr. Billie Kerans, associate professor of Ecology at Montana State University- Bozeman (MSU), in collaboration with Wease Bollman of Rhithron Associates, Inc. They are assisted by Linnet Whiston—a biology exchange student from Exeter University in Devon, England, studying stream ecology at MSU-Bozeman.

Bollman and her associate, Sean Sullivan, developed a guidebook titled “A guide to monitoring the freshwater invertebrates of the Milk River, MT” for the ANC Taxonomy Workshop held this summer at ANC.

The study relies on river samplings from different areas of the Milk River to discern what kinds of perihyton, diatoms, and small macroinvertebrates are present in the river. This research will ultimately give the participants an idea of the health of the Milk River.

Although this kind of research is difficult on large rivers, ANC students have a unique opportunity to create the protocol for this type of research and find what works best for the Milk River. The recent flooding challenged researchers to keep the project on schedule.

The students participating in this initial baseline study were a part of the summer internship programs. The students came from different degree programs. Lisa Cooke, Ashley Alvarado, and Amy Rider are Allied Health students. (They are also assisting with the ongoing ANC West Nile Virus study.) William DeCells and Chad Wing are Water Quality students, and Jonna Sullivan and Adrian Shawl are IT students who have been gathering and sorting specimens and data for these research projects.

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