Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Program in Water Research at 
Colorado State University

Mentor Information

Name N. LeRoy Poff

Title Assistant Professor

Department Biology

Work Phone 491-2079

FAX 491-0649


Project Title Flight behavior of alpine stream insects under varying weather conditions

Project Abstract An REU student is needed to participate in a PhD dissertation study in which we are evaluating the effect of geographic isolation on the structure of neighboring alpine stream community and population structure. Specifically, this summer REU project involves a quantification of flight behavior of several species of alpine stream insects in Rocky Mountain National Park. We specifically need someone to maintain a high-elevation study site. The REU would be staying at a backcountry site (ca. 6 miles in via trails) for 3-4 days at a time, maintaining insect traps and a small weather station, and manually collecting insects in a variety of weather conditions. The main questions we will address in this study are 1) In what weather conditions (temperature, wind speed and direction, precipitation) are adult stream insects most active in flight? 2) Are there major differences between species in flight patterns driven by weather? We are also interested in the life histories of the common species at this site, so an additional potential research opportunity exists here and would involve regular collections of both juvenile and adult stages throughout the summer.

Special concerns

This REU research project has some space for creative additions to what is proposed; however, it is important that the studentís primary interest is in biology and stream ecology. Also, because much of the work will be in the backcountry at high elevations, GOOD physical condition as well as some prior backpacking experience are required. Although Deb Finn (PhD student) will be working with the REU in the field most of the time, some time will likely be spent alone at the remote field site; therefore, it is also important that the REU be comfortable working in solitude for multiple days. Finally, our main objective is to analyze flight behavior in wide range of weather conditions, some of which are uncomfortable (rain, wind, cold). The REU must be motivated to work occasionally in these adverse conditions. Multiple days away from campus will, obviously, be required, but not in the month of June. The bulk of the work will be in July/August. Ideally, the student will be able to continue working on this project through mid-August; additional funding will be provided for this extension.