Barcode Long Island
2018-19 Program

It’s our pleasure to announce the official opening of Barcode Long Island 2018-19! We look forward to your participation this year.

Updates

We are excited to announce a number of updates for the upcoming program year!

  • An updated DNA Barcoding 101 protocol is now available. It includes a new DNA isolation protocol (see below), enhanced primer lists, a table with recommendations on ideal extraction protocol, updated instructions to reflect with restructured Qiagen kits, and much much more! Please be sure to use and distribute this updated protocol to students for this BLI year.
  • A new “Rapid DNA Isolation” method can be found within the updated protocol. This procedure works extremely well for plants and for select groups of terrestrial invertebrates. This method eliminates the need for equipment such as water baths and centrifuges, and students can complete the DNA isolation and have DNA ready for PCR in <30 min.
  • New microscopes (AmScope SZM series) are available to assist students with documentation of their samples. Two microscopes, with attached camera and computer connection capabilities, are available for use at the DNALC and two are available for loan (5 day maximum) for in-school use. An Adapted AmScope Microscope Guide is available for download to assist students with sample documentation. Please contact us if you would like to schedule a time after school to come with your team to the DNALC, or if you are interested in renting a microscope. Teams need an approved proposal before scheduling microscope work.
  • New field guides are available for rent through the DNALC. Please contact us if you are interested in renting guides for your teams to assist with taxonomic identification of organisms. Online resources can also be found in this “Taxonomic Resources” document.
  • DNA Subway Blue Line reference data has been updated with freshwater and marine aquatic organism sequence data.
  • All updated protocols and guides can be found under the “Resources” section.

Coming soon

  • A taxonomic guide with accompanying flowchart is in development to assist students with identification of their specimens to a major group of invertebrates, such as crustaceans, myriapods, gastropods, insect adults, insect nymphs, insect larvae, etc. This guide will also direct students to what features are important to photograph for specific specimens for taxonomic purposes.
  • A document that aligns Barcode Long Island to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the New York State Common Core Learning Standards (NYS CCLS) is in development and will be posted shortly.
  • There will be a one-day mentor update and refresher meeting on Saturday, September 29th and Election Day, Tuesday, November 6 from 9:30 am- 1:00 pm covering program updates (rapid DNA isolation techniques, Sample and Specimen Database updates, taxonomy, microscopy, etc.) as well as an optional DNA Subway full refresher following from 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm. All current mentors are invited to attend. Registration for the update/refresher will be posted shortly.
  • An “FAQ and Troubleshooting Guide” is in development for the website to provide teams with answers and assistance for commonly asked questions and common project struggles.
  • A new discussion board using the “Slack” workplace collaboration hub will be available to mentors shortly. Mentors will be able to communicate with other mentors, ask and answer questions, cross-collaborate on projects more efficiently, etc. The Slack channels will be monitored by BLI Teacher Fellows who can provide additional assistance. 2018-19 BLI mentors will receive invitations to join as they begin team creation for the year. We encourage mentors to utilize these resources for general assistance before reaching out to BLI staff.

Long Island Biodiversity Projects

Campaigns

In addition to standard full proposals, students can join one of five campaigns. Multiple student teams will collect similar organisms at different locations so the pooled results reveal the diversity and distribution of these taxa across Long Island. Participation in a campaign will also streamline the proposal process for teams.

This year’s campaigns include:

  • Beetles
  • Ants
  • Mosquitoes*
  • Water mites
  • Aquatic (freshwater) invertebrates (ex: insect larvae)

*Teams that plan to work on a mosquito campaign need to submit proposals early in the season to ensure that mosquitos can still be collected. Note that students may need to research ways to trap mosquitos for collection, as they may be difficult to catch. The DNALC has BG Sentinel mosquito traps available for rent-please contact us if your team is interested in borrowing a trap.

You can find a streamlined proposal form for campaigns under the BLI section of the “Resources” tab. Completed proposal forms will be uploaded by the mentor on the proposal database for each team participating in a campaign, in place of a full proposal. Campaign forms must contain all requested information, and will still be reviewed by BLI staff for accuracy and clarity.

Teams participating in a campaign will need to submit their proposed collection location, including approximate latitude and longitude, on the proposal form. To ensure collection from different sites, proposed locations will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. If other teams have already been approved to collect in your teams’ proposed location(s), we will contact you to discuss alternatives. Additionally, campaign projects still need to include a hypothesis and human health component.

Full Proposals

For teams submitting a full proposal, we strongly encourage collection of small organisms (smaller than 10 mm) and require collection of organisms that cannot be easily identified using taxonomic keys. This eliminates the majority of terrestrial plants and larger invertebrates, with the exception of insects that are hard to identify. This recommendation is aimed at increasing the likelihood that students will find informative sequences, adding to the scientific knowledge of biodiversity on Long Island. Examples could include small round or flat worms (not earth worms) that are found in most environments and are very diverse, small arthropods, fungi without large fruiting bodies, and microscopic organisms like protists, all of which are poorly characterized, often very diverse, and difficult to identify. Lichen and moss projects are also welcome. Teams or schools with established collection sites are encouraged to continue collection at these sites if they aim to collect a time series of biodiversity at these locations

As in previous years, student research should be framed in terms of human well-being. This could be accomplished by proposing to study organisms that can affect human health (like vectors of disease); pests, like chiggers or biting ants; sources of allergens (fungi, for instance—but not easily identified plants); or organisms associated with unclean water. Alternatively, the projects could focus on climate change, pollution, or other human activity that might degrade the environment (such as increases in nitrogen levels, disturbance of ecosystems, urban/suburban development, etc.), through identification or tracking of indicator species. Note that these projects will require extensive literature searches by the students when developing ideas, which will need to be reflected in their project proposals. We further encourage the incorporation of additional information (such as pH, ground/water temperature, contaminant levels, etc., if possible) into proposals as many teams have done in previous years.

Metabarcoding Proposals

Mentors trained in microbiome or eDNA metabarcoding wet-lab techniques and bioinformatics analyses through the DNALC are welcome to create and submit proposals for up to two teams per mentor. Metabarcoding teams are allotted 21 reactions per team, including samples and an appropriate control in triplicate (i.e. 6 unique conditions + a control). Students doing metabarcoding research are still required to develop projects around LI biodiversity with an appropriate human health component. If one or both of your teams plan to do marine fish work, please contact BLI staff to discuss further.

Exclusions

We ask that students avoid projects focused on the collection of clams, crabs, oysters, snails, Phragmites, and most terrestrial plants, due to their limited diversity, exhaustive previous documentation, and/or ease of taxonomic identification. Should students choose to do a terrestrial plant project, they will need to include references indicating why none of the above conditions are met for their proposed samples. Examples of acceptable terrestrial plant proposals: a team works with a conservation group at a park to barcode plants that are difficult to identify for trained professionals; a team finds resources which indicate a particular group of plants are highly diverse yet not well studied across Long Island.

Proposal Submission and Deadlines

To create a team and submit a proposal, mentors will need to log in to the proposal database. New mentors will need to register to create a user name and password for the proposal database. Please register with the same email you used to sign up for the summer training workshop.

Student proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis, but as in previous years we are providing four submission dates to help organize teams. Note that proposal review usually takes 1-2 weeks, but can take longer in November-December. The FINAL deadline for initial submission will be December 10, 2018. There will be NO EXCEPTIONS.

  • Deadline 1: Tuesday, September 25, 2018
  • Deadline 2: Tuesday, October 23, 2018
  • Deadline 3: Tuesday, November 13, 2018
  • FINAL DEADLINE: Monday, December 10, 2018

BLI guidelines for participation, as well as a rubric for evaluation of “full” proposals can be found under the BLI section of the “Resources” tab. Please review your students’ proposals to ensure their proposed research meets our guidelines, includes appropriate references to the literature, and meets your writing standards before submission. Please review campaign proposal forms for accuracy and clarity as well.

Symposium

Options for BLI Symposium dates for this program year are Tuesday, June 4th, 2019 or Wednesday, June 5th, 2019. Please contact us if you and your students have a date preference, and why. We will choose a date based on the largest number of available attendees. Please consult school calendars for sporting events, proms, examinations, etc., when determining availability.

Additional Important Information

  • Teams are required to have written permission to sample—please be sure to include these permissions when you submit your teams’ proposals. We recommend that teams have these permissions on-hand when they are sampling in case they are approached by individuals who work at these sites or law-enforcement officials. Please refer to the BLI Guidelines for additional information and restrictions.
  • The Open Lab registration dates have been posted on the DNA Barcoding 101 website, broken down by “wet lab” and “bioinformatics” Open Labs, and can be accessed under Laboratory Support. We offer Open Labs on Saturdays from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm at the Dolan DNALC, DNALC West, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and Stony Brook University. Mentors must be logged in to their accounts and have approved proposals before registering for an Open Lab or requesting a footlocker. Open Lab space and footlockers are available on a first come, first served basis. Registration closes five days in advance of the Open Lab, and footlockers must be requested at least two weeks in advance of desired pick-up date, and are loaned for a period of ten school days.