In a groundbreaking study on mercury contamination conducted from 2009 to 2018, scientists from the National Park Service along with hundreds of citizen scientists across the country collected dragonfly larvae specimen in over 450 sites in National parks and other protected lands. The research effort found that dragonfly larvae can be used as living sentinels that register mercury levels present in fish, amphibians and birds.

“To date, we have not conducted such a broad scale survey on mercury in the U.S. The beauty of the dragonfly data set is that it is national, covers a huge area with different systems, and has the potential to create a national baseline of mercury pollution information,” said Chen.

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