If you love surveying local flora and fauna, and testing your identification skills in the field, then mark your calendars for May 10 and 11, 2013, when the UW Botanic Gardens will be hosting its third BioBlitz at the Washington Park Arboretum!
A BioBlitz, for the uninitiated, is a biological inventory that takes place over a short period of time, and in a specific location—in this case, the Arboretum. The purpose of a BioBlitz is to take a snapshot of biodiversity as a way to measure the health of an ecosystem. The more organisms found, the healthier the ecosystem.
For the UWBG, the BioBlitz is an important tool to help manage their site as sustainably as possible. It’s also a great way to connect the UW academic community with the general Seattle community, and in the process, raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity, including in urban environments. And for those who participate, a BioBlitz is hands-on and fast-paced, and a lot of fun, says Patrick Mulligan, UWBG education supervisor at the Washington Park Arboretum.
The way it works is that small groups of citizen scientists and UW students head out with a team leader—GPS/data collector and notebooks in hand—for 2.5-hour shifts in search of various taxa (birds, bugs, fungi, plants, etc.). As a team, they try to ID and count what they find, and record the location where they found it; in some hard-to-identify cases (e.g. fungi, insects), specimens are collected to be keyed out and identified later.
Sound like fun? Mulligan is still looking for taxa team leaders! Whether you’re a graduate or undergraduate student, TA or RA, professor or professional scientist, there are lots of ways to get involved. Each team has room for eight participants, and there are several shifts each day, so contact Mulligan for more specific information.
One year, BioBlitzers found a potentially new species of spider. This year, what might you find?
Photos courtesy of Patrick Mulligan.