Thursday, June 30, 2011

BioBlitz 2011 A Success!

Over a 24-hour period between 5 p.m. on Friday June 17 and 5 p.m on June Saturday, June 18,  Great Swamp Watershed Association (GSWA), the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)) and the Friends of the Great Swamp (FGS) led more than 150 scientists, volunteers and participants in a concerted effort to find and identify as many different plant and animal species as they could within the confines of the northern New Jersey’s 7,768- acre Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.  As data continues to roll in from the event, BioBlitz 2011—the third of its kind to be held in the Great Swamp watershed since 2007—seems poised to exceed all the scientific and educational benchmarks established by past BioBlitz gatherings.

 Although a final tally of all the different plants and animals seen at BioBlitz 2011 is still a few days away, we can give you an update on some of the weekend’s highlights and show you some amazing photos from the event.

Event Highlights:

  • More than 100 members of the public (non-scientists) participated in the event.
  • More than 60 scientists volunteered their time to study the wide variety of plants and wildlife found in the Great Swamp.
  • Some unusual wildlife species were seen or heard, including the following:
  • Federally-endangered Blue-spotted salamanders (Ambystoma laterale)
  • Hooded mergansers (Lophodytes cucullatus)—water fowl that are usually only present during winter months
  • More than 25 species of Crane fly – the long legged weak flying insects that look like giant mosquitoes and throng the porch lights
  • A couple of much-talked-about, but, as yet, unidentified woodland orchids, amongst 200 species wildflowers seen.
  • More than 15 species of freshwater fish netted in Passaic River tributaries.
We’ll have more details about the plants and animals spotted this year once the scientists (and GSWA staff!) rest up a bit from their 24-hour biological marathon.  (Yes! There were many people there for the entire 24-hour period. Just ask the Chiropterologists—bat scientists—and their assistants who were out past 2 a.m. Saturday morning collecting their specimens.)  In the meantime, check out some of the amazing event photos we’ve posted on our Flickr account. (Note: you do not need a Flickr account to view the photos.)

What’s a BioBlitz?

If you’ve never heard of a BioBlitz before, here’s a crash course.

A BioBlitz is an intensive snapshot survey—part contest, part scientific research & part educational opportunity—bringing together biological experts from local scientific institutions, nature clubs, & government wildlife agencies. Every major group of animals & plants will have a team assigned to look for as many species as possible in 24-hours.

Why do a BioBlitz?

A BioBlitz serves 4 main goals. It—

Raises Public Awareness: A BioBlitz is held in order to  increase your awareness of the variety of life in your immediate neighborhood, as well as teach about how   plants & animals  improve your quality of life;
Excites Kids About Science: A BioBlitz gives local schools & school students an opportunity to gather scientific information the same way real scientists do;
Generates Data: A BioBlitz generates an important list of plant & animal species found in a particular area; and it
Celebrates Biological Diversity: A BioBlitz celebrates the diversity of life in an area like the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

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