March 26th, 2007
Saturday, Don and I hiked a loop over several trails at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park, stopping to photograph some mosses, a few remnants of what looked to be a Northern Flying Squirrel that must have been dropped by a predator (I’m sparing you the photo), and some Red Velvet Mites that we found wandering over a lichen-covered rock. Although it was a cool, overcast day, typical of early spring here in eastern Ontario, we saw signs of life everywhere. I’m often asked how we find so much stuff while out wandering around, and the simple answer is that we just spend some time looking.
With that in mind, I’d like to spread the word about an event that I hope many of you will find of interest. Yesterday, Jeremy Bruno of The Voltage Gate sent around an email asking a group of nature and science bloggers if they thought there would be some interest in holding a “blogger bioblitz”. Those of you who are familiar with the BioBlitz can probably figure out where this is going without further description. However, for those who aren’t, Jeremy has written an introduction to how the BioBlitz idea will be adapted to create the First Annual Blogger BioBlitz. He writes:
In honor of National Wildlife Week, April 21 – 29, I am inviting bloggers from all walks to participate in the First Annual Blogger Bioblitz, where bloggers from across the country will choose a wild or not-so-wild area and find how many of each different species – plant, animal, fungi and anything in between – live in a certain area within a certain time.
Pick a neat little area that you are relatively familiar with and is small enough that you or the group can handle – a small thicket, a pond, a section of stream, or even your backyard – and bring along some taxonomic keys or an Audubon guide, or if you’re lucky enough, an expert in local flora and fauna. Set a time limit. Try to identify the different species of organisms that you find as well as the number of each species that you find. Take pictures if you have a digital camera, compile your numbers, make observations, set up your post however you wish as long as you include your numbers in a digestible fashion (I’ll have more details on that later) – then submit it to me and I’ll include it on the list. We will also be tallying total numbers of each species found, and then a grand total. There has also been talk of coding an interactive Google Map with distribution information, geotagging regions with a blogger’s submitted information.
This is not meant to be a contest, nor is meant to be a hard source of taxonomic data. It is meant to be a fun little excursion to highlight little pockets of biodiversity across the country (perhaps the globe). I should have a 160×160 button available for distribution in a couple days.
This event was inspired by the National Wildlife Federation’s own project, the Wildlife Watch. They will be posting a downloadable list of springtime critters in the near future that may be of use.
Jeremy has begun to assemble a list of all bloggers who wish to participate. If you’re interested in doing a BioBlitz (however large or small), just email Jeremy and he’ll add your blog to the list, and to the georeferenced map if that part comes together (which is likely to happen just as soon as that can be figured out). EDIT: There is now a discussion board where anyone will be able to ask questions, discuss methods and results. I’ll post more news on that as things develop. (Note: You do have to possess or set up a Google member account to participate, but that just takes a moment.)
Just a few words of my own regarding the idea of the Blogger BioBlitz. I think it’s a super idea. It should inspire more people to get outdoors to see what’s happening in their part of the world during the target week (April 21-29). It also allows anyone, regardless of location, to participate in a BioBlitz of some kind — whether it’s just to report on backyard birds on a certain date, or something much bigger — perhaps a science class or a field naturalist club to work on a larger tract of land. The main thing is to just get outdoors and acquaint yourself with what’s there. And you don’t need to be a biologist to do so. Any interested naturalist with a couple of decent field guides can identify at least a few organisms. Add a few naturalist friends and you’ll find plenty of interest. And, with digital cameras, if you come up with some “unknowns”, you can post some photos and perhaps get them ID’d. So, please give some serious thought to participating. If you have questions, post them below in the comments and I’ll do my best to scare up some answers.
** Note: The beautiful Blogger BioBlitz logo up above was designed by Jennifer Forman Orth of the Invasive Species Weblog