Opportunities to experience a BioBlitz abound in our region these days, offering a wonderful chance to learn about the natural diversity of a given site. A BioBlitz is an event where scientists and other volunteers gather to collect, identify, and catalogue every living thing on a demarcated property in a 24-hour period. The results are typically made available to the public following the collection period, along with various workshops and talks.
Lackawanna State Park near Scranton, PA, was the site for a BioBlitz last weekend, which catalogued 400 species. The upcoming two weekends will offer the chance to explore two additional sites.
Closest to home is the Upper Delaware BioBlitz, now in its second year. The inaugural event occurred last June on property owned by the Norcross Wildlife Foundation in Starlight, Wayne County, PA. Over 50 scientists and naturalists participated, serving on nine teams, including birds, fish, fungi, aquatic macroinvertebrates, reptiles and amphibians, mammals, mosses and lichens, terrestrial invertebrates and plants.
During the event, 1,022 distinct species were collected and identified. I had the pleasure of serving as a judge for the associated photo contest, whose winners will be announced at the 2014 Upper Delaware BioBlitz.
One goal is to alternate site selection between PA and New York, in order to create a more complete picture of the region’s diversity. This year’s event will be conducted on June 28-29 within the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in the Town of Tusten, NY. The site encompasses a stretch of the camp from the Delaware River to and including Maul’s Pond, Indian Cliffs and Grassy Swamp Pond, one of the only quaking bogs to be scientifically authenticated. The center of activities will be at the head of Rock Lake on Cochecton Turnpike.
The public portion of the event will occur on June 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be activities for families including nature walks, demonstrations and programs. The public can view the collected specimens and talk to the experts. (Learn more at www.upperdelawarebioblitz.com and www.facebook.com/UpperDelawareBioBlitz).
The Upper Delaware BioBlitz was modeled after the Monroe County BioBlitz, which compiled the fourth of its biannual inventories, with over 1,078 different species of plants, insects and animals catalogued in 2012. This year’s event will take place at the Austin T. Blakeslee Natural Area in Tobyhanna Township, PA on June 20-21. The site is just over an hour’s travel time from our region. It will be the first in-depth study of the 117-acre park.
(Visit www.mcconservation.org/downloads/PDFs/BioBlitz%20Info%20Sheet.pdf or call 570/629-3061 for more information).