Wednesday, May 08, 2002

Bioblitz 2002

May 2002 is National Biodiversity Month (the first ever), so now seems an appropriate time to discuss the BioBlitz. The BioBlitz is the newest craze in field biology, combining ecological inventories and environmental education. The primary goal is to do document the biological diversity of an area (to the extent possible), from fungi and slime molds to birds and mammals, all in a 24-hour period. BioBlitzes can produce exciting and unexpected results. Even those conducted in urban parks have turned up flora and fauna that no one ever expected to find. See, for example, this news release about a BioBlitz held in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park in 2001.

The first BioBlitz, organized by the National Park Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and others, was conducted on the grounds of the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and Zoo in Washington, D.C., in 1996. Since then, BioBlitzes have been conducted at sites throughout the country. An Internet search on "bioblitz" will provide a wealth of informaton on the results of BioBlitzes conducted in the past as well as events planned for this spring and summer. The event nearest WV that is planned for 2002 is in New Germany State Park, Garrett County, Maryland.

Is there a BioBlitz in West Virginia's future? I hope so! It seems to me that it would be a perfect project for the WVDNR'S new Wildlife Biodiversity Program to adopt. There would be many opportunities for collaboration with scientists and educators from the State’s many colleges, universities, other State and Federal agencies, nonprofit organizations (including local Audubon Societies and the Brooks Bird Club), and county school districts. BioBlitzes could be conducted in State Parks, Forests, Wildlife Management Areas, municipal parks, and other areas. Something to think about!

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