Tag Archives: bioblitz

Springfield Hosts First Ever Community BioBlitz

“I work with the Sustainable Springfield Urban Refuge Partnership, and today we have our first ever BioBlitz for the city of Springfield!” exclaims Dave Sagan, Private Lands Partners Biologist with Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge. In partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, ReGreen Springfield, the Springfield Science Museum, and experts and naturalists from the state of Massachusetts, the city of Springfield hosted its first BioBlitz in Abbey Brook on Thursday, July 13, 2017.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service employees and interns pause for a group photo at the 2017 Springfield BioBlitz. Photo by ReGreen Springfield.

The purpose of the BioBlitz is to engage the local community in collecting data on the flora and fauna found in their neighborhood, specifically Abbey Brook behind the Springfield Renaissance School. In collaboration with host partners, participants from the Springfield community identified, counted, measured, photographed, and recorded information about the species they discovered.

Several groups of Renaissance School students had the opportunity to participate in the BioBlitz, where they were introduced to wildlife species in their community. “It’s pretty exciting to see folks that are actually coming and seeing Abbey Brook for the first time, whether it be youth or an older person, but especially youth to see them really experience nature first hand. A lot of folks see the trees and they see the woods, but they don’t take the time to go out and adventure into them. Today the BioBlitz partners will take them into the woods to teach them about the things that live in Abbey Brook, and point out what they might look for the next time they visit. The opportunity to come back and explore and look at other natural areas in the city is critical and important,” says Dave Bloniarz with U.S. Forest Service and ReGreen Springfield.

The NorthWoods Youth Conservation Corps participated in the BioBlitz, and have completed restoration projects in Abbey Brook. Photo by Kelsey Mackey.

“It’s really a cool engagement throughout the community, not only here at the Renaissance School but also the surrounding neighbors to see this little gem they have right in their backyard,” says Dave Sagan. The BioBlitz not only contributes critical data to the scientific community, but also exposes the Springfield community to natural areas within their city, often for the first time. “We found frogs, a turtle, and are also looking at some of the trees and plants that I didn’t know about, and what they do. I think that’s pretty cool,” says Savioie Mohown, a Renaissance School student and BioBlitz participant.

“This is my first BioBlitz and so far it’s been incredible. I got to meet kids from different areas, and working with partners has been amazing. Everyone is so knowledgeable, and they provide learning and education to today’s youth. I’m hoping the BioBlitz will continue to happen every year, it’s a great experience and an amazing opportunity to be able to attend,” says Crystal Leckie, Hispanic Access Foundation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Visitor Services intern.

By the end of the BioBlitz, partners and participants successfully identified 97 bird, amphibian, reptile, and plant species! Many participants left with a greater understanding and appreciation for wildlife and natural areas in their community. The success of the BioBlitz species count exemplifies the incredible diversity of wildlife found within urban areas, and provides a unique opportunity for community members to learn about the wildlife in their own neighborhood.

Click here for more great stories like these from fellow Hispanic Access Foundation interns!

BioBlitz fun at Baltimore’s Masonville Cove

Today Curtis Bennett from the National Aquarium in Baltimore writes in to share his experiences from the 2015 BioBlitz at Masonville Cove. Here he explains his mission to  conserve wildlife and engage the community through citizen science to preserve species like the iconic monarch butterfly.

The National Aquarium’s Conservation Department recently hosted its second annual Masonville Cove BioBlitz. Masonville Cove is an urban wildlife refuge partnership site in Baltimore, Maryland, encompassing 54 acres of upland area, including tidal wetlands and vernal pools, as well as 70 acres of water, which provide valuable habitat for a variety of plant and wildlife species. This annual bioblitz provides a snapshot of the biodiversity of Masonville Cove. The Masonville Cove BioBlitz is unique because it encourages local students and community members to work with scientists,  provides exposure to the  outdoor environment and local wildlife and it helps to build a strong connection to Masonville Cove.

unnamed

Several monarch butterflies were spotted during the bioblitz and we were able to educate participants about their unique migration journey. Photo Credit: Pat Venturino

From tracking biodiversity to connecting urban residents to nature and experiencing the power of observation and discovery, the Masonville Cove BioBlitz provides an example of how just one event at a single site can encompasses the core values of the Greater Baltimore Wilderness Coalition. This alliance, which includes the National Aquarium and the Service, supports a vision of expanding a connected and protected green infrastructure network in central Maryland, from the Chesapeake Bay to the Piedmont. Large-scale green spaces, such as Masonville Cove, within the Greater Baltimore area are critical in order to ensure the protection of local biodiversity. Additionally, environmental education programs such as a bioblitz, allow people the opportunity to explore these natural areas, observe the local species and learn how they can further contribute to conservation efforts.

MC Bioblitz catching butterflies

Catching Butterflies! Photo Credit: Genevieve LaRouche/USFWS

Empowering people in Baltimore to engage in conservation action is one of the goals of the National Aquarium’s citizen science program, and the Masonville Cove BioBlitz is a critical component. This program encourages people of all ages to “get nerdy with nature” and make observations to contribute to science. This year, we made 219 observations of 164 different species! For the bioblitz, all observations were entered into iNaturalist, just one of many citizen science projects with a mobile application. However at each station participants were provided with information about other citizen science projects and apps, through our citizen science website.

When citizen science projects and apps are directly tied to specific conservation efforts, the impact is even more powerful. Not only does this increase conservation awareness but the project and/or app serves as the tool to encourage public involvement. During this year’s bioblitz the National Aquarium highlighted one such project/app- Journey North, which seeks to track migratory species, such as the monarch butterfly. Masonville Cove provides critical habitat for monarchs, given the presence of three local milkweed species and other nectar sources. Throughout the bioblitz, participants observed several adult monarchs and upon learning their conservation story, were encouraged to further conservation efforts by tracking their presence or by providing wildlife habitat through our certification program. Continued efforts to connect people to nature and empowering them to take conservation actions will ensure that species such as the monarch butterfly will continue to be observed at the Masonville Cove BioBlitz for years to come.