YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel
"I shall collect plants and fossils. Yet this is not the main purpose of my journey. I shall endeavor to find out how nature's forces act upon one another, and in what manner the geographic environment exerts its influence on animals and plants. In short, I must find out about the harmony in nature." Alexander von Humboldt
Group of Bioblitzers at Limestone Park (Boris Datnow)
Do you have an interest in learning more about plants and wildlife around you? Would you enjoy improving you skills as a naturalist? Would you like to contribute data that will help scientists protect and conserve nature? If you do, I highly recommend participating in a Bioblitz as a citizen scientist. The cool thing about a Bioblitz is that it brings together the expertise of scientists with the observations of citizens willing to take a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity in about 24 hours.
A BioBlitz can take place in national parks or schoolyards, in urban or rural areas. The purpose of a Bioblitz is to study the population of particular species as well as an areas’ biodiversity.
Tupelo Gum Swap (Boris Datnow)
My first Bioblitz experience took place in Limestone Park, Alabaster, Alabama. The park has with a wide range of habitats, including wetlands, grasslands, and a Tupelo Gum swamp. In addition, thanks to the determined efforts of Dick Mills, and Ken Wills there is also a flourishing Prairie. To launch the bioblitz, Ken, Dick, and Professor Ken Marion arrived early to run a minnow/turtle trap line in the tupelo swamps of Limestone Park.
Ken Wills, Dick Mills, and Ken Marion with turtles capture at Limestone Park. (photo Boris Datnow)
It was fascinating to see, firsthand, the species they’d caught. Before the animals were released, the experts shared their knowledge about the species with the group.
After that interesting introduction, the citizen volunteers, lead by a scientist, fanned out across the park to collect samples of the trees, fishes, reptiles, birds, wildflowers, amphibians, and invertebrates in the park.
Pond Slider Turtle, Limestone Park, Alabaster (Boris Datnow)
Ken Wills ably guided my group through the boggy peninsular marsh area to a tupelo swamp. Everyone kept their eyes peeled for anything of interest to document and photograph. We were fortunate to spot a slider laying eggs.
Sensitive brier (Mimosa microphylla) on the Peninsular Trail (Boris Datnow)
Around noon, all groups reconvened to show and tell what they had found—and to enjoy a delicious repast courtesy of Birmingham Audubon Society. As we had hoped, the different habitats yielded a good variety of insect, plant, fish and amphibian species. Ansel Payne, Audubon Teaching Naturalist, carefully preserved all the insects and bugs that were found. All data collected during the Bioblitz will be entered in the iNaturalist data base for future reference.
Our group found at least 5 new native plants and 4 new exotics, including dog bane and a species of Loosestrife (Lysimachia)
Fine additions to the plant list which is now up to 162 species. That gave us a nice sense of accomplishment.
Thanks to Andy Coleman, Audubon Program Director, for organizing the bioblitz, and to Birmingham Audubon Society for sponsoring it. The data collected during the Bioblitz will help to conserve the species of this area in the future.
My environmental eco mystery series (grades 4-7), The Adventures of The Sizzling Six, inspires young people to appreciate the amazing diversity of out natural environment and to become young citizen scientist.
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