Five for Friday: Best of BioBlitz 2011!

On October 21-22 National Geographic and partners hosted BioBlitz, a 24-hour event in which teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members worked together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, microbes, fungi, and other organisms as possible; in Saguaro National Park, Tuscon, Arizona. The results were fantastic: Scientists and citizens identified 859 species in one day (This is an unofficial count, the final numbers will be confirmed in January.). Congratulations BioBlitzers! To celebrate the outstanding success of this year’s event, My Wonderful World is highlighting five of the many fantastic factors that made this year so special.

1) Glowing scorpions
Quite literally, these unusual creatures were a major highlight of the BioBlitz. Found most easily at night, glowing scorpions are located by using black lights, which then re-emit the light as green light. According to Paul Marek, an entomologist at the University of Arizona, “[if] you go out at night into the Sonoran Desert with one of these UV lights, these scorpions light up and glow like a little star field on the ground.”

glowing scorpion.jpg2) The “Water Bear” (Tardigrades)
–a microscopic species found for the first time in Arizona! Watch this video of Baker University Student Kyrie Bair as she talks about this exciting new discovery.
waterbear.jpg3) BioBlitz-inspired technology is an awesome new way to participate in the event year-round. For starters, check out the social media website, Project NOAH, a tool to explore and document wildlife and harness the power of citizen scientists everywhere. This community-based site “makes a scientist out of all of us” as it allows users to report species and share them with tens of thousands of others. Another way new technology has expanded the reach and longevity of the event is through an electronic field trip designed to allow students around the world to “attend” the BioBlitz in Saguaro National Park. Although the event itself happened October 21, the recording of the electronic field trip can still be enjoyed by following this link: electronicfieldtrip.org


4) We mapped it all out!
Thanks to National Geographic Education’s FieldScope tool, the 2011
BioBlitz is interactively mapped and available for the public to enjoy!
Check it out here.

fieldscope.JPG5) The spotlight on Native American art
This year’s BioBlitz included several art exhibits, a new introduction
to the BioBlitz line-up. Donny Preston, an award-winning indigenous
artist with a special focus on carving the skeletons of dead saguaro
cacti, was one of the contributing artists. Check out this video to hear
his perspectives on art, nature, and life in the region. His work is on
display in the National Museum of the American Indian, in Washington,
D.C.

Photo Credits: William R Miller & Audrey Kanekoa-Madrid
–Julia from My Wonderful World

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