BioBlitz 2014: One for the Record Books

Guest blogger Dayne Weber is a social media contractor with National Geographic Education. She is a former National Geographic Geography Intern who loves maps and water, and believes geography is an important subject because it informs every interaction we have with each other and the world. 

Flowers and grass are ready to be identified! Photograph by Clay Bolt

Flowers and grass are ready to be identified! Photograph by Clay Bolt

On March 28-29 the National Park Service, National Geographic Society, Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, and the Presidio Trust put on a highly successful BioBlitz! BioBlitz 2014 was a 24-hour all-out dash by scientists and citizen scientists to find and identify plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, and more. It took place in several national park units including Muir Woods National Monument, Fort Point National Historic Site, and other locations in Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

A bee pollinates some flowers with a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Photograph by Clay Bolt

A bee pollinates some flowers with a perfect view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Photograph by Clay Bolt

There were a record number of participants – over 9,000students, teachers, families, naturalists, scientists, and citizen scientists from all over the country participated in this year’s BioBlitz. This high attendance rate was to be expected, as Golden Gate National Recreation Area was the most visited National Park unit in 2013, with over 14 million visits.

BioBlitz’s citizen scientists identified a record-breaking 2,304 species! Eighty of them had never before been documented in the parks, and at least 15 are threatened species. Participants used the iNaturalist app to take photos of their observations. See the FieldScope map of where all these observations took place.

The number of observations of each taxa group is represented. There are a lot of plants in the Golden Gate National Parks! Courtesy of National Geographic FieldScope

The number of observations of each taxa group is represented. There are a lot of plants in the Golden Gate National Parks! Courtesy of National Geographic FieldScope

Here are just a few great shots of the species identified over the short time period:

There were 655 plants identified during BioBlitz 2014. Photograph by Clay Bolt

There were 655 plants identified during BioBlitz 2014. Photograph by Clay Bolt, National Geographic

This cute newt was discovered. Photograph by Neil Losin

This cute newt was discovered. Photograph by Neil Losin, National Geographic

Pacific Wren

This Pacific wren was found singing in Muir Woods. This is only one of the 150 birds identified at BioBlitz. Photograph by Neil Losin, National Geographic

This frog was one of nine amphibian species recorded. Photograph by Clay Bolt

This frog was one of nine amphibian species recorded. Photograph by Clay Bolt, National Geograhpic

To see more photos of species identified, visit the BioBlitz collection on the Great Nature Project.

Friday’s visitors to BioBlitz included many school groups. Students on inventories were excited to get outside and explore. On inventories, participants go into the field in teams led by experts. They discover, count, map, and record species as varied as bacteria, fungi, flowers, bugs, and birds.

A Blitzer searches for more species! Photograph by Jen Shook, National Geographic

Students

Students identify species while on an inventory. Photograph by Jen Shook, National Geographic

One inventory group released a Guadalupe fur seal that had been rescued and treated by the Marine Mammal Center.

You're free little seal! Oceanographer and Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle releases a Guadalupe fur seal. Photograph by Anand Varma

You’re free little seal! Oceanographer and Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle releases a Guadalupe fur seal. Photograph by Anand Varma

Saturday brought rain, but that didn’t stop the dedicated Blitzers. They continued their inventories outside and explored the Biodiversity Festival.

The Golden Gate Bridge is seen through rain and mist. Photograph by Anand Varma

The Golden Gate Bridge is seen through rain and mist. Photograph by Anand Varma

Under the tent at the festival, students were able to watch scientists identify and catalog the species found in the field. This provided a valuable learning experience, as the students could see the importance of their discoveries.

The Festival

David Littschwager uses a microscope to determine which species the BioBlitz found within water beneath the Golden Gate bridge. Photograph courtesy National Geographic

There were also many discoveries to be made in other areas of the festival! One popular booth was Tree Frog Treks, where kids could hold snakes and geckos! The National Geographic Education Engineering Exploration Challenge area gave kids the opportunity to use their imaginations to solve problems our explorers face in the field. You can participate in the NGX Challenge at home by visiting NatGeoEd.org/NGX.

 

Two young girls participated in Challenge 1 of the NGX Challenge, and built animal-proof cameras at  BioBlitz's Biodiversity Festival. Photograph by Samantha Zuhlke

Two young girls participated in Challenge 1 of the NGX Challenge, and built animal-proof cameras at BioBlitz’s Biodiversity Festival. Photograph by Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic

 

Thank you to all of the volunteers and participants, the National Park Service, and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. We are already looking forward to BioBlitz 2015, which will take place in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park!

 

Couldn’t make it to BioBlitz 2014? Don’t despair! There are many ways to still get involved. Check out the data we gathered using FieldScope. Then, do a BioBlitz in your own backyard!     Written by Dayne Weber, National Geographic Center for Geo-Education

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