|Monday, May 20, 2013|
The National Park Service and National Geographic Society joined forces in hosting a 24 hour bioblitz species inventory and two-day biodiversity festival this past weekend at the Barataria Preserve. Generous support from corporations, foundations, and state and local agencies helped make the event possible.
While the event was primarily a scientific endeavor to add newly discovered natural resource data to the park, the event also blended the park's unique culture with that of adventure and discovery of the natural world and included public participation from both New Orleans and the greater Louisiana community.
The bioblitz brought together students, leading scientists and naturalists from around the country, and local citizens of all ages. Together they explored the park, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible within 24 hours.
Inventories included herpetofaunal counts, aquatic and terrestrial invertebrate inventories, avifauna observations, and native and non-native plant surveys. Participants also used technology such as tree cameras and smart phones to record and understand the diverse ecosystems of this unique national park.
Nearly 2,000 school children, 100 scientists, and 40 exhibitors participated. The initial count as of the event’s closing ceremony at 5 p.m. on Saturday was approximately 458 species, with the number expected to increase significantly as identification of the invertebrate and plant collections continues. Exciting finds included a Louisiana milk snake, 188 plants, and 122 invertebrate species, most of which were new to park records.
Harder to quantify were the number of moments of wonder, the number of changed perceptions, the value of engaging citizens, and the number of students who, perhaps for the first time, became excited about science, the outdoors, and their national parks.
Additional information is available at the National Geographic Society's website (below).