Wednesday, Jul 10, 2013
BioBlitz 2013 recently took place at Coldwater Spring, a new national park site within the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. This BioBlitz provided a crucial baseline of information about the varieties of fish, fungi, insects, birds, and plants living within the 92 acres of Coldwater and surrounding parkland and riverfront.
Since late 2011, the National Park Service demolished a dozen abandoned Bureau of Mines buildings. Demo was completed last fall and the area is in the process of being restored to a natural green space.
BioBlitz is an intensive 24-hour sweeping scientific survey of biodiversity in which the public helps scientists find all the plants and animals at a specific location. Part contest, part festival, part educational event and part scientific endeavor, Minnesota BioBlitz brings together participants from across the state in a race against time.
The goal is to use community volunteers to count as many species as possible in a particular area within a 24-hour time period. It is a great inventory opportunity for the park and it increases the public's awareness of the variety of life in their immediate neighborhood.
Volunteers assisted BioBlitz scientists using sonar detectors, bug lights, fish traps and live traps to count and chronicle the area's flora and fauna. All ages and skill levels took part to collect plants and insects and live-trap animals, which are identified before being released back into the wild. It is amazing to see so many dedicated scientists and volunteers roaming the park, equipped with all kinds of gear, from binoculars and bird nets to small mammal traps and mushroom baskets. Their willingness to stand up to poison ivy, ticks, sun, muck, and rain made the weekend a huge success.
We usually hear the word "biodiversity" in regard to rainforests with their vast number of species. Yet the diversity of life in our own backyards is phenomenal. We take for granted clean water, fertile soil, and air to breathe. Yet these are all the result of working ecosystems filled with species that perform these tasks. While species range greatly depending on the location, scientists found everything from wild turkeys to fox snakes at this year's site.
The National Park Service, Mississippi River Fund, and the Bell Museum of Natural History all worked together to organize this year’s BioBlitz at the park.