Tuesday, Oct 6, 2009
During the weekend of September 11th through September 14th, Great Basin National Park hosted its first annual BioBlitz, focusing on beetles (Order Coleoptera).
Participants came from Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Dixie State College in St. George, the University of Nevada-Reno, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and the Nevada Department of Agriculture, and also included park visitors and staff who wanted to learn more about beetles. Altogether, over 40 people assisted with the BioBlitz, with over half visiting the park for the first time.
The BioBlitz lasted for 24 hours, from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. During that time, participants split into teams and covered a variety of elevations from 5,300 to 10,800 feet. They visited various habitats, including riparian, shrubland, wetland, forest, lakes, and sub-alpine, and used an assortment of collecting techniques like sweep nets, pan traps, pitfall traps, and light traps.
Preceding the BioBlitz, a beetle workshop was held to teach participants some beetle basics, such as life history and taxonomy of beetles and proper mounting techniques. While most participants were out collecting during the BioBlitz, some stayed in the “science hall” to identify the specimens that were brought in. These first round identifications were to family.
Preliminary results from the Beetle BioBlitz showed 716 beetles collected, with at least 30 different families represented. One surprise included beetles at higher elevations that had long since disappeared for the season at lower elevations, like tiger beetles. Jeff Knight from the Nevada Department of Agriculture will be taking a closer look at the beetles in the upcoming months to identify them further.
BioBlitzes throughout the country are gaining popularity as a way to document diversity in a short period of time. While some areas undertake an inventory of all plant and animal species, Great Basin National Park has chosen to focus on one order each year. Invertebrates in the national parks are often overlooked, but BioBlitzes provide an opportunity to focus on them.
Great Basin National Park is planning on conducting another Beetle BioBlitz next year, looking at a different order of insects. If you’d like to be put on the mailing list for the event, please contact the park at 775-234-7331.