By: Kassie Burns
BioBlitz events are growing in popularity and seek to bring people together to identify as many species as possible in a specific area (Parker et al., 2018). A BioBlitz serves to be a rapid survey of biological organisms and a community outreach event (Lundmark, 2003). It helps encourage people of all backgrounds and levels of expertise to enjoy a day in nature while making an impact in contributing to important ecological work. Volunteers participating in BioBlitzes do not need to have any science background to be involved, and often these events seek to engage with new audiences of varying ages to encourage learning more about the importance of this type of event. BioBlitz events (and other community science projects) can create powerful experiences that unite people and connect them to nature.
Having species inventories is extremely valuable for multiple reasons. For example, an inventory can help determine the range of species present and identify endangered or invasive species in a specific area. It can also help indicate the biodiversity in an area, or lack thereof. We depend on many species to give us sources of food, medicine, construction materials, and income through recreation and tourism (Mace et al., 2012). Based on the current inventory, management plans can be developed to help establish biological sustainability that allows the environment to thrive. A BioBlitz can help form baselines or updates to these inventories while empowering community members to be better informed and protect biodiversity to improve their local natural area.
BioBlitz at Dufferin Islands
Brock is so excited to be hosting its first ever BioBlitz in partnership with The Niagara Park Commission! The purpose of this BioBlitz, taking place at Dufferin Islands on April 21, is to log and identify the eleven most threatening invasive plant species for inventory management. The work done here will directly benefit the invasive species program with The Niagara Park Commission. We will use the platform iNaturalist to capture invasive species images, record their geographic location, and other characteristics. This will give participants the ability to have an in-depth look at invasive species here and elsewhere in the Niagara region. To register for the BioBlitz, please visit ExperienceBU. There are a limited number of spots available, so be sure to register early! A bus will take all Brock participants from Theal House to Dufferin Islands.
Navigating iNaturalist (Shannon Heaney, 2023)
To participate in the BioBlitz event, we are asking all participants to have iNaturalist downloaded on their phone or other electronic device to record and map species. Here are some suggestions on how to use the platform and be prepared!
- Download the iNaturalist app on your phone or device
- Create an iNaturalist profile
- Review the iNaturalist Observation Video
- Search for the Niagara Parks Invasive Species Project
- Access the invasive species guide to learn the species we will be looking for
Top Invasive Plant Species of Concern in Niagara
If you are unable to make it to the BioBlitz event, you can still keep an eye out for the most threatening invasive species in your area! Here is a list of species that can be found in the invasive species guide:
- Common reed (Phragmites australis)
- Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)
- Garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolate)
- Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica)
- Dog-strangling vines (Vincetoxicum)
- Common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
- Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus)
- Honeysuckles (Lonicera)
- Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum)
- Flowering-rush (Butomus umbellatus)
- Tree–of–heaven (Ailanthus altissima)
Lundmark, C. (2003). BioBlitz: Getting into Backyard Biodiversity. Bioscience, 53(4), 329–329
Mace, G. M., Norris, K., & Fitter, A. H. (2012). Biodiversity and ecosystem services: a multilayered relationship. Trends in Ecology & Evolution (Amsterdam), 27(1), 24–31.
Parker, S. S., Pauly, G. B., Moore, J., Fraga, N. S., Knapp, J. J., Principe, Z., Brown, B. V., Randall, J. M., Cohen, B. S., & Wake, T. A. (2018). Adapting the bioblitz to meet conservation needs. Conservation Biology, 32(5), 1007–1019.
Image reference: Sidekick Images