What is a BioBlitz?
Discover Life in America (DLIA), scientists from the Illinois Natural History Survey and Great Smoky Mountains National Park are host to a unique program called the BioBlitz. Designed as part contest, part festival, part educational event, part scientific endeavor, the BioBlitz brings together scientists from across the region in a race against time to see how many species they can count in a 24-hour biological survey of a the fungal diversity in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The public is invited to observe the scientists' activities, to interact with them, and to participate in other activities that are presented by DLIA and a host of invited nature-oriented organizations.
Why Do It?
BioBlitzs are designed to increase the public's awareness of the variety of life in their immediate neighborhood and the services these various species provide to improve the quality of their lives. 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. From our morning shower to our late night snack, we are supported by biodiversity every minute of the day. What better way to address the topic than to invite people to share in our 24-hours of discovery and to experience the vast array of species that we can find in their neighborhood park in just one cycle of the day?
Excite kids about science:
The BioBlitz is an excellent tool for exciting children about science. This event generates energy and enthusiasm among scientists and lay people alike. It is rare for biologists from many disciplines to have the opportunity to get together, share their passions with each other and the public, and work toward a single common goal. This event is designed to capitalize on that and to encourage interaction with scientists at the "base camp." The "base camp" is the hub of the BioBlitz. It is a centralized tent equipped with microscopes, computers, and other tools of the trade. This is where identifications take place, species are recorded, discoveries are made, and the tally of species is recorded.
The BioBlitz also generates a list of species found in the park, a first step in successful park management. The BioBlitz has the potential to identify species that should be monitored or controlled. It may identify unique aspects of the park that might otherwise not have been known. This information along with recommendations from the scientists is supplied to the park. Imagine the cost of hiring a team of experts to conduct a Fungi survey and make recommendations for park management.
Celebrate with us:
The BioBlitz is a celebration of the diversity of life in our backyards. But why celebrate it? We hear again and again about the negative impacts we've had on biodiversity such as the loss of species and the destruction of habitats. It seems rare to accentuate and celebrate something positive. The BioBlitz is a chance to highlight the positive impact that parks and open spaces, with all their diversity, have on our everyday lives. Join us as we celebrate biodiversity formally at the BioBlitz.
The Big Picture
As we gain valuable information about our parks, we can begin to understand the extent to which parks are sustaining the richness of biodiversity.
- When: Saturday, July 12, 2014
- What time: 9 am – 9 pm; with 3 scheduled hunts & a public presentations
- Where: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Twin Creeks Science and Education Center
- Who: Anyone & everyone, no experience necessary
- Cost: Free
- Contact: Todd P. Witcher, Executive Director, Discover Life in America, 865-430-4757