Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
A tool for biodiversity exploration,
education, and investigation.
Links to other
The BioBlitz approach is illustrated at this web site using the data, reports, and accounts
taken during the 24-hour BioBlitz expedition to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic
Gardens National Park hard upon the banks of the Anacostia River at the
heart of the urban wilderness of Washington D.C. (May 31 - June 1, 1996). The
name and concept of the BioBlitz is not registered, not copyrighted, not
trademarked, and not a government thing. Its just an idea that can be used,
adapted, and modified by any group, who should freely use the name BioBlitz for
their own purposes.
THE IDEA. Organize the natural history talents of the
top scientists and naturalists living within urban centers to document the
biodiversity present at their backdoor.
JUSTIFICATION. The allure of the pristine, the
remote, the tropical has linked natural history discovery with exotic locales,
far-off from our homes and lives, and forever on the frontier. But, not so! The
distribution, occurrence, and patterns of plants and animals is nowhere on this
planet completely documented.
The Bio-Blitz is an initial step toward closing that gap.
Informal in methodology and organization, it can be molded by the sponsoring
group to fit the circumstances and talent pool of the region.
THE PROCESS. Count as many species from as many
taxonomic groups as possible in a 24-hour time period. The details of when,
where, and how are forged to fit the local situation. See the write-up about the
Kenilworth Bio-Blitz and the comments and suggestions made by participants. We
encourage others who put together a blitz to add their comments also. These will
act to guide future blitzes.
WHAT A BIO-BLITZ CAN DO FOR YOUR PARK OR REGION.
Below are listed a number of the benefits accrued to the participants,
the blitz site, participating organizations, and the critters being blitzed.
- Fun. Alright, professional training begs us not to
put fun first on the list, yet the child naturalist within knows that crawling
around in the woods and fields looking at plants and animals is about as good
as it gets.
- Brings out the Specialists. A one day event,
especially one surrounded by colleagues and other naturalists, is about the
only way (short of paying) that a local area can get good taxonomic
information for some groups of species.
- Identifying Rare and Unique Species/Groups. By
bringing together the best in the field, their insights can be used to
identify uncommon or special habitats for protection and management. In some
cases rare species may be uncovered.
- Documenting Species Occurrence. The lists of species
generated for the site, while incomplete, are an excellent starting place for
inventories. With such talent in place information will be added even for well
covered species such as birds. For example, on the Kenilworth Expedition
several new bird species were added to the park list, despite being birded by
local ornithologists for years.
- Media Attention! Bring together an eclectic stew of
colorful mycologists, ornithologists, lichenologists, bacteriologists,
herpetologists, ichthyologists, entomologists, and botanists. Sprinkle well
with other suspected misanthropes and you will have reporters eating out your
hand. Put that same group's publications out as bait and you won't get nary a
- Natural History Synergy. Naturalists are often
isolated within larger agencies or departments. Getting out into the field
with folks from other fields decreases inbreeding, leads to new insights,
presents possibilities for cross-fertilization, increases the overall fitness
of the entire community.
- Park/Scientist Bridge Building. The scientist/park
manager relationship can often be a prickly one. Hosting a Bio-Blitz gets the
park staff acquainted with local scientists and resolves permit and collecting
issues at one time with a minimum of paperwork and misunderstanding.
- Estimate Species Richness. Mark-recapture estimators
can be used on combinations of simple species lists from the same area to
estimate the total species richness for taxonomic groups without having to
resort to comprehensive samples.
WHAT A BIO-BLITZ WILL NOT DO FOR YOU.
- Complete Inventory. A one day event cannot come near
to documenting all the species present. The species pool changes throughout
the year, so no matter what day is chosen, species will be missed.
- Basis for Monitoring. Repeating a Blitz on the same
day each year should not be thought of as a means of tracking change over
time. The loose nature of participants, the vagaries of species detection,
weather, observer skill, and many other factors all conspire to limit the
usefulness of among year comparisons. However, repeated blitzes will add to
the accumulated species inventory and are a good means for identifying groups
that would benefit from a more formal monitoring program.
- Make Your Car Payments. Nobody is going to get rich
off of organizing BioBlitzes. Participants, in all likelihood, will always be
volunteers, needing nurturing and tender care lest they bruise and not return.
Sponsoring organizations should, however, be in a good position to recruit
small grants from local governments and foundations to defray some of the
logistical and reporting costs.
Links to Other
Blitz Projects and Related Things
Species List from Kenilworth
Expedition to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens
Monitoring Home Page
This site is still open to constructive embellishment - please send comments
to Sam Droege (301-497-5840) - (Sam_Droege@usgs.gov)
But nature is a stranger yet;
The ones that
cite her most
Have never passed her haunted
Nor simplified her ghost.
To pity those that know her not
Is helped by the regret
That those who
know her, know her less
The nearer her they
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
Laurel, MD, USA 20708-4038
Contact: Sam Droege
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