BioBlitz

A BioBlitz is an event during which citizens and scientists try to identify as many species of living things as possible in a certain place in a specific period of time (usually 24 hours). The National Park Service sponsored the first BioBlitz in 1996.

E.O. Wilson and Peter Alden organized the first Biodiversity Day at Walden Pond on July 4th, 1998 with more than 100 naturalists who identified 1,905 species in 24 hours. The event gave rise to a statewide program in Massachusetts managed by the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and produced a handy document for curious naturalists, The New Naturalist’s Checklist.

When I was interested in learning more about Dedham’s natural resources and a friend suggested I plan a BioBlitz, I had no idea what that meant. I asked her to explain and she suggested I call Peter Alden and ask him. I did just that, and went to visit him at his home in Concord and it was full speed ahead from there. Dedham’s first BioBlitz took place about two months later with more than 20 naturalists who observed over 500 species in 6 hours. The observations were entered into a google spreadsheet which has been updated with data from a second BioBlitz held in July 2012, my own observations, reports from friends, as well as data curated from online resources (e.g. iNaturalist, eBird, BugGuide). The Dedham Species Checklist is a public document that currently lists more than 1,100 species.

Below are some BioBlitz resources – planning documents, event pages, species lists and more. A personal favorite is the Berkshire BioBlitz site; when I was planning the Dedham BioBlitz, I learned that a BioBlitz was taking place on Mount Greylock in the Berkshires a few weeks later, so I drove out to western MA and spent an afternoon watching scientists make observations. I was thoroughly intimidated, so I stood back and didn’t say much (a decision I regret, now realizing that many nature enthusiasts want to do nothing more than share their passion). I reached out to one of the organizers who was extremely helpful; he shared planning information, contacts, and documents. The Berkshire BioBlitz is an annual event, and I’d like to go back again, now that I know enough to actually participate.