October 1 – Puttin’ On The Blitz

Today’s factismal: At the first bioblitz, citizen scientists identified 974 species in under 24 hours; that’s one species every ninety seconds!

One of the more interesting things about becoming a citizen science is how it changes the way that you view the world around you. You may suddenly start noticing patterns in the weather, or see beauty in the night sky that you hadn’t seen before. Or, if you take part in a bioblitz (an intense, day-long effort to identify every species in an area), you may realize just how many different species we share our world with – even in an urban environment.

The first bioblitz was held nearly 17 years ago in Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, located in Washington, DC. The citizen science volunteers were people just like you who decided to spend a couple of hours looking at the plants and animals in the park and trying to build a catalog of them. And in the 24 hours that it took to complete the bioblitz, they discovered 974 different species, including one lonely little protozoan, 650 types of insect, 150 types of plants, 76 types of birds, and nine types of mammals (not counting people). By cataloging all of these different species, they were able to get a better understanding of how the local ecosystem works. And, by repeating the bioblitz each year, they’ve been able to track how that ecosystem is changing and to determine what (if anything) they need to do about it.

If this sounds like fun to you, then why not participate in a bioblitz near you? And if there isn’t one near you, then why not work with your local park department or college to do a bioblitz? (Teachers: This also makes a great educational opportunity!) To learn more, head over to National Geographic’s FieldScope which will give you the tools you need to put on your very own bioblitz:

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