NPS: Thousands Join In San Francisco Area BioBlitz
Bureau: National Park Service
|NPS biodiversity youth ambassadors Valyssa Flores and Parker Hopkins participate in a fungi species inventory at Muir Woods National Monument. Photo by Moses Thompson.|
The National Park Service and National Geographic Society joined forces for the eighth year in a row to host a 24-hour BioDiscovery species inventory and two-day Biodiversity Festival this past weekend at several Bay Area national parks, including Point Reyes National Seashore, Muir Woods National Monument, the Presidio of San Francisco, and Mori Point and Rancho Corral de Tierra in Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
The entire area is part of the UNESCO Golden Gate Biosphere Reserve and lies within a region that the Nature Conservancy and Conservation International have named one of 25 global biodiversity hotspots. The area is home to more than half of the bird species of North America and nearly a third of California’s plant species.
Part scientific endeavor, part festival, and part outdoor classroom, this event brought together scientists and naturalists from around the country, thousands of local community members of all ages, and students from across the Bay Area. Together they explored habitats ranging from the redwood canopy to windswept beaches, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible within 24 hours.
Inventories focused on a wide range of different taxonomic groups, including birds, insects, plants, microbes, and fungi, as well as less specific inventories. Participants used technology, such as tree cameras and smart phones, to record and understand the diverse ecosystems of these unique national parks.
The event also offered an opportunity for the public to learn about biodiversity in the accompanying Biodiversity Festival. The festival was free of charge and featured science demonstrations, hands-on activities provided by prominent scientific and environmental organizations, photography workshops, art, entertainment, and the popular “Biodiversity University.”
Beginning with the 2010 NPS/NGS BioBlitz at Biscayne National Park, the National Park Service over successive years established a corps of Biodiversity Youth Ambassadors. Each year, a student ambassador is selected by the host park to participate in the BioBlitz and to assist in raising biodiversity awareness among their peers and in their home communities.
Lurleen Frazier was selected to be the 2014 Golden Gate Biodiversity Youth Ambassador, joining five other ambassadors. Lurleen is a junior at the Academy of Arts and Sciences in San Francisco, and is an IYEL (Inspiring Young Emerging Leader) intern at the Crissy Field Center.
More than 6,000 people, including 2,700 school children, 320 scientists, and 55 exhibitors participated. The initial count as of the event’s closing ceremony at 3:45 pm on March 29 was 2,304 species, with the number expected to increase significantly as identification of the invertebrate and plant collections continues. Exciting inventories and finds included:
- The first ever canopy survey of redwoods at Muir Woods, giving the national park new information about the height, age, and condition of the giant trees;
- The first park observation of a gulf fritillary butterfly in the park at El Polin in the Presidio of San Francisco;
- The first-ever, park sighting of a climbing salamander occurred in Muir Woods;
- Sightings of great horned, spotted, barred and saw-whet owls;
- A mountain lion photographed at Corral de Tierra.
What is harder to quantify is the number of moments of wonder, the number of changed perceptions, the value of engaging our citizens, and the number of students that, perhaps for the first time, became excited about science, the outdoors and their national parks.
“BioBlitz puts a spotlight on the value of science in American’s national parks and offers a unique opportunity for the general public, especially young people, to learn first-hand how important science is in managing parks for the future,” said Director Jarvis, who joined BioBlitzers in Marin and Crissy Field on Saturday. “We hope this experience will inspire some of our young BioBlitzers to pursue a career in park science.”
At the event’s closing ceremony, Director Jarvis announced the site of next year’s NPS/NGS BioBlitz. It will be held at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on May 15-16, 2015.
By: Sally Plumb, biodiversity coordinator, NPS
March 31, 2014
This story appears in the March 31 edition of InsideNPS.