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September 02, 2014
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arts & leisure

Upper Delaware BioBlitz 2014 a success

Having many observant people in the field increases the chance of something rare being discovered. This Delaware skipper is seldom observed in Sullivan County.
TRR photos by Scott Rando

By Scott Rando
July 2, 2014

This past weekend, for the second consecutive year, the Upper Delaware BioBlitz took place on a 500-acre portion of the Ten Mile River Boy Scout Camp in Tusten, NY. Nine teams of scientists and naturalists came to tally every species of fauna and flora that could be found on this site, which included a portion of the Delaware River shore, Ten Mile River, two lakes, a pond and a very unique quaking bog habitat. Teams had a 24-hour window beginning at 12 noon on Saturday to collect field data. Sunday was the public’s chance to come to the site near Rock Lake and talk to the scientists and see some of the samples collected.

Team members were there to answer questions about plants and animals, habitat, or perhaps questions such as “what is it like to work with bats?” Many children attended, and they are tomorrow’s potential biologists, environmentalists, or conservationists. Aside from the displays of the species collected, several teams and other organizations presented programs and activities geared toward children including bird walks, plant walks and other demonstrations.

Collection of field data to identify species included methods such as identifying birds by their call, electronic recording of bat sounds, the use of turtle and mammal traps, visual identification and photography, and a myriad of hand nets for capturing fish, insects and macroinvertebrates. Except for a few invertebrates that needed to be taken for further identification, all animals were released back into the wild near the habitat where they were found.

One of the goals of a BioBlitz is to allow the different teams to interact with each other, and that was certainly borne out during the data collection portion, as teams would find species not in their normal realm of study and bring the samples or species information back to the team responsible.

Last year’s Upper Delaware BioBlitz yielded just over 1,000 species, and right now, this year’s count is slightly under that. However, many species have yet to be identified, so the following count as of June 30, provided by Steve Swartz, organizer of the BioBlitz, is very preliminary. Here is the list by team:

Aquatic Macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects, mussels & snails): 47

Birds: 85

Botany (plants): 256

Bryology (mosses, lichens & worts): 121

Fish: 25

Fungi (mushrooms and molds): 104

Herps (reptiles and amphibians): 23

Invertebrates (terrestrial insects, worms & snails): 129

Mammals: 17

Total distinct species: 807