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A habitat snapshot; The 2013 Upper Delaware BioBlitz

Claudia Hill of the invertebrate team identifies and catalogs insects found in the field. Many teams had microscopes and other tools to ID samples. Visitors were able to view smaller plant and animal samples through microscopes during Saturday’s presentations.

By Scott Rando
July 2, 2013

HANCOCK, NY — From noon on June 28 to noon on June 29, the Upper Delaware BioBlitz was held on a 63.5 acre tract, the “Gales Property” just downstream of the Delaware River West Branch confluence in Wayne County, PA. This property is owned by the Norcross Wildlife Foundation, and executive director Karen Outlaw, explained that this was the first bioblitz ever held in Wayne County or anywhere else in the Upper Delaware Region. Steven Schwartz, who organized this event, was inspired by a bioblitz he attended in Monroe County, PA in 2012 and he thought that the rich habitat of the Upper Delaware would yield even more species of flora and fauna.

A “bioblitz,” a term first coined by National Park Service (NPS) naturalist Susan Rudy in 1996 during the first such event, is a “snapshot” of all species found in a target area in a set time (usually 24 hours). Because of the survey methods and the time allocation in a bioblitz, not every species in a target area will be observed, but scientists can look at survey results and determine if a more thorough study for a particular target species is warranted. A bioblitz is also designed so that the public can interact with the scientists by attending presentations or collecting samples and submitting samples for identification. Findings are presented so that the public (especially kids) can easily understand what is being presented. With this in mind, Schwartz got the ball rolling and a 12-person steering committee was formed. Funding and other resources were provided by several agencies and organizations, such as the Delaware Highlands Conservancy and the National Park Service. Volunteers were recruited to start days before and after the event to tackle the set-up and tear-down of tents, parking and all the other things that make an event like this work. Thanks to the efforts of all these folks and groups, the “boots hit the ground” on that drizzly Friday morning with high water in rivers and streams from torrential rain, and the Upper Delaware BioBlitz got underway with sample collection and setting up for the public programs.