The River Reporter Special Sections Header

Overcast
Overcast
60.8 °F
October 01, 2014
River Reporter Facebook pageTRR TwitterRSS Search Login

A BioBlitz comes to Ten Mile River Scout Camp

Mary Anne Carletta, left, Jack Barnett and Dave Wasilewski of the Wyoming Valley Mushroom Club were members of the team working to identify species of fungi collected by scientists, amateur naturalists and volunteers at the 2013 Upper Delaware BioBlitz. In the end, 51 species of mushrooms were identified.
Photos by Sandy Long

By Jack Barnett and Mary Anne Carletta

[Editor’s note: Jack Barnett and Mary Anne Carletta, summertime residents of Hawley, PA, were among dozens of scientists and volunteers who participated in the 2013 Upper Delaware BioBlitz (UDBB) last June, a species census conducted on a riverfront property along the Delaware near Starlight, PA. This year, they will again join the UDBB to be held June 28 and 29 at the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in the Town of Tusten, NY. The River Reporter asked Jack and Mary Anne to explain a bioblitz by recalling their experiences of last year’s science and environmental event.]

JUNE 2013, STARLIGHT, PA — It is 8 a.m. on a rainy June morning, and we’re driving north to reach our camping spot and setup prior to the start. Last night was the largest rainfall of the year, with over five inches, and we’re worried about camping next to the Delaware River, right where the West Branch joins the Main Stem. Are the roads open? Will there be flooding? How will we keep our equipment dry? Starting at 12 noon, we’ll have only 24 hours to collect and try to identify as many mushrooms as we can, found on the 63-acre site. The 2013 Upper Delaware BioBlitz is on! But first we have to get there.

We are just two of the 50-plus scientists and amateur naturalists who have volunteered to spend 24 hours, straight, to catalog the bio-diversity of the site, and then host a public educational program the next day. Our team is the fungi team, led by the Delaware Highlands Mushroom Society (dhmushrooms.org) and is made up of four local mushroomers.

We are one of nine such teams, all looking for as many living organisms as we can find and identify in just one day. Our team has no chance at the title of “Most Identified Species.” It’s June; the spring mushrooms are mostly long gone, and the summer and fall species won’t be out yet. Other teams have national and regional experts coming from Cornell, Drexel, Pittsburgh, NYC and elsewhere. The invertebrate team includes lots of young hands (4H club members) with prior experience from the biannual Monroe County Environmental Education Center BioBlitz. The real race will be between them and the botany team, which includes acclaimed scientist and Pennsylvania author Ann Rhoads.

We arrive at the site okay, though later than intended due to storm-damaged roads. At least it’s mushroom weather! Mushrooms love the rain and need lots of moisture in order to fruit. The mushrooms we find are exactly that, the “fruit” of the fungus organisms. However, we would likely find more in two or three days from now, rather than searching the woods and fields while it’s still raining.