Participants will collaborate in organizing and executing a BioBlitz, finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period. At a BioBlitz, scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to get a snapshot of an area’s biodiversity.
Develop these Key Competencies:
- Systems thinking
- Video or set of pictures,
- computer or maps of the selected area
Week 2 (Per group)
- A length of rope or hula hoop.
- A hand lens,
- A clipboard with copies of the Species Identification,
- Cards worksheet,
- A digital camera (when available).
- photos and other samples collected from the expedition.
Week 1 - Prepare for the Bioblitz
- Facilitator explains the group will participate in a Bioblitz. With participants, they choose a natural area to explore and learn about it. It could be a natural reserve, a national park, or a city park. Discuss areas nearby where they might look for biodiversity in their local environment
- Facilitator Introduce the concepts of biodiversity and a BioBlitz. Have young people do a ‘virtual-video-bioblitz’ as they watch a clip from Alec in WILDerland and the Boy Scouts of America, Troop 20 from Tulsa or show them a selection of pictures. Ask them to raise their hands when they see a new species unknown to them.
- Talk about what they saw in the video or pictures and Ask: Why would taking an inventory of all species in a natural area be useful?
- Invite them to use Map Maker Interactive or Google Maps to have young people explore the study area. Ask participants to find and create a map of the selected area where the group will conduct the BioBlitz. Ask: What physical features can you identify? In what areas do you expect to find a variety of species? What human areas might affect the biodiversity you will inventory as part of the BioBlitz?
- Structure the field experience in advance. Discuss with students how to work efficiently with the time they’ll have to conduct their BioBlitz. Participants should be in small groups. Mark maps with where students will likely be.Have each participant bring a notebook and pencil.
- Where have you seen a variety of plants? Where have you seen a variety of animals? What habitats and what conditions enable animals and plants to survive?
Week 2 - Conduct the BioBlitz
- Once on the site selected for the expedition, explain that they will have time first for silent observation and then for team observation, during which they can communicate with one another.
- First, for about five minutes, have participants sit silently and observe their surroundings. In their notebooks, ask them to draw or describe in words any living things they see, hear, or smell. If they notice any animals, have them record notes on their datasheets or take a photograph if possible.
- Before or after their silent observation, have young people choose an area to study. Indicate them to use the hula hoop or rope to mark it their study area.
- As they conduct the BioBlitz, participants mark their findings on a study area map and put as much information as possible about species found on the Species Identification Cards worksheet.
- Identify species; move back into the unit meeting place when participants finish the inventory.
- Before going home, discuss any challenges encountered, such as sampling microscopic organisms, flying or crawling organisms, or physical factors such as rain and wind—and discuss possible effects on data.
Week 3 - Research
- Have young people consult expert resources, such as field guides, to identify organisms observed in the neighbourhood BioBlitz and add more information to their species identification cards—creating an inventory representing the diversity of the area studied.
- Compile the results on a map and share data:
- How many species were found?
- What species were found where?
- In what types of habitats were species found?
- What species were found near one another?
- What abiotic factors may have affected the species found?
- How could the group’s research methods have impacted the species found?
- What would you do differently if you were to conduct another neighbourhood BioBlitz?
- Ask participants to create a map showing the distribution of various species within the study area. Have them cut out and attach the species identification cards to the map to visually display the concept of biodiversity for other friends and other people.
- Discuss the findings. Discuss biodiversity within and among the areas participants inventoried.
Relevant information if you are facilitating
What is a Bioblitz
Is an event where teams of citizen scientists help to identify as many species as possible in a natural area. What is Bioblitz? iNaturalist/Seek app (preferable): you can get more guidance from Discovering Nature with INaturalist/Seek activity guide. Explain that scientists and others responsible for protecting natural environments need to understand the biodiversity there, and having an inventory is a way to do it.
- Plants typically need soil, water, and sunlight; wildlife needs food, shelter, and space.
- Smartphone technologies and apps such as iNaturalist make collecting photographs and biological information about living things easy as part of a BioBlitz. High-quality data uploaded to iNaturalist become part of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, an open-source database used by scientists and policymakers worldwide.
- You must decide how much they can move rocks or soil to look for species. An excellent general rule is that they can lift a rock but need to replace it where they found it. Ask participants to avoid taking any species from the study site and to leave the site as they found it. Young people may determine that doing the inventory in the early morning, or during a warmer season, might bring different results.