BioBlitz Results and Documentation




Illustrated using the data (approximately 1000 species recorded), reports, and accounts taken during the 24-hour Bio-Blitz expedition to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, hard upon the banks of the Anacostia River at the heart of the urban wilderness of Washington D.C. (May 31 - June 1, 1996)

(Results housed at

THE IDEA. Organize the natural history talents of the top scientists and naturalists living within urban centers to document the biodiversity present at their backdoor.

JUSTIFICATION. The allure of the pristine, the remote, the tropical has linked natural history discovery with exotic locales, far-off from our homes and lives, and forever on the frontier. But, not so! The distribution, occurrence, and patterns of plants and animals is nowhere on this planet completely documented. The Bio-Blitz is an initial step toward closing that gap. Informal in methodology and organization, it can be molded by the sponsoring group to fit the circumstances and talent pool of the region.

THE PROCESS. Count as many species from as many taxonomic groups as possible in a 24-hour time period. The details of when, where, and how are forged to fit the local situation. See the write-up about the Kenilworth Bio-Blitz and the comments and suggestions made by participants. We encourage others who put together a blitz to add their comments also. These will act to guide future blitzes.

WHAT A BIO-BLITZ CAN DO FOR YOUR PARK OR REGION. Below are listed a number of the benefits accrued to the participants, the blitz site, participating organizations, and the critters being blitzed.

FUN. Alright, professional training begs us not to put fun first on the list, yet the child naturalist within knows that crawling around in the woods and fields looking at plants and animals is about as good as it gets.

BRINGS OUT THE SPECIALISTS. A one day event, especially one surrounded by colleagues and other naturalists, is about the only way (short of paying) that a local area can get good taxonomic information for some groups of species.

IDENTIFYING RARE/UNIQUE SPECIES. By bringing together the best in the field, their insights can be used to identify uncommon or special habitats for protection and management. In some cases rare species may be uncovered.

DOCUMENTING SPECIES OCCURENCE. The lists of species generated for the site, while incomplete, are an excellent starting place for inventories. With such talent in place information will be added even for well covered species such as birds. For example, on the Kenilworth Expedition several new bird species were added to the park list, despite being birded by local ornithologists for years.

MEDIA ATTENTION! Bring together an eclectic stew of colorful mycologists, ornithologists, lichenologists, bacteriologists, herpetologists, ichthyologists, entomologists, and botanists. Sprinkle well with other suspected misanthropes and you will have reporters eating out your hand. Put that same group's publications out as bait and you won't get nary a nibble.

NATURAL HISTORY SYNERGY. Naturalists are often isolated within larger agencies or departments. Getting out into the field with folks from other fields decreases inbreeding, leads to new insights, presents possibilities for cross-fertilization, increases the overall fitness of the entire community.

PARK/SCIENTIST BRIDGE BUILDING. The scientist/park manager relationship can often be a prickly one. Hosting a Bio-Blitz gets the park staff acquainted with local scientists and resolves permit and collecting issues at one time with a minimum of paperwork and misunderstanding.

ESTIMATE SPECIES RICHNESS. Mark-recapture estimators can be used on combinations of simple species lists from the same area to estimate the total species richness for taxonomic groups without having to resort to comprehensive samples.


COMPLETE INVENTORY. A one day event cannot come near to documenting all the species present. The species pool changes throughout the year, so no matter what day is chosen, species will be missed.

BASIS FOR MONITORING. Repeating a Blitz on the same day each year should not be thought of as a means of tracking change over time. The loose nature of participants, the vagaries of species detection, weather, observer skill, and many other factors all conspire to limit the usefulness of among year comparisons. However, repeated blitzes will add to the accumulated species inventory and are a good means for identifying groups that would benefit from a more formal monitoring program.

MAKE YOUR CAR PAYMENTS. Nobody is going to get rich off of organizing BioBlitzes. Participants, in all likelihood, will always be volunteers, needing nurturing and tender care lest they bruise and not return. Sponsoring organizations should, however, be in a good position to recruit small grants from local governments and foundations to defray some of the logistical and reporting costs.

All documents/gifs/results are available at web site:



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w 301-497-5840 h 410-798-6759 fax 301-497-5784
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     But nature is a stranger yet;
     The ones that cite her most
     Have never passed her haunted house,
     Nor simplified her ghost.

     To pity those that know her not
     Is helped by the regret
     That those who know her, know her less
     The nearer her they get.
     --Emily Dickinson

Date: Wed, 10 Jul 1996 15:07:36 -0400
From: John Wullschleger
Subject: Re: group for marine concerns?

Along these lines, is there a list focuses on intertidal ecology?

         John Wullschleger
         Fishery Biologist
         Olympic National Park

On 06/27/96 you wrote:

I would like to know if anyone knows if there is a group solely for the discussion of Marine concerns?


is a global e-mail discussion list on all aspects of marine biology. The purpose of the Marine Biology list-server is to provide a forum on all issues of interest to marine scientists throughout the world. To subscribe to the list please send a message to:

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Furthermore a compilation of electronic mailing lists (listserv) which have a Marine, Oceans or Coastal focus is available at:

I hope this will be of some assistance.

  Eric BARAN
  Labo. d'Ecologie  Bat. 403 C.
  Universite LYON-1                          Tel: (33) 72 43 15 83
  69 622 Villeurbanne Cedex                  Fax: (33) 72 43 11 41

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