BIOBLITZ!

Park visitor holds a hognose snake that was temporarily detained during the event and later released.
Park visitor holds a hognose snake that was temporarily detained during the event and later released.

It was equal parts research, interpretive program and celebration of biodiversity called Bioblitz at Weymouth Woods State Nature Preserve.

It was a sort of species-palooza that added to scientific knowledge about the state park on Saturday as researchers from across the state, rangers, teachers, students and volunteers converged in the wetlands, longleaf stands and hardwood forests to see just how many species they could identify in one day.

It’ll be weeks before a firm number is tallied as researchers review their findings, but at least several hundred distinct species were found. It most cases, that number will overlap the 1,976 species inventoried at the park over the decades, but some “new” species are sure to be added.

“The enthusiasm was great. The intensity at eight o’clock when it was time to start was palpable,” said Ed Corey, inventory biologist for the state parks system, who helped Park Superintendent Scott Hartley organize the event. Several dozen volunteers arrived and alongside professionals, fanned out with specific targets in mind. Teams banded birds, photographed insects, netted moths and butterflies, snatched reptiles and amphibians and, wielding field guides, tussled over plant identification. Woven into the event were interpretive programs and hikes for visitors.

Taking inventory of species, both rare and common, is an important part of managing state parks. To make good decisions on managing the land and placing facilities, it’s important to know what species live in a park – and exactly where they live. There’s always a background level of species inventory in the parks. That’s part of the job of the parks system’s team of biologists. And, rangers contribute to the inventory as they have opportunity. Results (and photos) are entered into an online database. Hartley is an especially proficient naturalist in a park with an impressive array of habitats, and Bioblitz likely helped him pass a personal goal of tagging 2,000 species before his retirement later this year.

Corey said the success of Bioblitz suggests carrying the idea to other parks in coming years. Also expanding the effort to hold events in the fall would be valuable since some different species may be catalogued then.

Here’s a slideshow of photos from the event. Click any photo to begin.

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