Each year hundreds of laypeople and scientists use sonar detectors, bug lights, live traps, and laptops to count and chronicle an area’s flora and fauna. This year the event—dubbed Minnesota BioBlitz—was held at Macalester’s Katharine Ordway Natural History Study Area in Inver Grove Heights.

The biodiversity of our own backyards is amazing, according to biology professor and Ordway director Jerald Dosch: “At Ordway you can see everything from native mussels to wild turkeys and prairie plants to diverse forests.”

For 24 hours—from 5 p.m., June 10 to 5 p.m., June 11—volunteers of all ages worked alongside biologists to collect plants and insects and live-trap animals, which were then identified before being released back into the wild. Part contest, part festival, part scientific endeavor, BioBlitz’s goal is to count as many species of plants, animals, and fungi as possible in a particular area within a 24-hour period. But BioBlitz is also designed to increase the public’s awareness of the variety of life in their immediate neighborhood.

Past BioBlitz sites have included Crosby Farm Park in St. Paul and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Bloomington. The 2011 Minnesota BioBlitz was co-sponsored by Macalester, the U of Minnesota’s Bell Museum of Natural  History, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, and the Mississippi River Fund

July 14 2011

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