Great Basin BioBlitz
Interested in what lives in Great Basin National Park? Come explore your National Park by helping ecologists identify old and new species by participating in our yearly BioBlitz program.
What is a BioBlitz?
The next BioBlitz is scheduled for July 13-15, 2014.
Great Basin National Park will be holding a Lepidoptera BioBlitz Sunday through Tuesday, July 13-15, 2014. Come join Dr. Paul Opler, author and lepidopterist, and Evi Buckner-Opler, photographer, in this fun-filled, family-friendly effort to document the butterflies and moths in the park. The BioBlitz will include a workshop about the natural history of butterflies and moths, evening moth collections, guided hikes with collecting and photography opportunities, and guidance in identification. To be added to the mailing list for the BioBlitz and receive updates, please e-mail us or call 775-234-7541.
2013 Arachnid BioBlitz
Under the dark skies of a new moon, volunteers used black lights to search for scorpions, spotted the eyeshine of wolf spiders, and found solfugids lurking near lights at the visitor center. During daylight hours, some volunteers searched along streams, in grassy meadows, and under logs in thick forests. Others climbed mountains to catch spiders. At the end of the event, the Great Basin National Park Foundation sponsored the closing lunch and the Western National Parks Association provided raffle prizes.
During the successful three-day event, two orders were added to the park list: scorpions and solfugids. In addition several spider and pseudoscorpion families and genera were added. Further identification in the lab will likely more than double the known arachnid families in the park and increase the known species at least tenfold.
2012 Diptera BioBlitz (Flies)
Participants collected flies by various methods. Some used nets to sweep vegetation, bowl traps with soapy water to attract flies, aspirators to suck flies off cliff walls, and malaise traps to catch a variety of species. Bioblitz participants filled out data sheets to indicate the location, habitat, and collecting method. Everything was brought back to Bioblitz headquarters, where data was entered into a computer, volunteers separated insects from vegetation, and entomologists began sorting samples.
Dr. Nelson announced preliminary results at the end of the collecting period. "We added about 20 families to the park list, including some families that we didn't expect to get during this BioBlitz."
The Bioblitz included numerous educational programs, including a workshop, kids' program, a campfire talk, and other talks about Diptera. Highlights of the BioBlitz included seeing citizen scientists in action, particularly families that collected flies while hiking and camping in the park, and a group of local children that came in to BioBlitz headquarters and deftly sorted insects out of the vegetation, readying them for further identification.
Great Basin National Park Superintendent Andy Ferguson stated, ""I am very pleased with the way our fourth annual BioBlitz came together. This event has given us an opportunity to learn much more about park resources and the potential of identifying whole new species." He went on to add, "And think about it...... how can you protect the park's resources if you don't know what you have?"
2011 BioBlitz Hymenoptera
During a 48-hour collecting period, over 80 participants collected Hymenoptera by various methods. Some used nets to sweep vegetation, forceps to pick up ants, bowl traps with soapy water to attract bees, and light and malaise traps to catch a variety of species. BioBlitz participants filled out data sheets to indicate the location, habitat, and collecting method. Everything was brought back to BioBlitz headquarters, where data was entered into a computer and entomologists began sorting samples.
2010 Orthoptera BioBlitz (Grasshoppers and Crickets)
During the 24-hour collecting period, approximately 150 orthopteroids were collected, with roughly half of those adults. Dr. Andrew Barnum from Dixie State College provided identification of the specimens collected. Due to his expertise with orthopteroids, he was able to identify over 40 specimens at the event, providing nine species names and two family names. He will be undertaking further analysis of the specimens at his lab.
About 40 percent of the adult orthopteroids were speckle-winged rangeland grasshoppers (Arphia conspersa), found from 6,800 to 9,200 feet elevation. Habitat was searched from 5,300 to 11,900 feet for orthopteroids, with the bulk of those caught between 5,300 and 8,500 feet. One species was only found over 10,000 feet elevation. Habitat data was collected at the same time as the orthopteroids, which will allow for further analysis about which conditions are most favorable to them.
The park would like to extend special thanks to Dr. Barnum for dedicating his time to help the park develop a baseline list of Orthopteroids. The Southern Utah University entomology club and Nevada Department of Agriculture provided field equipment for the event.
During September 11-13th, Great Basin National Park hosted its first annual BioBlitz, focusing on beetles (order Coleoptera). Participants came from Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, University of Nevada-Reno, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the Nevada Department of Agriculture, and park visitors and staff who wanted to learn more about beetles. Altogether, over 40 people assisted with the BioBlitz, with over half taking this opportunity to visit the park for the first time.
Preliminary results from the beetle BioBlitz showed 716 beetles collected, with at least 30 different families represented. One surprise included beetles at higher elevations that had long since disappeared for the season at lower elevations, like tiger beetles. Jeff Knight from the Nevada Department of Agriculture is continuing identification to lower taxonomic levels.
Did You Know?
Great Basin rattlesnakes (Crotalus oreganus lutosus) are the only venomous snake species in Great Basin National Park. These rattlesnakes rarely exceed 40 inches in total length, reproduce every two to three years, and feed primarily on rodents and lizards.