• Grand Palace

    Great Basin

    National Park Nevada

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.
 
butterfly on cryptantha

Butterfly on cryptantha

NPS PHOTO

What is a BioBlitz?
A Bioblitz is a short term event to learn about the biodiversity of an area. In Great Basin National Park, we are focusing on one order on invertebrates each year over a 24-48 hour period. This snapshot view helps us look at many different habitats over the same time period and helps us to look at many different habitats over the same time period and helps us to better understand what lives in the park.

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.

 

 
scorpion under blacklight

Scorpion under blacklight from the 2013 BioBlitz!

NPS PHOTO

2013 Arachnid BioBlitz
From July 8 to July 10, 2013, over sixty participants searched for arachnids in Great Basin National Park in order to greatly expand the park's limited documentation of arachnids. Dr. Paula Cushing from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science led the Arachnid BioBlitz, presenting a workshop and coordinating collecting activities.

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.

 
Crabronidae

This wasp, in the Crabonidae family, was one of many caught during the 2011 Hymenoptera BioBlitz. (View of wasp looking at its head. Hairs show on its yellow legs. Big dark eyes bulge out from either side of the head, and two antennae point in opposite directions.)

David Hunter

2012 Diptera BioBlitz (Flies)
Great Basin National Park held its fourth annual Bioblitz June 19-21, 2012, concentrating on Diptera (flies). During a 48-hour collecting period, over 50 participants collected thousands of flies. Dr. Riley Nelson from Brigham Young University led the BioBlitz, supported by the Nevada State entomologist and his team. In addition, volunteers from Nevada, Utah, California, Colorado, Washington, Arizona and even as far as Oman and Germany came to the event. Additional support came from the Great Basin National Park Foundation and the Western National Parks Association.

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?"

 
Ants!

NPS PHOTO

2011 BioBlitz Hymenoptera
Great Basin National Park held its third annual BioBlitz August 1-3, 2011. This short term discover biodiversity event helped the park add to its list of Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, and ants). It also provided an excellent venue for sharing the importance of insects with park visitors, staff, and volunteers. A complete review of the 2011 BioBlitz can be downloaded.

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.

 
cricket

Help park ecologists identify this cricket

NPS PHOTO

2010 Orthoptera BioBlitz (Grasshoppers and Crickets)
On June 26 and 27, 2010, Great Basin National Park held its second annual BioBlitz, a short-term event to help discover the biodiversity of the park. For 2010, the BioBlitz focus was on Orthopteroids: crickets, grasshoppers, and related insects. The park previously had no documented species for orthopteroids. Twenty-four people attended, including representatives from the Nevada Department of Agriculture; Dixie State College in St. George, Utah; Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah; Utah Department of Natural Resources; and the Forest Service Forest Health Laboratory in Ogden. Volunteers also came from California, Oregon, Utah, and Nevada to assist. Attendees spent 275 hours during the weekend to help inventory the park.

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.

 
identifying beetles

Identifying Beetles during the 2009 BioBlitz

NPS PHOTO

2009 Beetle BioBlitz
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.

 
 
entomology students
Two graduate entomology students deposit their collections into a bag for later identification during the 2011 Hymenoptera Bioblitz. (Two young women empty a sieve into a whirlpack bag, placing insects inside. The background shows aspen trees.)
David Hunter
 
young volunteers look for ants
Park Ranger Robb Reinhart leads a group of young naturalists to a harvester ant mound during the 2011 Hymenoptera BioBlitz. (A tall park ranger points to an ant mound with two small children next to him looking for ants.)
David Hunter

Did You Know?

Lexington Arch

Great Basin National Park is home to Lexington Arch, one of the largest limestone arches in the western United States. This six-story arch was created by the forces of weather working slowly over the span of centuries. This type of above ground limestone arch is rare.