Great Basin BioBlitz

Interested in what lives in Great Basin National Park? Come explore your National Park and help ecologists identify both old and new species by participating in our yearly BioBlitz program.
Townsend's big-eared bat cluster  (Corynorhinus townsendii)
A cluster of Townsend's big-eared bats roost together in a cave.

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 focus on one specific taxa, either plant or animal, 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 better understand what lives in the park.

The next BioBlitz is scheduled for August 20-22, 2019, and will focus on bats.

Join us in learning more about our flying nocturnal friends. Great Basin National Park's wildlife biologist, Bryan Hamilton, PhD, will lead this year's eleventh annual BioBlitz. We welcome experts, as well as those who are just starting to learn, and everyone in between.
We will have free camping for participants, talks, demonstrations, and more.

All ages welcome.
To receive more information please send us an email or call (775) 234-7541 and we'll add you to our emailing list e-mail us.

Bat BioBlitz Schedule
– All activities will be at Baker Hall unless otherwise noted –

Bat Survey Locations
August 20
  • Rose Guano Cave
  • Stella Lake
  • Upper Pictograph Cave
August 21
  • Rose Guano Cave
  • Teresa Lake
  • Lehman Caves
Tuesday, August 20 (all times Pacific)
Morning Set-up campsite at Grey Cliffs Campground
Eat lunch and tour the park on your own
12-1 pm Registration and gear decontamination
Check out the Bat table with displays
1-3 pm Bat workshop by Dr. Bryan Hamilton et al.
3 pm Sign up for trips
3:30 pm Prepare for evening, pack your own dinner
4-5 pm Depart for bat trapping
7:25 pm Sunset (Bat catching starts soon after)
~11 pm Bat traps close down; return to camp

Wednesday August 21
Morning Tour the park on your own
11 am Decon gear at Great Basin Resource Center
12 pm Potluck lunch at Baker Hall
1-4 pm Build a bat box*
1 pm Kids’ bat activity
2 pm Acoustic Data Review
2:30 pm Bat talk/activity
3 pm Bat/entomology talk
3:30 pm Prepare for evening, pack your own dinner
4-5 pm Depart for bat trapping
~11 pm Bat traps close down; return to camp

Thursday, August 22
Morning Pack up camp; Tour the park on your own
11 am Decon gear at Great Basin Resource Center
Noon Closing lunch sponsored by Great Basin National Park Foundation and Western National Parks Association,
preliminary Results by Dr. Bryan Hamilton, raffle prizes sponsored by Western National Park.

*For build a bat box, you can order and bring a kit with you to complete and take home. Or help build one of several kits supplied that will be raffled off after the closing lunch.

Wolf lichen on a bristlecone pine tree. NPS Photo by G. Baker
Wolf lichen on a bristlecone pine tree. NPS Photo by G. Baker

NPS Photo by G. Baker

2017 Lichen BioBlitz
Over 50 participants attended the July 17-19, 2017 BioBlitz focused on lichens. Dr. Bradley Kropp from Utah State University and Dr. Steve Leavitt from Brigham Young University led the effort to explore many habitats, from mountain tops to springs to shrubby lowlands. Hundreds of specimens were collected under scientific permit, adding many to the park's lichen list. Of note were a couple species that were previously known only from the Arctic or Antarctic areas.

Bird sitting on a rock
Over 73 bird species were documented in Great Basin's 2016 BioBlitz.

NPS Photo

2016 Birds BioBlitz
Dr. Elisabeth Ammon from the Great Basin Bird Observatory was joined by over 20 experts and 130 citizen scientists to help document what birds were in Great Basin National Park May 20-22, 2016. A total of 1843 birds representing 73 species were recorded over the course of the weekend. Mountain Chickadees were the most abundant species recorded. Clark’s Nutcrackers, Pine Siskins, Cassin’s Finches, and American Robins were also very common. In addition to many guided bird walks to various areas of the park, the BioBlitz also featured an afternoon of great talks and demonstrations, art workshops, and more.
Caddisflies were one of the species studied during this BioBlitz.
2015 Stream Insects BioBlitz
Dr. Boris Kondratieff from Colorado State University served as the lead entomologist, with assistance from Dr. Riley Nelson of Brigham Young University. Dave Ruiter, the leading expert on caddisflies in the American West also attended, as well as the Nevada State Entomologist and his crew. Citizen scientists from several states participated in the event, and in total more than 35 people spent over 500 hours helping find and identify stream insects in the park. Over 2,400 specimens were collected during the BioBlitz. Preliminary results indicate that the amount of diversity in the park is strong, and many species already have been added to the park list.
butterfly on white flowers

NPS Photo

2014 Lepidoptera BioBlitz (Butterflies and Moths)
Under the guidance of Dr. Paul Opler and his crew of lepidopterists, over 50 citizen scientists help find more than 40 butterfly species and over 300 moth species during the July 13-15 BioBlitz. Several moth species may be new to science. In addition, everyone had a chance to witness the blizzard of adult army worm moths (Euxoa auxilliaris), which were present in millions

green-glowing 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.


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, or 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?"

A wasp with hairy yellow legs, big dark eyes, and two antennae
This wasp, in the Crabonidae family, was one of many caught during the 2011 Hymenoptera BioBlitz.

© David Hunter

2011 Hymenoptera BioBlitz (Wasps, Bees, and Ants)
Great Basin National Park held its third annual BioBlitz August 1-3, 2011. This short-term, 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.

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, or 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.

pale cricket on a pale rock wall
This cricket was one of the orthopteroids studied in the 2010 BioBlitz.

NPS Photo

2010 Orthoptera BioBlitz (Grasshoppers and Crickets)
On June 26th and 27th, 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, roughly half of them 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.

four men working at microscopes
Participants identifying beetles during the 2009 BioBlitz.

NPS Photo

2009 Coleoptera BioBlitz (Beetles)
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, more than 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.
Two young women empty a sieve into a plastic bag, placing insects inside
Two graduate entomology students deposit their collections into a bag for later identification during the 2011 Hymenoptera Bioblitz.

© David Hunter


Last updated: July 31, 2019

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Mailing Address:

Great Basin National Park
100 Great Basin National Park

Baker, NV 89311


(775) 234-7331
Available 8:00 am - 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Closed on Federal holidays.

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