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National Geographic BioBlitz Events

Description: Leading up to the Park Service's centennial in 2016, National Geographic and the National Park Service are hosting a series of 10 annual park BioBlitz events. During a 24-hour period, teams of scientists, students, and community members find and identify as many local species as possible within a specific park unit. Each Bioblitz concludes with a Celebrate Biodiversity Festival that focuses on sustainability and features bands, talks, nature walks, live animal demonstrations and other activities.

BioBlitz events:

  • Highlight the importance of protecting the park's biodiversity.
  • Help scientists and park staff learn about the growth or decline of a park's biodiversity.
  • Facilitate new research and education partnerships.
  • Help BioBlitz scientists identify priorities.
  • Engage students and teachers and introduce them to the park's biodiversity.
  • Help NPS staff make informed decisions concerning the management of their parks.
  • Encourage the public to do their part to protect the environment

Each Bioblitz concludes with a Celebrate Biodiversity Festival that focuses on sustainability and features bands, talks, nature walks, live animal demonstrations and other activities. The first NPS BioBlitz was held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. in 2007. Subsequent BioBlitz were held at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (2008), Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (2009), and Biscayne National Park (2010). The 2011 BioBlitz is scheduled at Saguaro National Park in Arizona.

Biscayne Bay BioBlitz (2010)
The BioBlitz was led by more than 200 scientists from around the country, thousands of amateur explorers, families and school children from south Florida that inventoried plants, insects, fish and other creatures that inhabit one of the nation's largest marine national parks. Activities included exploring the reefs at Elliot Key, catching insects, searching for hidden moss and lichen in shallow waters, identifying fish and other aquatic organisms, and observing birds. The event was held from noon Friday, April 30, to noon Saturday, May 1, 2009.

Event highlights included:

  • Over 2,500 people participated in the program, including more than 1,300 registered school children from Miami-Dade County and more than 200 scientists.
  • More than 800 species were counted.
  • Rare species were observed, including the Silver Hairstreak Butterfly, Mangrove Cuckoo, Bay¬Breasted Warbler, and nesting Roseate Spoonbill.
  • BioBlitz participants identified 11 species of lichen and 22 species of ants that had not previously been documented in the park.

During the event, Biscayne National Park maintained a blog that posted images of the BioBlitz to photo galleries, and sent out updates via Twitter. They also kept track of the plant and animal species identified by BioBlitz participants.

"This was a fantastic opportunity for the public to meet the scientists and understand what makes Biscayne National Park a special place," said Mark Lewis, Biscayne National Park superintendent.

The John S. and James l. Knight Foundation was the lead for the foundation, in-kind and financial supporters which included Herbert W. Hoover Foundation, Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation, Adelaide M. and Charles B. link Foundation, South Florida National Parks Trust, Southwest Airlines, Spectrum Brands, Verizon Wireless, Verizon Foundation Thinkfinity, Oracle, Royal Caribbean Cruise lines, Homestead-Miami Speedway, Immaculate Baking Company and Green Mountain Coffee Roaster.

For more information on the Biscayne BioBlitz, contact

Name: Susan Gonshor
Affiliation: Chief Park Interpreter, Biscayne National Park
Phone/Fax: (305) 230.1144 ext.018

Suggested resource materials (related to the case study):

Images available at:

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore BioBlitz (2009)

More than 5,000 people, including 2,000 school children from three states participated in the 2009 BioBlitz at Indiana Dunes National lakeshore. Participants, led by more than 150 scientists from all over the country, combed the park, observing and recording plant and animal species on May 15-16, 2009. The team of scientists included botanists, entomologists (ants), ornithologists (birds), herpetologists (amphibians and reptiles) and various mammal specialists.

"This was a fantastic opportunity for the public to meet the scientists and understand what makes Indiana Dunes National lakeshore a special place," said the park superintendent Costa Dillon.

Over 1,200 species were identified, including several species of mollusks, fungi and beetles that had not previously been documented in the park. A few hatchlings of a rare spotted turtle were found. Conservationists consider the turtle a species of concern. "That's very good news for both the turtle and the park, and tribute to the dedication of the scientists and citizens who took part in the Bioblitz," said Tim Watkins, the Bioblitz science coordinator. Enduring wind and rain, dedicated professional and citizen scientists covered much of Indiana Dunes' 15,000 acres of forests, wetlands, prairie, sand dunes and lake shore in search of species.

John Francis, National Geographic Vice President for Research, Conservation, and Exploration said, "The Bioblitz helped put Indiana Dunes further on the map as a national park important for its extraordinary diversity of species." The big turnout of scientists/students, and families showed how excited people are about this place. This can only help build the community that supports this park, not only in the minds of the local population but also nationally.

For more information on the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore BioBlitz, contact

Name: Lynda Lancaster
Affiliation: Civic Engagement and Volunteer Program Manager, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Phone/Fax: (219) 395.1682

Images available at:

Santa Monica Mountains BioBlitz (2008)

The Santa Monica Mountains BioBlitz on May 30-31, 2008 brought together leading scientists, naturalists and volunteers of all ages who combed the more than 150,000-acre Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Over 6,000 people participated in the BioBlitz, including 120 scientists and 1,400 K-12 students from Los Angeles area schools. Scientists representing all taxonomic groups were organized into 200 field teams. The public had opportunities to interact directly with scientists and learn about biodiversity in the mountains. The scientists were able to engage and educate the public about their work, and to share their enthusiasm and commitment to understanding, respecting, and enjoying the biodiversity of southern California.

To encompass the ecological diversity of the mountains, connect to diverse communities of people, and engage multiple agency partners, the BioBlitz was organized around a central base camp, complemented by four geographically-dispersed field stations. Field stations served as staging areas for inventories, which were further distributed across numerous inventory sites in the mountains. Event coordination, data entry and processing, most public programming and exhibits, and the Celebrate Biodiversity Festival occurred at the Paramount Ranch base camp.

BioBlitz organizers invested tremendous effort into data management to ensure the reliability and value of inventory data collected. A standardized field form was developed to facilitate data collection. Species data were entered into a centralized Access database through a network of laptop computers at the BioBlitz base camp. The database structure follows the Natural Resource Database Template and uses taxa lists from the NPSpecies database. Scientists were encouraged to enter their data at one of the laptop stations and trained volunteers were also recruited to assist with data entry. The data entry form was designed similarly to the field form and included drop-down lists whenever possible to reduce data entry errors.

The centralized database enabled ongoing tallies of species documented during the event, and a continuously-updated count was displayed on a large LCD screen at the base camp. The BioBlitz inventory documented over 1,700 species in the park.

Post-BioBlitz activities continue, with schools expanding their involvement in park science activities, researchers following up with new species inventories, and new collaborations with local educational and research organizations. Student materials produced for the BioBlitz are being used as templates for other species inventories, including backyard and campus mini-BioBlitzes. New research partnerships developed during the BioBlitz have catalyzed additional systematic inventories across the Santa Monica Mountains for such diverse groups as fungi, beetles, tardigrades or microscopic water bears, and reptiles.

On April 16 and 17, 2010 the park held a Santa Monica Mountains Science Day that showcased local biodiversity and biodiversity science and included inventory activities. The park envisions this as an annual event.

For more information on the Santa Monica Mountains BioBlitz, contact

Name: Christy Brigham
Affiliation: Chief of Planning, Science and Resource Management, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Phone/Fax: (805) 370.2339

Name: Lena Lee
Affiliation: I & M Database Manager, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Phone/Fax: (805) 370.2338

Images available at:

Rock Creek Park BioBlitz (2007)

On May 18th and 19th, hundreds of volunteers waded through water, climbed trees, and searched under rocks, leaves, and logs in a concentrated effort to locate and classify every living species found in Rock Creek Park. More than 650 amphibians, reptiles, birds, fishes, mammals, fungi and terrestrials plants were identified in the park.

Teams led by specialists and scientists fanned throughout the 1,755-acre national park in Washington, DC, to quantify its biological diversity. Sitting at tables and under tents, participants catalogued on laptops a wide variety of species, from large mammals such as deer to microscopic water bears.

Tents near the park's Nature Center served as the base camp and housed tables of scientists and researchers, who helped participants and volunteers log in their finds. Also at the base camp were representatives and exhibits from groups such as the Virginia Herpetological Society, the Student Conservation Association, the Nature Conservancy, National Geographic's My Wonderful World campaign and the National Park Service.

"The community turned out in great numbers to support the park during the BioBlitz," said Superintendent Adrienne Coleman. "The information gathered will provide an incredible database that can be used to make decisions regarding park resources."

For more information on the Rock Creek Park BioBlitz, contact

Name: Ken Ferebee
Affiliation: Natural Resource Management Specialist, Rock Creek Park
Phone/Fax: (202) 895.6221

Name: Bill Yeaman
Affiliation: Natural Resource Management Specialist, Rock Creek Park
Phone/Fax: (202) 895.6074

Images available at:

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Prepared by: Suzanne Brinkley Date posted: 12/02/10
Phone: 510-817-1444

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