Fifty-nine species of birds, seven kinds of mammals, 169 species of insects, aquatic macroinvertebrates and spiders, and 55 different fungi. Those are just some of the living things we found during a “bioblitz” a few years ago. The bioblitz, which was held on future parkland along Pollock Road, was an intensive survey in which we tried to identify every creature and plant on that property over 24 hours.
We think we did quite well. Besides the list above, we found 167 kinds of herbaceous plants, 80 species of woody plants, 22 kinds of mosses and lichens, 14 amphibians and fish, and three species of reptiles. Ah, the reptiles. That number might seem low, but one of those species was a queen snake, which is a species of concern in Ohio. So, we were thrilled to find it.
Overall, the sheer quantity of what we found amazes me. After all, when I hit the trail at one of the Preservation Parks, I’m apt to notice some squirrels, maybe a white-tailed deer, a dozen or so different kinds of trees, various birds, some wildflowers, insects (butterflies and bees, mostly), and maybe a spider – if I happen to walk into a web.
So, the list generated at the Pollock Road property is incredible to me. Who knew, for example, that there were so many kinds of lichens?
At Preservation Parks, we conduct bioblitzes for several reasons. First, they help us understand what is living in the parks – important information from a biodiversity standpoint. Second, the presence of certain species will speak to the health of a natural area. Finding specific freshwater mussels in a stream, for example, tells us the waterway is healthy and beneficial to the surrounding environment.
Apart from the science, our bioblitzes serve as an invitation for people to explore a park beyond its trails and venture into wetlands, prairies, woodlands and streams. They connect people who love nature and let them learn from one another.
We are holding a bioblitz at Deer Haven Park in early September. Anyone interested, regardless of skill level, can help us search out all the living things in the park. The public is invited to participate from noon to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 8. Preregistration is not required; those interested can meet at the Deer Haven Visitor Center, 4183 Liberty Road, Delaware. Visit our website, www.preservationparks.com, and click on Sept. 7 or 8 on the online calendar, for more information and to see a schedule of bioblitz activities.
For those who are new to species identification, there is a great tool out there! iNaturalist, a free app, lets you snap a picture of your observations of the natural world and then share them with an online community of nature lovers at iNaturalist.org. You can use this app as a sort of mobile field notebook to help you keep track of the animals and plants you see in your community.
So, even if you are unsure of what you are spotting during the bioblitz, your photo will help us identify the plant, insect or spider that you uncover. Join in and help us get to know Deer Haven better!
Sue Hagan is the marketing and communications manager for Preservation Parks Delaware County. She can be reached at 740-524-8600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.