Sunday, August 30, 2015

An all taxa inventory

In partnership with the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario and the 6th International Barcode of Life conference, over 100 participants from over 31 institutions and 17 countries searched the rare Charitable Research Reserve -  a 900+ acre land trust located at the confluence of the Grand and Speed Rivers in Cambridge - for all forms of life including birds, bats, spiders, insects, fish, plants, and mushrooms, counting and identifying what was found. Over 1100 species were discovered on the reserve for the first time, including 775 insects, 181 spiders, and even one mammal, a Hoary Bat, never before observed. While more charismatic species like birds and butterflies have been well documented at rare through monitoring and citizen sightings, this BioBlitz shows the magnitude of species existing in front of our eyes and under our feet that we easily miss, e.g. three of the nearly 200 spiders found are new records for the province.

I was one of the participants at the BioBlitz and helped to identify a few fish, some of which belonged to species that were not previously recorded at rare. However, most of my time I spend following colleagues with our video camera and the result is an about 4:00 min long video. Warning! I am not a professional documentary filmmaker. Don't expect BBC or Discovery channel quality.

The BioBlitz spanned nearly 12 hours, covered a variety of different habitats found at rare, and included a BBQ dinner for all participants, but it did not stop there. In the days that followed, over 100 collaborators drafted and published a data release manuscript in the Biodiversity Data Journal that summarizes the findings on the reserve and highlighted the advantages of a rapid blitz approach to species surveys like this one. The paper was published today.

In May of this year the species count for the reserve was at 2 268 species. Now the count is at more than 3 500.

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