Second Annual Upper Delaware BioBlitz to Occur in Sullivan County
UPPER DELAWARE REGION – Families can take advantage of a special educational opportunity for all ages to experience the diversity of life on a unique parcel of private property. The second annual Upper Delaware BioBlitz will occur on Saturday, June 28 and Sunday, June 29, 2014. This event is free to the public.
During this event, biologists and volunteers will gather to identify as many living things as possible within 24 hours on a demarcated parcel of about 200 acres within the Ten Mile River Scout Camp in the Town of Tusten, Sullivan County, NY. Collection will start at noon on Saturday and continue until noon on Sunday.
The public is invited to tour the site from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on Sunday. For free, families can view the specimens, talk to experts, and enjoy a tour of the site to learn how different species live and thrive in the context of the overall property. Teams and sponsoring organizations will provide information and offer educational programs on their particular areas of expertise. The public should attend for an opportunity to meet scientists of different disciplines, see what they have collected and take a tour of the site.
“This exciting event highlights the richness of the environment in which we play, work and live and helps us see our lives in the context of all the other living things with which we co-exist,” says BioBlitz organizer, Steve Schwartz.
A BioBlitz is an event where teams of scientists gather on a demarcated property for 24 hours to collect, identify, and catalogue every single species they can find visible to the naked eye. The latter part of the event is open to the public for youth and their families to meet the scientists, see what they have collected, and learn more about biology in the context of the site.
Teams of researchers will focus on specific categories of life, including aquatic macro invertebrates, birds, botany, fish, fungi, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates, mammals, mosses, and lichens. The scientists are asked to identify what they find down to the species level using specialized methods. Some of this will be done in the field either by photos or visual identification. Other items will be brought back to the collection tables for further identification through careful analysis through microscopes and reference material on site.
A portion of this property is within the National Park Service’s Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River corridor and borders the river at the Ten Mile River landing. The BioBlitz site will also include the Indian Cliffs, Rock Lake, Mauls Pond, and Grassy Swamp Pond, one of the only quaking bogs to be scientifically authenticated in the Catskills.
According to the University of Connecticut’s website, “BioBlitz is designed to increase the public's awareness of the variety of life in their immediate neighborhood and the services these various species provide to improve the quality of their lives. We usually hear the word "biodiversity" in regard to rainforests with their vast number of species. Yet the diversity of life in our own backyards is phenomenal. We take for granted clean water, fertile soil, and air to breathe. Yet these are all the result of working ecosystems filled with species that perform these tasks. From our morning shower to our late night snack, we are supported by biodiversity every minute of the day. What better way to address the topic than to invite people to share in our 24-hours of discovery and to experience the vast array of species that we can find in their neighborhood park in just one cycle of the day.”
All of the data will be compiled into an inventory of species collected during the event. This information will be publicly available and may help future scientists understand what was living on the site at this particular time, including rare or endangered species. Experts will travel from far distances to study this unique area of New York State.
“It’s an unusual opportunity for scientists and amateur naturalists to share information with the public about their research,” Schwartz adds. “The entire collection of species identified, along with vast biota of microscopic species, are interdependent and nourished by the mineral and organic composition of the soils and the air and water. People experienced in various disciplines working together at this event reflect the interdependence of life in the natural environment.”
Upper Delaware BioBlitz participating organizations include Delaware Highlands Mushroom Society, Upper Delaware Council, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Delaware Highlands Conservancy, Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County, National Park Service, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Northeast Pennsylvania Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, Friends of the Upper Delaware, Sullivan Renaissance and Delaware Riverkeeper Network. The Delaware Highlands Conservancy is the Fiscal Sponsor for the event and all contributions to the event through the Conservancy are tax deductible.
Scientists are participating from Cornell, Penn State, East Stroudsburg University, Academy of Sciences Philadelphia, and other academic, nonprofit and governmental organizations.
In 2013 over 50 scientists and amateur naturalists gathered for the first Upper Delaware BioBlitz on the Norcross Wildlife Foundation’s “Gales Property” at the confluence of the East and West Branches and main stem of the Delaware River. In 24 hours they collected, identified, and catalogued 1,024 unique species of life. Some of the collected species identifications were later confirmed by experts at the New York Botanical Garden and Smithsonian Institution and the insects collected by the Invertebrate team are in the permanent collection of the Academy of Sciences in Philadelphia.