National Campus Coordinated BioBlitz
By Zack Brym
Recently SEEDs chapters have been calling for a campaign that would promote cooperation between the 50 representative campuses. In response to this request, SEEDS has formulated the National Campus Coordinated BioBlitz (NCCB). BioBlitz is a term used to describe an event where a group of volunteers or students collaborating with experts -- both professional and amateur naturalists -- inventory as many possible species present in a specified area over a 24-hour period. The idea was pioneered by Peter Alden and Ed Wilson on 4th July 1998 when a team of scientists and naturalists identified a total of over 1900 species at the Walden Pond Reserve outside Boston, MA. The coordinated occurrence of these events simultaneously around the United States has many implications for environmental education and advocacy. The goals of the NCCB are to:
- Promote and inspire sustained environment programs on college campuses and ; the surrounding community
- Engage people in meaningful citizen science
- Provide a vehicle for informal and formal environmental education
- Acknowledge that biodiversity is not limited to the rainforest, but all around us, ; even in the most unexpected and mundane locations.
- Formulate a database of rare and localized species
- Activate political awareness in regards to biodiversity and the implications of ;; being indifferent or ignorant about habitat alteration and environmental ; degradation
The National Campus Coordinated BioBlitz is set to take place within the time period of April 17-27, 2009 (dates will depend on individual campus availabilities). The planning of this event is coordinated with the celebration of Earth Day on Wednesday April 22, 2009.
Please join our Google Group at http://groups.google.com/group/bioblitz or contact University of Michigan Representative Zack Brym at email@example.com for more information and to get your campus involved.
The USA National Phenology Network
SEEDS Fellow, Serge Farinas, has explored another possibility for bringing chapters closer and to work on a national project: The USA National Phenology Network. Read on for more information about this opportunity for you and your SEEDS Chapter.
Phenology – The Pulse of our Planet
We Encourage Your ESA SEEDs Chapter to Monitor Plant Phenology!
Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how these are influenced by seasonal and interannual variations in climate. Examples include the timing of leafing and flowering, agricultural crop stages, insect emergence, and animal migration. All of these events are sensitive and integrative measures of climatic variation and change, are relatively simple to record and understand, and are vital to both the scientific and public interest.
Why monitor phenology?
Phenology is an excellent global change indicator. Combining phenological information with climate forecasts yields insight into future conditions and enables human adaptation to ongoing and future climate change. In addition, phenological data are useful in agriculture, drought monitoring, and wildfire risk assessment, as well as management of invasive species, pests, and infectious diseases.
To fully utilize the value in phenological data, however, a large-scale network of integrated phenological observations is required. Be a part of this new national network: your observations can make a difference!
What is the USA-NPN?
The USA National Phenology Network (www.usa.npn) is a collaboration among federal agencies, environmental networks and field stations, educational institutions, and individuals from the public, all making phenological observations. The USA-NPN was recently established to organize and support large-scale participation and offers standard protocols and data management capabilities for phenological observations. Please consider contributing to this valuable enterprise!
At this time, plant phenology protocols are available. An animal phenology program, focusing on mammals, birds, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, and insects, is currently under development and targeted for release in 2011.
How do I monitor plant phenology?
Select one or more plant species to monitor, and identify one or more individuals of each species at your home, place of work, or elsewhere in your community. Then make observations following the plant phenology protocols for that species.
The USA-NPN has identified many plant species to be monitored, selected for characteristics such as a widespread distribution, importance to a local ecosystem, or special environmental concern ( for example, allergenic or invasive species).
A special group of species, called calibration species, were selected for their broad ranges, their relative abundance or their overall importance. Phenology data from these species will allow us to create a spatial network of observations with sufficient overlap to allow inter-correlation of species responses across the entire nation. You may or may not be able to find one of these species growing near enough to conveniently observe, but if you do please consider monitoring it in addition to any other species you choose.
The USA-NPN will be adding more species to the plant monitoring program over time. If you do not see your species of interest on the list, you may be interested in developing a plant profile for consideration and review by the USA-NPN. Go to www.usanpn.org/participate for more information.
Monitoring plant phenology consists of watching one or more individual plants and recording the occurrence of key phenological events (e.g., leaf-out, first flower). USA-NPN Core plant phenology protocols are likely the most appropriate for SEEDS observers, as these protocols require some ecological or botanical knowledge. Alternatively, Project BudBurst (www.budburst.org), the USA-NPN general education and outreach program, offers protocols appropriate for all levels of expertise and would be ideal for education or outreach activities involving local schools or the larger community.
Monitor as many or as few species and individuals as desired. Plants may be selected to try to answer local questions of interest as well as to contribute to a nationwide monitoring effort. Consider the following questions ideas when designing a monitoring site:
- Is there another monitoring site nearby? Can I monitor the same species as the site nearby?
- Is there an elevation or environmental gradient across which I can take observations?
- Are there species on the USA-NPN list that are of local importance to my community?
- What’s close and easy for me, as a SEEDS student or chapter, to monitor?
Please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know if you or your chapter would like to get involved with the NPN.