#bioPGH Blog: Bioblitz
Jun 02

#bioPGH Blog: Bioblitz

By Lorren Kezmoh, Outreach Coordinator, Phipps Science Education and Research

Biophilia NetworkA resource of Biophilia: Pittsburgh, #bioPGH is a weekly blog and social media series that aims to encourage both children and adults to reconnect with nature and enjoy what each of our distinctive seasons has to offer. From the best times to plant seasonal flora and enjoy their peak blooms, to astronomical events and creatures to keep an eye and ear out for, Phipps will keep you in the know with what’s going on in our environment!

Despite being in such close proximity to a city, Pittsburghers are very fortunate to have such easy access to a wide variety of local parks that are filled to the brim with hundreds of species of flora and fauna. From our infamous bald eagles and peregrine falcons to our elusive longnose river gar and periodical cicadas, there is a vast abundance of life that shares the environment with us. All of these living organisms, whether they be plants, animals, insects or microbes, all play a crucial role in their respective environments and ecosystems. And, by examining many of these organisms scientists and researchers are able to get a sense of our environment’s overall health and wellness. In other words, by taking a closer look at the biodiversity, or the variety of life that exists in a particular habitat or ecosystem, we are able to get a good sense as to how healthy that particular area is, how human interactions within that area may be affecting it, and if human intervention is necessary to help conserve it and preserve it for future generations. You might be asking yourself why this important. Well, did you know that the greater the biodiversity is in an ecosystem the healthier and more productive it will be? That means our environment will be able to absorb and breakdown pollutants more easily; recover from a variety of disasters more quickly; improve climate stability; and provide a wider variety of biological resources for human use as sources of food, medicine, ornamentation, recreation, and even education! 

Connecting to the Outdoors Tip: Did you know that you can help local scientists and naturalists assess the health of our environment, and our city, this coming Sunday, June 5 right here at Phipps Conservatory? On June 5, Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens will host our first-ever BioBlitz in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh PA. A BioBlitz is a structured period of time during which a biological survey is conducted to record all of the living species in a given area and ultimately assess its overall health. ‘BioBlitzes’ are Citizen Science-based events that bring together families, scientists, teachers and community members of all backgrounds to document and describe the biological diversity of life on our planet. The data that is collected from these events then grants scientists and researchers the opportunity to learn more about the living species that inhabit our planet; how they interact with one another and their environment; and how we can better conserve our environment. In other words, a BioBlitz brings volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers and other community members together to reveal new insight into the amazing biodiversity of live that exists right here in local parks, as well as across the planet! The BioBlitz taking place at Phipps Conservatory this Sunday is a free, fun, family-friendly festival focused on connecting people with our environment, with opportunities for families to participate in real-time science, create unique art, browse local vendor’s products and goods, engage with interactive exhibits, enjoy live music, and much more! Help prepare little ones for this weekend’s BioBlitz with a few springboard nature walk activities, such as making a juice bottle bug catcher or nature journal; and get them up and about and excited for the BioBlitz with the National Park Services’ very own BioBlitz Dance!

Continue the Conversation: Share your nature discoveries with our community by posting to Twitter and Instagram with hashtag #bioPGH, and R.S.V.P. to attend our next Biophilia: Pittsburgh meeting.

Additional Resources:
Native Plants & Animals in Pennsylvania  |  USA Today
BioBlitz 2016  |  National Geographic
BioBlitz Education  |  National Geographic
National Parks BioBlitz  |  National Park Service
BioBlitz 2016  |  Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens
iNaturalist - National Geographic and National Park Service
100 Things to Do Before, During and After a Nature Walk  |  Jimmies Collage
Juice Bottle Bug Catcher  |  CFL Scouting
Nature Journals for Kids  |  Simply Rachel by Rachel
The Original BioBlitz Dance Tutorial  |  YouTube

Photo © Paul g. Wiegman