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Broward Residents to Survey Local Wildlife for Science

Get your binoculars ready — a BioBlitz is coming to Deerfield Beach.

This citizen science event connects regular people with scientists to help collect information on the plants and animals in a given area. Think of it as nature watching 2.0.

The BioBlitz is set for March 30, 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., at Quiet Waters Park. Team leaders will guide groups of participants through the park.

Since different animals are active at different times of day, each group will survey the park at a different time of day and will focus on either birds, insects, butterflies or reptiles and amphibians. An invasive species taskforce will also work in the morning to remove invasive plants from the park.

“The goal is to get as many pairs of eyes in a natural area so we can get the best snapshot of the biodiversity there,” said Mathieu Basille, assistant professor of wildlife ecology and conservation at the University of Florida, who is one of the BioBlitz organizers.

As human activities and development impact natural habitats, information on the area’s biodiversity — the variety of living things — is becoming more important, Basille said. Scientists use this data to better manage natural areas and conserve threatened species.

“A BioBlitz is also a chance for the public to participate in scientific discovery in a fun, exciting way. You don’t need any expertise to participate — just curiosity and a sense of adventure,” said Basille, who is based at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

Participants are encouraged to bring a smartphone loaded with the iNaturalist app, which will be used to photograph and document wildlife sightings in the park. Participants should come prepared with water, walking shoes, hats, sunscreen and snacks.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is online at browardbioblitz.eventbrite.com.

The day will include a lunch and learn portion, where participants can interact directly with experts and ask questions. Lunch will be provided à la carte.

The BioBlitz is a collaboration of the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, UF/IFAS Extension Broward County, and Broward County Parks and Recreation.

“I feel very excited to be collaborating with Dr. Basille and Broward County Parks on this wonderful program to connect members of our community with nature, and educate them on the importance of our local natural habitats and biodiversity,” said Lorna Bravo, UF/IFAS Extension Broward County director and urban horticulture agent. “Environmental sustainability starts in our own backyards, and UF/IFAS Extension Broward County sees great potential in this project.”

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The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is to develop knowledge relevant to agricultural, human and natural resources and to make that knowledge available to sustain and enhance the quality of human life. With more than a dozen research facilities, 67 county Extension offices, and award-winning students and faculty in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, UF/IFAS works to bring science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries, and all Florida residents. Visit the UF/IFAS web site at ifas.ufl.edu and follow us on social media at @UF_IFAS.

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