BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Ever wonder what is in your surroundings? Ever get surprised by a bird you don’t recognize, an unfamiliar plant or how much wildlife exists in a small section of a park in your community? The species that make up the biodiversity in your parks and your surrounding areas tell the current status and story of your environment’s health, growth and impacts.
On April 19, visitors, students and residents of Broward County are invited to Long Key Natural Area & Nature Center, located at 3501 S.W. 130th Avenue, Davie, Fl, for a BioBlitz. Led by scientists and educators with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) and park naturalists, participants can engage in this free event as citizen scientists for a day of exploration and discovery of new wildlife.
Pack your water bottle, lace up some comfortable walking shoes, and bring your mobile device to the park to help survey previously undocumented species of birds, plants, insects, reptiles and more. Long Key Natural Area spans nearly 165 acres encompassing significant archaeological, historical and ecological resources, as the area was inhabited by the ancient Tequesta and the more modern Seminoles. A live oak hammock serves as habitat for wildlife and is one of the largest remaining stands of upland hardwood forest in Broward County.
The day’s activities will be scheduled so that participants can take part in the surveying throughout the day. Participants are encouraged to sign up for a segment of the day or all day so that organizers can plan accordingly.
“It’s the ideal opportunity for children and adults to gain skills and knowledge about biodiversity while developing a stronger connection to their home environment,” said Mathieu Basille, assistant professor of wildlife ecology and conservation. “A BioBlitz aims to promote local natural areas by empowering citizens to better understand and protect the biodiversity we research as scientists.”
“An exciting component to the BioBlitz is the use of the iNaturalist app,” said Matthew Boone, a biologist at the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, who will lead the citizen scientist event. “Participants are invited to bring a smartphone loaded with the iNaturalist app, which will be used to photograph and document wildlife sightings in the park.”
“The BioBlitz serves as one of several key urban UF/IFAS Extension Broward County horticulture programs designed for residents,” added Lorna Bravo, UF/IFAS Extension Broward Director.
Intensive efforts of these kinds are critically important for finding rare or yet to be documented species, writes Boone in a blog. “More eyes equals more species!”
Boone explains, how over a 10-year period, the National Park Service ran BioBlitzes in nearly 150 of their parks. They managed to tally more than 22,000 species, including innumerable newly documented records.
A BioBlitz adds to knowledge of species occurrence, especially rare or hard to find species. This is partially because the events typically occur at locations in or near cities to increase public participation. These areas also tend to be under-sampled by scientists and thus in need of thorough sampling. Many people are surprised to learn that urban parks can be as rich in biodiversity than their rural counterparts, this is due to the congregating nature of organisms in these urban habitat holdovers. Sometimes the only green space in an area is the only place species can gather, added Boone.
Registration is encouraged for planning purposes of the organizers. Please use the following link (https://tinyurl.com/ttlvjuf ) to register for a time slot between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. For questions, please contact Mathieu Basille at UF/IFAS at 954-577-6314 email@example.com or reach out to UF/IFAS Extension Broward office at 954-756-8529 and ask for Lorna Bravo, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Lourdes Rodriguez, 954-577-6363 office, 954-242-8439 mobile, email@example.com
The mission of the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) 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 brings science-based solutions to the state’s agricultural and natural resources industries and all Florida residents.