On February 24, 2023, I participated in the UF DeLuca Preserve Bioblitz. This was my second time participating in a bioblitz at DeLuca Preserve and this time I stepped up to co-lead the Florida scrub excursion. My co-leader was Lourdes Perez Cordero with UF/IFAS Extension Highlands County. In total, sixty-six people participated in the overall bioblitz with ten of us working in the scrub. Huge credits to Dr. Shirley Baker and Dr. Brent Sellers and the UF DeLuca crew at the preserve who made this bioblitz possible and for my extension colleagues such as Shannon Carnevale (Polk County Natural Resources Agent), Lauren Butler (Okeechobee County Extension Director), and Alexandra Goetz (Broward County 4H Agent) who I always look forward to collaborating with.
So exactly what did we do in this bioblitz? Basically, it was an amazing opportunity to see this deliciously diverse preserve and use technology in a productive way to crowdsource identification and accuracy. We installed iNaturalist on our phones and each team set out to examine the biodiversity of the habitat type we selected at the 27,000+ acre preserve. People self-grouped into habitat interest teams. We took photos of the plants and animals throughout the massive preserve, uploaded the photos to iNaturalist, and included common names and genus/species. There were verifiers who then reviewed the submissions for accuracy. As of the publishing date on this blog, there were 1516 observations logged into iNaturalist with 370 species identified by 39 observers.
Here are my thoughts about the scrub excursion I was co-leader for. Some people might characterize the Florida scrub as the harshest upland habitat in Florida. Its easy to understand that characterization because of the scrub’s high, dry conditions with sugar sand that is difficult to hike and no canopy to block the intense sun. Personally, I think of it as an amazing slice of rugged biodiversity and adaptation that is becoming increasingly rare in Florida. Below are some of my observations. Enjoy!
UF is working with Ducks Unlimited for conservation at the DeLuca Preserve. You can visit the Ducks Unlimited website to learn more about this collaboration.