An unusual opportunity to experience the diversity of life on a unique parcel of private property, and to interact with renowned scientists who will travel to northeastern Wayne County to catalogue those life forms, will occur on June 29 during the first Upper Delaware BioBlitz.
– An unusual opportunity to experience the diversity of life on a unique parcel of private property, and to interact with renowned scientists who will travel to northeastern Wayne County to catalogue those life forms, will occur on June 29 during the first Upper Delaware BioBlitz.
During the event, biologists and volunteers will gather to collect and identify as many living things as possible on a demarcated property in a 24-hour period. The public is invited to experience the results at the host property owned by the Norcross Wildlife Foundation in Starlight.
Teams of researchers will focus on specific categories of life, including aquatic macroinvertebrates, birds, botany, fish, fungi, reptiles and amphibians, invertebrates, mammals, mosses and lichens.
"The event is a way to highlight the richness of the environment in which we play, work and live and to help us see our lives in the context of all the other living things with which we co-exist," says BioBlitz organizer Steve Schwartz.
"It's also an opportunity for scientists and amateur naturalists to work together and share information with the public about what they find," Schwartz adds. "The entire collection of species identified, along with vast biota of microscopic species, are interdependent and nourished by the mineral and organic composition of the soils and the air and water. People experienced in various disciplines working together at this event reflects the interdependence of life in the natural environment."
Schwartz became inspired to organize the Upper Delaware BioBlitz after attending the 2012 Monroe County BioBlitz at the Josie Porter Farm in Stroudsburg as a member of the mushroom team. That event catalogued 1,078 different species of plants and animals on the property in a 24-hour period, with the greatest number of species found by the invertebrate and botany teams.
"It was a great event," says Schwartz. "Why not do the same in the Upper Delaware watershed, which has incredible biodiversity to celebrate? We hope to find at least as many species overall and probably more aquatic species given the richness of the site's aquatic habitats."
The scientists are asked to identify what they find down to the species level, if possible. Some of this will be done in the field either by photos or visual identification. Other organisms will be brought back to the collection tables for further identification through careful analysis. Some of the life forms will be identified through dissecting scopes available on site.
The teams all have specialized methods of collection depending upon the groups. For example, the mammal team will erect mist nets to collect bats and the invertebrate team will utilize different types of traps for insects.
All of the data will be compiled into an inventory of species collected during the event. This information will be publicly available and may help future scientists understand what was living on the site at this particular time. If rare or endangered species are found, they will be submitted to the Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory database.
Past surveys in the Upper Delaware region indicate that some interesting species reside on or near the site. Partly for this reason, some team members will travel from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as well as parts of New York to participate.
The public should attend for an opportunity to meet scientists of different disciplines, see what they have collected and take a tour of the site to learn how different species live and thrive in the context of the overall property.
"The property itself is iconic, surrounded by three different water bodies (Shehawken Creek, the West Branch and Main Stem of the Delaware River), with spring seeps and spring fed pools on site," says Schwartz. "It forms the northern border of the Pennsylvania side of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, a National Park Service unit of the National Wild and Scenic River System."
Bring the family from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 29 to view the specimens, talk to the experts and enjoy a tour, all at no charge. Teams and sponsoring organizations will provide information and offer programs on their particular areas of expertise.
Hunt for mushrooms with the Delaware Highlands Mushroom Society and help to identify them. Explore the site's natural wonders on a short walk with Heron's Eye Communications, followed by a guided writing exercise to capture aspects of the experience. Join botanist Sarah Chamberlain of the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society to search for native plants and learn how to start your own garden.
Participating organizations are Delaware Highlands Conservancy, Delaware Highlands Mushroom Society, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Friends of the Upper Delaware, National Park Service, NEPA Audubon Society, Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Pennsylvania Native Plant Society, Wayne Conservation District and the Wayne County Community Foundation.
Volunteers are still needed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 29 for as little as one to two hours at a time. Duties vary from handing out programs, helping with parking, answering visitor questions, assisting with event tables, monitoring trash and cleaning up the site afterward. Volunteers are also needed to help set up the site on June 27.
Contact volunteer coordinator Joann Morsch at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-798-2530 for details. Visit upperdelawarebioblitz.com or www.facebook.com/2013UpperDelawareBioBlitz for additional event information and directions to the site, or email email@example.com.