BioBlitz lets students, scientists, volunteers collect data as a team
Scientists, school students and volunteers will come together this month and work as a team to collect data about biodiversity.
Called a Bio Blitz, the event is part scientific research, part exploration and part celebration, said Arthur Metzger, organizer.
It will begin at 9 a.m. May 20 and end at 3 p.m. May 21 at Sinnemahoning State Park in Cameron County.
In that 30-hour period, a slew of scientists will converge on the state park to discover and identify as many species as they can on land and water.
“It’s kind of a party, (but) very serious,” Metzger said.
With the combined effort of the scientists, students and volunteers, very high quality data is compiled, he said.
“It’s all about biodiversity and the inter-relationships of things,” he said, “to see and understand how complex the world is and how they all depend on each other.”
For instance, last year at the Bio Blitz when bags of leaf litter were examined, he found it interesting how many land snails can be found just underfoot in the forest.
“There are probably 20 to 30 microscopic snails,” he said, in the leaf litter. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
“(It’s) something you would never think of,” Metzger said.
During the 30-hour period, things are going on all the time, even at night.
“They put little mammal traps out at night. Last year, they caught a woodland jumping mouse. It has a yellow stripe down its back, like a taxi cab. It can jump 3 feet vertical and 9 feet “with a running start, he said.
Even bats will be caught, using specialized nets or sonar. Owls will be called in at night.
Presentations will take place throughout the event, too. Aquariums will be full of insects, snakes, amphibians and lizards.
Some of the data collected will be used for studies on which the visiting scientists are working.
Metzger said about 300 students from schools all over Pennsylvania will attend. They will work through a program incorporated with National Geographic. Data collected also will be contributed to The Encyclopedia of Life.
All events are open to the public.
To register to help, or sign up to be a volunteer, visit sites.google.com/site/sinnemahoningbioblitz. For more information, call Metzger at 814-274-8004.