UW Today

October 12, 2011

Bioblitz volunteers to catalog living things in arboretum Oct. 21-22

News and Information

Naturalists, kayakers and other volunteers – including University of Washington students, faculty and staff – are needed to look for as many birds, plants, insects, mammals and fungi as possible during the 24-hour Bioblitz 2011 at the Washington Park Arboretum.

The event starts at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21, and ends at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22. Volunteer by sending e-mail or calling 206-543-8801.

Volunteers can sign up for a single shift of two to three hours helping catalog such things as insects, plants and birds.

Volunteers can sign up for a single shift of two to three hours helping catalog such things as insects, plants and birds.

“We could use some additional citizen-scientist volunteer power, especially UW students,” said UW School of Forest Resources Patrick Mulligan, education supervisor for the arboretum, a part of the UW Botanic Gardens.

You can sign up for one or more of the two- to three-hour shifts or volunteer for the whole event. During the event people who have not signed up in advance can volunteer and will be assigned to teams so long as spots are available. Some teams will make surveys from kayaks, provided by Agua Verde Paddle Club, most will be on foot. New this year is an owl prowl Friday evening from 9 to 11 p.m.

“The first bioblitz at the arboretum was last year in May. This is a different time of year so this will give us a more complete picture of the biodiversity here,” Mulligan says. “And well be focusing on different parts of the arboretum than last time.”

Each team will have a GPS unit that links to the global positioning system to record what and where species are seen. Among the UW Botanic Garden staff helping with the bioblitz is Matt Flora-Tostado, a graduate student in forest resources, who has worked the last six months digitizing the arboretums collection map. This bioblitz will give him a chance to field test what hes developed thus far as well as provide the opportunity for the arboretums horticulture staff to become familiar with the technology, Mulligan said.

Its getting to be soup and chili weather and thats on the menu for volunteers Friday evening. Giving a brief presentation will be Rachel Mitchell, a doctoral student in forest resources, who is a member of the UWs Terrestrial Ecology and Restoration Lab.

Educational programs such as the bioblitz are partly funded by the Arboretum Foundation. The first bioblitz involved more than 100 volunteers and identified some 400 species. A special edition bioblitz called “The Fungus Among Us” was conducted last October with 80 volunteers collecting about 500 specimens.