HosT A bioblitz
What is a Get to Know BioBlitz?
A BioBlitz is a citizen environmental education project, bringing together scientists, education experts, naturalists and the public to encourage outdoor exploration and enhance our understanding of biodiversity through hands-on learning. Typically, a BioBlitz involves many participants over a specific length of time in a coordinated effort to locate, identify, and count as many species as possible. This then provides an effective baseline measurement of the biodiversity of a given area, which can be a very useful tool to understand things like the decline of certain species or the effectiveness of given policies
The Get to Know BioBlitz is a special type of BioBlitz that focuses on young people and uses the arts and sciences as a way of engaging youth more broadly in: - Learning about biodiversity - Caring about biodiversity - Discovering introductory forms of “citizen science” While Get to Know BioBlitz host sites are more than welcome to organize a more traditional and rigorous BioBlitz, most sites will find it more feasible to organize smaller, activity-driven BioBlitzes. We have provided this leader guide to help you do so. With our selection of both the more “artistic” and the more “citizen science” focused BioBlitz activities, you are able to create an event that is unique and wellsuited to the particular strengths of your site.
Citizen Science A BioBlitz can be seen as a great example of a Citizen Science project. Citizen Science is becoming an increasingly relevant and important tool for scientists everywhere. These projects work on the premise that thousands of open eyes are better than two. These projects usually begin when a “traditional” scientist or scientific organization is in need of a large quantity of quality data. The “citizen” scientist, knowing that their observations can make a real difference, agrees to help. It is then the responsibility of the traditional scientist to teach proper, intuitive, and verifiable methods to gather and input collected data. It is the responsibility of the citizen scientist, in turn, to uphold these methods and collect/input data as accurately as possible. Depending on the number of citizen scientists, an enormous quantity of high-quality data can be gathered. This type of data has already been used in published, peer-reviewed studies that in turn have an impact on policy and future research. 2 It is the aim of the Get to Know BioBlitz program to provide a real-world introduction to some of the common methods and activities involved both in Citizen Science and connecting with nature through the arts. By designing activities that are fun, engaging, and educational, your site can help make these experiences a gateway that ultimately leads participants to local organizations engaged in Citizen Science projects. To ease that transition, please consult the Appendix, where Parks Canada has provided comprehensive lists of local Citizen Science organizations and projects near your site.
Average Length of a BioBlitz Although traditional BioBlitzes usually last 24-48 hours, an average Get to Know BioBlitz is designed to last two to three hours, which is the recommended length of time to maintain the interest of younger participants. This is only an average, and it is up to the organizers to determine the appropriate length. Some may, for example, wish to combine a series of events into a single BioBlitz day.
Recommendations for Leaders A BioBlitz can take place at any natural location, and can be adapted to both urban and rural settings. It is important to carefully consider the unique features of a given location as you plan for the BioBlitz event. In order to fully realize the potential of a Get to Know BioBlitz day, proper preparation is necessary by both organizers and participants. Study the area where the BioBlitz will take place, carefully noting points of interest, reference points and locations where species can potentially be located. Co-ordinate the schedule and, if applicable, transportation requirements for the day. Identify key species and plants that are native to the park or greenspace. It may be useful to divide these species into the key taxonomic classifications, including: - Invertebrates: including Arthropods (Insects) and Arachnids (Spiders) - Vertebrates: divided into Amphibians, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals - Plants: these can also be divided into Deciduous and Coniferous plants for older participants Turn the BioBlitz into a truly community-centered event by involving volunteers. Naturalists, community volunteer groups, and participant groups can add a significant community focus to your event.
What’s Needed It is important to ensure that all participants have the proper clothes and footwear for the weather and terrain conditions. It is also a good idea, if possible, to provide t-shirts, hats, or other incentives from sponsors, which contain an identifying feature that will make the participants feel that they are part of a unique experience. To help, Get to Know has designed promotional materials that are designed to be customized by your site (with room for logo placement, specific details about the day’s itinerary, and a downloadable graphics package for use in newsletters). 3 Get to Know Field Journals, Participant’s Guides, Activity Sheets, and Promotional Materials Species Lists: identifying key animals and plant life in the relevant area Field Guides: to provide more insight into the species list Map of Area: if possible, GPS units can enhance the experience. Binoculars Magnifying Glass Digital Camera Video equipment
On the Day of the BioBlitz: Procedure/Organization Designate a clear location where all participants are to gather. If the attendance is high, it might be a good idea to break participants into smaller groups. There are a number of different ways to do this. Here are some suggestions: -Divide into groups (each, preferably, with its own leader) and provide each with a field guide containing different species from each classification; participants will be challenged to focus on these species. -Appoint each group as an “expert” in each particular classification; participants in each group will be challenged to identify as many species from their particular group as possible. -Have different groups focus on different activities. You can, for example, have some participants focus on the creative, and others focus on the citizen science aspects of the BioBlitz. -In order to avoid congestion and confusion along the way it is recommended that you stagger the start of these smaller groups. Be sure to provide each group with clear descriptions of the purpose of Citizen Science and BioBlitzes. To help you describe Citizen Science, we have produced an Introduction to Citizen Science guide that can be printed out from the www.gettoknow.ca/bioblitz/citizenscience
After the BioBlitz: Evaluation Once you’ve finished a BioBlitz, we’d love to hear from you. Please head to www.gettoknow.ca/bioblitz/survey and fill out a brief survey to make the events even better next year. Once you’ve filled out the survey, you will be automatically entered in a draw to win a Robert Bateman print. 4 It is also extremely helpful to debrief by obtaining formal (survey) or informal (observation) feedback from participants on a number of key questions, such as: -What did the participants learn about the park or greenspace? -How did this translate into a deeper understanding of biodiversity? -How have the participants understood the connection between biodiversity and conservation? -Do participants have a sense of what citizen science entails? It would also be helpful if organizers collect information such as the number of people in attendance, the participants’ satisfaction with the activities and suggestions for improvement of future BioBlitz activities. It would be greatly appreciated if the organizers took photos (and even films) of the activities. Organizers should also encourage BioBlitz participants to submit any creative work from the BioBlitz (photography, sketching, writing or other art forms) into the annual Get to Know Contest! There are numerous opportunities to expand the participants’ understanding of biodiversity. Lesson Plans focused on teaching youth about plants and animals in their local environment are available from the Best Practices section of the Get to Know website at www.gettoknow.ca/teachers – as are various educational resources that can contribute to the learning experience.
Variations on the BioBlitz Scenario: This guide is only intended to provide useful ideas and suggest a sample general framework for organizing a BioBlitz. Above all, we want each BioBlitz event to be fun and flexible, for both participants and organizers. As a result, the key is to devise your BioBlitz in accordance with your own ideas and priorities, while also considering key features of the chosen location, the target age, and the expected turnout.