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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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‘Bioblitz’ event showcases local animals, insects

Bat+walk+leader+on+Friday+night+giving+a+quick+bat+presentation+before+they+leave+for+the+walk
Provided

Bat walk leader on Friday night giving a quick bat presentation before they leave for the walk

Nature calls, and some students will answer with participation in this weekend’s Bioblitz.

Bioblitz has been part of A&M and the surrounding area for 18 years, bringing education and hands-on environment experience to the College Station area. Students, community members and biologists will count as many species as they can in Lick Creek Park to take environmental data and to show visitors the biodiversity that might be lurking in their backyards.

Alyssa Pope, vice president of the Texas A&M Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology and wildlife and fisheries senior, is the coordinator for this year’s Bioblitz. She said the goal of the event is to survey and spread awareness about species of six classes — mammals; birds; fish; plants; inverts, or bugs; and herps, or reptiles and amphibians.

The two-day event consists of bat walks, surveying the land and tables with information for visitors from the community. Pope said overnight survey groups leave their live traps out on Friday night to be revisited early Saturday. The teams are led by a variety of environmental researchers.

“They’re led by either professors, graduate student or just other biologists,” Pope said. “Texas Masters Naturalists plays a big role in some of those team leadership positions, and then the volunteers who help those teams are mostly students.”

Alex Lam, president of the Undergraduate Entomology Student Organization and biomedical sciences senior, said students from the organization will use gear to catch, survey and release invertebrates, mostly bugs and insects.

“We really enjoy participating in BioBlitz and think that it’s a tremendous experience not just for our entomology students, but also for students with focuses in other science as well as for members of the community,” Lam said.

Jim Woolley, entomology professor and advisor of UESO, said with large numbers of people attending the event and participating in walks and surveys, the chance for new findings.

“Almost certainly, with this many eyes and hands looking for insects, interesting discoveries will be made,” Woolley said. “Most people probably don’t appreciate how little we really know about the world of insects.  There are new species, and new records of species for our area, everywhere we look.”

Pope said Bioblitz impacts not just students, but also members of the public. She said she has seen people approach volunteers at the event to say how much they enjoy it.

Pope said representatives from different environmental organizations will speak at tables to give out information and hold conversations. She said this year one speaker will be from the Society for the Conservation of Horned Frogs, one the most endangered species in the area. Pope said the education provided acts as a gateway for the public to learn more about the surrounding environment.

“It needs to be told in a way where people can relate to it and see what was in their backyard because if people are able to see what’s available and understand the goal that they have in their environment, they’re more likely to take notice of it and realize that it is something important,” Pope said.

Data gathered from the survey is given to the park and to the city, which Pope said provides interesting information as the park is completely surrounded by neighborhoods or development plans. There are plans to build a nature center, which Pope said she hopes Bioblitz can use in the future to bring in more speakers and biologists.

Overall, Pope said giving people the opportunity to see nature face to face is one of her favorite parts of the event.

“If we find something that is safe and won’t hurt anybody and that we can actually show off to the public, we can go and present that at the table and let little children and adults come up and almost handle them if they want to,” Pope said. “That way, they can become more familiarized with these animals and I feel like that’s where a lot of that education comes in, it is not just a picture anymore, it becomes a real species.”
The event starts at 6 p.m. Friday. All events are finished by 4 p.m. Saturday.

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  • The total count of species from the 2015 BioBlitz survey. There was a total of 364 species. 

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