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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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Brazos County home to biologically diverse ecosystem

Photo by Provided

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

Aggies avoid stepping on the grass outside the Memorial Student Center out of respect to the living memorial. Members of the Society for Conservation Biology, meanwhile, avoid stepping off hiking trails onto grass out of respect for the ecosystem found in Brazos County.

The society held the 18th annual Bioblitz at Lick Creek Park to educate participants on the importance of staying on designated park paths Friday and Saturday.

Alyssa Pope, vice president of the Texas A&M Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology, wildlife and fisheries senior and coordinator of this year’s Bioblitz, said the event is also used to take a survey of the animals living around Bryan-College Station.

Volunteers and members of the society went into the park Friday night to capture different animals and record the number of different species they saw. 

Saturday, participants were able to see various live insects on display, press leaves, create “animal tracks” with a mold, go into a tent with butterflies, walk along the trails and ask questions to experts.

“At the end of the day, we tally up how many species we saw and it goes into an Excel document that then we have for the city on file if they’re ever interested,” Pope said. “Sometimes people wonder if copperheads live out here and so we can pull the file and say, ‘Yes, we’ve seen copperheads and the most recent one was whenever.’ So that’s super helpful.”
Pope said the event also serves to show local kids and residents about the importance of conservation.

“In addition to just the survey, it turns into this educational event where we get to show people what lives here, how to take care of them, why we should conserve them and why it’s important that they live here,” Pope said.

By surveying how many species of mammals, birds, fish, plants, inverts and herps, attendees are able to see how diverse Brazos County is, Pope said.  

“We found just today ­— we didn’t really have a herps team put together, which is reptiles and amphibians, and just by sitting at the table and looking at the creek near us we found ten different species,” Pope said. “Which is sort of crazy to think because you can go deep into the woods and try really hard to find these things, but they didn’t even look really — they just were sitting there and started finding stuff.”

The event also hosted herbarium botanist for the Department of Biology Monique Reed, who spoke on the scarcity of two plants — the Navasota lady trussell and meadow rue — native to Lick Creek Park. She said Brazos Valley is home to other endangered plants as well.

“Brazos County is very diverse biologically,” Reed said. “There are a lot of great plains species that reach their southern limit here, we’re the northern limit for a lot of southern coastal species, we’re the western limit for a lot of eastern deciduous forest things and we’re the eastern limit for a lot of things common in the hill country. So we’re kind of a four way meeting point and we have everything.”

Denisse Moreno, a resident of Brazos County, brought her children to the event to learn about the species living in Lick Creek Park.

“We often come here, and we don’t know the name of the plants or the insects they see,” Moreno said. “This was a good opportunity to learn about birds and everything in the area.” 

Jelinda Pepper, Class of 2004 and resident of Brazos County, said she has come with her family to Bioblitz for the past several years. 

“We’ve been bringing the kids since they were little to give them an appreciation for nature and to show them what’s out here,” Pepper said. “This is all local stuff. It isn’t the zoo, it isn’t a private collection. This is what they found in the park.”

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

    Photo by Provided

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