UA Museums’ Bioblitz Encourages Exploration of Nature

  • April 17th, 2017
Moundville Archaeological Park is hosting its first Bioblitz April 22.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The West Alabama community has an opportunity to explore the natural world like never before during The University of Alabama Museums’ first Bioblitz and Earth Day Celebration April 22.

“A bioblitz is an event where volunteers organize and conduct an intensive survey of the biological diversity of a park or other natural area,” said Dr. John Friel, director of the Alabama Museum of Natural History. “Participants record observations of as many different organisms as possible — potentially everything from algae to alligators.”

Organized by the Alabama Museum of Natural History, UA’s department of museum research and collections and Moundville Archaeological Park, the event will kick off at 7 a.m. and wrap up around 10 p.m. Saturday, April 22, at Moundville Archaeological Park.

Bioblitz is an event where volunteers organize and conduct an intensive survey of the biological diversity of a park or other natural area. Participants record observations of as many different organisms as possible.

The park conference center will serve as headquarters for the event. Participants arriving prior to 8:30 a.m. are asked to go directly to the conference center; those arriving after 8:30 a.m. can check in at the main gate.

Throughout the day, experts will lead guided nature walks focused on particular subjects, like birds, butterflies, wild flowers, amphibians, reptiles and more. Participants are also welcome to explore on their own.

Event volunteers will assist participants in identifying and recording the vast array of organisms observed in the park during the event. There will be a live “scoreboard” projected on a screen at the conference center of all the observations that are posted by participants.

Later in the evening, there will be blacklighting for moths and nocturnal insects, as well as stargazing provided by the UA Astronomy Club.

The event is open to all ages and requires no previous experience. Participants are encouraged to download the free iNaturalist app, which is available for both Android and iOS devices, prior to the event.

This app enables participants to make their own nature observations and contribute their efforts to the bioblitz. Volunteers and museum staff will be available to explain how iNaturalist works and how best to use it.

“We thought this event would be a great way to celebrate Earth Day,” Friel said. “We wanted to promote our citizen science projects on iNaturalist, as well as promote the natural beauty of Moundville Archaeological Park.”

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.