ORONO — Thousands of humans live on the 660-acre University of Maine campus. So too, do many other species.
To find out how many others and which ones, the School of Biology and Ecology Graduate Organization invites members of the UMaine and local communities to take part in a BioBlitz from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 18–19.
BioBlitzes, sometimes called biological censuses, are citizen-science events held worldwide to record observed plants, animals, fungi and other organisms in a given area within a specific timeframe, generally 24 to 48 hours. Scientists, naturalists, and other interested community members participate.
The BioBlitz is intended to create connections with the campus environment and promote interest in, and awareness of, biodiversity and conservation. It also will serve as a field research experience for college and high school students, provide opportunities for graduate students to mentor undergraduates, and showcase UMaine programs.
Preregistration is encouraged on Eventbrite (eventbrite.com/e/umaine-bioblitz-tickets-166930709245). People also may register on campus during the event. After registering, participants will receive instructions, a lesson on using the iNaturalist smartphone app, and have a chance to ask questions and get help identifying specimens.
Registered participants can survey any area on campus, individually or in a group. UMaine Ph.D. student Madeleine Landrum says faculty experts will give talks and demonstrations and that participants likely will observe plants, animals (definitely squirrels), fish, insects, lichen, and moss.
By uploading observations to iNaturalist, Landrum says people, including scientists, can check on how species are faring worldwide. They also can ask questions, including when the endangered rusty patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis) was last seen in Maine and whether the browntail moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea) has been spotted in the area.
Uploads also help scientists from various disciplines track invasive species, monitor endangered ones, and see how the distribution of species changes in response to climate change.
Participants are asked to bring a smartphone, mask and sun protection. The BioBlitz will be held rain or shine. Participants also are asked to follow Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID-19 safety. Vaccinated participants are not required to wear a mask when outdoors and practicing social distancing; it is highly recommended that people wear a mask while around other participants. All participants are reminded to practice social distancing.