Citizen Science visits New Orleans: a 24-hour BioBlitz

BioBlitz citizen science scistarter


Each year since 1996, the National Geographic Society joins with the U.S. National Park Service to host one BioBlitz, and this year it will be held down on the bayou! On May 17th-18th citizen scientists will join field biologists to map and inventory the living creatures in the Big Easy’s Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve.

A BioBlitz is a 24-hour biological survey during which volunteer scientists and park officials guide teachers, students and families to catalogue an area’s biodiversity in a brief but intense manner. Located on the Mississippi River delta, Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve is a 23,000-acre wetland containing an astounding diversity of plant and animal life. This includes nutrias, 200-plus bird species, and various marsh, swamp and forest plants and insects. Volunteers will be led by park officials and expert scientists who will help guide the cataloging process.

This is a unique opportunity for non-scientists to conduct real fieldwork that will contribute to the park’s official species list. Last year’s volunteers included over 2,000 schoolchildren! But the event is not all notebooks and specimen bags. In true Nawlins style, this event will include a Biodiversity Festival, with music, food, art, and fun!

Sustaining biodiverisity is of both biological and economic importance. Now, BioBlitzes are held in various countries around the world and are opportunities for scientists to engage and educate the public about biodiversity a fun and interactive way. Look for one near you!

Locations of past NGS/NPS BioBlitzes include Saguaro National Park, Arizona, Biscayne Bay, Florida and Indian Dunes National Lakes. Last year, over 5,000 volunteers participated and catalogued 489 species of plants and animals in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.

Volunteer registration opened April 14th, and inventory groups fill up quickly! If you are interested in volunteering for any part of the event, email or learn more about the project at National Geographic’s website. Scientists interested in volunteering should visit this link for more specific information. There are also additional learning resources for educators.

Happy cataloging!

Categories: Citizen Science

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About the Author

Carolyn Graybeal

Carolyn Graybeal

Dr. Carolyn Graybeal holds a PhD in neuroscience from Brown University. She is a former National Academies of Science Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Fellow during which time she worked with the Marian Koshland Science Museum. In addition the intricacies of the human brain, she is interested in the influence of education and mass media in society's understanding of science.