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What are BioBlitz events and how can you organize one?

This post was created following a webinar by Deb Kramer, Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful, and Merav Vonshak, BioBlitz Club as part of our Naturalist Training series. You can watch the original webinar here, and the entire series here.



What is a BioBlitz?

A BioBlitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a limited period of time.

In general, there are three types of BioBlitz event -

  • Community-driven BioBlitz events - although these events collect scientifically-significant data, their community-building aspects are as important. These events are usually open to the public, attracting individuals and families with kids. They could be guided by expert docents or naturalists, sharing information and their passion with participants. A short training is needed, especially on using the iNaturalist app.

  • Species-specific/ themed BioBlitz event - has a target species or a group of species, such as sudden oak death, fungi, invasive species, etc. This event type may require additional training - how to identify the target species. It can collect valuable scientific data, that will help management or conservation decisions.

  • Data-driven BioBlitz events: these events are great when the focus is on the data - for example, a need to survey a sensitive area to gather biodiversity data. These are often an invite-only events, for experts only. Each team of experts can be assigned a polygon, in order to maximize spread of surveyors and their expertise. Organizers can share data, maps, and other information in advance to help the experts prepare for the event.


How to Host a BioBlitz Event

For our webinar, we have created some checklists that might be helpful for others:


Checklist

  • Obtain funding if needed

  • Apply for permits if needed

  • Invite participants, including docents for a community event 

  • Conduct outreach 

  • Create an iNaturalist project

  • Prepare fliers with species of interest

  • Host event

  • Post-event activities 


Permits

  • Parks may require permits for public events

  • Apply weeks in advance

  • Fees may apply, but the park might waive those fees


Outreach

  • Social media: Facebook event or groups, MeetUp, Nextdoor

  • Friends & family

  • Partner with the park

  • Elected officials - City Council representative of the area

  • iNaturalist journal post

  • Schools (K-University) - you can offer volunteer hours for high school students

  • Libraries, community groups



Host Event

  • Arrive early to setup

  • Greet people

  • Sign waiver for photo release; liability for parks or organization

  • Introduction, safety, how to use iNaturalist

  • Make observations

  • Regroup and swap stories

  • Giveaways: snacks, stickers, buttons



Post-event Activities

  • Identify observations in your project

  • Cleanup of project observations - junk observations such as pets and siblings, fix mistakes such as multiple-species observations

  • Journal post on project - write a summary with some of the highlights

  • Send summary email to participants

  • Post results on social media


Ways to Connect with Other Groups

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