Temple Ambler EarthFest to host Ambler Arboretum BioBlitz 2019

BioBlitz welcomes citizen scientists of all ages!

The need to share ideas about sustainability and protecting and preserving the environment is critical, now more than ever.

To meet that need, Temple University Ambler EarthFest and the Ambler Arboretum offer a variety of events, programs and lectures throughout the year.

“We realized that the important themes of EarthFest — sustaining our communities, environmental education and awareness, preserving animal habits, STEM education, emergency management, living healthy — really couldn’t be contained to a single day each year,” said EarthFest Co-Coordinator Susan Spinella Sacks. “We, of course, will be hosting the main EarthFest event on April 26, but just a few weeks later, we’ll partner with the Ambler Arboretum and other organizations and Temple departments to get people really thinking about the world around us.”

Temple Ambler EarthFest will present the 2019 Ambler Arboretum BioBlitz on Friday, May 17, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Register for the event online.

“A bioblitz is an event that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time. We want people to realize that the Ambler Arboretum is more than our signature gardens — it encompasses the entirety of the campus,” said Kathy Salisbury, Director of the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University. “Our bioblitz will take place over a 17-hour period in a 15-acre section of the Arboretum that includes woodlands, meadows, wetlands and creeks.”

During the BioBlitz, scientists, faculty members, students, teachers, families, and other community members will work together to get an overall count of plants, animals, birds, fungi, and other living creatures in an area past the Ambler Campus Learning Center.

BioBlitz 2019 will be the third bioblitz held at Temple University Ambler. The first BioBlitz proved quite successful — 236 unique species found by 120 total observers — while the second event, held in July 2018 was heavily impacted by torrential rains. The first few BioBlitzes on campus will focus on the same areas during each of the four seasons, according to Spinella Sacks.

“In general, a bioblitz is usually done to assess the biodiversity of a specific space. We’re very excited to return to this space for a third time and for the first time in spring,” said Salisbury. “It helps with decision-making — how the space will be used, how it can be improved to increase biodiversity and how to address problem areas, such as invasive species, if they are found. As we work on improving the campus and we hold addition bioblitz events in the coming years, we can see if the diversity has increased — the more diverse an ecosystem is, the more stable it is.”

Individuals who have never been part of a bioblitz and can’t tell one insect or leaf from another need not worry, said Spinella Sacks. Detailed descriptions and guidelines of the various roles needed to help with surveying and collecting the data will be provided.

The BioBlitz will include field guide instruction; lessons in how to catch, catalog and release insects; guided walking tours along the Arboretum’s forest trails; and hand-outs identifying leaves, trees and insects. Additional activities designed to maximize visitors’ experience and the BioBlitz results are also being planned, such as bird, mammal, reptile and insect walks and moth and lightning bug events in the evening.

“While we need scientists and experts in plants, animals, birds and fungi involved, this is an event that is very much about citizen science. We want everyone who is interested in the environment, science and biodiversity to join us,” Spinella Sacks said. “Everyone involved will be taking pictures and samples and, depending on what they are looking at, they will identify it themselves or bring it to experts for identification; then it will be compiled into a database. The wonderful thing about a bioblitz is that everyone can help!”

Record sheets will be given to each participant to help catalog the species they discover, the location where it is found and any general notes or observations they have about the find, she added.

“Biodiversity is all around us. As our participants are enjoying getting out into nature and learning how to identify plants and animals I think they might be very surprised at what they discover living right here in their community,” said Salisbury. “The BioBlitz is a chance for people to explore the Ambler Arboretum in a completely different way but I hope it will also get them thinking about the biodiversity in their own backyards and what they can do to support increased diversity. We look forward to exploring with everyone!”

Visit ambler.temple.edu/BioBlitz to register for the event and learn more. If you have specific questions, contact bioblitz_ambler@temple.edu or 267-468-8108.

Be sure to visit ambler.temple.edu/community to learn about additional EarthFest and Ambler Arboretum events and programs that will be held in 2019. Be sure to mark your calendar — EarthFest 2020 is tentatively scheduled for Friday, May 1, 2020!