Take a walk on the wild side at Ambler Arboretum BioBlitz

Not quite up on techniques to identify wildlife? Can't tell your flora from your fauna?

At the Ambler Arboretum BioBlitz that will be no problem! Designed for novices and experts alike, the BioBlitz will include several programs designed to help participants identify wildlife and plants.

The Ambler Arboretum BioBlitz, presented by Temple Ambler EarthFest, will be held from 6 am. to 5 p.m. (Please Note Time), on Friday, May 17. The event and is free and open to the public.

"Our BioBlitz is intended for anyone who has an interest in biodiversity and citizen science no matter their skill level. Participants can spend just an hour or two with us or however long they like and, I think, they will really get something out of it — they might very well discover something we never knew lived or grew on campus," said Kathy Salisbury, Director of the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University. "If someone has specialized skills in identifying plants, birds, insects and animals, we'd also love to have them participate and share their knowledge with others who may simply have an interest in the outdoors or supporting opportunities to increase biodiversity."

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 a 15-acre area of the campus comprised of woodland, meadows, wetlands and creeks past the Ambler Campus Learning Center.

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. The data collected will be used to form a baseline for biodiversity in this region of campus and will be shared with the public, Salisbury said.

BioBlitz 2019 will officially begin at 6 a.m.Friday, May 17 with an Early Riser Bird Walk conducted by Cindy Ahern, Temple Horticulture alumnus and adjunct faculty member.

Salisbury will kick off BioBlitz 2019 at 8 a.m., with "BioBlitz 101" and a Guide to Using Field Guides.

Following the kick off, the event will also include several additional guided walks, tours and activities highlighting plants, birds, insects, mammals, reptiles, enjoying the outdoors safely and more!

Scheduled programs include:

6 a.m. — Early Riser Bird Walk with Cindy Ahern, Temple Horticulture alumnus and adjunct faculty member

8 a.m. — BioBlitz Kick-off - BioBlitz 101 and a Guide to Using Field Guides with Kathy Salisbury, Director of the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University

8:30 a.m. — What's In Bloom Plants and Tree Walk with Benjamin Snyder, Manager of the Greenhouse Education and Research Complex 

10:30 a.m. — Logs, Lichens and Mushrooms Walk with Dr. Sasha Eisenman, Assistant Professor of Horticulture, Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture and Horticulture

11:30 a.m. — Stream Walk with Amy Durkin of the Center for Aquatic Sciences at Adventure Aquarium

12 p.m. — Pollinator Syndrome Walk and Talk with Benjamin Snyder, Manager of the Greenhouse Education and Research Complex 

1:30 p.m. — Edible Plant Walk and Taste with Kathy Salisbury, Director of the Ambler Arboretum

3 p.m. — Tracks and Scat Walk with the Barn Nature Center

4 p.m. Ambler Campus Aquaponics Tour with Michael Bavas, Senior Technical Support Specialist, Temple's Information Technology Services Department

Be sure to check back for updated information!

"Bioblitzes aren't intended to be a one-time events — I anticipate this will be the first of many that we have on campus. The idea is to hold them in the same particular place or habitat during different seasons to get a good understanding of what is living in that area; forming a baseline to see how biodiversity changes over time," said EarthFest Co-Coordinator Susan Spinella Sacks. "This is our third bioblitz - the two previous studied the area in the fall and spring. This bioblitz will highlight some of the great natural resources that exist on campus that are outside of the cultivated gardens. The data will be a great educational resource — you never know what you'll find, something new, something novel."  

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

"We want everyone who is interested in the environment, science and biodiversity to join us. In addition to the guided walks, we are planning to have lessons in how to catch, catalog and release insects and hand-outs identifying leaves, trees and insects," she 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!"

As 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," she said. "We look forward to exploring with everyone!"

BioBlitz is sponsored by Temple University Ambler EarthFest and the Ambler Arboretum of Temple University. For additional information, contact 267-468-8108 or duffyj@temple.edu.

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!