Take a walk on the wild side at Ambler Arboretum BioBlitz

Ambler Arboretum BioBlitz - October 6 and 7

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 12 p.m. Friday, October 6 to 12 p.m. Saturday, October 7 and is free and open to the public. Register for the event online.

“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 25-acre area comprise of woodland, meadows and creeks past the Ambler Campus Learning, which will be used as a “base camp.”

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.

Salisbury will officially kick off the Ambler Arboretum BioBlitz at 12 p.m., Friday, October 6 with “BioBlitz 101” and a Guide to Using Field Guides. The kick-off will begin in the Learning Center Lobby.

The event will also include several guided walks highlighting plants, birds, insects, mammals, reptiles and more!

Scheduled walks on Friday, October 6 include:

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

12:30 p.m. — Bird Walk with Cindy Ahern, Temple Horticulture alumnus and adjunct faculty member

2 p.m. — Insect and Plant Walk with Benjamin Snyder, Greenhouse Specialist

3:30 p.m. — Mammal and Reptile Walk with Morgan Boben, Barn Nature Center

4:30 p.m. — Bird Walk with Tyler Sacks, Bird Enthusiast

5:15 p.m. — Fungus Walk with Dr. Sasha Eisenman, Assistant Professor of Horticulture

Scheduled walks on Saturday, October 7 include:

7:30 a.m. — Early Riser Bird Walk with Cindy Ahern, Temple Horticulture alumnus and adjunct faculty member

8:30 a.m. — Bird Walk with Jim Kinney, faculty member, Klein College of Media and Communication 

9 a.m. — Insect Walk with Dr. John Cambridge of the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion

10 a.m. — Plant Walk with Kathy Salisbury, Director of the Ambler Arboretum

Additional walks, including an amphibian walk, are also being planned. 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 Eisenman. “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.”  

The Ambler Campus “is a true living laboratory,” said Dr. Vicki Lewis McGarvey, Vice Provost of University College. 

“The success of our first BioBlitz will depend on the individuals, experts and organizations that take the time out to support this effort to measure the biodiversity of our forested trails near the Learning Center,” she said. “For campus departments, I urge supervisors to allow staff to participate. I hope that faculty will encourage their students to take part in this unique opportunity and I hope students will come out and explore areas of the campus that they may have never visited before!”

Individuals who have never been part of a bioblitz and can’t tell one insect or leaf from another need not worry, emphasized EarthFest Co-Coordinator Susan Spinella 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 at base camp 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 bioblitz_ambler@temple.edu. Don’t forget to register for the Ambler Arboretum BioBlitz online.

Be sure to visit ambler.temple.edu/earthfest to learn about additional EarthFest events and programs that will be held during the 2017-2018 school year. Be sure to mark your calendar — EarthFest 2018 will be held on Friday, April 20!