I’ll admit: when I first heard the word “bioblitz,” I was confused. What does this strange word mean?
It might be helpful to break the word down in order to understand: “bio” means “life” and “blitz” means a “sudden, energetic, and concerted effort, typically on a specific task.”
So a bioblitz is a brief period of time, usually 24 hours, that experts and amateurs come together to specifically record all nature sightings in a given area. All the records are compiled into a single data set of the biodiversity of that location at that point in time.
Today’s post comes from Brad Steinberg, our Natural Heritage Education and Learning Coordinator. An avid birder, Brad identifies several “migration superhighways” and the role provincial parks play in protecting Canada’s Important Bird Areas.
Being stuck in traffic sucks. Especially with young kids.
This sentiment recently ran through my head while mired in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto, Ontario. (My conclusion was reinforced when my son loudly announced his urgent need for a bio-break.)
But as frustrating as highways can be; they are vitally important to us, providing a reliable route from one place to another.
You’re out in the woods and a bird flies by. Not sure what is it? There’s an app for that.
Today’s smartphones make ideal field guides. Photograph a butterfly sipping nectar. Video a slow-moving turtle. Record a birdsong. Then look it up, find a match, and enter your geotagged observations in a virtual field book.
These virtual field guides often support citizen science. You just share what you see. Scientists, researchers and conservationists use the crowdsourced data to look at climate change, track migration and monitor species at risk and sensitive ecosystems.
Government agencies of both Ontario and Quebec, as well as hydropower producers, Canadian Wildlife Federation, the Algonquin’s of Ontario, and other stakeholders are working together to restore the American eel (Anguilla rostrate) within its historic range in Ontario waters. Earlier this summer, over 400 juvenile eels (yellow eel) were collected from the eel-ladder at Hydro-Quebec’s Beauharnois Generating Station in Quebec and released in the Ottawa River at Voyageur Provincial Park. This marked the first assisted passage of American eel into the Ottawa River, and the beginning of a long journey to help restore populations of eel in the Ottawa River Watershed.
On our way to Restoule Provincial Park, Anna said “I think that was a snake on the road.”
“Let’s go back and check it then,” I responded.
“It looks like a gartersnake,” she said as we got closer.
We stopped anyway. We wanted to be sure it wasn’t one of it’s rarer cousins.
* * *
There are 17 snake species in Ontario. Many of them are rare, but the Eastern Gartersnake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) is the most widely distributed snake in North America. Because of its large distribution, sometimes it’s easy to think “It’s just a gartersnake.” But we should not forget how amazing these reptiles are!
Imagine having the power to help endangered species become not so endangered. Actually, you do! Right here in Ontario! All you have to do is grab your binoculars, smart phone or digital camera and become a Citizen Scientist.
Citizen Science is taking off around the world as a way for everyday people to become directly involved in helping to record nature and preserve endangered species. No scientific degree required, just a healthy dose of curiosity and concern for the environment and a way to share your information.