April 14, 2013

Count on BioBlitz for help tally local species

By Elizabeth Lee

---- — If you want to get to know your neighbors, April 28 is your chance. By neighbors I mean the plants, animals, insects and fish that live in the urban forest at Rugar Woods.

That day the SUNY Plattsburgh Wildlife Club, led by ecology professor Danielle Garneau, is hosting its first community BioBlitz. 

Unlike a census of the human population in an area, a bioblitz doesn’t count individuals. Instead a bioblitz logs the number of different species that are found in an area in a specific time period.

All members of the public are invited to join BioBlitz 2013 from 5:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. Participants are welcome for any part of the event and may stay all day to watch the tally of species grow. 

Both professional and aspiring scientists will be on hand explaining what to look for and how to document what you find. Dr. Chris Wolfe, an anthropology professor, will be adding to the bioinventory with insights into what past events and activities may have influenced the Rugar Woods we see today.

BioBlitz 2013 began as a way to develop a sense of stewardship among SUNY Plattsburgh students.

According to Rory O’Carroll, the Wildlife Club’s president, “Rugar Woods is a gem for students. It’s walking distance from campus and provides students with a great venue for outdoor research.”

With an interpretive trail and signage, wildlife viewing points and multiple natural communities, Rugar Woods is an important asset to the campus and to the surrounding city.

The BioBlitz is designed to become a family-friendly annual event. With environmental conditions changing for all living things, a periodic inventory may give Plattsburgh residents insight into trends that affect work, recreation and health.

The renowned scientist E.O. Wilson called a bioblitz “a wonderful treasure hunt, a scientific research project and a generally wonderful outing among people accomplishing something.”

Wilson encourages communities to have experts review their data and then enter it into the Encyclopedia of Life at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington.

If Sunday, April 28, finds you intrigued by what’s out there, park at the SUNY Field House parking area near the baseball field and look for the tent. Information and data sheets will be available and Wildlife Club members will direct you. Several members of the SUNY Plattsburgh faculty will be leading short, guided walks to orient participants. Counters of all ages are welcome but this is one day when Fido should stay home.

Students who need transportation will find a convenient shuttle bus leaving the Angel College Center at 7:15 and 9:45 a.m. and 12:45, 2:45 and 7:15 p.m. Don’t miss the early morning and evening activities for the least commonly seen inhabitants of the forest. Dress for the elements, bring snacks and water.

Elizabeth Lee is a licensed guide who lives in Westport. She leads recreational and educational programs focused in the Champlain Valley throughout the year. Contact her at



BIOBLITZ 2013 For more information, visit The BioBlitz is the finale of events being organized for Earth Week, April 22 through 28. Find out about superstorms, powering down and edible plants at