Mission: Geography!

5 Posts authored by: bobh

Even though BioBlitz 2013 is over, I still have unedited  video that I'm pulling together... This is the result of one set, from our walk early Saturday morning.

This video blog of our early morning bird inventory with National Geographic Explorer Neil Losin gives you a good feel for what these kinds of inventories are like. While the plant, insect, amphibian, fish, reptile, etc inventories all involve getting close to the critters, and sometimes catching them, bird inventories are usually a matter of walking, listening and spotting.

(NOTE: Some Bioblitz groups do set up "mist nets" -- fine netting suspended between two trees or posts for catching birds -- but that's mostly for the purpose of banding the birds. Most of the actual bird IDs come from spotting them at a distance)

It's best to get out early in the morning, when the birds are most active (and vocal). You'll want some good binoculars and/or a small scope on a tripod that kids can look through. There are bird identification apps available, though Neil just used his memory, while John Francis, also from National Geographic, used a field guide.

One suggestion for all Bioblitz inventories, but especially for bird inventories, is to have kids practice being quiet and attentive to the environment before you begin. Ideally, they'd try just listening (and feeling and smelling) the environment for 15 minutes or more without saying anything. Of course, if the best you can get is five minutes or one minute, that's better than nothing!

If they need some sort of task/goal, you can have them try to figure out how many kinds of birds there are around them by listening to their songs.

A possible "pre-activity" would be to have them learn the songs of five birds that they are likely to encounter on their walk. Ideally, have kids learn different bird songs, so that as a group you can identify quite a few.

At least one person (and sometimes every person) needs to record what you find. We will be updating our "Active Explorer" smartphone app later this summer to include the ability to fill in data charts with, for example, species names. So that will be a handy tool for BioBlitzes or any other activity involving gathering textual or numeric data in an organized way.

As always, happy to answer questions!

For more biodiversity resources and discussions, visit the All About Science group and the BioBlitz Collection page at Science Netlinks.


Final BioBlitz Tally!

Posted by bobh Oct 28, 2011



Sorry to keep you in suspense for so long. Attached is a video with the final species tally at the 2011 BioBlitz and the announcement for BioBlitz 2012. A nice geography assignment might be to compare the habitats and terrain of the 2011 and 2012 BioBlitz sites. How are they alike? How are they different? How might the plants and animals living there differ? Why? It might be worthwhile to have students think about the question and pose ideas BEFORE they actually research the two regions and learn more.



Does tromping around the desert in the darkness--  along with scorpions, rattlesnakes, and venomous spiders-- sound like fun to you? It was for these kids at Wilson Middle School, in Tucson, Arizona, who joined entomologists in a hunt for nocturnal insects (and whatever else they might run into). This could be a fun video to share with a class to get them thinking about wildlife exploration.







Life Inside a Plant

Posted by bobh Oct 22, 2011



Some of the organisms being collected at the 2011 BioBlitz (a 24-hour species inventory) are microscopic, but still incredibly interesting and important. In this video, scientists are looking for fungi that spend their lives inside plants. Fungi produce a lot of very useful compounds, like antibiotics, anticancer drugs, and compounds that can help create new fuels.





BioBlitz 2011 Kick Off Video

Posted by bobh Oct 21, 2011



I'm here at the 2011 BioBlitz in Tucson, Arizona, presented by the National Geographic Society and the National Park Service. It's a 24-hour species inventory, held this year in Saguaro National Park. This is a great event for getting kids interested in geography content, including how different geographic areas result in different ecosystems, as a result of climate, terrain, soil chemistry and a host of other factors. This first video is an overview of the event. I'll be posting more tonight and tomorrow.




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