SWOSU Group Attends Oklahoma BioBlitz


BioBlitz Group
The SWOSU Department of Biological Sciences in Weatherford took a team of 17 students, friends and faculty to assist with the recent 6th annual Oklahoma BioBlitz at Quartz Mountain Nature Center. Participants included (front from left): Whitney Wichert, Glorianne Rios and Lauren Treadwell. Second row from left—Ashley Tippett, Kristin Bouldin, Tara Newton, Jessica Leal, Dr. Jimena Aracena, Brian Mahar, Serena Bonham and Larry McKillip. Back row from left—Mbarga Bodo, Brady Surber, Dr. Joseph Maness, Dr. Steven O’Neal, Joy McKillip and Dr. Peter Grant.

The Southwestern Oklahoma State University Department of Biological Sciences in Weatherford recently participated in the 6th annual Oklahoma BioBlitz, a rapid inventory of biological diversity hosted by the Oklahoma Biological Survey.

The event was held at the Quartz Mountain Nature Center at Lone Wolf. The survey is conducted by volunteers from around the state and the region. As many plants and animals in a designated area of public land that can be identified in 24 consecutive hours are tallied.  A total of 955 species were tallied, according to Dr. Peter Grant, chair of the SWOSU department that participated. Seventeen SWOSU participants attended BioBlitz.

BioBlitz has two main goals.  The first goal, education, aims to inform people about the diversity of plant and animal life in a local area through hands-on experiences and nature interpretation. This was achieved by displaying many of the organisms collected by the biologists and holding special classes on Friday morning for elementary school students.  Individuals who visited BioBlitz could actually collect some of the specimens counted in the survey.  Grant said this is how many of the insect specimens were obtained.

The second component is scientific. The biologists who were involved in BioBlitz are specialists in their field. The specimens collected provide valuable information about distribution and abundance of these organisms, which can be used in the scientists’ research.

BioBlitz was invented in 1996 by scientists from the National Parks Service and inaugurated in Washington, D.C., by scientists from the National Park Service, the National Botanical Garden, and the Smithsonian Institution. BioBlitz of varying types have since been conducted in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, North Carolina, North Dakota and other states.

SWOSU student volunteers at Bio Blitz included Whitney Wichert, Kristin Bouldin, Mbarga Bodo, Glorianne Rios, Ashley Tippett, Joy McKillip, Jessica Leal, Serena Bonham, Brady Surber, and Tara Newton.  Also volunteering were Larry McKillip and two SWOSU biology alumni, Lauren Treadwell and Brian Mahar.  Four biology faculty led the SWOSU contingent:  Dr. Jimena Aracena, Dr. Steven O’Neal (phycology), Dr. Joseph Maness (herpetology leader), and Dr. Peter Grant (terrestrial invertebrate co-leader).

Next year’s BioBlitz will be held at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in September.  For more information about BioBlitz, visit the Oklahoma Biological Survey website at  http://www.biosurvey.ou.edu/ or contact Grant at peter.grant@swosu.edu.