WESPEN Online Order Form print this page
US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

DON EDWARDS-SAN FRANCISCO BAY NWR: Area Partners Host Area's First  BioBlitz in South Bay

Region 8, December 10, 2011
Liming Chao attempts to look through the spotting scope during a bird walk while her mother Sunny, and sister Ping-Ya looks on.
Liming Chao attempts to look through the spotting scope during a bird walk while her mother Sunny, and sister Ping-Ya looks on. - Photo Credit: n/a
This Great-blue Heron was documented while budding field scientists were recording the species sited on the refuge.
This Great-blue Heron was documented while budding field scientists were recording the species sited on the refuge. - Photo Credit: n/a

By Carmen Leong-Minch

Nearly 200 people arrived at the Don Edwards-San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge’s Alviso Unit over a 24-hour period to become field scientists, documenting every living organism that crossed their path as part of the December 10, 2011 BioBlitz event. From 2:00 p.m. December 10 to 2:00 p.m. the December 11, scientists, educators, and members of the community logged 215 species in a targeted area of the refuge. In addition to the plant, avian, mammalian, and fish species that were observed and confirmed, there was also phytoplankton, insects, and one mollusk. A final report and the individually- logged observations can be found on the refuge’s website at www.fws.gov/desfbay.

The word “BioBlitz” was first coined by US National Park Service Naturalist Susan Rudy in 1996. It was used to describe the event that was part contest, part festival, part educational event, and part scientific endeavor. The event is designed to increase the public’s awareness of the variety of life in their immediate neighborhood, to excite children about science and to consider careers in this field, and to generate a list of species found on the refuge. The goals of this particular event were:

- To count, map, and learn about the refuge’s diverse organisms ranging from predatory sharks, migratory birds, microscopic plankton, and nocturnal mammals.
- Provide scientists, students, and the general public an opportunity to conduct field work together.
- Document species occurrence by adding to the refuge’s official species list.
- Highlight the importance of protecting biodiversity of a local refuge
- Provide an outlet for active recreation and outdoor enjoyment as directed by First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Campaign and the Fish and Wildlife Service’s Connecting People with Nature Initiative.
- Encourage today’s youths to explore careers in the conservation field.

Participants were given data sheets to record all the species they observed, and were encouraged to enter the data directly onto the website, or hand in the data sheet to the refuge to receive credit for the final report.

Partners who provided their expertise included Dr. James Hobbs and Nick Buckmaster from the University of California at Davis (fish sampling); Carol Boland from the City of San Jose (phytoplankton sampling); Sara Piotter from the US Geological Survey (birdwatching); Peter Moravcsik from the Bay Area Amphibian and Reptile Society (Reptile and Amphibian hike); Corky Quirk from Northern California Bats and David Johnston from the Western Bat Working Group; Norm Penny from the California Academy of Sciences (insects); Bryan White representing The University of Central Missouri (camera traps); Brian Popper from the US Department of Agriculture (mammal trapping); Michael Azevedo from the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (owling); Stephanie Ellis from the San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory (birdwatching); Lynn Fennema from Youth Science Institute (aquatic insect sampling); Debra King from the San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society (habitat hike); and David Thompson from the Fish and Wildlife Service and Arvind Kumar from the California Native Plant Society (plant walk). Scott Loarie of iNaturalist.org provided the technology and code for the on-line database for the refuge’s website.

# # #

Carmen Leong-Minch serves as a recreation planner and visitor services specialist for the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Alviso, Calif.

Contact Info: Carmen Minch, 510-792-0222 ext. 476, carmen_leong-minch@fws.gov