Friday, April 14, 2017

Arlington Bioblitz

Arlington's Bioblitz team from last year who assisted in the National Park Service Bioblitz

     Mark your calendars now. May 20th, 2017 is Arlington County's first Bioblitz, and you can participate and contribute. A bioblitz is a quick, but intense, biotic survey completed within a 24 hour period. Consider it a snap shot in time of what plants and wildlife are found in a certain place during that period of time. While this is certainly not a complete record of what lives there, it provides a vital look at what is there during that period. If you get enough snap shots, then you can get a clear picture of what's there. 
     The Arlington Bioblitz will kick off a much larger and longer survey of what we have in Arlington. Over at least a two year period, the results of this and even more surveys will help us know what we have, and compare it to what we have recorded before or what was historically present. This information will help shape the new update of the County's Natural Resource Management Plan. You can't manage and preserve what you don't know you have, so this info is vital. You can see the previous County Board approved plan here:  If you'd like to see the technical report (granted also in need of updating using new survey information) that resulted from our previous county biotic surveys, please check here:  
     The Arlington Bioblitz will kick off many more surveys where we will check on previous records and see how those plants and animals are doing (and get an idea of how our Natural Resources Management Plan has done). But we will hopefully also find new flora and fauna that can influence what the new Natural Resources Management Plan update will include. Some of this will be done by County staff, some by contracted experts, and much more with the aid of volunteers and citizen scientists.
     This is where the general public such as you comes in. We hope you can join us that day (and stick around to help with the surveys that follow) to record what you see. Join Bioblitz survey teams in various County parks. Perhaps you have an expertise and can help lead a team. Perhaps you can help be an extra pair of eyes or help record what is seen. We plan to use the iNaturalist application to collect most of the data. This where regular folks along with experts can record sightings, often using a photograph that can serve as a voucher of what was seen and which can be verified by others. More on this neat process here:
     So what is planned for Arlington Bioblitz May 20th? Our field base will be at Barcroft  Park, one of several parks that we have planned for surveying. These parks also include Glencarlyn, Long Branch, Gulf Branch, Tuckahoe, Fort CF Smith, Bluemont, even our colleagues at Potomac Overlook will be hosting teams. 
     We have some experts that will be leading some very interesting searches for mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, macroinvertebrates, birds, plants, and some insects such as bees. Most of the teams will be conducting their inventories from 10am-4pm, but a few such as the birders will get an early start. Want to help conduct some citizen science that day and join us? Start by checking here:   We also have a kickoff event, explaining a bit more about what and why we are doing this and other biotic surveys scheduled for the evening of April 18th. You can find out more about that event here: .
     Want to lead a team or get even more info? Contact Arlington County Parks Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas at either or by phone at 703-2287742. Participating in a bioblitz is not only a lot of fun, but provides some valuable citizen science. Recording these nature discoveries helps us know what we have and how we can better protect them. But it is also a great hands-on way to learn from experts and one another, all in a social and and informative manner.