Directions

1. Learn about bioblitzing and gather your supplies.
The purpose of a bioblitz is to get a total count of the plants, animals, fungi, and other living things that make their home in a certain area. Bio is a Greek word for life, and blitz is German for lightning. Arm yourself with a camera—or a smartphone—and a clipboard and venture outside. (Check out the full list of supplies in the What You’ll Need tab.) In a 2012 community bioblitz at Forest Park in Portland, Oregon, participants discovered 247 species, including 66 different kinds of birds. How many species do you think you can identify in one afternoon?

2. Before you go outside, define the area where you will look for living things.
Will you search in your backyard, a field, or around your block? Even a small yard can be home to dozens of living things. In a bioblitz, the goal is to count as many species as possible. Species are groups of living things. A squirrel is an example of one type of species, and a honeybee is another species. All living things—plants, animals, fungi—are grouped into different species.

3. Download an online identification tool or print the Species Identification cards.
If you have a smartphone, use a nature identification app, like Project Noah, during your bioblitz. ProjectNoah is a citizen science site. You can upload photos of plants and animals. If you are unable to identify a plant or animal that you photographed, you can tick the box “Help me ID this species,” and people will weigh in with possible common and scientific names. You can join missions, like National Geographic’s GreatNature Project.

Or you can bring the Species Identification Cards and a field guide with you when you go outside. A field guide is a book with pictures that people use to help identify natural things. You can check one out at your library. Try to fill out the identification cards as accurately as possible by using expert resources—like the Encyclopedia of Life—for research and incorporating drawings, observations, and photographs.

4. Go outside.
Identify and count plants and animals. Don’t forget to take pictures and/or draw what you find. As you find a plant or animal, jot down notes about its habitat. For example, did you find a certain type of plant growing in the shade or sun? Were all the wasps you saw flying around flowering or nonflowering plants? These types of observations will help with identification.

5. Compile your findings.
Make a map of your area using the MapMaker Interactive and plot where you found each species. You can do another bioblitz in the same area during a different season—do you think you will find the same living things?

6. Talk about what you learned.
For example, did you see living things that you had never noticed before?

What You’ll Need

Materials You Provide

  • Clipboards
  • Digital camera
  • Field guides
  • Hand lens
  • Notebooks
  • Pencils
  • Scissors

Background

Background Information

In the wild, living things depend on their habitats to provide food, water, shelter, and other needs for survival. Scientists studying wildlife use geographic data to record the location of important resources, search for species, record places species are found, and identify underlying patterns. Information about where species live is critical to preserving and protecting Earth’s biodiversity.


Vocabulary

Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

bioblitz

Noun

a field study in which groups of scientists and citizens study and inventory all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

Encyclopedic Entry: bioblitz

biodiversity

Noun

all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

Encyclopedic Entry: biodiversity

citizen science

Noun

science project or program where volunteers who are not scientists conduct surveys, take measurements, or record observations.

Encyclopedic Entry: citizen science

data

Plural Noun

(singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.

species

Noun

group of similar organisms that can reproduce with each other.

species inventory

Noun

a list of all the species of organisms living in a specific area.

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Credits

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Writer

Jessica Shea, National Geographic Society

Editors

Christina Riska, National Geographic Society
Sean P. O'Connor, National Geographic Society

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