What is a BioBlitz?

A BioBlitz is a period of intensive and collaborative cataloguing of the plant and animal life in a specific area. Some BioBlitzes are open to the public, but our BioBlitz is for Macaulay sophomores, who will be guided by scientific experts and other knowledgeable volunteers to complete the BioBlitz.

Here’s a nice short video showing a BioBlitz in McLaren Park in San Francisco.

When is the BioBlitz?

The BioBlitz starts in the afternoon on Saturday, August 29, 2015 and ends in the afternoon on Sunday, August 30, 2015. You will sign up for a specific time when you register in late July.

Shuttle service will be provided between the St George Ferry area and Freshkills Park. BioBlitz shifts and shuttle service times will be coordinated with scheduled Staten Island Ferry arrival and departure times. For students who are not taking the ferry to Staten Island, please arrive promptly to meet your shuttle. Personal vehicles will not be allowed into Freshkills Park. You must take the shuttle.

Oh no! Do I need to stay there for 24 hours?

No, we don’t expect you to be in a 24 hour endurance event! Students sign up for one shift. Most shifts are about three hours long. During your shift, you will work in a team to catalogue a particular type of life in the Garden. You will have directions and guidance.

Where is the BioBlitz?

This year’s BioBlitz is at The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG). All students will check in AT MACAULAY (35 W 67 St) to get credentials and materials, and meet their research teams. We will provide bus transportation from Macaulay directly to NYBG.

Who should attend? Do I have to sign up?

This event is for Macaulay sophomores (that’s the class of 2018). If you are a Macaulay sophomore, this is a required event and registration is required. When it is time to register, sign up for one and only one slot. All slots are first-come, first-served. You will be assigned to a survey team at the BioBlitz.

What should I bring with me?

You must wear your BioBlitz t-shirt throughout the event. It’s your ticket in, so make sure you have it! Wear clothing that covers your legs and sturdy, flat, closed-toe shoes.

You should also bring a backpack, a bottle of water, some snacks, sunscreen if you are working during the day, and you should consider bug spray. If the forecast calls for rain, bring your rain gear.

If you have an iPhone or Android, please download iNaturalist and bring your device!

Otherwise, please avoid bringing extra things and valuables with you. There will be no storage space for personal items onsite.

What should I wear?

You must wear your BioBlitz t-shirt throughout the event. It’s your ticket in, so make sure you have it!

You will be working outside, and that could include work on the ground. In other words, your clothes could get dirty. The BioBlitz goes on rain or shine, so dress for being outside in the weather that is expected. For safety reasons, you must wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes and clothing that covers your legs. Do not wear shorts, short skirts, sandals, flip-flops, high heels etc. And don’t forget sunscreen, bug spray, and rain gear if necessary!

What should I expect?

You should expect a fun and active learning experience that will help you experience Freshkills Park and data collection in ways that few New Yorkers have before. You will be contributing to an important event whose data will help scientists and citizens of New York to understand biodiversity in our city.

Do I need to do anything in advance to prepare?

You need to register! Registration will open in late July and will take place through this site.

Besides registering, please create an iNaturalist account and download the app if you have a compatible device.

Who will be there to help me?

We are working with a team of scientists and knowledgeable enthusiasts to lead teams of students. Team leaders will provide guidance, instruction, and species identification help.

How do we collect information?

We will use a program called iNaturalist to record information. Please create an account with iNaturalist. Android and iPhone apps are available, so if you have one of those, please download the app before you arrive. We will try to make sure that every team has at least one member with an iNaturalist-equipped mobile device, but we will provide good old-fashioned paper and pencils as back up.

What happens to the data we collect?

Data will be used in your Seminar 3 classes and by scientists who study the various forms of life you will encounter. Freshkills will also use the data to help inform decisions they make about the site. Data will also be available on this web site for public use.

What if it rains?

The BioBlitz will go on rain or shine. We will have ponchos on hand. If there is an extreme weather event such as a hurricane, the BioBlitz will be canceled and we will inform participants via email and this site. If there is a brief period of severe weather, such as a thunderstorm, activity will temporarily be suspended. Leaders will communicate with their teams in case of a weather event during the course of the day.

What if I can’t come?

This is a mandatory event for Macaulay sophomores. If you can’t come, you should talk to your Seminar 3 professor about what makeup activity he or she requires.

My species identification skills are weak. How will I know what I am looking at?

Scientists will lead the students teams during the BioBlitz. They’ll show you how they work in the field and help you identify the species you see. You do not need any experience to participate in the BioBlitz.

I’m concerned about animal welfare. What can you tell me?

Many of the animal species we observe during the BioBlitz are only visually observed, or recorded through some other non-invasive means, such as track plates or infrared cameras. Some species, such as turtles, fish, and bats, are caught in specialized nets or traps, and released, unharmed, after they have been identified. All vertebrate animal trapping and handling activity is regulated by permits from the DEC and from CUNY’s Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). In most cases, only taxon leaders may directly handle animals, and all taxon leaders will be able to explain the procedures they use to identify and study animals, and why it is important to do so.
A small number of insects and spiders and potentially some mollusks (such as slugs) are trapped and humanely euthanized so that they can be studied in a lab. (If you have specific questions about procedures, you can ask a taxon leader.) Taking samples to a lab allows for more accurate species identification, which is an important part of studying the area’s ecosystem. If you want to be on a team with only vegan activity, you may indicate this when you register.

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