(Posted September 11, 2017)

Jason Jones
Jason Jones

Huntingdon, Pa. – Juniata College is hosting a Bioblitz on September 15 & 16, 2017 at the College’s Peace Chapel, located near campus. A 24-hour assessment of the flora and fauna in the vicinity, a Bioblitz is not only a data collection event—it is an opportunity for community members to interact with experts who are conducting outreach and education. The event is free and open to the public. 

“The Peace Chapel is a perfect location for a bioblitz because it has many different vegetation types, and more than 200 acres, including forest, open areas and wetland,” says Uma Ramakrishnan, an associate professor of environmental sciences who is co-organizing the event. “If you really want to protect the environment, you need to understand the role all of the species play and their interrelatedness.”

E.O. Wilson, a professor emeritus of Harvard University who is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, developed a program to collect data in a manner similar to a Bioblitz. Later, the term BioBlitz was coined by U.S. National Park Service naturalist Susan Rudy. The first BioBlitz was held at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C., in 1996. 

“You hear about the National Park Service doing events like this because it’s a good experience for the environment and a cool way to get the community involved,” says Shannan Davidow, a senior who is co-organizing the bioblitz as her capstone project. “I think this project will help me stand out to organizations when I’m applying for a job. Planning an event like this will show I have experience working with experts, organization skills, collaboration, networking and experience working a lot of data—data that I’ve actually collected.” 

Professors from the biology and environmental sciences departments, as well as the Raystown Field Station, will serve as experts at the event, which generate significant amounts of data. After the event, students can conduct further research using the data.

"The data will give us an idea of what species we have up there," Davidow says. "It will give us clues as to what's in larger areas. Hopefully, people will see why we shouldn't disturb areas like this and the species that live there."

“The data will give us an idea of what species we have up there,” Davidow says. “It will give us clues as to what’s in larger areas. Hopefully, people will see why we shouldn’t disturb areas like this and the species that live there.”

Davidow hopes K-12 students and their families will attend to see the species captures, which could include squirrels, rabbits, salamanders and snakes. She and Ramakrishnan have worked with middle- and high-school teachers in the area to invite classes as well as students and their families to the event, but designed the event to include more than 100 community members. All are welcome and encouraged to attend. The event includes educational tents, which will be operating on Friday, Sept. 15, from 6-7 pm and Saturday, Sept. 16, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., with different programs being featured every 45 minutes. 

Attendees are urged not to attempt to drive to or park at the Peace Chapel. Instead, those attending are urged to park in the South Hall parking lot on campus, which is located adjacent to Knox Stadium. From nearby Ellis Hall, shuttles will transport attendees to the Peace Chapel.  

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.