David Patrick (event coordinator from Paul Smith's College) addressing the various surveys crews and leaders at the fourth annual Bioblitz.
On the weekend of July 14-15, the All-Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) conducted its fourth bioblitz in the Adirondack Park, this time in and around the Village of Saranac Lake. ATBI is a collaborative organization composed of various groups and schools in and around the Adirondacks committed to surveying and protecting the biodiversity of the park.
“There are two goals to ATBI,” said David Patrick, Director for the Center for Adirondack Biodiversity at Paul Smith’s College, and coordinator for the event. “The first goal is to inventory what species occur here, where, and how many. Without these baseline data we have no idea what has happened if things change in the future.”
“The ATBI is good for knowing what’s out there and to get a historical perspective for future changes,” added Steve Young, Chief Botanist for the New York Natural Heritage Program who gave the keynote address on finding rare plants in the Adirondacks.
“The second goal,” said Patrick, “is to use that process of inventory as a vehicle for public education. It is a two-way process – we are trying to listen to local people as well.”
To these ends, the bioblitz in Saranac Lake featured teams of volunteers – including many students from Paul Smith’s College and SUNY-ESF - with expertise in various areas of natural history surveying trails, lakes, and neighborhoods throughout the village. The event was headquartered at the Saranac Lake public library from which teams radiated out to canvas the area.
All told, the survey found about 670 species (with a few more species still to be added) in and around Saranac Lake, led by over 400 species of plants.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get experts in all these different fields together to see what’s out there,” said Brian McAllister a Naturalist/Educator at the Paul Smith’s College VIC who coordinated the effort to survey birds.
Local enthusiasts and experts were joined by folks from outside the park who compose Taxonomic Working Groups (TWiGs) which are focused on one specific group of organisms, for example fungi or birds. The surveys were accompanied by several educational and family-oriented programs put on by volunteers and local organizations such as The Wild Center Museum.
“It’s so nice to see all these people out with an interest in natural history, wanting to catalog it and wanting to share it with others,” said Young.
“This is about getting outside and sharing our knowledge with other enthusiastic scientists, biogeeks, and people,” added McAllister.
“The bioblitzes themselves are important for highlighting the biodiversity that is all around you if you know how to look for it,” said Patrick.
“It’s easy to measure the success of the bioblitz by numbers,” concluded Patrick. “But I measure its success by individual stories – it’s connecting those people who may not have had an outlet for their interests or had not met other people with those same interests.”
For more information on ATBI and future Adirondack bioblitzes see adirondackbiodiversity.org, paulsmiths.edu/ATBI/index.php, or www.atbialliance.org.