BioBlitz is a fun event where experts and members of the public join forces to explore the rich diversity of life found in special areas. It is a race against time to see which site can record the most species of wildlife over a 24 hour period. It is also a celebration of the unique quality and value of natural heritage.
For the first time in Ireland, Island BioBlitz will see five of Ireland’s off shore islands competing against each other to see which island has the greatest diversity of wildlife and where the most wildlife species can be found. This will form the basis of an Island Wildlife Festival that runs a week-long programme of events for locals and tourists to celebrate the heritage of our islands.
The BioBlitz concept was first developed by the US National Park Service but BioBlitzs of many different types are now held throughout the world. Ireland’s first BioBlitz was organised by the National Biodiversity Data Centre in 2010, to celebrate International Year of Biodiversity.
Island BioBlitz (2016) – What is it?
Ireland’s BioBlitz brings together scientists and recorders in a race against time to see how many species can be recorded in a 24-hour biological survey of five of Ireland’s off-shore islands. The public is invited to observe the activities, to interact with the recorders and to participate in the range of other activities arranged by the participating islands. By pitting the five islands against each other, it will allow comparisons to be made between the islands, and highlight what is unique about each.
Island BioBlitz is designed as a celebration of what is special about our island natural heritage and provide an opportunity to attract visitors to the island for the festival. If successful, this could become an annual event.
How will it work?
A ‘Base Camp’ will be established on each island which will serve as the hub for the BioBlitz activities at each site. This will be managed by staff of the National Biodiversity Data Centre, working in collaboration with the local organisers and key experts invited to the event. Base Camp will be equipped with species lists and other equipment that might be needed on the day to aid the identification and validation of species observed. It will also be from where recorder and volunteer effort is coordinated to optimise the recording effort and where the overall species tally will be done. A large tally board will be located at each Base Camp to keep recorders and visitors informed of progress, and unusual or exciting news will be posted on the BioBlitz notice board throughout the day.
Base Camp will keep in regular contact with, and provide updates on progress to, the National Biodiversity Data Centre offices in Waterford, where the national coordination will take place. Updates on progress will be provided via the Centre’s website and twitter (biodiveristyireland.ie) at 17.00hrs, 20.00hrs 10.00hrs and the finally tally will be announced shortly after 12.00hrs on the Sunday..
When will it take place?
Ireland’s BioBlitz 2016 will start at 12.00hrs on Saturday 11 June and end precisely 24 hours later at 12.00hrs on Sunday 12 June. The recording and logging of species ends precisely at 12.00hrs on 12 June, whether or not there are more species to be counted. Any outstanding records not logged by 12.00hrs will be kept and used to generate a complete species list after the event. The winning site will be announced by the National Biodiversity Data Centre before 13.00hrs on the day. The National Biodiversity Data Centre has established a special BioBlitz website http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/bioblitz/ which will be updated throughout the event to track progress at each site and to keep people informed of what is happening across the sites.
How will it be organised?
There will be scientific survey activity running throughout the 24 hour period. A team of experts and experienced recorders have volunteered their time to participate in the BioBlitz on each island. They will use their knowledge and expertise to conduct survey work at different locations throughout the island to optimise the number of species counted. Members of the public are invited to visit BioBlitz Base Camp to follow progress, and to join in any of the special events running in conjunction with BioBlitz. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the scientists and recorders to see how they undertake their survey work and collate their findings. A programme of extra events will be organised from Base Camp throughout the day to provide additional activities for visitors.
As this is primarily a fun event, the rules are straightforward. Record all the species seen within, or from, the site you are surveying between 12.00hrs on 11th June and 12.00hrs 12th June 2016. This includes wild, naturalised and feral species, but does not include domesticated or species held in captivity. Plants growing within formal gardens or planted in flower beds are not to be included in the species list. Lists of species recorded can be submitted by anyone, but surveyors should register at Base Camp in advance. Records should be submitted on the official BioBlitz recording sheets available at Base Camp on the day.
A record should be to species level and must include the minimum information: species name, recorder name, detailed location name and/or grid reference.
For difficult taxonomic groups a record to the genus level can constitutes a valid record. However, if there is even one species recorded for a genus, then an additional genus level record is not valid.
In the vast majority of cases, records are generated by direct sightings of organisms. Nevertheless, records will be accepted based on what is considered conventional recording for a particular group. For example, for bat recording, the use of bat detectors to confirm identification through echolocation, or the identification of land mammals by tracks are valid means of generating records and will be accepted. Similarly the recording of birds by song is valid.
All of the records must be submitted through the special on-line BioBlitz record management system http://records.biodiversityireland.ie that has been specially developed by the National Biodiversity Data Centre to manage the BioBlitz event. The event will be streamed live on the site, enabling everyone to follow progress across the participating islands.
Given the potential logistical difficulties associated with recording on islands, any recording undertaken from the preceding Monday 6th June are valid. Any trapping, such as the placement of pitfall traps, can only commence from Monday 6th June.
After the Event
A specially designed certificate will be presented to the winning island by the National Biodiversity Data Centre. The name of the winning island will also be added to the perpetual BioBlitz trophy.
A complete species list for each island will be finalised, seeking the advice of experts where necessary, and the records will be mapped on Biodiversity Maps, the National Biodiversity Data Centre’s mapping system. A copy of this final validated species list will be available for each of the island for their own use.
How can I become involved?
If you are interested in assisting with the recording or just wish to participate in the programme of events that each site will provide on the day, please visit the BioBlitz website http://www.biodiversityireland.ie/projects/bioblitz/ for contact details.
All islands would welcome the assistance of experienced recorders to assist with survey work on the day.
The National Biodiversity Data Centre is extremely grateful to the support of all of the scientists who volunteer to give of their time freely to assist with this event. The Centre is also grateful for the support of its partners.