Loyola University To Lead ‘Citizen Science’ Project BioBlitz New Orleans City Park
NEW ORLEANS – Volunteer scientists, coastal researchers, naturalists, teachers, students, families and interested residents of all ages are encouraged to join BioBlitz New Orleans City Park Saturday, July 15, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
A BioBlitz, also known as a biological inventory or biological census, is an event or intense period of surveying that focuses on finding and identifying as many species as possible in a specific area over a short period of time.
BioBlitz New Orleans City Park is designed to assess the full range of species in the 1,300-acre park, which includes lagoons, historic oak trees, fishing ponds, fields, and botanic gardens — and is home to the world’s largest collection of mature live oaks and some of the city’s most important recreational facilities, from Storyland to the New Orleans Museum of Art, event reps said. The “Citizen Science” project invites citizens of all ages and levels of expertise to engage in the process, thus either sharing their expertise or expanding their knowledge by working hand-in-hand with a variety of scientists.
The aim is to identify as many species as possible and enlarge an existing list of both native and introduced flora and fauna. Data gathered will build upon existing data gathered by the Louisiana Master Naturalist program and will be used by City Park to prepare for the future.
A $66,000 grant from Entergy Corporation will support the project.
“Citizen science is a form of crowdsourcing, in that it involves residents of all types in the gathering of scientific data to be used toward a common goal that impacts everyone,” said Robert A. “Bob” Thomas, professor and director of the Loyola Center for Environmental Communication, as well as board member of the City Park Improvement Association and the New Orleans Botanical Garden Foundation. “With the help of volunteers and scientists, park management and city leaders will gain a better understanding of the biodiversity at one of the nation’s largest public parks.”
“One of our goals is to help City Park become better informed about its flora and fauna, so park leaders can make informed decisions about the management of their land,” said Aimée Thomas, lecturer and assistant professor of biological sciences at Loyola. “This is a great opportunity for residents and hobbyists interested in nature to gain field experience working side-by-side with entomologists, bird experts, coastal scientists and other experts in their fields.”
Led by professors in Loyola University New Orleans’ Environmental Sciences program, the July 15 BioBlitz will engage scientists and naturalists from universities throughout the region in leading teams of volunteers, as they gather observations and information on plants, birds, insects, reptiles, mammals and other wildlife in the area, event reps said.
More than 20 experts from Loyola, University of New Orleans, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Tulane, as well as the Audubon Institute, the Lake Foundation, New Orleans Botanical Gardens and New Orleans City Park will lead groups focused on specific topics, from birds to butterflies. Participants will seek and document species in the park’s Couturie Forest, prairie and grassland areas, aquatic areas, Scout Island, levees, mixed deciduous areas, and the park’s golf, disc golf, soccer and softball courses.
The July 15 BioBlitz event at New Orleans City Park is free, and the public is invited to attend.