Butterflies to Black Bears: statewide bioblitz highlighted Florida's biodiversity

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hotographed at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park (KPPSP), Crested Cara Cara are a federally threatened species, and tend to inhabit wet prairies or rangelands. Photo by  Ed Perry

hotographed at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park (KPPSP), Crested Cara Cara are a federally threatened species, and tend to inhabit wet prairies or rangelands. Photo by Ed Perry

Our first bioblitz– Counting on the Corridor– brought together an incredible group of land protection partners, expert naturalists, and citizen scientists from across the state. The event successfully connected people with the beauty and biodiversity of two conserved locations within the Florida Wildlife Corridor --- Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park and Ocala National Forest’s Alexander Springs Recreation Area.

People from all backgrounds explored the land, engaging in science and learning about some of Florida’s most special places. They also collected valuable data that could help protect plants and animals that make up Florida’s unique ecosystems. Though many wonderful scientists joined us, and shared their knowledge, no experience we necessary to participate. In fact, our tiniest participant was just over a year old!

A participant at the Kissimmee Prairie bioblitz takes a picture with his phone to upload to iNaturalist for identification. Photo by  Ed Perry

A participant at the Kissimmee Prairie bioblitz takes a picture with his phone to upload to iNaturalist for identification. Photo by Ed Perry

We wanted our bioblitz to capture a snapshot of Florida’s biodiversity. To accomplish this, we approached the event in a big way. The sites we selected included a sand pine scrub forest with a first magnitude spring and a dry prairie filled with some of the rarest species on the planet.

Scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members worked together to count as many plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms that they could spot. More than 100 registered participants recorded nearly 400 observations! A total of 197 species were identified, including some very rare plants and insects.

Participants enjoyed guided hikes, kayak tours, swamp buggy rides, snorkel tours, botany lessons, and archeological walks led by experts. Kid Zones entertained children with fossils, coloring, and interesting wildlife lessons. Participants also learned more about how Conservation Florida is saving land within the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Overall, it was a wonderful day outside! We hope you’ll join us at our next bioblitz.

Observed at KPPSP, the Euphyes berryi, known as Berry’s skipper, is a globally imperiled species of butterfly. It has been historically found in wet areas from North Carolina to Florida. Participants Edward Perry and Rachel Warner documented 44 species of butterflies at KPPSP during our bioblitz. Photo by  Ed Perry

Observed at KPPSP, the Euphyes berryi, known as Berry’s skipper, is a globally imperiled species of butterfly. It has been historically found in wet areas from North Carolina to Florida. Participants Edward Perry and Rachel Warner documented 44 species of butterflies at KPPSP during our bioblitz. Photo by Ed Perry

We wish to thank all who participated including the following volunteers and organizations who donated their time and expertise in making the day a huge success.

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Thank you to our Partners:

Alexander Springs Recreation Area

Florida State Parks

Florida Wildlife Corridor

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

US Fish and Wildlife Service

US Forest Service

Umatilla Chamber of Commerce

Friends of Kissimmee Prairie Preserve

American Land & Leisure

Thank you to our Volunteers:

Alan Rivero

Alexandria Grant

Andre Naranjo

Andrea Bonvecchio

Andrew Marbury

Anthony Melton

Blaire Lakatos

Cassandra Ward

Cody Kerr

Danielle Jordan

David Harder

David Rakes

Don Morrow

Emma Tighe

Gigi DelPizzo

Ivonne Antonian

Jay Holder

Jen Andreini 

Kaela Sculthorpe 

Emily Hesterman

Keyaries Berr 

 

KPPSP Staff,

with special thanks to Katie Ferguson & Jennifer Benson Hughes

Leah Norris 

Liz Sparks

Megan McClaughtery

Michael Stanfield

Pam Soltis

Dr. Paul Gray

Peter Kleinhenz

Robert Emond

Sarah Barrett

Scott Bayer

Scott Davis

Shayna N. Jacques

Tierney Shimansky 

& ALL participants

Conservation Florida