Wildlife

Citizen scientists document species in bioblitz

  • Jul 16, 2013
  • 427 words
  • 2 minutes
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We’re just ten minutes into a walk next to the Ruisseau de la Brasserie when a hip-wader-clad Daniel Toussaint emerges from the bushes, proudly holding his hand out. Toussaint, a biologist with Ressources naturelles du Quebec, is carrying a crayfish about eight centimetres long, found under a rock in the stream. Once identified, it would be recorded as one of dozens, or even hundreds (numbers are still being tallied), of species counted that day in and around just one tiny offshoot of the Ottawa River.

Last week, Toussaint and other experts guided volunteers and the curious public on walks along the stream in what is known as a “bioblitz,” a 24-hour quest to document as much of the life as possible in a given area. A bioblitz helps give scientists an idea of what lives where, but it also gives the public a chance to see just how much life exists within walking distance of home.

The Ottawa Riverkeeper organized the bioblitz at the Ruisseau de la Brasserie, but organizations across the country hold similar events. Regular bioblitzes happen in Vancouver and Whistler, and the Canadian Wildlife Service is in the process of developing a protocol to make it easier for groups to organize their own local bioblitzes.

Do you know of a bioblitz in your own community? Let us know in the comments below!

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Entomologists Diane LePage (left) and Dr. Fenja Brodo (centre) lead a walk along the Ruisseau de la Brasserie in Gatineau, Que. looking for insects.
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A blue damselfly perches on a stem near the stream.
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While looking for reptiles and amphibians in the stream, Daniel Toussaint, a biologist with Ressources naturelles du Quebec, finds a crayfish hiding under a rock.
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Two milkweed beetles are found mating on – predictably enough – a milkweed plant.
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Diane LePage finds an exciting specimen: an Eastern Tailed-blue butterfly, which is common further south but a relatively recent visitor to Ottawa.
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Diane LePage pauses in a graffiti-coated tunnel underneath Boul. des Allumettières in Gatineau, Que.
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Japanese beetles were first spotted in Canada in 1939, and the pretty pest is quite common today.
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An eight-spotted forester caterpillar crosses the bike path next to the Ruisseau de la Brasserie in Gatineau, Que.
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A group of volunteers uses a small seine net to search the Ruisseau de la Brasserie for aquatic wildlife.
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