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Inaugural SIPS BioBlitz Launches Sept. 8-9

The SIPS BioBlitz connects the public with scientists and students as they work together to count as many species as possible in a predetermined area for 24 hours.

The SIPS BioBlitz connects the public with scientists and students as they work together to count as many species as possible in a predetermined area for 24 hours.

Reposted from CALS News [2017-09-01]:

Nature enthusiasts of all ages are invited to the 2017 SIPS BioBlitz—an action-packed scientific endeavor, competition, festival and educational programming Sept. 8-9 at Cayuga Nature Center.

The free event from the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) connects the public with scientists and students from local universities as they work together to count as many species as possible in a predetermined area for 24 hours. Participation for the event, which is the first of its kind in the area, is open to both students and local citizens.

Co-sponsored with the Cayuga Nature Center, the BioBlitz will include taxon-themed walks, demonstrations and educational programs for everyone, giving the public an opportunity to learn from scientists as they identify and catalog organisms. join the hunt for species, and use the iNaturalist app to upload their sightings to the species list. Admission is free to the Nature Center during the event.

“This is a great opportunity for people from all walks of life to get back to nature and learn about the amazing plants and animals in their own backyard,” says Scott LaGreca, SIPS BioBlitz coordinator and curator of the Cornell Plant Pathology Herbarium.

The opening ceremony will begin at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, with remarks by Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences; Christine Smart, professor of plant pathology and SIPS director; Warren Allmon, director of the Paleontological Research Institution; Elizabeth Thomas, Ulysses Town Supervisor; and Chief Samuel George, Cayuga Nation Bear Clan’s Sachem.

The BioBlitz starts at 5 p.m. on Friday as teams of scientists spread out across the Cayuga Nature Center’s grounds and nearby Smith Woods, one of the few old-growth forests left in the area, to take a census of everything from deer to microbes. Each team will have its headquarters at the Cayuga Nature Center, where members will show off their findings and answer questions from the public.

Schedule of Events

Friday, September 8

  • 4 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
  • 5 p.m. – Start of BioBlitz!
  • 5-9 p.m. – Displays open in Nature Center
  • 5 p.m. – Interesting Fall Insects at the Nature Center
  • 6 p.m. – Snails and Slugs of the Forest
  • 7 p.m. – Nighttime Bat Extravaganza
  • 8 p.m. – Spiders by Flashlight
  • 9 p.m. – Moth Trapping and Nighttime Insects

Saturday, September 9

  • All Day – Taxa Tables displays and information
  • 10 a.m. – Native and Non-Native Plants and their Histories
  • 11 a.m. – Fungus Among Us Walk
  • Noon – Animal Feedings
  • 1 p.m. – Fun with Microbiology DNA
  • 2 p.m. – Walk with the Pollinators
  • 3 p.m. – Mapping Vegetation Using Drones
  • 5 p.m. – End of 24-hour BioBlitz collecting
  • 6 p.m. – Species tally announcement

More information can be found online. For questions, contact Scott LaGreca at or 607-255-2777.


Cornell-led project to improve grapes gets big boost

Bruce Reisch

Bruce Reisch

Cornell Chronicle [2017-08-31]

Breeding the next great grape is getting a boost thanks to new funding for a Cornell-led project that uses genomic technology to create varieties that are more flavorful and sustainable.

The project, VitisGen2, is a collaboration of 25 scientists from 11 institutions who are working in multidisciplinary teams to accelerate development of the next generation of grapes. Launched in 2011, the project was recently renewed with a $6.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative.

The work has the potential to save millions of dollars annually for the U.S. grape industry – in excess of $100 million in California alone, according to Bruce Reisch, professor of grapevine breeding and genetics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS), who co-leads the project with Lance Cadle-Davidson, plant pathologist with the USDA-ARS Grape Genetics Research Unit, both located at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, New York.

VitisGen2’s multipronged model addresses the grape production continuum. An economics team examines the benefits of improving grape varieties. Geneticists identify molecular markers for important traits in grapes, from resistance to diseases like powdery mildew to boosting low-temperature tolerance and fruit quality. Grape-breeding scientists develop new grape varieties that incorporate these traits, and teams of outreach specialists help growers and consumers understand the advantages of newly introduced grape varieties.

The result is a new generation of high-quality grapes that can be grown at lower cost and adapt easily to a range of geographic regions and climates, all with less environmental impact.

“We all stand to benefit in areas ranging from the environment to economic sustainability to improving the profit and quality possibilities for the industry,” Reisch said.

Read the whole article.


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