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Organizing committee lays groundwork for the 2017 SIPS BioBlitz

Have you ever wanted to inventory molluscs in the lakeside woods? Document the plants?  Count all the fungi? Record all the birds? Identify the soil bacteria?  If so, then mark your calendars for the SIPS BioBlitz, to be held at Cayuga Nature Center on September 8-9, 2017.

Pioneered in 1998 in Walden Woods Massachusetts, a BioBlitz is designed as an opportunity for scientists of diverse backgrounds and skills to come together and count as many species as they can in a given area over a 24-hour period.

Next September, the School of Integrative Plant Science (SIPS) will showcase our local biodiversity with the inaugural SIPS BioBlitz, co-sponsored by the Cayuga Nature Center (CNC) and to be held on CNC grounds, seven miles from downtown Ithaca. Scot LaGreca, Curator of the Plant Pathology Herbarium and SIPS BioBlitz Coordinator, is a veteran participant and organizer of BioBlitzes in Massachusetts, Vermont, and the Catskills in New York.

Cornell faculty, staff, students, and their families are invited to participate together with members of the general public.   Fill out the SIPS BioBlitz Interest Form to receive BioBlitz news and indicate your interests.  There will be 16 survey teams covering a wide diversity of organisms including vascular plants, fungi, birds, mammals, fish, invertebrates, and insects [complete list available on the interest form]. Leaders have been designated for each team and will be seeking additional team members from among those who register.  There will also be opportunities for individuals and clubs to lead programs, present educational displays, or just visit CNC on the day of the BioBlitz to watch the fun. LaGreca commented on his first Bioblitz experience, “I saw schoolchildren getting excited about their environment for the first time, and learning the names of some organisms–which experts will tell you is the first crucial step towards developing passion for the natural world”.

This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the process of science and the complexity and beauty of our local ecosystem.  SIPS Interim Director Chris Smart comments, “Partnering with the Cayuga Nature Center for a day of exploring biology and nature is sure to be lots of fun. It’s a great way to learn about biodiversity in a beautiful location, close to home. Our hope is that lots of people will join in and help find and identify as many species as possible – it’s like a treasure hunt.” Who knows – we might even find some new species!

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