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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

LESSONS LEARNED FROM TWO BIOBLITZES AT VALDOSTA STATE UNIVERSITY

Abstract

Two 24 hour BioBlitzes, led by the Department of Biology at Valdosta State University (VSU), were conducted at Grassy Pond Recreational Area in Lowndes County, Georgia. Each event included surveys of birds, arthropods, herpetiles, mammals, plants, fungi, and aquatic microorganisms, and educational activities for the public. Although many of the more than 20 taxonomic experts were VSU faculty or graduate students, some were affiliated with other universities, and others were distinguished Georgia or north Florida naturalists. At the first event, 654 unique species were recorded and over 150 community members and VSU students participated. At the second event, a similar number of species was reported and participation doubled. Most of the taxonomic survey teams focused their efforts on the survey or undergraduate education, with one or two interpretive walks for the public. Only a few community participants contributed to species reporting, despite various efforts to support this type of engagement. Community engagement was greatest with the educational activities and the herpetile and bird walks. VSU student participation was greater at the second event than the first event thanks to more extra credit opportunities and an improved plan to engage students with species reporting. The greatest challenge was the amount of time required to organize, advertise, and coordinate the events. The lessons learned at VSU’s first two BioBlitzes should help to maximize the scientific, educational, and outreach impacts of future BioBlitzes relative to the effort required to host such events.

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