Late last August, 125 scientists converged on a two-square-mile patch of land in the northern section of Yellowstone National Park with the goal of finding as many new species as possible in a 24-hour period. Their ‘bioblitz’ came up with stunning results: They found 1,200 new species, including microscopic worms, blue-green lichen, mushrooms, slender grass, and a colorful tiger beetle.
Why all the hype? The bigger mammals are the park’s main attraction, but smaller organisms like these lay the ecological foundation that enables our beloved buffaloes to roam the park. By creating events like this one, scientists hope to highlight the park’s incredible biodiversity at all levels of the food chain.
Ann Rodman, a Yellowstone scientist who helped organize the event, told the Associated Press, “(Bioblitz) lets people see the value of Yellowstone is not just the big mammals we preserve that people drive down the road and see. There’s a whole lot more here.”
Even though the bioblitz only covered a miniscule speck of the parks 3,400 square miles, the scientists involved hope that the information gathered will help scientists better understand and tackle future threats to the park from climate change. At least 40 other parks hosted similar bioblitzes, including Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Maine’s Acadia National Park, with the same hope of providing data to track climate change and bring awareness to the great biodiversity with in our national parks.
Want to get involved? Visit the Greater Yellowstone Science Learning Center website to get in on the next bioblitz.