Initial 2015 BioBlitz ResultsMay 18, 2015, 12:55 PM HST (Updated May 18, 2015, 12:59 PM)
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park held the ninth of 10 annual BioBlitz events over the weekend. The events are hosted by National Geographic and the National Park Service and have spanned the entire country over the past decade. According to HVNP officials, the events are leading up the NPS’s centennial in 2016.
The 2015 event, which was a combined BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival, hosted more than 6,000 people including more than 850 school-aged children. During the event, more than 170 scientists and traditional Hawaiian practitioners came together to conduct a comprehensive inventory of the plants, insects, mammals, birds, and other species that inhabit HVNP. Officials say the program gathers a “vivid snapshot of the unique plant and animal biodiversity in the park.”
Combined with the science aspect, the event followed the theme, “I ka nana no ‘ike” meaning,” which mean by observing, one learns. Parks officials say alakai’i were integrated into the survey teams to allow for a more holistic approach to the research and exploration endeavor.
HVNP’s 35th annual Cultural Festival was moved from July to coincide with the BioBlitz. The event included hands-on science and cultural exhibits, food, art, and Hawaiian music and dance performances.
“The BioBlitz and Biodiversity & Cultural Festival presented an incredible opportunity to connect the community with leading scientists, international sister parks, and cultural practitioners this weekend,” said park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “This even embodies our National Park Service centennial mission to encourage everyone to Find Your Park – literally – by exploring and understanding our vital connection to our natural world.”
Upon initial results of the BioBlitz, HVNP says that 22 new species were added to the park’s species list, and over 73 threatened species were observed, including the nene and Kamehameha butterfly. Seventeen new documentations of fungi were also reported, more than double what the park already had documented.
Additional results include an initial species count of 416 species and 1,535 observations recorded during the two-day event.
Event organizers expect that the numbers will only increase as testing of the collected samples continues over the coming months.
“The Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park BioBlitz was a wonderful combination of past, present and future,” said John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president for research, conservation, and exploration. “It was so exciting to bring together western science and traditional Hawaiian culture pair it with the great iNaturalist app, smartphones and pumped up cell service courtesy of Verizon. I hope this holistic approach serves as a model for other BioBlitzes and scientific endeavors.”
The first BioBlitz was held in 2007 at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. From there, annual BioBlitz events have taken place across the country, including the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area in California, Indiana Dunes Lakeshore, Biscayne National Park outside Miami, Fla., Saguaro National Park in Tucson, Ari., Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve outside New Orleans, La., and Golden Gate National Parks in Northern California.
During the event’s closing ceremonies, the BioBlitz flag was passed to Karen Cucurullo, Acting Superintendent for the National Mall and Memorial Parks, and Dr. Michael Stebbins, Assistant Director for Biotechnology in the Science Division of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Officials say the 2016 National Parks BioBlitz will take place at national park sites in and around Washington, D.C.