Ever wondered what kind of plants and animals pop up after a big fire? Want to explore your local parks in more depth and learn about the kinds of things that live there? Do you enjoy taking pictures? Want to become a citizen scientist and contribute data to research? Then Save Mount Diablo’s BioBlitz is perfect for you!
What Is a BioBlitz?
In short, a BioBlitz is a resource survey—a race against time to see how many species of plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms can be accounted for in a specific geographic area. BioBlitz events bring together scientists, naturalists, volunteers, and other community members to document the spectrum of wildlife present in our community, contributing to an improved understanding of local natural resources.
A time-limited event, Save Mount Diablo’s BioBlitz provides a snapshot of biodiversity. It helps to establish important baseline information on species, which often guides stewardship and land management decisions. For example, the event has resulted in rerouting a trail away from newly discovered rare plants, targeting non-native weeds in sensitive resource areas, and contributing rare wildlife occurrence records to regional databases, thereby affecting development proposals.
Cataloging the species found will update past records and provide an ecological snapshot of each BioBlitz site for agency staff. In the time of climate change, these efforts help establish baselines by which change can be measured. Our investigation will also provide insight into species that may need continued monitoring or directed management in the future.
Socially Distant BioBlitz
Because of COVID-19, we encouraged participants to take part in a socially distant BioBlitz and visit public sites that have been affected by the 2020 SCU Lightning Complex fires anytime during a two-week period.
We asked participants to please naturalize from the road or sites with open public access and to not trespass on private property. Burn sites are also incredibly sensitive. We strongly encourage participants to follow Leave No Trace principles by staying on the trail and not collecting any organic materials.
We have a few goals for the BioBlitz:
- To monitor how the series of SCU fires has affected the biodiversity in different habitats by noting what kinds of things grow or visit the burned sites. We take note of plants, animals, fungi, and many other living things.
- To explore more of the Diablo Range. There is currently very little known about the Diablo Range, and the SCU Lightning Complex fires, along with this BioBlitz, give us a great opportunity to visit more sites in the range.
- To encourage people to get outside and join in community science efforts!
BioBlitz Debrief Session
After the BioBlitz event, we hold a Zoom Debrief session. This is a great opportunity for experts and naturalists alike to share their observations with the public. The Debrief event is scheduled for Wednesday, May 17 from 4:00 – 6:00 PM. Check this page on March 31 for the link to sign up.
Who Can Join?
Citizen scientists of all ages can join! No special skills are necessary. All you need is:
- A smartphone device or camera
- The iNaturalist app downloaded onto your phone (it’s free!)
- Weather-appropriate clothing
- Water, snacks, a full tank of gas (Please note that there are limited/no services in many of these locations)
- COVID-19 safety gear (i.e. a mask)
Help us document the biodiversity after a wildfire! Take photos of plants, animals, fungi, and other organisms within the two-week period and upload them onto iNaturalist. It’s OK if you don’t know what kind of specimen it is; there are many experts on iNaturalist who can help you identify what you’ve found. There is no time commitment for this event, so take as many photos as you want and upload them any time of day within the two weeks.
Learn more by watching our video! (Slides available here.)
We’re Continuing Our Partnership with CNPS!
Save Mount Diablo is continuing our partnership with the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) for their long-term Fire Followers Campaign. This campaign encompasses all of the 2020 and 2021 fires that have burned across California and aims to increase understanding of California’s biodiversity and to collect valuable information to aid future conservation efforts.
We’re asking that all BioBlitz participants upload their observations onto the CNPS iNaturalist project for the SCU Lightning Complex.
We also highly recommend signing up for their mailing list to receive vital safety information, updates on burn sites, iNaturalist project challenges (and prizes!), goal updates, and more.
What Is the SCU Lightning Complex?
The SCU Lightning Complex began in mid-August of 2020 and lasted into early October of 2020. This complex was a series of about 20 fires that were broken into three zones: the Canyon Zone, the Calaveras Zone, and the Deer Zone.
Altogether, this series of fires lasted 44 days and scorched more than 396,000 acres of land across five different counties in the northern Diablo Range. It’s now the fourth largest wildfire in California history.
We’ve been examining the effects of the SCU fires through our Diablo Range Revealed project, which is a series of posts, videos, and photo galleries exploring different regions of the Diablo Range. You can follow the series in our e-news or through our website.
How to Get Started
- View the 2022 BioBlitz info and iNaturalist training video above.
- Visit any of the sites with open public access that the SCU Lightning Complex fires passed through (such as Morgan Territory or Round Valley Regional Preserve).
- Observe! Head outdoors and take photos of plants, animals, and fungi.
- Identify: Identification can be as simple as “bird” or “bee” or as complicated as “sky lupine (Lupinus nanus).”
- Share! Upload your photos onto iNaturalist. You can attempt to identify what is in your photos, and an expert will confirm or make identification suggestions. Share on social media as well! Use #SaveMountDiablo #BioBlitz #FireFollowers