by David Clements/Special to Langley Advance Times
In the first half of June, 140 citizen scientists were unleashed throughout Langley.
This phenomenon is part of a growing worldwide movement to recruit ordinary people who love nature to help monitor the state of the planet.
With COVID-19 restrictions, it was not possible to do a bioblitz in the normal way, “blitzing” as a group of enthusiastic naturalists.
So instead, Lisa Dreves, of the Langley Environmental Partners Society, organized a virtual bioblitz – recruiting all six Langley watershed groups.
Each of the 140 citizen scientists fanned out across the Langley landscape throughout the two-week period, and uploaded photos to the iNaturalist app.
According to iNaturalist records, the species counts for each of the six watersheds went up thanks to the two weeks of blitzing.
The Nicomekl watershed went from 467 to 531 species, Glen Valley from 85 to 150, Salmon River from 176 to 268, Little Campbell from 332 to 375, Bertrand Creek from 219 to 274, and Yorkson from 265 to 347.
Naturalist Bob Puls, experienced in identifying plants and critters of all types, also sent in extensive species lists to Dreves during the blitz – some not reflected in the iNaturalist counts, joking that the first 300 species “could be seen from my front window.”
Puls eventually logged 380 native species, plus another 80 non-natives from his vegetable and flower gardens, for a total of 460 species.
For Ted Goshulak, a highlight was “being able to have various grandkids find ‘bugs’ and other creatures and ask me to identify them.”
Another highlight for Goshulak was discovering an active bald eagle nest near Trinity Western University.
Venturing into the forest near Yorkson Creek, Jennifer Adhika was “blessed to see a mother barred owl and fledged chick calling and flying through the forest to discover a barred owl and its chick.”
On the iNaturalist site, the total species count for the Langley Watersheds Bioblitz was 771, emerging from a staggering total of 3,622 observations.
Obviously there were many repeats, especially photogenic species like osoberry bushes, purple foxgloves, red-berried elders, thimbleberries, salmonberries, spotted towhees, American robins, black-headed grosbeaks, bumblebees, and chocolate arion slugs.
Many rare species or species of concern were also sighted such as the Oregon forest snail, great blue heron, barn swallow, Coho salmon, northern red-legged frog, green heron, Trowbridge’s shrew, and western fence lizard.
The western fence lizard sighting was the first record of this species for Canada.
Dr. Gavin Hanke with the Royal BC Museum, who reported it, thinks it was likely a stowaway from Washington State.
I was out bioblitzing with some family members, when my daughter-in-law Ruthanne Clements noticed that some of the turtles I was photographing were unusual. They turned out to be map turtles not commonly found in B.C. – likely imported from some other part of North America.
Then there were more bizarre species recorded like the slime molds, dog vomit slime, and chocolate tube slime (you wouldn’t want to eat either).
“We might do this again in the future. I really had a lot of fun getting out of the office,” Dreves said.
I wholeheartedly agree. I was out every day of the blitz myself, recording 742 observations (250 species), second on the list behind Dreves with her 760 observations (228 species).
Neither of us could keep to Bob though!
– David Clements PhD, is a professor of biology at Trinity Western University, and co-chair of the geography and environment department
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