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What's a BIOblitz, and why is it awesome?

Last year, on the August Bank Holiday Sunday instead of having a conservation session we had our first BioBlitz day since 2019. Experts and novices (that’s me!) came from all over Hampshire to help forage around the site for any creature, living or dead. Turning over leaf and branch we managed to find a total of 211 different species, 74 of which are

new to our records, so we were very chuffed about that! This brings our running total to 736 different species! Very healthy.

The list contains creatures great and small. From the biggest birds (we do have a sighting of the biggest bird in the UK, the White Tailed Eagle!) and charismatic

megafauna mammals, to great big trees, and smaller flowering plants. There’s love for molluscs and crustaceans, and space for beetles, bugs, and butterflies. Mostly out of sight there’s a nice range of fungi. Some of which you wouldn’t know shared the space until they pop up later in the Autumn. There’s even some you might not have heard about, tiny little springtails and mites so hidden they barely even get a mention on Spring Watch (citation needed!).


But there’s a massive gap missing from this list (you can go through it and look if you like!). We have no idea what sort of microorganisms are in the pond. We are a curious bunch here on the reserve and our curiosity got the better of us. So to help solve this mystery, we’ve teamed up with the National Biofilms Innovation Centre, based at the University of Southampton. With the help of a successful grant application to the Public Education (PERu) fund we’ll be exploring what lies beneath both the water and the soil with Dr Joe Parker. We’re going to find out what slime lives there!

If we think of ecosystems as a really intricate jigsaw puzzle, each organism fits in a specific place by playing a particular role. If any of these (including invisible to the eye bacteria) were to change in abundance or disappear altogether, the functioning of the entire ecosystem could be altered. In the worst case when this involves a fundamental species, this can lead to a trophic cascade, a sort of domino effect with repercussions on potentially all the other organisms in the ecosystem. During the BioBlitz, we’ll be collecting extremely valuable data about the current biodiversity status that might be useful in the future as a reference point to track any change in the local biodiversity composition, and potentially use it to prevent any event like this taking place.


The collection of the data will take place through a range of activities that will aim at the identification of the smallest organism with the use of DNA sample collection and

analysis, to larger fauna through pond dipping, in which we’ll be collecting and

identifying what the pond has to offer. The day will also include activities such as

butterfly transects or microscopes observation of soil samples and many more!


Below is the timetable for the day. Please note, although children are welcome to come, these activities are not designed for them. 


10:30

Collection water based coupons: Introduction to invisible biodiversity, trophic cascading, and the importance of microscopic life.

11:00 

Water samples returned to Study Centre for analysis. Run through process with lab equip. 

12:00

Soil run - Collection of soil samples & returned to Study Centre for analysis

13:00

Soil samples: Tullgren funnel system w/ microscopes: worms, and micro fauna

14:00

Pond dipping: focus on trophic cascade, w/ emphasis on Amphibians 

15:00

Collection of different Moss samples. Public to bring them back to the centre: Microscope analysis using big screen

16:00

Presentation of data collected from Dr Joe Parker, analysis and findings & q&a on biofilms

18.00

Moth trap set up

19:00

EVENING BAT WALK. Adults only. Please book in advance. 

Bats @ pond for 19.30 

20:00

Return to the centre. Inspect Moth traps for species.


See you there!

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