East Hartford, CT - The internationally recognized Connecticut State BioBlitz set a world record on Saturday by collecting and identifying 2,765 different animal, plant and other species in the span of just 24-hours. This total not only surpassed the one-day record for the more than 200 BioBlitzes being held across the nation in 2016 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, but also shattered the previous world record of 2,519 species. The Connecticut State 2016 BioBlitz was made possible by a grant from the Richard P. Garmany Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
BioBlitzes attempt to discover and catalog as many species as is humanly possible over the course of a single day. Beginning at 3 PM on Friday June 3rd, more than 170 scientists (from as far away as California)—armed with binoculars, cameras, hand lenses, and microscopes—combed, seined, netted, and trapped anything that moved above and below ground and water from the Greater Hartford area. Many scientists worked without sleep in their quest to set the national record… not knowing that they were collectively closing in on the world record.
CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School on the bank of the Connecticut River in East Hartford served as the host school and command central base camp and hub for the public programming on Saturday.
The ornithologists logged exactly 100 species—included were bald eagles and peregrine falcons. CT-DEEP and UConn fish biologists recorded 29 species of fish, principally from the Connecticut and Hockanum Rivers within a stone’s throw of the Connecticut Science Center. A crack team of botanists catalogued 631 plants. But as would be expected: insects swept the day with a grand total of 1,316 species. The least expected species was a black bear in Keney Park—of all days to stroll into Hartford, he picked the BioBlitz day!
Even bacteria were unofficially counted and over 145,000 species were found from the Connecticut River and regional soils and composts. The latest DNA sequencing technologies at the University of Connecticut’s Microbial Analysis, Resources and Service facility were used to detect and count the bacteria.
Charles Darwin made an astonishing appearance! Portrayed at the closing ceremony, the famed 19th century naturalist spoke to his fellow scientists, sharing thoughts about species discovery, the BioBlitz, and announced the final species total of 2,765 species of animals, plants, fungi and protists.
“The discovery of more than 2,760 kinds of wildlife, all within a 5.5 mile radius of downtown Hartford/East Hartford, surprised all of the event’s participants,” said David Wagner, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Director of the Center for Conservation and Biodiversity at UConn, and the event’s lead scientist and director. “We live in a wonderful area of the country, infused with extraordinary arrays of plants, birds, insects, and other wildlife which in sum, we can thank for our clean water and air, fertile soils, and foods. The event’s remarkable findings underscored what amazing wildlife can be found just outside one’s backdoor in Connecticut, and the opportunities that we have as residents for recreation, for education, for discovery.” At the day’s end Darwin informed the gathered crowd that he was “most pleased with the results of the quest.”
The University of Connecticut's Center for Conservation and Biodiversity, State Museum of Natural History, and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department teamed up with the CREC Two Rivers Magnet Middle School, Connecticut Science Center, and Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection to organize the 2016 BioBlitz.
For information and a full list of partners, visit http://web.uconn.edu/mnh/bioblitz/BioBlitz2016.html