Mangrove cuckoo among 800 species identified at Biscayne bioblitz

Biscayne National Park, Florida–After 24 straight hours of exploration and documentation, the Biscayne bioblitz provided a snapshot of the many land and water species that live in Biscayne National Park, the National Geographic Society said today.

Biscayne Bioblitz 2010.jpg

“Led by more than 200 scientists from around the country, thousands of amateur explorers, families and schoolchildren from south Florida conducted an inventory of the plants, insects, fish and other creatures that inhabit one of the nation’s largest marine national parks.

“The event, from noon Friday, April 30, to noon Saturday, May 1, was presented by National Geographic and the National Park Service, with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation,” National Geographic said in a news statement.


Photo by David Braun


Photo by David Braun

Highlights of this year’s bioblitz:

  • The initial species count as of 12:30 p.m. Saturday was more than 800, with this number rising rapidly throughout the afternoon. Over the next few months, organizers expect this number to increase significantly as state-of-the-art testing of the collected samples continues.
  • On land, observations of a number of species rare to the park including the silver hairstreak butterfly, mangrove cuckoo, bay-breasted warbler, and nesting roseate spoonbills.

Photo of mangrove cuckoo courtesy of

  • Underwater, park divers were excited to observe black, red, and gag groupers on a night dive on the park’s reefs. In addition, park scientists were thrilled to not have seen any invasive exotic lionfish during the bioblitz inventory.
  • Bioblitz participants identified 11 species of lichen and 22 species of ants that had not previously been documented in the park.
  • Internationally known scientist William (Randy) Miller identified a phylum of tardigrades–commonly known as water bears–not previously found in the park. (Last year’s bioblitz: Eight-legged Water Bear Thrives in Indiana Dunes)
  • Seven candidate champion trees were observed at the end of Totten Key. Scientists were excited to see these unique trees survived Hurricane Andrew. (Paradise tree, Bahama strong bark, blolly, milk bark, Joe wood, ink wood, and pigeon plum).
  • More than 2,500 people of all ages participated in the program during the 24 hours, including more than 1,300 registered school children from Miami/Dade County.
  • The Celebrate Biodiversity Festival that followed the bioblitz included several bands, talks, nature walks, live animal demonstrations and other activities. The festival focused on biodiversity and encouraging the public to do their part to protect the environment. Many visitors graduated from “Biodiversity University” by participating in an education program throughout the festival.

Photo by David Braun


Photo by David Braun

“The bioblitz was part scientific endeavor, part festival and part outdoor classroom,” National Geographic said. “Participants combed the park, observing and recording as many plant and animal species as possible in 24 hours. Activities included exploring the reefs and Elliott Key, catching insects, searching for hidden moss and lichen in shallow waters, seining fish and other aquatic organisms, and observing birds.”


Photo by David Braun


Photo by David Braun

“This was a fantastic opportunity for the public to meet the scientists and understand what makes Biscayne National Park a special place,” said Mark Lewis, Biscayne National Park superintendent. “Sunny skies and temperate weather brought thousands of people out to help us learn more about the park.” (Watch a video interview of Mark Lewis talking about the bioblitz.)

“I was thrilled by the connections made through the event,” said John Francis, National Geographic’s vice president for research, conservation and exploration. “Scientists joined students and people from the surrounding coastal communities and celebrated their unique roles as members of the natural systems where they live.” (Watch a video of John Francis explaining why National Geographic sponsors bioblitzes.)


Photo by David Braun


Photo by David Braun


Photo by David Braun

Biscayne National Park was the fourth in a series of 10 annual bioblitzes to be hosted by National Geographic and the National Park Service leading up to the Park Service’s centennial in 2016. During closing ceremonies Saturday at Convoy Point, the bioblitz flag was passed to Darla Sidles, superintendent of Arizona’s Saguaro National Park, where the fifth bioblitz will take place in 2011.

The first bioblitz was held at Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C., in 2007; Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area in California was the bioblitz site in 2008; and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was the site of the third bioblitz in 2009.


Photo by David Braun


Photo by David Braun


Photo by David Braun

The Biscayne bioblitz was made possible through the support of foundations, nonprofit organizations and corporations. In addition to Knight Foundation, nonprofit and foundation support comes from the Herbert W. Hoover Foundation, the Harold M. and Adeline S. Morrison Family Foundation, the Adelaide M. and Charles B. Link Foundation, the Verizon Foundation, and the South Florida National Parks Trust. Corporate support includes Southwest Airlines, Spectrum Brands, Oracle, Verizon Wireless, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Homestead-Miami Speedway, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, and Immaculate Baking Company.

Posted by David Braun

More details about the 2010 bioblitz

Follow the bioblitz on Nat Geo News Watch



Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn