Changing Planet

BioBlitz Starts in Louisiana Swamp

Hundreds of local grade school students joined scores of scientists today in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve to look for as many species of plants and animals as they can find in 24 hours. It is the seventh annual BioBlitz organized by the National Park Service and the National Geographic Society, forming part of the run-up to the 2016 celebration of the centenary of the founding of the U.S. National Parks.

As with the preceding six BioBlitzes, this year’s inventory of species is in a national park adjacent to a major urban area. Jean Lafitte is a composite of cultural and wilderness areas in and around the greater New Orleans area. Earlier BioBlitzes in the series were in or near Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Tucson, and Denver. Parks alongside major cities are selected so as to give urban children the opportunity to be introduced to the natural environment in their backyard. In many instances, the BioBlitz has been the first time some of the students have ever visited a national park.

Students, teachers, and other members of the public are now fanning out across Jean Lafitte to look for aquatic and terrestrial species of every kind. There are also talks and demonstrations by experts, while local artists and musicians are taking part in a festival to celebrate culture and biodiversity.

The BioBlitz also yields valuable scientific research for local scientists and administrators of the National Park Service. At almost every preceding BioBlitz at least one species new to a park has been discovered. A preliminary count of species for Jean Lafitte will be announced at noon tomorrow, but the final official count may take months or even years to establish as scientists pore over specimens and data gathered from the field.

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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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

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Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

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