[Taxacom] Bioblitz at Carnegie

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Thu Jun 22 10:23:35 CDT 2006

John Rawlins kindly offered (with permission to post) the following
observations on early bioblitzes.


A comment on Thompson's concern about people taking credit for first
bioblitz's....we certainly did a large one in 1997 here at Carnegie
Museum of Natural History, and we openly acknowledge that we were
copying the Washington event precisely a year earlier (31 May) that
Thompson refers to....certainly that isn't the first such name (a
bioblitz by any other name would be the same).  


Carnegie Museum held its first bioblitz on 30-31 May 1997, a 24 hours
intensive event involving many specialists and the public, at Riverview
Park, Pittsburgh (Allegheny Co., 40-28N,80-01W, 355m). It was entitled
PITTSBURGH BIOBLITZ 1997 and was the first of four annual bioblitzes in
Pittsburgh's largest parks.  The idea was communicated by Duane
Schlitter, at that time Curator of Mammals at CMNH, from his awareness
of the Washington D.C. event a year before (to which Chris Thompson
refers).  Schlitter was joined by Sue Thompson (former curator of Botany
at CMNH), Ellen Censky (former curator of Amphibians and Reptiles at
CMNH), myself, and many others from CMNH and the Pittsburgh Parks
Conservancy to plan this event and pull it off.  Bioblitzes at CMNH
evolved into a more thorough and focused event, called the BioForay
after 2000, which has overcome some of the issues that confront
bioblitzes...mostly related to short time period for blitzes.  


Of course, the real first bioblitz is lost somewhere in history...all it
took was a bunch of dedicated naturalists to spend 24 hours tabulating
species in a habitat...and that must have occurred first when our
ancestors were in the proverbial caves somewhere.  Formally, the first
event I know about of this sort, certainly in our neck-o-the-woods, took
place near Powdermill Nature Reserve (CMNH's field station) in western
Pennsylvania on 22 August 1953, led by CMNH curators Netting, Clench,
and others.  It was constructed uncannily similar to today's bioblitzes
and even produced a report (list) of taxa that included plants and
animals in some detail.  The report was never published, but I could
send a pdf of it to interested persons.  They termed the event a "Nature
Census" and it had all the characteristics of a bioblitz.



Dr. John R. Grehan

Director of Science and Collections

Buffalo Museum of Science1020 Humboldt Parkway

Buffalo, NY 14211-1193

email: jgrehan at sciencebuff.org

Phone: (716) 896-5200 ext 372




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