Biology department to host first-ever Bioblitz at Steinman Run

Steinman Run will be filled with prospective biologists, students and normal folk alike for a period of intense surveying. Photo courtesy of Millersville University.

Peyton Powell
Staff Writer

On Sept. 16 and 17 at noon, Millersville University’s Biology Department will be teaming up with the Lancaster County Conservancy for the Steinman Run Nature Preserve BioBlitz. This year, BioBlitz will take place on the new and unexplored 44 acres of Steinman Run, called Bunting Tract. Data collected at this event will be used to help manage the preserve in the future.

BioBlitzes are an intense period where there are many biological surveys going on. In fact, BioBlitzes have been taking place across the country for many years now, and now one is finally coming to Lancaster County.

When asked about where the idea came from about hosting a BioBlitz here in Lancaster came from, Dr. Hardy, a Biology professor here at Millersville, said that it was an idea that was “hatched” between himself and Lydia Martin, Director of Education for the Lancaster County Conservancy.

“A BioBlitz is a wonderful way to quickly assess the biodiversity in a park or preserve, and we had a need to do so at the LCC’s Steinman Run Nature Preserve, to which they recently added a new 44-acre tract which is virtually unexplored,” Hardy said.

At the two-day-long event, faculty and students, along with researchers and naturalists will come together to conduct surveys throughout the 44-acre tract, where they hope to gain knowledge of what types of species, and how many of that species, call Bunting Tract home.

People who help on Saturday and Sunday will be split into teams where they will be conducting surveys of birds, fish, fungi, herps, invertebrates, mammals and plants, according to Hardy. These surveys will estimate the total number of species. Dr. Hardy has recruited other biologists like himself, along with other amateur naturalists, to help.

You do not have to be an expert to help with BioBlitz. Dr. Hardy expects to have about 60 scientists at this year’s Bioblitz, along with MU students and people of the public. For people not wanting to help with the surveying, there will be events on those days that will be open for the public that will not disturb the area that is being surveyed.

“I want everyone to know that other professors at MU and their students are lending their time and expertise to this. This would not be possible without other professors such as Drs. Wallace, Ramos-Sepulveda, Haines and Horton from Biology and many dedicated MU students. I also worked closely with MU Computer Science students Cameron Andrews and Daniel Kral, as well as Dr. Nazli Hardy (computer science) to develop a website (www.natureatlas.org) and database that will log the data collected during this event,” Hardy said.

Those who would like to participate in BioBlitz, or would like to read more about BioBlitz can visit their website http://lancasterconservancy.org/am_event/bioblitz-2017/