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A Search for Biodiversity; Crayfish to Wood Ducks

230 species found in the Ville’s Preserve.

Millersville University’s Biological Preserve was the site of the first on-campus BioBlitz on April 16 and 17. The Entomology Club coordinated the event and garnered the technical and taxonomic expertise of biology professors Drs. Jean Boal, Dominique Didier, Aaron Haines, Chris Hardy, John Wallace and Daniel Yocom, and renowned area plant expert Tim Draude of the Muhlenberg Botanical Society.

The objectives for this BioBlitz were three-fold: 1) to establish a renewed baseline of biological diversity for the Preserve and the nearby, newly acquired Creek Lodge property; 2) to nurture student awareness of the natural history within the shadows of campus; and 3) to ignite student interest in various biology student organizations such as Entomology, Biology and Conestoga clubs.

During this BioBlitz several classes and nearly 100 students and faculty members took part in a search for as many species of plants, fungi, invertebrate and vertebrate animals as could be found in this short one and a half day period. Technology employed in these efforts ranged from invertebrate sampling nets, binoculars and the rubber sole on a standard pair of hiking boots to remote cameras, electrofishing equipment and GPS.

In total, over 230 species were documented for the Preserve. Unique plants found included liverworts, walking ferns, pawpaw, spicebush and hickories. Highlights among invertebrate animals included morning cloak butterflies, green darner dragonflies and the Allegheny crayfish. Vertebrate highlights included red-backed salamanders, greenside darters, flying squirrels, pileated woodpeckers and wood ducks.

Students entered their findings into the Biological Preserve portal to NatureAtlas.org, recently created by Drs. Chris and Nazli Hardy with former MU student Alex Bonsall.  All of these discoveries are now available on for exploration, mapping and download (www.natureatlas.org/preserve/).

Article written by Entomology Club President, Joe Receveur; and Drs. Haines, Hardy and Wallace.

Photos taken by Edwin Sanchez, Joe Receveur and Lindsay Harrison

 

 

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