Crawling With Critters

Botanic Garden “BioBlitz” Yields 811 Species

The hills are alive. No really. With 811 animal species identified and counting, the Botanic Garden’s “BioBlitz” proves the tropical rainforest isn’t the only place biodiversity thrives.

The first ever “BioBlitz” on the Central Coast - a 24-hour ecological survey in the Botanic Garden - ended Saturday evening with over 800 species found. Scientists expect that number to rise as they continue classifying their findings.

The quick, intensive survey served to catalog as much biological diversity as possible in a concentrated period of time and in a defined area. For 24 hours, scientists and volunteers tracked as many plants, insects, birds, bats, chipmunks, lizards, mushrooms, mice, and even bacteria as possible.

Those involved in the BioBlitz consider it a baseline for future work.

It provides you with a quick index of your environment,” zoologist Paul Collins said, whose focus was documenting small mammals in the Botanic Garden. Collins and his colleagues identified three different species of bats as well as the relatively uncommon big-eared wood rat in the garden.

Low numbers of certain creatures were taken into account with this particular time of year, according to Collins. Not only is May the worst season for mushrooms, it’s also too early for many migratory birds and bats.

As the first survey of its kind here, the BioBlitz left an impressive mark on Santa Barbara’s ability to house some of nature’s most diverse creatures - especially since the Botanic Garden’s year-round count of species is much higher than that of the concentrated BioBlitz. Year-round, well over 1,000 species reportedly inhabit the Garden.

For further developments on this year’s BioBlitz, visit the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden website.

Stellamarie Hall is an Independent intern.

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