June 11, 2008

HPWREN Collaborates with National Park Service for the 2008 National Geographic Bioblitz Species Inventory in the Santa Monica Mountains of Southern California

By Kimberly Bruch, HPWREN

The HPWREN team participated in the annual National Geographic Bioblitz Species Inventory on May 30-31 with collaborators from the National Park Service (NPS) California Mediterranean Research Learning Center, Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, and the Cabrillo National Monument. Event participants ranged from scientists and educators to K-12 students and general community members in the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area.

In addition to participating in the National Geographic Bioblitz on May 30-31, HPWREN network administrator Jim Hale played an instrumental role in assisting the NPS with the set-up of a wireless area network prior to the event. The wireless network allowed scientists and data entry specialists to efficiently upload and download data regarding collected species during the two-day inventory of the area.

A Santa Barbara middle school student assisted the HPWREN and NPS teams during the two-day event; she served as the junior roving scientist.

Carrying a LIVE (Live Interactive Virtual Explorations) backpack, Lauren was equipped with a laptop running Skype, a digital video camera, and a headset.

The LIVE backpack set-up allowed Lauren to roam around the Bioblitz activities at Paramount Ranch (one of the several Santa Monica Mountain sites) and communicate (both audio and video) with the HPWREN booth - sharing inventory counts, scientist talks, and additional event activities with booth passerby.

HPWREN booth participants were able to ask Lauren questions and receive real-time audio and visual feedback about what was going on throughout the area.

While Kim Bruch led the HPWREN/NPS junior roving science activity at the Paramount Ranch site, Jim Hale and Susan Teel (Director of the California Mediterranean Research Learning Center) simultaneously led an activity at another inventory site - Malibu Lagoon. The lagoon activity allowed participants to control and experiment with the ROV (Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle).

The HPWREN/NPS ROV activity at the Malibu Lagoon site was a big hit amongst the Bioblitz participants.

Both youth and adults took turns operating the ROV throughout the lagoon.

Top image: Junior Scientist Conner Driscoll conducted multiple talks about steelhead trout survey methods and the current status of the steelhead population in Malibu Creek to Bioblitz participants at the lagoon survey station.

Bottom left image: California Mediterranean Research Learning Center interns Kevin Schallert and Nick Derouhlac helped with multiple tasks during the Bioblitz weekend. Specifically, they helped with the wireless system installation at the event and also helped Bioblitz survey team members as well as the public use the ROV to find fish. Kevin is shown here with California State University - Channel Islands Professor Sean Anderson.

Bottom right image: Nick and Kevin assisted Rosi Dagit,Senior Conservation Biologist, Resource Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains in the operation of the ROV at the lagoon.

Another HPWREN/NPS collaboratory activity involved a demonstration between the Paramount Ranch Education Pavilion and the inventory tent. Using the LIVE backpack, two park rangers from the NPS Cabrillo National Monument (Chief of Science Andrea Compton and Marine Biologist Benjamin Pister) took the pavilion audience on a tour of the species inventory tent - allowing the pavilion audience to ask questions in real-time.

Similar to the Pavilion/tent demonstration, Susan Teel also used the LIVE backpack to take HPWREN booth participants throughout the inventory tent.

Susan is shown here discussing underwater insects with a southern California scientist - relaying the information to the HPWREN booth in real-time - allowing for additional questions from the booth.

More than 6000 people participated in the event (including 1400 school children, 1100 people on inventories and 2500-3000 people at Paramount Ranch). By the end of the day on May 31, 1364 species had been identified and more will be identified as scientists continue to analyze the collected critters. Details are found at http://www.nationalgeographic.com/field/projects/bioblitz.html.

Main HPWREN web site (includes information for acknowledgments/disclaimers and feedback/contact)