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Bioblitz: Initial Findings List More Than 400 Species

Onondaga Lake hosts 24-hour hunt for plants, animals

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Scientists and citizen volunteers who fanned out across Onondaga Lake and its shoreline Sept. 12 and 13 found some 450 species of plants and animals in 24 hours.

Among the discoveries during the weekend bioblitz, which was conducted by the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in partnership with the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps, was a patch of rare American ginseng, a naturally reproducing population of brown trout in Onondaga Creek, and a lush moss community on the roofs of park pavilions.

"I found most interesting the sheer interest people show about what's in their backyard," said Dr. James Gibbs, a professor of conservation biology who helped plan the event. "A lot of people came out on a very dismal day. They came from all walks of life. Nature observation is fundamentally inclusive. There are few things that are better at bringing people together because wonder at nature is universal. That was what impressed me the most - the community that built around the event."

Despite chilly temperatures on Friday and pounding rain on Saturday, the participants identified 25 species of fish in the lake and 16 species in four tributaries. The findings also included a total of 58 species of phytoplankton, zooplankton, macrophytes and benthic (bottom-dwelling) invertebrates; about 150 species of insects; 12 species of dragonflies and damselflies; 19 species of snails; hundreds of vascular plants; at least 60 species of fungi; 66 species of mosses; three species each of amphibians and reptiles; four species of bats and 10 species of other mammals; and 77 species of birds.